Listen here, particularly around the 2 minute mark. This is our theme song for Christmas day, thanks to our friend Jodi. :) 12 Days of Christmas
We spent Christmas eve with Brook our musical missionary friend. Dinner, jam session with Christmas carols, and a movie: “White Christmas.” We also enjoyed a serious thunderstorm and hail.
On Christmas morning, we woke up early to Skype with our families. We also had a Pauloski-style Christmas breakfast of pancakes and orange juice and sprite, etc.
Tanzanians typically go to church on Christmas eve and 3 times on Christmas day. We only attended 2 of the 4 services. We went to morning service with Linus Uzuri and his wife, Mama Mpaji. Uzuri is a teacher at TGBI and lives here on campus. He often helps Jeff with project work. Uzuri speaks English very well and understands Americans well, too. Uzuri often preaches at a church in Mpwapwa Village that doesn’t have a pastor, and he invited us to join him on Christmas morning. The church was smaller than those in Mumba and Jangwani, but Christmas morning is a special celebration and everybody was very welcoming and in high energy. Jeff sat in front of the congregation with Uzuri, and I sat with Mama Mpaji, who was so helpful in showing me the ropes of the church service. She doesn’t speak any English, but she was definitely the most helpful person I’ve ever come across at church! She made the service much more enjoyable. After many songs and dances, Jeff and I were invited to sing a song. Since we didn’t know any Swahili songs, we sang Joy to the World for everybody. Quite amusing, haha.
After church, we were invited to the mwalimu’s house. Mwalimu means “teacher” in Swahili – I guess he’s not a pastor but he often teaches at the pastor-less church. We sat with Uzuri and Mama Mpaji and ate ugali, meat, and potatoes with them.
We returned home and after a few hours, we went to Jangwani for another church service. We sat with Brook who was able to translate much of the message and songs for us. There was a skit performance of the nativity story, and we were able to follow what was happening without knowing the language.
We spent Christmas evening with Brook and the Shermans, exchanging gifts, eating, and playing games. And all the while, I was singing in my head, “I had Christmas down in Africa. I had Christmas down in Africa…”