|Rebekah making ornaments|
|Rebekah eating a decorated cookie|
A few days later, several homeschooling, expat missionaries who live in northern Ghana came to Nalerigu. One of our neighbors is part of the homeschooling group for northern Ghana, and they offered their house for the monthly activity. They celebrated Christmas during the December monthly activity by making toilet paper tube Christmas carolers and decorating cookies. All the children had so much fun with each other. It was also such a blessing to make new friends by meeting many other missionary families who live in northern Ghana.
|our 'Christmas day'|
Tim was given 3 days off at the beginning of Christmas week. We enjoyed Sunday, relaxing with the family and preparing for Monday. On Monday, we had our first Christmas celebration. We started off the morning by eating a big breakfast together, followed by reading the Christmas story and discussing with Rebekah why it was so important. Next, we each opened a gift that we had been given. Several of you were so gracious to send us things to enjoy for Christmas. As expected, Abigail enjoyed the wrapping paper the most, and Rebekah just wanted to open everyone's gifts in order to call them hers. It is so fun as a parent to watch your little ones' eyes light up with excitement. Tim then went over to our neighbor's house to see if they could figure out why we didn't have internet, while we girls straightened up from breakfast and opening presents.
|Tim and Rebekah giving oil and rice|
|some of the women who came to get food|
The next morning, we headed to Tamale (the 'big city' in northern Ghana). We had a pleasant three hour trip. We ran our errands and did our grocery shopping, and on our way out of town, we stopped by to greet some missionaries that we had recently met, the Federwitz's. They are a lovely couple with 4 children. The youngest was a little girl who loved playing with Rebekah and who Rebekah adored. We were leaving Tamale late, but they were so kind to offer us dinner. We were not able to stay too long, but this last stop made our trip to Tamale enjoyable for all. We ate a wonderful meal, had encouraging conversation, and the girls were able to get out of their seats and play. To top it all off, they sent us home with a plate of homemade Christmas cookies that we enjoyed on the ride home.
|caroling at the surgical theatre|
|Caroling on the wards|
|Giving oranges in the pediatric ward|
|Tim playing drum|
|Joanna and siblings on Christmas day|
|Cahills opening stockings|
We also had another unique opportunity- we were able to see Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes being handed out on the day after Christmas. Our neighbor mentioned to us the week before that there would be shoeboxes given out at the TB village. He thought that we would be interested, since we are here through Samaritan's Purse. What he didn't know was that we have actually packed shoeboxes for several years. We were excited to have the opportunity to see these boxes given out, especially in the area where we are serving. Our neighbor also showed the Jesus film in Mampruli that night. We only were able to see the first scene, as Tim was called into the hospital.
|Shoeboxes in the TB village|
|Fire behind our house|
The next evening, we had a huge surprise. We were sitting down to eat dinner and we looked out our back door to see a large fire sweeping across the dry grass in the fields behind our house. We watched as it grew closer and the sky grew darker. I was very frightened, especially when Tim was called into the hospital leaving me with the girls. He was kind enough to place a few calls, which brought the man in charge of maintenance over to our house to take a look. He reassured us that they had burned several feet of grass along our fence, which should keep the fire out of our yard. As the fire spread to within a few feet of our fence and a few feet tall, I was quite concerned. Then the fire just quickly petered out. The fields that had been so brightly ablaze, almost instantly became as black as the dark night sky above it. As I sat pondering the situation, I thought about how this could be a picture of one's life. If you try to live life striving and working hard on your own, you may burn brightly for a while but you too will peter out. The constant hard work trying to achieve your goals will be like the bright fire that was burning, but it will end and fall short when you are burnt out and have nothing left to give. You may be giving light and doing good things, but if it's not with God's strength, you will burn out. However, if you are looking to God and relying on Him, the fire will continue to burn like the bush in Exodus. The Holy Spirit's fire will burn in you, but it will not turn dark, having left you consumed. You will have plenty of light to share with others without growing dim. So then I have to reflect on my own life. Am I trying to work for God on my own strength? Am I burning on my own and eventually will be burnt out? It sounds so easy to rely on God, but it isn't for me. It is a daily struggle for me, as I want to have control and say, "no worries, I've got this one God." Even the easiest of tasks becomes a struggle as I try to do it on my own. What about you with the work you are doing each day? Are you struggling through it, coming closer to burning out each day, or are you living your life with the Holy Spirit's fire within you?
|Caroling on the pedi ward|