Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Germany

Nativity play at St Catherine's Stuttgart
We are enjoying our visit to Chris and Abigail in Stuttgart, Germany.  Christmas in Germany is almost polar opposite from Tanzania.  Here there are wonderful Christmas markets all over, with things to buy, beautiful decorations, and a spirit of joy for the upcoming season.  In Tanzania it is all about the birth of Jesus and celebrating his coming in church.  There are no gifts to buy, no cards to send, and warm weather instead of cold.  At Irente Children's Home, the main event of Christmas is the arrival of the bishop and his staff for lunch.  There are no gifts for the children or students, just blessings and good wishes.

Christmas Eve service in Tanzanian Lutheran churches is the Christmas pageant, but starting with the angel's visit to Zachariah and ending with the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem.  Totally different from the Nativity scene that we saw at St Catherine's Anglican Church in Stuttgart.  St Catherine's is an English speaking Anglican parish which used St Catherine's Catholic Church facility.  The scene began, as it does in America, with the arrival of Mary & Joseph at the stable, followed by shepherds, sheep, and Kings.  
The Angel Gabriel visits Mary

King Herod and his soldiers
Tonight we will attend the 8 pm candle light service after a delicious (hopefully) dinner of Roast Tenderloin and Yorkshire Pudding, using Grandmom Mac's recipe (thanks to Maureen, who sent a photo of my hand written copy).  I have not made this in over two years and the oven here is convection…..so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

We wish you all a wonderful, blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.  

Some Christmas angels at Irente Lutheran Church, 2012


One morning I was having a class with the young students.   Rehema, Anna, and Neema all live at the home and go to day school.  Joseph and Asha are both in boarding school, but were home for the holidays.  They range in age from 7 to 11 years old.  Class with this group is a bit like "Little House on the Prairie".  

There was a bit of commotion outside, but I did not pay attention to it until Tom came and called us to come and see a visitor.  There on the ground in front of one of the student dorms was a green mamba snake….between three and four feet long.  Christian was standing over it with a heavy, long stick, which he had used to kill the snake.  Green mambas are on the list of 10 most poisonous snakes in Africa.  They are a beautiful shade of green, with bright red inside the mouth.

Mama Mdemu had been walking to the door of the building when she spotted the snake on the windowsill.  Here when you cry out, “Nyoka, nyoka” (snake, snake) people come running with whatever weapon they can grab.  Christian had the long stick, Mr Emmanuel, the farmer, came with a hoe and Mr Matheya, the cowboy (really!) came with his machete. 

We were under the mistaken impression that we were in too cool of an area for any dangerous snakes.  We were wrong.  In language school, one of the things we learned was that if you yelled “mwizi” (thief) people would come to your aid.  Apparently “nyoka” draws quick attention too.

Mama Mdemu taught us that one of the best ways to discourage green mambas from your area is to plant cherry tomatoes near your doorway.  So, guess what Veronica bought in town for us the next market day?  Yep…some cherry tomato plants.  Hopefully this will be the last snake we see.

(Hatari means danger)

Mama Mdemu, Mama Mrisho and Christian
saying, "Hatari, Hatari!!"