Wow!  What a week it has been!  As most of the world knows, Christmas was this past week!  And as anyone who knows a missionary knows, missionaries get to call/skype home on Christmas!  Definitely the highlight of my Christmas this year.  It was amazing (almost unreal) being able to talk with my family face-to-face!  Such a great blessing!

Other than that, Christmas was rather unusual here in Africa.  Most everyone works as usual, it's hot, they still play the same music as any other day of the year, and it's HOT. But, I still loved the Christmas Spirit that accompanies this time of year no matter where you are.  

Monday evening was a great manifestation of the Christmas season.  We had a branch FHE that night, and the Spirit was really there.  To start off, we watched a Church production of the Christmas Spirit and the true meaning of Christmas.  The leaders then asked me to give a short testimony about Christmas.  It was a humbling experience to bear testimony of Christmas after having watched the Church's moving video about Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir accompanying the entire video, but the Spirit filled my mouth with words.  It was a great experience for me to be able to bear my testimony of the Savior in that sort of setting, and I was reminded of the words of Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22 "And now, after the many testimonies that have been given of Him, this is the testimony, last of all, that we give of Him: that He lives!"  I was able to include that at the end of my testimony, and it was so easy to feel the Holy Ghost testifying of these things.  After that, President Hervé shared a few words, and then we played a game: musical chairs.  Haha this game was so much fun and everyone playing and watching had a great time!  There were many people in attendance that this was their first experience with the Church, and they LOVED it!

Tuesday was one of the best moments for me here in Africa.  After having a normal morning of District Meeting and then a lesson, I really got a glimpse of African festivities. First off, as we were walking back to the apartment in the morning, I saw this fat Papa Noël (Santa Claus) sitting in a chair in the back of a truck.  As we passed him, I mentioned to my companion how I wished that I had thought sooner to take a picture with him.  "Do you have your camera?" he asked.  When I responded in the affirmative, he said, "well, let's go take a picture!"  So, we took a few steps back just to see Papa Noël climbing out of the back of the truck.  Once he got down, I asked if it would be possible to get a picture together, and when he look at me, he exclaimed, "Yovo!  Comment ça va?!  Of course we can take a picture together, but I want you to come in and take a picture with me and my friends!"  So we went into the Malaria Heath Center and took a picture together with all of the Health Directors/Supervisors for Baguida.  Kinda legit.  I think everyone was just so amazed that there was a white person there.  I think I might have gotten on the news for it, too.  Hahaha just another day as an American missionary in Africa.

With Papa Noël and his friends!
Immediately after that we returned home to get prepared for the Baguida Branch Christmas party at 2.  So, we quickly got lunch and started arranging things.  Finally, after just sitting there and waiting, the Branch Presidency came at 3.  After that people started trickling in.  The DJ got all set up, and everything was just about to get started right as the power decided to go out.  It finally came back at 4:30ish, so we were FINALLY able to get the party started 2 and a half hours late.  But it was a party.  Haha wasn't exactly a Christmas party besides when we gave all the kids presents at the end, but it was a party.

The Relief Society singing at the Branch party
Haha this group.  Just kept dancing during the whole party.  It's Paula, Jerry (with the hat), Abel (the tall one), and Elder Dih
There were a few organized activities, especially for the primary because the party was for the kids, with, of course, some good ol' fashion Relief Society - Elders' Quorum rivalry (the adult women's and men's groups).  However, for the most part it was a bunch of music and dancing.  Haha I'm not sure if I got any good pictures, but there's lots and lots of good videos.  We had a lot of nonmembers come, and now I'm famous (ok so in like two nonmember houses) for knowing how to do the Gwetta, an African dance that isn't terribly hard to learn.  But it's waaay fun, especially when everybody is going nuts because you know how to do it hahahahahaha.

Anyways, after that we had a small dinner, which is called "Ablo," a type of pâte-ish thing that's wrapped in corn leafs, but it's kinda sweet, too.  It was delicious!

Africans LOVE mayonaise.  Honestly didn't know it came in jars of this size.
Then, finally Wednesday came.  The morning was pretty chill. I forgot to mention that while the party was going on Tuesday night, I was in the kitchen occasionally working on some CINNAMON ROLLS!!!  The only problem is that I messed up the yeast mixture so they didn't rise at all!  They were a bit hard, but they still tasted delicious!!!  So Christmas morning, I shared some cinnamon rolls and yogurt with the other missionaries in the apartment.  The rest of the morning was spent with some study and kinda just taking it easy.  Then, at 12, we went over to President Hervé's house for lunch!  We got some salad, African rice, and atchéké!  It was great!  Then, finally, the moment came for Elder Kunz and I to head over to the cyber to skype our families!!!

President Hervé and his wife, Gisèle
We had an enjoyable Christmas at President Hervé's house.  He is in the middle of building his house, so it's not finished yet.

When we got to the cyber, it was closed, and we were a bit discouraged.  However, we knocked on the owner's door, and he came out and said he'd been waiting for us because we'd told him mny times before that wxe would be coming on Christmas to talk with our families.  So, he let us in, and we got ourselves situated.  Because we were the only ones in the whole cyber, there were no connection problems, and everything sailed smoothly!  It took a little bit for the picture to get situated, but the picture wasn't really any problem at all!

Skyping with the family on Christmas!
After talking with our families, Elder Kunz and I went to a restaurant for Christmas dinner and then went home for some desert.

The rest of this week has been a bit interesting with a bit of post-holiday depression/ fatigue, but now it's going fine.  Nothing too much planned for this week.  Just a soccer match tomorrow and visiting members.

Anyways, that's about how my week has been!  This Christmas has been a very different one, but one of the best of my life simply because I was able to spend a little bit of it with my family, who I haven't seen for 7 months!

I hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday season and that it continues well into the New Year!  I love you all, and I wish you all the best with your New Year's resolutions! 

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins