Admittedly, I was a little worried about what to expect from my first Christmas away from home. Sure, I've done Thanksgivings and Easters with wonderful friends in different parts of the world, but Christmas is a different ball game. No stockings? No snow? And most importantly, no Mom's homemade biscuits and gravy?!? I know. I can hardly say it out loud. But alas, Christmas in the Western Cape was an undeniable success thanks to these folks...
I don't know how we did it, but we managed to get seven of the eight YASC missionaries serving throughout Africa down to Cape Town for the holidays. Arriving from Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, and Grahamstown, the group spent the first few days, including Christmas day, in a beautiful beach town called Struisbaai. After the whirlwind of transition that has characterized our first few months in Africa, this holiday really hit the spot. We were able to relax, share stories, and simply enjoy one another's company in one of the world's most beautiful places.
We spent most of our time in Struibaai being proper beach bums. And looking at the picture above, can you blame us? As has been true for me in the past, holidays have a way of revealing how much rest I actually needed when perhaps I didn't realize it in the midst of the general chaos we call life.
|Episcopal footprints in the sand|
One of my favorite South African pastimes is the braai. In the states we would call it a BBQ or a cook out. So between beach naps we managed to put together a pretty successful Christmas Eve braai and Christmas morning brunch. It's safe to say I've never BBQ'd on Christmas Eve before! But when in South Africa...
|The braaimaster at work on our Christmas Eve dinner|
|Our Christmas morning brunch|
|My heart was full of love and gratitude for friendship as the sun set on my first African Christmas|
|Christmas Eve at Cape Agulhas: the southernmost tip of Africa and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.|
After Christmas, the group came to stay with me in Cape Town for about ten days. I live in the Anglican student community house at the University of Cape Town and since the students have been gone on summer vacation, the house has been dreadfully empty. So I couldn't have been happier to host my friends for that time!
|Hiking in Kirstenbosch Gardens|
|Celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent in Bredasdorp|
|New Year's Eve Concert featuring Hugh Masekela!|
|American friends meeting my Cape Town friends!|
|No trip to Cape Town is complete without a hike to the top of Table Mountain|
|Fortunately, we managed to squeeze in a couple of South African sundowns between shenanigans. I wonder if there is a place on this Earth that puts on a better sunset than Cape Town...|