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Christmas-y Update

December 30, 2012

The Christmas House, and all of its amenities, has been such a wonderful reprieve from our normal routine. Not that we mind our normal routine, but sometimes, a bit of luxury is nice. The kids have loved the dog, ShUGA – a white English bulldog with a bit of a noise quirk. She makes snoring/growling noises constantly as she breathes. It is nothing short of hilarious. And she loves the kids…and loves hanging out under the table while they eat.

Speaking of eating, we have done SO MUCH eating. It’s really not good for us, but it’s only for a short while. Between the festivities, the fully stocked American pantry and the personal chef, we are constantly stuffed. Yes, I said personal chef. Chef Taty makes amazing gourmet dishes. Our grocery bill is certainly higher, but we’re saving a bit by not using generator fuel and he does the shopping himself, plus it’s a vacation! He also cleans the house and has been tremendous by doing all of the dishes from our three events.

We had six couples and five kids over on our first Sunday here. Then, Christmas Day, Jocelyn and I, with loving help from our husbands, hosted all of the adopting families who wanted to come while they were “stuck” in Kinshasa. We served large helpings of spaghetti (I made 7 quarts of sauce….it was a bit much), along with some chicken and rice for the newly adopted kids who prefer a more local cuisine. Finally, the following day, we hosted all of the MAF team, including three visiting college kids, for pizza and spaghetti and tasty sides.

We aren’t planning any more official hosting gigs at the Christmas House, so now we get to sit back and enjoy the rest of our two weeks here. The power did go out twice, but less than a minute later, some distant generator kicked on and we were back to life. The constant access to air conditioning has been wonderful, though we’ve acclimated so much that we get chilly if we leave it on for more than an hour or two. This worries us slightly as we plan a return to the states in March or April.

The pool has probably been one of the best treats. Levi loves jumping onto the floaty noodles and has become quite the little fish. Amelia likes to be placed in her floaty seat and left “alone.” Matthew and I enjoy the chance to cool off, though it seems slightly redundant with the air conditioning, but we’re not complaining! Again, with the acclimation…we were feeling almost too chilly to go swimming the other day and discovered that it was 85F outside! Oh dear, we’re going to need to pull out our Alaska gear upon our return!

Our family Christmas, which we celebrated on Christmas Eve, was so fun with the kids. They loved opening their presents lovingly sent all the way from the states from grandparents (and Auntie Jenny) via some generous adopting moms who spared the space in their luggage.

Speaking of the adopting families, it has been such a fun weekly event for me (Lisa), to take the ladies, and occasional dad, out for a quick shopping run in Kinshasa. Two weeks in a row, a friend and her vehicle that holds six, joined us and we were able to take a larger crowd. Sometimes I have time to make several stops, but some weeks I have other obligations and have to cut back, but overall it has been really fun. I especially have enjoyed “making friends” with some of the merchants. Relationships is the entire social, and often economic, foundation in DRC, far more so than in the states.

Saturday was the staff MAF Christmas party, which included all of the Congolese staff and some tasty Congolese food (yes, someday, I will write a post on exactly what that means). Since most of the presentations and memories shared about 2012 were in French, and it was my nap time so my attention span was shorter, I missed quite a bit, but it was still a lovely meal shared with everyone.

Today was the final hosting gig for Jocelyn and I during this busy holiday season.  We hosted, at Nick and Jocelyn’s new house, all of our sentinels and their families.  Between us, there were five guys, two of the wives, and so many children that I lost count, but we got some good pictures!  It was a good success!

Finally, on a sad note, Jocelyn and I had let our nanny/housekeeper go. You’ll remember I introduced her back in October, but she has had some struggles and different ways of approaching improvements have still left us stuck with a poor employee. She is a sweet girl, but we both feel that there is some maturity and motivation lacking. We gave her every chance in the book (at one point, literally writing a new contract), but as a learning experience, one can really only give so many chances before one realizes that learning cannot occur under the current circumstances. It is such a tough decision…and Jocelyn was a rock by being there to let her go (she was the primary employer) and watching her cry and ask for another chance. However, please pray for me because I need to hire a new person and get to know them a bit before my next outing with the adopting families on January 9th! That’s not small order, but I have a lead and will have her start a trial period, if she’s willing, when we get back from the Christmas House.

So, pictures, yes…I have them…I shall post them…but did you know that the internet at the Christmas House is even SLOWER than the MAF internet at our regular house? It’s true. It’s a compromise, I suppose, of vices. Facebook loads quite well, but most other things do not. Go figure. So, just be patient and there will be a lot once we get back!  WordPress is especially slow to load…as in, it won’t load at all and I am currently posting from Nick and Jocelyn’s.

In the meantime, we will experience our first Congolese new year this week. The New Year celebration is a FAR bigger deal here than Christmas, which is only considered an important religious holiday. Bonne Annee will go all night long. Not for us tired white people, mind you…but the Congolese will be partying it up! Bonne fete (good party)!!!

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