Friday, December 30, 2011

Advent: Preparing for Christmas, on a ship... in Africa

A big part of Christmas is the preparation and the expectations - which we could also take part in this year even in the heat and the different location.

The ship goes through a transformation as we decorate and adorn the walls, floors, bannisters and ceilings with reminders of the precious Gift we received some 2000 years ago.  This wall became a large progressive nativity calendar.

The Christmas trees you see above the cafe (there are five of them in the middle of the picture) are secured for sail by fishing line and magnets to the ceiling, so while the boat swayed at 10-15 degree angles, the trees just dangled at the same spot.

Winter Wonderland is (apparently) an annual event onboard where the the crew get to join in the fun of preparations.  Anyone who wants can run a booth - sell their handiwork and crafts, baked goods, open a photo booth, etc.  The girls enjoyed Annika's booth where you could make your own gingerbread houses and have some lebkuchen and cider.

Savannah's house turned out quite nicely.
Savannah and Noel had a great time in the photo booth!
At the Winter Wonderland, the little girls (in matching outfits) performed their ballet songs, taught by the older girls (sitting down).  Miss Shelly made their skirts and hair scrunchies with fabric she bought in Sierra Leone.
On a different day, we had a cookie bake.  This was by far the easiest way of doing a cookie bake! Thank you, galley team!  We bought kilos of dough (2.2 pounds for you Americans that forgot how to convert). 

Simply, roll, cut, put on the tray, and they get whisked off to the galley ovens for baking.

Of course we didn't plan ahead and bring Christmas shapes, so ours were the most interesting of shapes:

Elephants, puppies, lions, butterflies and pigs - they need a Christmas too, right?

And yet on different evening we had several storytelling seminars and activities where people could share their talents.  We listened to dramatic reinactments of Christmas stories, original plays (Jesus in the 21st Century) and also were treated by the Swedish family on board, the BÖrjessons, as they shared songs and the stories of Santa Lucia, with the star boys and all. :)  It brought back some great memories from Bethlehem Covenant Church and the yearly practices and preparations for that special day.

So we prepare with some traditions - some new and some old, but our hearts do the same thing - they long for the peace and stillness among the busyness to hold that precious Savior in our arms and savor the meaning of His coming.
a large batik of the nativity scene

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