In this, my first Christmas in Ngudu, Tanzania, the majority of decorating took place the day before of Christmas Eve. There was a lot of bustling around, cleaning the church grounds and preparing the sanctuary for the main event, the birth of our Lord. Surprisingly to me, the Christmas colors were yellow and white. The parish could not afford a traditional Christmas tree, so the pastor cut down some different trees that worked just as well. They looked like branches taken out of a Dr. Seuss book. The church was filled with tiny Christmas lights around the back of the altar.
On Christmas day, we went to one of the out stations for Mass. Somehow, I ended up sitting right in the middle of all the mothers. They were dancing down the aisle as they deposited their offerings. They had me get up and dance with them. They said they were so happy and wanted to celebrate through dancing. Even though we don’t speak the same language, in praising God there are no language barriers. There weren’t very many people inside, but there was enough music and joy to fill the church to overflowing.
Christmas this year was not wrapped in commercialism. Rather, it was spent in church celebrating The birth of the One whom we have been preparing for: Jesus Christ