Monday, May 2, 2011

A Week of Royal Events! A Resurrection, Birthday, Jubilee Anniversary, and Wedding: Hoorah!

What a week of events we have had!
First, we celebrated Easter in a grand way.  In addition to the girls having a five day weekend from school, we had lots of fun and poignant times of reflecting on the price paid for us by Jesus. 

There was a room transformed into The Garden (of Gethsemane) complete with the 14 stations of the cross to prayerfully consider all that Christ did for us.  On Good Friday morning we had a service together reminding us of the pain and anguish that Jesus willingly took on for our behalf and we had the chance to nail to the cross our own message for the Lord. 

Saturday all the kids (young and old) gathered together for some hard boiled egg dying,

and Sunday brought Sunrise worship on deck eight (out in the open air), and a full church service together indoors complete with children's performances of singing, sign language, ballet, and worship. 

We shared communion together as one family, one body despite our many differences in denomination, age, background, positions, languages, and ethnicity. It was beautiful.  The galley and dining room crew treated us to a gorgeous Easter brunch, and the afternoon concluded with an Easter egg hunt for all children (again, young and old).  It was a privilege to be able to celebrate Easter in this environment.

Tuesday brought another fun time- another birthday for one of our Gateway friends!  Since we have grown to know this group of thirty so well, we have continued to eat together, chill together, and celebrate each other's special days.  Anna had her birthday this week and we had a high tea for her.  We had around 30 people in our living room, ate yummy homemade scones and banana pudding and mini apple pies, and had hot beverages.  Just Dance on the wii became our entertainment after we had thoroughly gorged ourselves on goodies.  It was an evening of many laughs!  So fun!
Savannah having a cuppa

Wednesday it was Sierra Leone's turn to celebrate!  The Golden Jubilee has arrived: 50 years of independence from the British.  This event has been well in the making since long before we arrived, and the town is decorated, cleaned and proud.  Every Saturday for the last month (and once a month before that) there have been mandatory National Cleanup Days where everyone is REQUIRED to get outside and clean up trash - including scooping muck out of the sewers.  All this is piled high in the streets - some of it gets scavanged away by residents, and the rest is removed by Army trucks. 

The rocks, trees, walls, and sidewalks have been spray painted white, royal blue and green in honor of the occasion- many strings of triangular colored flags hang from houses, shops, and other public and private buildings.
The famous "Cotton Tree," where freed & released slaves gathered and prayed to christen this new area "Freetown"

A large group of Mercy Shippers gathered in the dining hall on Wednesday to sing the National Anthem to all our Day Volunteers, who stood and sang along with the group.

National Anthem of Sierra Leone
  There was an invitation extended to the Queen of England to attend the celebration held at the National Stadium (which got quite wild and we were advised to stay away from), but she was previously occupied with big events at home.

the festivities at the National Stadium

Which brings us to Friday - the Royal Wedding!  How fun to be here, in the midst of lots of Brits and caught up in the Wedding of the Century.  Those on shift work or with flexibile schedules made themselves cozy in front of the tv screens in the lounge on Friday morning to watch it live on BBC.  Others of us (who had to work during the day) attended the "Street Party" Friday night where we watched the taped version (thank goodness for a VCR and a VHS tape!).  It was very fun to watch it with "insiders" and get wrapped up in the excitement of seeing the trees in Westminster Abbey and wonder what Beatrice was wearing on her head.
British cupcakes (slightly more buttery and less cake-like - yum!) for the wedding watchers

We were also impressed by the quality of the wedding - to have millions of people watching a ceremony that spoke honour (yes, intentional spelling) of Jesus and to glorify Him in all they said was very inspiring.

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,"  quoted from 12th century St. Catherine of Siena, is the best thing I have heard all year.  It challenges me and sharpens me to really focus on what it is that God has prepared beforehand for me, and begs me to walk in this.    "A generous God who so loved the world that He gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ," the Bishop of London says, is before whom William and Kate chose to be married.  This is the same generous God that provided a way for us to be in Sierra Leone.  And the same generous God that gave himself so freely so that we might live. 

I am so proud to serve this generous God. 

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