When we moved to Awassa it was just that- “Awassa”. But now (and by now I mean the last few years-we’re a little slow) the thing to do it change the name and/or spelling of towns and cities back to their pre-communism name. Thus we should now be “Hawassa”. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks- especially when that trick is a silent “H”. So we vacillate between Awassa and Hawassa. But it’s the same place. So bear with our fickleness.
Anywhoo. Christmas in Awassa. It was a first. Not my first in Ethiopia. I think it was my 14th? Maybe? Something like that. My 17th or 18th in Africa. But my 1st in Awassa and my 2nd this far away from family.
We really celebrated on Christmas Eve. In the morning, Ben got a call that we had packages to pick up from the post office. A Christmas Eve miracle. And one of the reasons it’s nice that Ethiopians celebrate on the 7th of January and not on the 25th of December- the post office was open! So Ben went and picked them up and put them under the tree. Two USPS red, white, and blue boxes nestled under the tree. It was beautiful. Really, it was. My mom and dad had also brought us Christmas gifts when they visited so they were under the tree too. We felt so incredibly loved…and remembered. It was perfect.
For Christmas Eve dinner we went over to celebrate with our friends at the Helimission compound. We had an American/ Swiss/ German/ Canadian feast. It was delicious.
And there were plenty of kids to entertain and love on Elaine.
Can you tell her dad dressed her? Those shoes….
We spent the afternoon relaxing with friends and the kids even got to go on a donkey ride.
The big kids got a ride too
Christmas Eve night we read Twas the Night Before Christmas to Elaine and put her to bed while we watched White Christmas (my all-time fave) and sipped on apple cider (ok, maybe it was really hot apple juice, but we pretend).
Christmas day was really low key. We spent the morning making and eating a delicious breakfast, reading the Christmas story and opening our gifts. It was exciting and relaxing and fun and anticlimactic all at the same time.
In the afternoon we went to a Christmas service with our fellowship group. Elaine got all dressed up in her beautiful Christmas dress that a friend made for her.
We also got to skype with our families. I don’t know if this technology makes it easier or harder to be so far away. 99% of the time it makes it easier, but seeing everyone together, actually touching each other- not just looking at each other through a computer screen, with a big, glowy tree in the background and blocks of cheddar cheese and turkey sandwiches in hand did make us incredibly homesick. (Ok, they didn’t actually have turkey sandwiches and blocks of cheddar cheese- that would have just been mean. but you get the point?)
Overall it was a great Christmas…just the three of us. Celebrating the birth of a King that came into the world in a place that probably looked pretty similar to what most of Ethiopia looks like today. Animals everywhere, dirt, dust, inadequate healthcare, oppression, no running water (if you’ve delivered a baby, the no running water thing is especially painful to think about). Even I left this place to have my baby. And as wonderful as I think Elaine is- she is no King of Kings. And God sent His son here…for us. The undeserving. The depth and pain of that sacrifice was especially evident to me this year.
It’s now January 4th and Christmas is long over and I’m just now getting around to posting this. Ethiopian Christmas is this weekend- so if you think about it, I’m actually ahead of the game. We’re looking forward to spending the weekend with friends and celebrating Christmas all over again…this time with a lot less cookies and a lot more injera ba wat.
Merry Christmas from the Taylors!