On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…. 5 cups of tea….
We just came from a lovely meal served by a Nepali friend – ending with lovely sweet “chiya”. We have had such a busy Advent season that it seems as if December has flown by. We were missing our family, friends, and the musical traditions of the U.S., but it was really nice not to have any of the commercialism here. We did find one Christmas tree in a little store in the bazaar.
Christmas here really started on Sat, Dec. 1 with the Tansen Tutorial Group presenting the Christmas story in drama, song and with pictures. It was a wonderful service and made us remember the days when our children were learning lines and dressing in costumes, etc. It was a pleasure to just sit back and enjoy the afternoon!
We had an “expat team” party on Sat, Dec. 15 with a meal including a big dish of sweet potato soufflé that I had taught the guest house cooks how to make the day before! (Thanks to LaComedia for the recipe!) After a wonderful meal with lots of yummy desserts, we enjoyed singing by the barbershop group (although the Australians had a hard time with “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas!”) and some games – including a piñata that looked like Santa!
Two nights later we had a Christmas party for the doctors, interns, residents and their families. It was another big meal, but this time there was some time for telling the Christmas story as there were several there who are not believers. It was a fun evening and a good time to share about why we celebrate Christmas.
At the English worship service at church, we had an evening of singing Christmas hymns and carols – American style! Several nights later, we went caroling around to the wards in the hospital giving each patient a tract and some fresh tangerines. The Christmas story was shared in each ward after we sang. Each child in the pediatric ward was given a hand knitted sweater sent by wonderful ladies in the U.K.
A couple of ladies from the church and Debbie went to another hospital to visit the patients in the ICU. We were able to pray for the patients, and also to share the Christmas story with the nurses and staff there. We gave gifts of food and Christian books to the staff and patients. The nurses were so touched by the visit that they sent a thank you gift to our church!
The hospital Christian Fellowship group had an all day tea for staff the week before Christmas. All 350 of the staff were invited throughout the day to come and have tea and snacks and to learn about the Christmas story and why Christians celebrate.
The Tansen nursing campus had a celebration of Christmas with the 13 Christian students (out of 120) putting together a program of songs, dance, and even a flute/clarinet duet by one of the other teachers and myself! Unfortunately, the celebration was outside and it was a very chilly, overcast day! My fingers didn’t want to work on the keys (shades of marching band)! There was a wonderful drama of the Christmas story performed by the Christian students.
The Saturday before Christmas was probably the biggest outreach: all 7 churches in Tansen had joined together and rented the 500 seat “town hall” for a joint outreach service. All the “thulo manche” (important people) in town were invited. The churches had practiced and did great songs and dances and the guest speaker was from a church in Kathmandu. He gave an excellent message. The hall was packed – no children were allowed seats – they had to sit on the laps of parents, and all the youth gave up seats and stood around the edges. The service started at 11 and was finished around 2:15. It was a very special day.
On Christmas eve, we invited “expats” to our house for a short Christmas Eve service in English for those of us used to worshiping on that evening. We used the advent wreath I had put together and read scripture and sang hymns together.
Christmas morning saw us returning to church at 11 for the service there. The church was packed with probably 300-400 people and after the service, everyone ate pulau (rice with nuts, coconut and oil), curried vegetables, spicy meat and achar. I never cease to be amazed that they can do all this outside the church in big pans cooking over firewood. The men were in charge of the cooking and it was delicious. Here is a banner that was hung outside the church for all to see. The scripture is from Prov. 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation”. It is a picture of Jesus looking over the town of Tansen. Also, it seems that God is in charge of decorating the outside of the churches here!
Even though we weren’t really hungry, we went to another missionary’s house for supper Christmas night. It was a lovely international meal, including Korean kimbap and pugogee, and with a Christmas pudding from England at the end of the meal.
It was indeed a Merry Christmas here in Tansen, Nepal. We pray that yours was blessed as well. Thanks to so many who sent us greetings through email and we enjoyed the cards that came in the mail!
As we draw near to 2013, we were challenged by the speaker in church this morning to be strong, to always look to Jesus for our strength, to fight against Satan, and to put on the armor of God.
Happy New Year!