warm coke and cold weather

Dozens of dishes line the counters, dripping on damp rags, as Christmas Eve comes to a close and we prepare for the day we’ve been waiting for for so long. The kitchen counters are perpetually glazed with esukari or sprinkled with incriminating post cookie consuming crumbs. The air is thick with noise and spats and Christmas secrets. Doors are slammed mid gift wrapping. I said Do Not Come In.

It is Christmas Eve here in the bush, and prayers at the church were sparsely attended because the clouds over the mountain threatened rain and the air was cool and grey. Mist swathed the acacia trees like thick cotton and we all felt the chill in the sudden drop in temperature. 83 degreees and no sunlight. We shiver.

Christmas Eve means that our workers labour for only a half day, and so we gave them bags full of cookies and boiled eggs at noon. Thanks for jobs well done and a bonus to make their holidays a time filled with as little hunger as possible. I appreciated the speech Dad gave about how thankful we are for all the work they do so that we are able to do the work we are called to do. I think everyone appreciated it. 

My sisters and I walked to Lokwiis house before the service, and spent several hours visiting with his wife Helen and his son, Longole James. We brought cookies and cake and offered them as Christmas gifts. She smiled widely and thanked us for the unexpected treats. The mill was grinding maize when we arrived, but Helen forced her neighbors to shut it off. The noise was disturbing her guests. 

We were ushered into the small kitchen hut and sat on a bench while she went to prepare food. In Karamoja guests are often left alone for the majority of a visit. It is the act of visiting that is appreciated, and not the visit itself. There is little conversation and much time spent reverently separate from your host. But maybe that is only because we are wazungu...
Blue Band and on bread and warm cokes. She couldn’t find an opener of any sort to remove the tight caps from the bottles and insisted that we use our teeth. When she wasn’t looking, we knocked them off on the side of the wooden bench. The baby was bathed and dressed smartly, and from the village, Lokwii walked us and the child down to prayers. A Christmas Eve service threatened by rain, but no such precipitation came.


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