Here it is February already and I haven't even posted about Christmas yet! Decided tonight I better get busy!
It was a busy month and we certainly had some unique and wonderful experiences. I was worried about spending my favorite time of year so far away from home, friends and family. But--we have a new temporary home and although we don't have any real family here with us we certainly have some wonderful friends that make us feel like part of their family.
To start off our season, on the night of Nov. 30 we stayed behind in the office building and decorated all 18 office doors in bright Christmas wrapping paper. It certainly didn't take us too long and it was such a hit and a surprise for everyone in the Nigerian Service Center. We didn't quite finish as we got locked out of the top floor by mistake and had to finish the bows early the next morning before our morning walk. The HR manager, our good friend Ike Ibe (pronounced ebay) helped us put on the finishing touches!
We also put a advent nativity calendar on our office window--most had never seen anything like this and it certainly was another hit!
And if you know me very well you would know I couldn't have Christmas without a new nativity scene. I added 2 to my collection--we bought the wooden one from a Nigerian artist and the silver one was given to us at the staff Christmas party. Beautiful additions to my collection!
We decorated our little tree for the apartment--just like home in a mini version!
We attended several events and parties over the season:
We were asked to speak at a YSA conference early in the month. It was held outside in a tennis court at one of the ward buildings--nice backdrop done by some of the YSA!
The mission had a Super P Day Activity with games and fun for all!
We attended a "Couples Night" put on my the Stake Relief Society--the hall was packed! Dinner, games and dancing! We won the "Tie the tie on your husband" contest. Good reward for all those Sunday mornings of having to tie little boys ties because Mark was always gone!
Our Stake President, President Imo and wife getting on his groove!
Our Area Seventy, Elder Olukanni doing his best to keep up!
Our good friend, Grace, was the caterer for the Mission Christmas Dinner for all 120 missionaries. Mark was helping out with the pounded yam--a bit like mashed potatoes but a lot more work!
And, of course, had to multi-task!
A wonderful "going home" dinner for some of our missionary sisters--lovely ladies! And a welcome dinner at the same time for the new office couple--our new best friends, the Johansens.
We also attended another YSA activity--my new dress is getting lots of wear this Christmas season!
Elder B. and his YSA friends--and his new Igbo outfit with the chief hat!
The office elders and AP's dressed for the season--or maybe for bed??
A Christmas barbecue made by my barbecue-loving and wonderful host husband!
We had many visitors both in our office and home during the season. Here are just a few:
Emmanuel (one of the mission drivers) and his beautiful wife and cute little daughter named Princess but affectionately known by her father as "Handbag" because she wants to be on his arm at all times! Mark and Emmanuel run an imaginary goat ranch together!
Our friends Paul and Abigail Oku dropped by to see us during the holidays and presented me with a new African dress--#2 in my collection! (This is not my favorite pic as I look like a washed out old woman--maybe that is really what I am?? but for the sake of preserving history it's here!) Nice dress, though! They had given Mark a great shirt and pants a few days earlier.
And, of course, our adopted grandkids, Maelyn and Monson came for a little visit to the apartment with their parents, Victor and Katie.
Even the Johansens got in the Christmas spirit and appeared at our door on Christmas Eve bearing gifts. Nice hats!!
On Friday, the 23rd we delivered Christmas treat packages to our friends in the Service Center. Here is Felicia, the Distribution Center manager--always smiling!
Our little office tree held our little gifts for our friends--temple recommend holders (brought so kindly to us by our friends, the Reynolds when they came for a short term humanitarian bore hole project). Comfort is the resident party planner ( and Real Estate administrative assistant).
Can' t forget to mention the opening of a new grocery store and mall just a few minutes away! Great to get some of the things we have missed--even found sour cream here, but only once, never to be seen again. The sad part of this story is that the store was jam packed on the Friday before Christmas when we took the Johansens to pick up a few things--and the people here don't have the same sense of personal space as we do so we were bumped and jostled--and stood in line crammed like sardines for what seemed like an eternity! Then--when I finally got in the car, I put my purse on my lap and realized that the front pocket zipper was open--and my ipod, 10,000N (aobut $65) and my favorite lipstick was gone!! I never carry money as I always rely on Mark for that, but before we left I decided to bring some along in case I found a little present for my ever loving husband for Christmas. Instead I guess I bought a present for a stranger! Hope they like the lipstick!
I love the juxtaposition of American and African wear everywhere!
Christmas Eve day was the best day so far! What fun it was to travel with our friends, the Ibes--Ike, Freda, Alston, Nigel and Friedrich as well as Freda's mother--to deliver some care packages of rice, canned tomatoes, canned mackerel, palm oil and onions to some very needy families. Freda did all the hard work of buying, dividing and organizing the whole thing for us. She picked some wonderful people in her neighborhood who were overjoyed to get something to eat for Christmas. They were often quite skeptical as we approached, especially seeing 2 white people, but as the boys gave them the food and we started to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" they broke into smiles and joined in the singing. I'm not sure I have ever felt the Christmas spirit so strongly as I did that day. What a blessing it was for us!
To top off the day, we treated the Ibes to lunch and ice cream--and Mark introduced them to ice cream floats! What fun we had pouring the Fanta Orange into our cups of ice cream and watching others looking to see what we were doing! By the boy's faces you can see it was a hit!
Santa did find us in Nigeria on Christmas Eve!
And we made sure he came to the Johansens next door!
Picture time after church on Christmas Day
A good old Canadian Christmas dinner--turkey and all the trimmings--although it was the skinniest turkey we had ever seen! We loved it as did the Johansens, but it met with mixed reviews from the Karkaris and the young elders. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes and gravy?
Some skeptical looking missionaries--they did like the jello!
We introduced everyone to the dice game to do the dishes--the elders especially liked it when the president or his wife had to head to the kitchen to wash or dry.
To top off the meal we were entertained by the Elders Osanya, Engmann, Oboh and Brown--office elders and AP's and quartet extraordinaire.
It was truly a memorable season for us. As we look back on our experiences we are so grateful for the things we have learned and for the many blessings we have in our lives. We are especially thankful for our testimonies of our Saviour, Jesus Christ and for the most wonderful gift of the atonement.
Merry Christmas from your new Nigerian friends/family--the Bakers!