Sunday, December 17, 2006

I think the « worst » is over. Not that I’ve been miserable the last week or so. Far from it. I’ve been very busy, but it’s been fun, in a strange, tiring way. My days since I last blogged have mostly been filled up by work at the VAO. I’ve been working there nearly every day from 8 until 3. Then I rush home to do all the computer stuff for the project: print labels and bills and keep up with the emails. My own computer stuff ( most notably: the writing of blog entries) kind of fell by the wayside. Actually, some people find it’s amazing that I blog at all. When I casually mentioned to friends in the USA that I have a dial-up connection here at home, they found it oddly quaint. “Wow, Beth!” they exclaimed. “We did not know you were Amish, shunning all modern conveniences. Do you card wool in your spare time?”
I admit that it does take about five minutes to open a single web page, but on the upside, it does give me lots of time to read while I wait.

There were also extra singing rehearsals in the evenings, not to mention the hoemwork to supervise and the dinner to get on the table.
I did take last Wednesday off from the VAO, though. The French Embassy closed the kids’ school, as it was the anniversary of the murder of Norbert Zongo and they feared demonstrations in the center of town. I remember when we arrived here in 1999, that December 13 was the one year anniversary of the event. It was chaos for weeks here- mobs were burning cars in the streets and public services, like water and electricity were cut off for days at a time. By New Years’ Day I was ready to leave the country, or at least to buy a gas-powered generator. Things calmed down by the summer, but heated up again the following December. The government here has learned to be cautious. Their first line of defence is to start the University holiday before the 13th.- that way the students are dispersed back to their home villages and protests are less likely to start. It seems to have worked, things were very quiet this year- just a few, rather quiet gatherings.
I used my free Wednesday with the kids to make Christmas cookies with them and a few of their friends. We also went to pick up two new family member: baby guinea pigs. Mallory’s is called “Bubbles” and Alexa’s “Patches”, aka “Albert”. They squeak a lot, as guinea pigs are prone to do. Their arrival has brought lots of opportunities for me to gross-out the kids with stories of how I was constantly served those small, noisy creatures as a main course at meals when I worked in Peru years ago. Not that I ate any, mind you.
What else? There was Christmas carolling at the US Ambassador’s residence on Friday night. Later that night, my small (only 8 people!!) choral group gave a small concert for family and friends.
Yesterday, our church held an early “Noël” mass, as so many members travel during the holidays. Then we went out to diner at the Verdoyant with friends.
I am fighting off a dreadful cold since about one week. I think I am loosing, as it is segueing into an uncomfortable cough.
Today, I am NOT working at the VAO!! I got down the box of Christmas dress-up close and the kids and their friends put on a very entertaining re-enactment of the Nativity. My camera conked out at the beginning, so I only have one, not very good, picture that Blogger won't even let me publish. Sorry. At least there was no fight over who got to be Mary, as might happen in other households. Luckily, Mallory always wants to be the animal in any pretend play the kids do. If there’s no animal in the story, they add one for Mallory. (Recently overheard: “And the secret agents have a rabbit, ok Mal? And she has x-ray vision and can bite people!” ) So, Mallory latched right onto the coveted donkey role. She sported unusually small ears. Maybe a result of that genetic engineering that we are always hearing about?
The nativity play went pretty well until Valentine, dressed as a shepherd, ran off with the Christ Child in her arms, yelling “And THEN Baby Jesus was kidnapped by an ambitious, unscrupulous shepherd who wanted to get his hands on the treasure of the Three Kings! Hand over the Myrrh or the baby gets it!!” Screaming bloody murder, the Angel, Joseph, Mary, King and the Donkey chased the Evil Shepherd into my office where I was TRYING to write this. No wonder I never get anything done.
That’s it. I need to go make chocolate mint pinwheel cookies and get ready for another church service this afternoon. We’re going to the Christmas worship being held by several missionary families. The kids aren’t too pleased to go to church again this weekend, but I promised them that the music and snacks will be excellent, so they are going without too much protest.

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