Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas in Niger

Over the years, many people have asked me what Christmas looks like in a country like Niger. It is a predominately Muslim country (between 80 and 98% depending on how you look at the stats) and there is no snow, no pine trees with lights or decorations on houses or anything else like that. But no matter where in the World we live, we celebrate Christmas with people. We celebrate Christ’s birth in ways unique to each location but also in ways that reflect our deep roots to family, friends and neighbours.

Here in Niger this Christmas some teammates noticed that the “sermons” from the mosques that they say over the loud speakers 5x a day are getting longer. A local friend says they are speaking out against Christmas, against Christ and telling people not to celebrate. However very few of the people here actually speak Arabic and thus few understand what they are saying at all. With multiple mosques in ever community it can feel oppressing but we sense God’s presence.

The “Grand Mosque” in Niamey

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So for us when we are here in Niger, Christmas is about community and worshiping and celebrating together. Each year the International church has a carols, candlelight and cookies service where we sit outdoors with candles and sing carols and worship and enjoy fellowship.

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We decorate our house with a little tree and we make homemade ornaments

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I also enjoy setting up my nativity collection around the house on the holidays. I am slowly collecting them in my travels and love their unique styles and materials. Here is a sample of one table set up Smile These represent Ghana, Burkina Faso, Spain, France and a Paul McIver original!

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Two of our Christmas seasons here we have also been really blessed to have family visit us. It is a great time of year weather wise to be in Niger and we love every minute of spending holidays with our families!

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One of our favorite parts of the holidays here is the time we spend with our team. Christmas-3Depending on who is home in Canada on furlough and who is visiting and who we have for volunteers, this group of people looks a little different every year. We love the way God has given us family here in this group and we laugh so hard together! We have great times of fellowship, worship and laughter!

 

Another special part of the holidays here is the visits we have with our National friends. We go and bring treats and share meals and share the Christmas story with many of our dear Nigerien friends. Here is Bennett and Arielle in 2011 with the daughters of our friend and co-worker Mohammed.Christmas-4

And finally, we enjoy special times with just our immediate family. Nothing is more important to me than my family and our Christmas holidays are full of baking, stories, games (lots of games!) and laughter and hugs and Christmas traditions. No matter where we live, these follow us. I am so thankful!

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So from our home to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, no matter where in the world this holiday finds you! May it be filled with loved ones, special traditions, memories and joy as we celebrate Christ’s birth!

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