Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reduce Noise

Maybe things aren’t all that noisy. Maybe we’re just getting old.

(Joao: event coordinator and all around good-guy!)

Or, maybe those squawking party-favor horn things that the kids were blowing on yesterday reached a higher decibel level than the loud music the sound system was cranking out!

Either way, the mission was a noisy place yesterday as we held two parties. First was the orphan Christmas party, and what a grand event that was.

What makes for a great Christmas event?

1. Good music.

Not traditional Christmas carols though (those are too foreign), but rather “Charamba”, the preferred African Christian singer in these parts. Actually, any ordinary event is made special by playing a “Charamba” CD. As loudly as possible.

Dwight and I feel that if you can hear the music at a volume setting of 5, there’s no reason to set the volume at 10. Apparently we’re wrong.

Enjoying (loud) music while waiting to be seated.

Oh, and don’t forget to make your own music too.

Farai beating the drum with impeccable rhythm.

2. A nicely decorated place.

Not with mistletoe and gold and silver balls, but with balloons of every shape and color! We did set up a fake tree though, seeing as how mine was available

since this year I did something different and made my own Christmas twig tree.

We had hoped to have the cement floor poured earlier this week, but that didn’t work out. There always seems to be a shortage of cement here for one reason or another. It’s quite the saga. This time, apparently the cement factory “broke” last week. So we did our best to pack down the dirt floor then spread some sand over that.

3. Good food.

Not turkey though, because fowl is not served at a “real” feast. Goat, or sheep is preferred. So we did a sheep in a huge pot.

with rice and a salad, then sweets.

4. Good drinks too, and what could possibly be better than orange Fanta? Especially when it’s served cold!

5. Good entertainment.

On a screen, if possible. We were happy this week to come across a nicely put together (and fairly culturally appropriate) powerpoint presentation of the Christmas story. There’ll be no going back to just reading and showing pictures from a book now!

And then, there are the fun games. You can always go back to fun old games!

6. Gifts for everyone.

Since these orphan children live at home with a caregiver (usually a granny), the grannies attended the party as well. As did those with physical disabilities who also receive help.

Those with babies and small ones prefer to sit on the grass mats.
Anyway, it's traditional to sit on a mat.

Everyone got gifts.

And it wasn’t even too warm to wrap up in the gift fleece blankets that came from Grande Prairie (Canada).

The "adults side" of the party.

But you wouldn’t catch me under one of those blankets, nice as they are, not on a hot muggy day like yesterday! In fact while much of the party carried on, Dwight and I were busy up at the hot office sweating it out and trying to get our internet sorted out. We had a wild lightning-zapping, thunder-clapping storm on Thursday night that our modem and routers didn’t take kindly to. I guess they don’t like too much noise either because it was “all systems dead” the following morning. ☹

And so we spent the better part of Friday talking to and trouble shooting with our internet providers in the UK. There is no cell coverage in the office, so it means we have to stand just outside the office. That’s where the reception is--but not in the shade. It’s always smack dab right where the intense African sun beats down in earnest. Good thing I brought my umbrella and gave it to Dwight so he wouldn't get sun stroke. Also, if you can find a high spot to stand, you get fewer dropped calls.

Dwight roasting in over 35C talking to guys in the UK where it was apparently snowing at the time. (Don't worry, he didn't fall.)

This isn’t our first time doing this, so we have the system down pat. Dwight does the talking and I write down the instructions. Then he hangs up and we go inside to carry out said instructions. Then it’s back outside again to call the guys in the UK to report our findings and to get more instructions. Sometimes I stay inside the office and we shout back and forth to each other through the open window, but that’s not always very effective.

Standing by the window to relay IP numbers at one point, and I noticed these tiny ghecko eggs. (I think they're ghecko eggs.)

Half way through this process, it was time for the staff party to begin, so we took a break and joined them. We were also celebrating the retirement of one very special elderly gentleman: Fernando, the mission school’s cook.

Dwight and Gabriel present Fernando with a walking stick. He and his wife (left) also received chairs and a table.

He has faithfully and lovingly served the school and its students for many years and we are sad to see him go. But we’re happy for him as well.

Then the staff had their Christmas party and received their gift grocery bags,

all while listening to “Charamba”…very loudly.

I must admit that I can’t help but enjoy the lights and noise at this time of year because it makes me remember the deeply meaningful and central reason for it all: our Messiah’s birth.

I’m pretty sure celebrating with the volume set at 5 or so would be sufficient though ☺

PS: You’ll have to forgive the softness of most of the above photos. The camera we were using must be getting tired. I did my best to sharpen them in iPhoto.

Interesting that the most helpful adjustment in sharpening them was labeled: “Reduce Noise”


LauraLee said...

Oh Lynn, you make me laugh! The picture of Dwight on the table is hilarious! When can we come back? Looking at the pictures puts a longing in me to see everyone again. Even though we were only with you guys for a very short time, I feel such an incredible bond with you and the people there. Miss you guys :( Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Lin and Catherine said...

What a wonderful account of a wonderful day! We were thrilled to learn that you had enjoyed using our simple PowerPoint presentation of the Nativity story. That blessed us so much - to know it was of value to you.
Thank you for linking to our little site. It has been an honour to be partners with you, in this small way.
Have a wonderful Christmas!