Christmas in Sierra LeoneThe west Africans do not do a lot with the holiday as far as Santa Claus and the gift giving. We were missing some of the decorations and such and decided we wanted a nativity set. We could not find any in Bo. We heard you could get some in Freetown but we are rarely there. We asked around to see if any one knew of a "carver". We eventually found one in a Bo suburb called . We found him just one week before Christmas eve. We described to him that what we would like is a nativity that showed how a person from Sierra Leone views the birth of the Savior. He was a Christian and appeared to understand what we were asking for. He teaches arts and crafts in a local college. We discussed ideas from individual carvings of nativity items to a 3-d plaque. He concluded that he could do a plaque in 1 week. Christmas eve we picked it up and we were thrilled with the result. We have thoroughly enjoyed having it hanging in our living room. It will stay there until we come home in a year.
|Our Sierra Leone Nativity|
We worked with the missionaries for the two days before Christmas to help them skype with their families. We didn't want to do it on Christmas day because we felt the networks might be too buys. It was enjoyable to watch them interact with their families. We were blessed that all but one was able to have pretty good skype sessions. The internet has been pretty sporadic but held when we needed it.
We also added a Christmas tree to make it feel more like home.
|Our Sierra Leone Christmas tree|
We enjoyed a mission Christmas party with all the missionaries and couples in Bo and Kenema.
The Kenema missionaries portrayed the Christmas story. The largest elder in the group played the angel Gabriel "flying" around the stage and booming out the glorious news to Mary and the shepherds in his deep voice. Another, smaller elder, played the baby Jesus, still the biggest baby we had ever seen. Multiple missionary groups sang carols and hymns. They also watched the film Ephraim's Rescue, and multiple other church videos depicting the birth of Christ.
The couples provided lots of goodies for them. Sister Sherwood made sugar cookies, and fudge, and almond roca. Sister Corbally made brownies, peanut butter bars. Sister Clawson did rice krispie treats and popcorn. We did have healthy food in addition to the treats. There was three different meals they could pick and choose from. Most of them had some of all three. Chicken, potatoes and gravy. macaroni salad, and/or local rice. Jestina and her friends catered the meal. In the cooking lesson the week prior, Sister Sherwood taught Jestina how to make mashed potatoes and gravy.
|Sister Sherwood frosting 5-dozen sugar cookies|
|Our caterers in their festive party outfits|
Christmas day we went to the Messima branch and really enjoyed the sacrament meeting and the talks. What a wonderful opportunity to remember the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Savior. We are so grateful for HIM. The greatest gift that was ever given.
New Years in Sierra LeoneWe spent New Years Eve at home watching Mister Kruegers Christmas and Ephraim's Rescue. Nice quite evening. Just before midnight we were awakened by a dull roar. Firecrackers, noise makers and lots of people celebrating. Extremely loud music. They were in "Night Clubs" down the highway and roaming up and down the streets. This went on until morning. Definitely a bigger deal in the community than Christmas eve or day.
We hope all of you have a wonderful 2017 year. May the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ fill your lives with love and charity for all around you. Especially may you experience love in your families and peace in your hearts. We love you all and bear witness of the Lord. He really was born. He really did die for all of us. He really did rise from the tomb on the third day and bring the resurrection unto all of us. It is all true and they are still glad tidings to all men. May you all find it so in your lives is our prayer.