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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Signs of Christmas

Still waiting for the hot dry wind that ends the rainy season to blow in, which for most of the last 17 Christmases has been a herald of the season in our lives.  But other signs are in evidence today.  Cow prints in the margins of the road, from the herds going to market.  The margins of the road widened by the powerful grader, while choruses of "Make straight in the desert, a high way for our God!" resonate in my head.  Longer church services, as the choirs multiply and gather momentum, and the congregation builds in anticipation.  Massive lorries full of cocoa dominating the road, grinding gears, as this year's crop exits the district, leaving Christmas funds for many in their wake.  But not for all.  Old friends coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, showing up to greet us after months of laying low, mentioning their financial needs exacerbated by the expectations of the season.  No kids in school uniforms, a startling absence.  The scent of vanilla pods drying in the sun.  An evening at home decorating cookies, fingers stained with the not-likely-FDA-approved powerful food coloring we buy in Fort Portal.  Jack scouting out a likely capricious (juniper-like scrubby pine, the best we could do this year) and Luke single-handedly chopping it down with a panga (machete) and dragging it to our door.  Carols on our ipod, and on the piano as Julia learns them, while Caleb fools around with the guitar.  All four conspiring to get into the attic and bring down the boxes of decorations even though I'm still settling from our trip . . we set out manger scenes, hang ornaments on the windows, drape red-and-green tie-dyed kitengis everywhere we can, open Christmas picture books like greeting old friends.  Even a wreath on the door.  Our third Advent, this time with a handful of Ugandan co-workers and our down-sized team of 4 singles, making pizza and lighting candles and singing songs and reading Scripture.  Getting out my holly-wreath glass plates, an unlikely find in a duka years ago.   The biggest treat is yet to come:  this year Nyahuka has power, and Saturday our house was connected to the grid.  Scott is finishing some wiring and then our family Christmas present will be:  electricity!  Abundant and relatively cheap hydro-electric power will, we hope, allow us to turn on Christmas lights for more than 5 minutes at a go, for the first time ever!  Stay tuned.

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