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Christmas is out of hand.  Stores were decorated just after Halloween and by the day after Christmas there were Christmas trees out at the curb waiting pitifully in the cold to be taken to the trash dump.  Fred Craddock, a great American preacher  reminds us that it is Christmas until January 6th.   Oh, I know ~ that’s churchy stuff and we live in the post-Christian era but Craddock reminds us that we need the 12 days of Christmas to reflect on what God has done among us. 

We in the east have been blanketed by an unusual snowfall which has helped us to stay in and not rush to the stores for sales or to return things that don’t fit.  I for one have spent time just sitting and that is kind of rare for me.  Someone gave me a book entitled “Enough ~ Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity.”   It begins with a wonderful prayer of contentment: “Lord, help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I don’t need most of what I want, and the joy is found in simplicity and generosity.”   That is one of my New Year’s resolutions:  Find joy in simplicity and generosity.

One other little tidbit.  I guess we cannot believe everything we read on the internet.  I “Googled” Christmas in Tanzania and it spoke of Christmas trees, presents, fine meals etc.  Since this is so contrary to what I have been told ~ no trees, no gifts, no decorations, no special meals ~ I immediately wrote to Sandy McCann because I didn’t want to report incorrectly to you.  She wrote back that she has NEVER seen a Christmas tree in Tanzania, nor any of the other things reported on the internet.  As the students have told me ~ they spend most of Christmas in Church, singing, dancing and thanking God for sending the baby Jesus to announce the coming of God’s Kingdom.   As poor as they are, I know they have it right.

Jessie has already written to thank all of you who contributed so generously to our alternative giving for Christmas.  Over $4,000 was donated which is HUGE in Africa.  Thank you all who support our efforts to make a difference.

Be warm and safe and enjoy these 12 days of Christmas.  Tally

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Thank you – everyone for you donations to Karimu!  Thank you Claudia Miller for donating part of her retail sales from Morgan Miller!!!

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While we in many parts of the United States are in a deep freeze it is SUMMER in Tanzania, only they don’t label the seasons as we do.  Basically they have two seasons, the dry season and the rainy season.  This message came this morning from them:

“The blessed rains have begun.  The earth is being transformed before our eyes from a barren and dry land into a land blossoming with wild flowers and green grasses.  Our one hundred students have finished their first semester exams and have gone home to begin planting.  Please pray for us that this year the rains will come in the right amount and at the right time.”

They must feel as we do when winter leaves us and we begin to see the budding of the dogwood trees and the small shoots of daffodils begin to come out of the cold earth ~ our visible signs of renewed life.  The big difference is that their lives hang in a balance as their rainy season comes.  The right amount of rain (not too much and not too little) stands between them and famine.  For the moment we can all rejoice that their land is “blossoming with wild flowers and green grasses.”

A dusting of snow surprised me this morning.  Rooftops are covered making a good landing place for St. Nicholas and his sleigh.  The only other place it stuck was on the holly and the ivy which reminded me of the lovely old English Christmas Carol.  My friends in Tanzania won’t know that carol or its meaningful words.  I have seen neither holly nor ivy there.  Sticker bushes, yes,  but not with dark green shiny leaves and deep red berries that will bring the elegant Cedar Waxwings through in late winter.

Here’s a little “Google lesson” :  “The Holly and the Ivy have always been taken indoors during the winter, the hope being that the occupants would survive difficult conditions just like the hardy Holly and the Ivy.”  I always thought it was because of the green and red colors associated with Christmas.

When I see signs or get e-mails that remind me that there are only 14 shopping days ’til Christmas  I want to go to Tanzania with bags of goodies for my friends.  Thanks to so many of you who have sent generous checks this Christmas we will be able to see to some medical needs there come summer, basics such as food and education, so much better than a bag full of plastic toys that they wouldn’t know what to do with anyway.

“The holly bears a berry as red as any blood.  And Mary bore sweet Jesus Child to do poor sinners good.”

Kate Moto, a teacher, wrote that the Women’s Engish Class has been such a success by inspiring the love of learning, that some of the women want to attend Secondary School. This is like our high school. For many children, their parents cannot afford fees to send them to secondary school, or need them at home to help take care of animals, children, work in the fields and so on. This is particularly true of women. So, it is with great joy we read that here is an opportunity for them to not only study Engish, but further there general education as well. Kate wrote they already have a teacher to begin teaching Form 1.

On another happy note, the piglets are growing and hopefully will have photos to show you soon! Thanks for all your help!

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