I love dry season. I didn’t think I would. During rainy season, I was always so thankful for the rain because it cooled everything off, but now the humidity isn’t around so the heat is more bearable. At night it even gets a little chilly. I usually have to crawl under at least a sheet if not my quilt (thank you Portal!). I’m sure you all feel sorry for me that I have to deal with this weather shift.
During the day, I am also not burdened to watch the sky all the time. I don’t have to worry about going out and getting stuck in a downpour anymore. But I do have to think about trying to stay out of the sun in midday because it gets quite hot if you are not in the shade. I am getting a nice tan though. I will really stand out among all the pale South Dakotans when I come home.
During rainy season, everything was green. There were almost forests of grass everywhere. As the sun dries everything out, the grass turns a golden color and gradually withers and is scorched by the sun. Also the dust starts to cover everything. It is a dull red color, and as it settles on the trees, it almost looks like Christmas… red and green with gold surrounding. Very beautiful.
Now, almost all the crops have been harvested. There is still some cous left and some rice I think, but the groundnuts and corn are all finished. We have been eating plenty of watermelon and bananas lately too. The harvest was good this year.
The one unpleasant thing about dry season is the dust. Although it is pretty on the trees, whenever a car drives by the clinic, a cloud of dust follows making it almost impossible keep anything clean. We have to be very careful with computers so that the dust doesn’t damage the hardware. We also breathe in a lot of dust as well. Usually a couple times during the day I have to blow my nose to clean the dust out of my sinuses. It’s pretty gross.
Other than the dust on the leaves, it didn’t look or feel like Christmas at all to me. I’m used to having a white Christmas and it was very strange to have a hot one. Even though it was very different, it was really good.
A couple weeks before the holiday, we had our staff Christmas party and we came up with the theme of snow with the reference text being John 20:29 since relatively no one here has ever seen snow. The decorations were snow and the cards for the staff had snowflakes on them. Since I was in charge of the cards and the decorations, I made a LOT of snowflakes. I had help with them, but I was so sick of them by the end. After the party, we hung the snowflake decorations up around the clinic and ward. They really turned out nice, but I’m glad they are done.
The day of the party, we also showed Narnia 1 for the staff in the evening. It really went well and it was really interesting to watch it with the people here because they really get into the movie. They especially like battle scenes – they really cheered for Aslan, and didn’t laugh at the same jokes that we did.
Then on Christmas, we had a big service at the church. There were tons of decorations up and everyone was dressed up very nicely.
We got started a little late and then we sang for 45min- 1 hr. Then each conceivable group there got up to sing a song. It was a lot of fun. There was plenty of dancing too. Finally Dr. Jamie preached. Awesome experience – one to remember forever. But the service was 3 1/2 hours long. That is record breaking for me – though I’m sure many of you all can top that ;). After the service we all moved to Jamie and Debbie’s compound for lunch. The ladies had all worked very hard to cook it. They started the previous evening at about 6 to cook. A bunch of us had come for 3 hours and chopped carrots and green beans and potatoes and onions and garlic. The onions were a pretty miserable job – for about 30 minutes, we were crying. Anyways, the meal ended up being really good. It is called chicken yassa (one of my favorites) and it was served with noodles rather than rice. Delicious. Afterwards, some of the youth people went to the preschool to play soccer with a group that was visiting us. Since it was only the guys playing, we girls sat and chatted and watched. When it got dark they started a campfire and played some games and shared testimonies under the stars.
The following day was Sunday, so we went to church. After the long service the day before, I was less excited for another service, but it was good. When I got home, I gathered together the Christmas gifts that I had to give out and went around to give them out. That was fun. Then in the afternoon, we had a smaller Christmas party planned for just the single people with our station leaders and their baby daughters. We started with coffee and nice Swiss Christmas cookies (all homemade). So yummy. Then we played a game of Rage. For those of you who play Up and Down the River, it is similar to that but with extra cards that make it a lot more interesting (thus the name is Rage). I was winning for a while in the middle, but ended up in 3rd place in the end. We are all competitive so it was a ton of fun.
After that, we made dinner – meat pastries with salads with ice cream for dessert. Over dessert, we asked our station leaders some deep questions and got to hear their story of how they got to be where they are now – the short version, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear it. I’ve really enjoyed hearing my team member’s stories in bits and pieces. I am privileged to work with such amazing people.
For New Years, a bunch of us went camping at the beach – the same one as we went before. This time, we mostly hung out on the beach, had some cool conversations, and played in the waves the majority of the time. The waves were amazing. They looked pretty intimidating but we had fun playing in them. A couple people got scraped up a little by the waves, but otherwise it was all good. At midnight, we had a countdown and then we had some non-alcoholic champagne, lit off some fireworks, and then some of the more adventurous members of our group went for a New Years swim. So much fun.