Waiting for Christmas

So here we are still in Ndjamena and not yet sure when we will return to Bardai, we are praying for a peaceful resolution to the conflict the start of which caused us to come to Ndjamena 6 weeks ago. It’s a strange feeling because being in Ndjamena, which was previously our normal Chadian place to be: It suddenly seems a special and luxurious place almost half way to being in England!
So in true Christmas celebratory spirit lets tell you about the 12 days of fun.

No1.Watching Hippos by the river
We spent a week in a new missionary retreat centre by the river and while we there not only did we see lots of beautiful birds and sunsets but a family of Hippos too. They announced their arrival very loudly the night we arrived and their departure the night before we left.

No 2. Having the chance to go to a wedding.

We had heard that Yola one of the nurses at Guinebor was getting married and were wondering how to send her a gift. Well we were not only able to do that but to be at her wedding too it was fun to be there with the other staff from Guinebor and celebrate with her.

No 3. Being at the Team conference.
We spent a great week being taught more about Jesus our shepherd and how to follow him and hearing how others are doing that all around Chad. We also had fun together visiting the farm we used to go to with Ruth and Rebeca horse riding for a barbeque amongst other things .Including Mark wearing a Manchester United outfit(very stressful) as there were no others available at the market and we had to dress up in something representing our country.

No 4. Going Swimming.
A relaxing day was spent at the pool with only 3 colleagues to share the 25m pool for most of the day. Mark finally managed to achieve a target that he set about 5 years ago with Ruth and Rebecca, to swim the same number of lengths as your age. (They had the advantage of youth) .

No 5. Having a washing machine.
Actually this is more than one day you’ll be glad to hear, but it’s very nice not to do our own washing by hand.

No 6. Eating out.
We have been out a few times notably for Thanksgiving where half of us were Americans but also recently to have a sandwich in N’djamena’s latest newly decorated café where you can eat in a taxi bus.

No7. Having (even book) shops to visit.
From the same café come bacon and ice cream, delicious treats not available in Bardai. Except for the one time when we turned our solar fridge into a freezer and it valiantly fought outside temperatures of 44C to make ice cream at -14C, a staggering 58C difference inside and out. We have also been to a bookshop and managed to buy some great medical books to take back to Bardai.

No 8. Having language lessons.
Well it’s not exactly a treat but it is good to have the time to do this without other demands on us and we have found a teacher who is really patient and helping us to progress.

No 9. Going to the theatre.
We were hearing about Rebecca’s theatre trips in London and thinking how nice that would be- now since being here we have been to one guitar concert. a play about child soldiers and some modern dance. All at the French cultural centre in town in an outside theatre, it has been a real pleasure.

No 10. Having Whats app and internet in the house.
Its lovely to be in more frequent contact with our family and we are really enjoying this but trying not to get too used to it.

No 11. Not being freezing cold.
Actually at first we were a bit warm but now temperatures have dropped to a cool 33C by day and 15C at night. It’s certainly easier than wrapping up every night and sleeping under layers of blankets, Bardai is 4C overnight. However we know what we would really prefer.

No 12. A Christmas craft market
This year there seem to be several of these. Last Sunday afternoon we went to the Hilton an experience in itself! An opulent 21stcentury version of a large Roman villa. They had a craft fair including a stall from the Acacia project that Rebecca worked with and a huge tree and lots of decorations. There will be another with products from around Chad at the French cultural centre later in the month and yet another at another hotel later on. There are Christmas carols playing in the supermarket too.

This year we are going to enjoy celebrating here in Ndjamena with an English carol service by candle light and Chadian church celebrations. Although we would have equally if not more have enjoyed this in Bardai and actually the mincemeat and Christmas pudding are still there. Not to mention our presents and decorations. Despite this the Grinch hasn’t stopped Christmas coming. We like you will be celebrating the birth of JESUS.

We have a ‘tree’ and are using it as a reverse advent calendar putting on one decoration a day. I am going to try and make acake and homemade mince-meat so we’ll see how that works. I’ll be lucky if it’s as good as my solar cooker cake last year

 We pray that you like us will be able to celebrate and know the presence of the Prince of Peace this Christmas where-ever you are.