Sunday, July 15, 2012

4th of July Celebration

We celebrated July 4th on Monday, July 9th, which was the missionaries' P Day.  We went out of town to the edge of a lake, where there is a privately owned area with some gazebos and an area to play football (soccer).  It felt almost like the southwest, because there were pine trees with pine cones around the picnic area, and of course lots of local shrubs and trees.  It took me a little while to get a good picture of this darling little girl because after staring at us for a long time, whenever I tried to take her picture, she would laugh and turn her head.  I asked, when we first came, why some little girls have beautifully decorated braids and some don't, and was told that sometimes it is a tribal tradition that determines if the hair is shaven, like hers, or is grown out and decorated.  It could also be whether the mother or someone else has the time or desire to do fancy hair - it can take hours and hours of sitting still and I often wonder how little babies and toddlers manage that!  We were all watching the elders play football with a group of kids from the area.  Children and adults LOVE to play and watch football - it is the most popular past time here.  One of our English students said that playing football makes him feel 'free'  from the cares of his world.
Here are more children who wanted their picture taken while we watched the game. Of course, when I took the shot, they quit smiling, except one little guy.  The big eyes in the middle belong to the little girl in the picture above this.   I showed them the photo after and they thought it was wonderful.  If you take one picture, you can count on taking lots, because suddenly there is a crowd who want to be included. 

These boys behind the wall, came over to watch us as we gathered at the gazebo.  Some of them  had  played football with the elders, two of whom are also in the picture, and they told us they needed water, so we gave them some bottled water.

This charming visitor was in a web on the gazebo.  We didn't see him at first.  He was HUGE!   When we gathered around to take pictures of him, he started back up his web - in leaping bounds.  One of the elders took a video of it - it was amazing and scarey to watch.  We didn't see any other spiders, but the elders had fun getting me to jump when they said there was another one.  Just a note to our wonderful missionary mothers - we haven't seen anything like this in town and nothing like this in the elders' apartments!  All the elders in one of the apartments sleep under mosquito netting because their windows and screens don't keep the apartment free of those pests.  Really, the insects in town are no worse than in many places in the U.S.  We do all we can to rid our apartments of them.

Here is one action shot of the football game.  The field was big, and had bamboo goal posts.  They all had lots of fun and  just about beat the ball to death with the sandy dirt. I wish I had taken a photo of all the elders who played, to show how they looked when they were done, but here is one example, below.  Our missionaries and the local boys were on mixed teams and they helped each other up when they bit the dust - one missionary kicked the ball so hard, his shoe went flying, too!

Looks like he got a little dirty, doesn't it!  Luckily, we had dinner first, because the water we brought was for drinking ........Water in this area probably has to be hauled from somewhere in 'beatles.' It is a precious resource, especially clean water.  The Mission provides filters for our apartments and we are given careful guidelines about not drinking any other water, unless it is sealed, bottled water. 

Dinner was pulled pork sandwiches, chips and salsa, baked beans and rice, potato salad, lots of water, and chocolate cake and peach cobbler with whipped cream for dessert - a taste of the U.S. The missionaries are fun to cook for, because they always eat lots and say lots of 'thank yous.'  I am still saying, that even though I am not doing so good with learning French, I am doing OK at cooking for the elders every once in awhile!  I asked one of them if he liked the pulled pork (my first try with that) and he said yes, but that there wasn't enough of it!  Sounds like a hardworking, growing young man, doesn't it?

This is a view in one direction from the football field. It was quite a drive to get to the picnic area - on dirt and sandy roads.  It is quite a mix of tropical and other kinds of trees and bushes.  Sometimes we were surprised about what was just around the bend....and we only took one wrong turn!
Here is a view of the lake.  Some elders walked down to the edge of the lake and got great photos of some wooden canoes. We could see a few canoes out in the lake with people fishing, but they were too far out to get a good picture.   One of the elders said we didn't have to worry about him getting in the water, because he surely didn't know what other living things were in it!  I hope to get some of their pictures so I can add them to this blog.  It was starting to get dark and we wanted to get back to town before night.  It is currently winter here (cool, dry season) and so it gets light about 6:15 AM and dark about 6:15 PM.  It is also MUCH cooler - blessedly so.  I have even turned off the air conditioning a lot lately.  Many Congolese are wearing winter coats and multiple layers of clothing, at least in the mornings.

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