You would have feld the way he did at christmas celebration in Liberia

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You would have feld the way he did at christmas celebration in Liberia
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ambiance articleCelebrating Christmas, brings us back to our childhood and all the wonderful things that surround this celebration. Also, celebrating Christmas in Africa

 

is the change of scenery assured for a European, troubled to hear the classic tunes in another language of this universal feast, such as “the divine child is born”, “the angels in our countryside”, etc.

I expected that we would be takenup by Christmas Eve in Sanniquellie, but that was not the case. 7:30 pm was the official time for the mass, but the church was still empty, except for some youngsters who have to play the gospel. It must be said that Saturday is the day of the big market in Sanniquellie and there would be a lot of delay.Fr. Jean is accustomed and therefore will begin the ceremony much later. It reminds me of the story in Niamey where a European came to ask Michel Cartateguy, “what time is the 10 o’clock mass? Indeed, in Europe, we have watches, here we have the time (we are never late).

The holy mass began, the church begins to fill, and it was full at the end but without overflowing. It was the youth choir that sang the Christmas song in English, so the assembly did not really participate. It’s a Christmas, a little flat for my taste, people woke up to the procession of offerings animated by the traditional choir who knew how to set the mood. After the mass around 11 pm, we shared a cake and a drink to celebrate with the community of the Franciscan sisters.

The next day, we went to the villages for Christmas celebration. We followed the sisters in their car. Fr. Joseph assured the holy mass and I filmed. There, it was a different atmosphere, as we came out of the car we were welcomed by songs and dances, a team of catechists led us to the chapel that was too small for such an event. They set up an apatam covered with palm leaves on the top, probably did not expect to receive a person of my hight because I had to enter all bent. When standing, my head came out of the leaves. Lot of people participated at this Mass, because they came from 6 neighboring villages, all were dressed up in their most beautiful clothes, a festive atmosphere. It is the traditional choir that led the dance, finally an African Christmas as I like. Again, the usual offering followed by gifts of different kinds, they all come, children and elders, with their gifts: banana plantains, papayas, cassava tubercules, sachets of rice each according to their means. It’s was a mess, but a cheerful mess where each one takes a step of dance, which was the admiration of the crowd. All of them receive, in gratitude, a good sprinkling of holy water. When mass was over, we had to continue to another station for a second Mass, it would not start until noon, because the people of the first village insisted that we have to eat before we left. Rice is the basic dish in Liberia. We eat in a family, the mother of the house observes us discreetly from behind the door.

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Same atmosphere for the second Mass where we joined Fr. Lawrence who has already celebrated in another village. At the end of the Mass in the second village, Lawrence, in his liturgical garments, joined the choir for the dance at the invitation of the assembly. Here, it is really the religious feast with all its beauty. We were given a second meal in the catechist’s house, who is also the head of the community.

In the evening, the sisters invited us for the dinner with a wide variety of dishes, African and Indian specialties.

December 28, we left Sanniquellie for Monrovia, the journey of first 50 kilometers are a bad road, still under construction, then it is a beautiful paved road upto the capital. We left Sanniquellie by 8 o’clock thinking that we would arrive at about 2 pm. Fr. Lawrence had changed the four tires for safety! but unfortunately we arrived around 7:45 pm, almost 12 hours later. On the beautiful road, we had a tyre punctured, fortunately, we had a new spare wheel. Around 15 kilometers from the house, we undergo another puncture, luckily, at hundred meters fromus there was a filling station and a tyre repairing center. Here things are complicated. In fact the two punctures were due to the tubes that were not adapted to the tires. Finding this type of tube took a lot of time. We took advantage of the shelter of a near by shop, who kindly welcomed us. Behind the stall a traditional wedding was going on. Warm atmosphere and something to distract us for not seeing the time passed. Finally to reach the regional house we had to pass in the traffic jam, big mess, everyone was trying to grab a place and prevent the queue from advancing. Finally, we arrived safe and sound.

We will be celebrating the new year in the SMA parish in Monrovia. We take this opportunity to send you our best wishes for the year 2017, that it takes away all the troubles and miseries of 2016 and that it would be a source of peace and friendships.

Happy, Bright and gracefilled NEW YEAR to you all. Love and prayers.

Gerard and Guvvala.

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