Sunday, December 03, 2006
Countdown to Christmas
22 The number of days until Christmas, though we reach the day 8 hours earlier here than in America (another perk of living in Africa). 10,000 The number of people we bumped shoulders with in the market yesterday, at least! Julia and I went to buy some fabric, kitengis with colorful prints. I’m not a shopper so unlike most of our team I avoid market day. As we walked into the pre-holiday throngs I found it at first disorienting—cheap frilly dresses made in China wrapped in plastic next to brown odorous dried fish spread on low reed tables; blaring music from over-taxed amplifiers; piles of used clothes being picked through by shrewd shoppers next to roasted corn or slimy orange soda bottles refilled with palm oil; everywhere people jostling, moving, surging, thronging. But I found myself after a few minutes absorbing the holiday mood. After months of rain there was sun in the sky, with a warm dry-ish breeze bringing hope of an end to the mud. People were greeting and laughing, inspecting goods. I found a student I knew mulling over high heeled sandals that looked like they would only last a few hours . . . And shared in her attraction to their shiny newness. The bright fabrics waving from poles in the breeze all appealed to me, it was hard to choose. When we stopped to talk to a tailor at his foot-trundled sewing machine he asked my name, then jumped up to shake my hand when he realized I was “Doctor Jennifer” who had helped some child of his family’s recently, which was nice. I smiled to myself walking home, to realize how much more the heat and crowd and smell of this market put me in the “Christmas” mood than a mall in America would after all these years of sharing the season in Uganda. 53 The number of donuts we made for a team breakfast meeting yesterday, with coffee and tea, to discuss missions in Sudan and pray for that country with our visiting field director Robert Carr. 2,500 The number of children in a population of 7.5 million in Southern Sudan who complete primary school each year. 1% The percentage of girls in Southern Sudan who complete primary school. Yes, there are places even needier than Bundibugyo and we are sensing God’s growing plan to use our team to launch new missionaries off to Sudan. 90 About the number of minutes it would take our one little strand of Christmas lights twined in greenery to drain our anemic batteries in this time of clouds. In spite of that fact we unpacked decorations and have the carols blaring. 10,000 The number of shillings someone paid at the church auction today for a Kwejuna Project T-shirt Scott donated. It’s only about 7 dollars . . . But equivalent to last week’s total announced offering, so a pretty big deal. Mostly people bring little piles of mangos or egglplants or sticks of sugar cane. When the auctioneer pulled the T shirt, spiffy white cotton with a bright logo, out of the bag the crowd went wild. I don’t think anything has ever generated that kind of money before! The pastor’s salary is the benefit, and a business man down the road has a new shirt. 31 The number of team and visitors arriving in a few hours to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent at our house. We’ll light candles and read Scripture and sing carols and prepare our hearts. The words of the angels will echo in our minds: fear not.