…was certainly different. On Christmas Eve Fi, Nikki, Justin, George and I went over to the Flight House to play crazy games and eat Christmas goodies with Bruce the Pilot and Mrs Bruce (who is actually called Marilyn and is a real sweetie). It was interesting getting to know a bit more about everyone’s very different backgrounds. On Christmas Day Fi and Nikki were working although Fi hoped to get away about 10 for a while and she and I were planning to go to some of the 9-12am church service! However things were really busy and she finally got back about 11.30 which was too late, even by Brown standards I would have gone by myself quite happily but had no house key and you don’t leave your house unlocked, especially not when it has all the Christmas stockings in it!
Instead I went back to the hospital with Fi and entertained some of the boys on men’s ward (children’s only caters up to 6yrs) making origami birds and boxes etc and supervising the colouring-in activities (ie trying to ensure equitable distribution of colour pencils etc etc!). There are some very sad cases in there but also an incredible amount of optimism and cheerfulness.
Fi, Nikki, Justin, George and I were invited to Alice the hospital administrator’s for dinner – Fi was almost too late and the guys didn’t make it at all as the 2nd set of twins for the day decided they had priority! They were undiagnosed too so it was all on. Unfortunately the first ones who arrived earlier on were only 24 weeks and didn’t live but the later ones were healthy. After dinner we all were back on deck to hand out Christmas presents and fruit to the patients. I was on women’s ward first which was humbling to say the least, then maternity. There were 16 patients and at first I could only see the mothers. There are no cots but the brightly coloured bundles on the beds contain tiny wee scraps of humanity if you look closely enough! The mother who had lost the twins was in a separate room and received a package of pampering things just for her.
The rest of the day was very quiet – I think we had chicken noodle soup out of a packet for supper! Not very Christmassy at all but that day was really for the patients and Boxing Day was for the mission staff. We invited J and G for pancakes, bacon and mangoes (had run out of bananas!) but once again they couldn’t make it – an emergency C-section this time! However all 21 of us got to the dinner which was held under a big chota (shelter) in the Poidevin’s orchard (the pilot) Everyone contributed and as always with this type of meal there was far too much food and it was all delicious! Our salads caused a bit of comment from the Canadians…strange people!! There was the obligatory rainstorm while we were still out in the orchard and a humdinger of a thunderstorm when Fi and I were helping with the dishes back at the Poidevin’s. There was nothing for it but to curl up in big armchairs with mugs of tea and sit it out
We finally got home about 5.30 only to turn around an hour later and go to the Reed’s for dessert and presents. They have 4 young children, one of whom I’m tutoring. We had had the Christmas bags in our house for a few days – chosen in part because we have so little furniture there’s plenty of floor space!! People had been calling in all week to add their contributions to each bag so everyone had a range of gifts. It was a really nice idea and whilst the emphasis was on the children, the adults, including the short termers, certainly weren’t forgotten. The final act for Christmas in Zambia was going back to the Reed’s for midday dinner on Sat to eat leftovers!!
It’s now Mon am and it’s raining steadily as it has been most of the night. Yesterday we had a trip to Hillwood Farm, owned by the gt-grandson of the people who founded Kalene Mission in the 1880’s. It was an absolutely fascinating afternoon….but that’s another entry