Babies, baptisms and Christmas

Though we technically had work off the past few days, our holiday weekend was nothing short of event-filled.

We started Christmas morning with snickerdoodles, kahawa (coffee) and cinnamon buns home made by our friend and neighbor Adrienne. And a few paper snowflakes later, we headed to our loan program treasurer Levina’s house in nearby Tloma.

Two children feed each other cake during the celebration.

Some of the many children and teenagers who live there had decorated a nativity scene with overhanging boughs, but the day was more of a birthday celebration for Levina’s husband, Emanuel. This meant lots of food, and a couple of beers that only we were privy to, and of course cake.

Following the cakie-cakie-cakie song, all of the 30-plus neighbors there took turns feeding to and taking bites from Emanuel for a small fee. Then we danced a bit with the kids and eventually made it home in time for a quiet dinner and Skype calls with family. Levina really does open up her home and kitchen to her community, especially orphaned children.

Lush gardens and trees differentiate Gibbs’ landscape from the rest of Karatu.

The next morning we met a new friend, Margaret, for a lovely and expansive breakfast at Gibbs Farm. Margaret is a retired veterinarian here with a faith-based organization that provides goats to local people; she has been helping us with our kitten and is a very interesting person. Gibbs, atop a hill overlooking coffee plantations, a lush valley and mountains in the distance, is a little paradise just outside of Karatu.

An after-breakfast, outside catnap helped make the day a luxurious one.

With its own small farm, the restaurant serves up gourmet, western food in a gorgeous, peaceful setting. And for those, like us, who want to relax and take in the view after eating, there are plenty of gardens to browse and cushiony seats to find.

To continue our vacation day, we came home and colored while listening to a real-life crime audio series, before making creamy avocado pasta and mulled wine and watching Elf for the second and final time this season.

A woman holds out her baby for the priest to pour water on and baptize.

Sunday was another day of cultural immersion. Our secretary, Eliminata, invited us to participate in her grandchildren’s baptisms.They were several of about 50 kids to be baptized, however, so the service was rather long and hot, but amazingly free of crying infants, holy water and all. Our church experience wasn’t too different from one at home, other than a strong straightforwardness with donation requests, several times, and the high volume of babies being blessed.

Afterwards we went to Eliminata’s nyumbani, or home, for soda, lunch and cakie time, IMG_0996complete with pictures of each individual feeding. IMG_1013A few hours in we went to another house for similar traditions after before riding home on a small motorcycle, called a boda, at beautiful dusk as our driver pumped out rap from the early 2000s.

Today we started the week with a meeting in Tloma, working with the local loan leaders to create an annual report for the government of our goings-on. Tomorrow will be a continuation of that venture, as Kim, Josepine, Eliminata and Levina project what’s to come in the upcoming year.IMG_0884



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One thought on “Babies, baptisms and Christmas

  1. I really enjoyed your post and the colorful pictures that have accompanied your journey’s. Christmas in Africa must be very different from our western version but still looks as heartwarming and family-filled as ever. Thanks for the great post.

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