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Merry Christmas from the Southern Hemisphere

Merry Christmas from Africa! The phrase “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” has made its way in and out of my thoughts a lot over the last couple months, mostly because the Swazi ‘qualifiers’ for that statement are a little different than what you might be used to…

  • 1st of all, with no Thanksgiving holiday here (although we did manage to find about 50 other people to eat turkey with) to hold back the Christmas season, Swazi signs of Christmas start showing up in early October.


  • The first sure-fire sign that Christmas is on it’s way to Swaziland: Surfer Santa showsup in the grocery store. This is actually a picture from last year, but trust me-new year, same creepy Santa (although he did transfer stores this year). J
  • And a few rows down from surfer Santa is the large pile of fruit cakes, which I’m not convinced isn’t the same pile of fruit cake that has made an appearance every one of my seven years in Swaziland.
  • Christmas season also means registering to win the Christmas cow at the local grocery store. 7 yrs and I’m yet to win. L
  • I made my annual appearance in traditional Swazi wear at our Timbali Christmas party. I was excited to add my new hairy flip flops to my ensemble this year-a precious gift from the Timbali women to celebrate 5 years of Timbali! So I guess from now on hairy flip fops will mean things are looking a lot like Christmas in Swaziland. (We had some great Christmas parties with the women. I feared for my life during one of the most intense games of ‘fruit basket upset’ the world has ever seen. J)
  • December marks the beginning of mango season. LOVE mangoes. Some varieties are even red and green–festive.
  • Since Christmas break is also summer vacation here, for many Christmas means heading to the beach for some R&R. For those who can’t afford to go to the beach it means hanging out with friends with pools. Fortunately we have a few of those, so we were poolside for a while this afternoon.
(Here’s a link to some more of our holiday photos:)

No matter where or how we celebrate, I am so grateful for the reason we celebrate. For advent this year, Ellie and I worked through the major stories of the Old Testament and looked at how everything was pointing to Jesus and God’s great plan to rescue us. It has been awesome, and has helped build such anticipation for this day when we celebrate God coming to earth as a baby. And of course the manger points to the cross, and the cross points to the empty grave, and the empty grave points us to when Jesus comes again, which will be even more amazing than the first! So today we CELEBRATE, because Immanuel came to be with us and to save us, so that we could be with Him forever. May your holiday be blessed with the presence of the Savior! Merry Christmas!



  1. Julie, I loved your pictures and the update. I laughed out loud at your mention of fearing for your life during a very intense Christmas party game…I can so picture this now after our delightful time with the Timbali women playing games last summer at the retreat. Thanks for the smile:) Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Northern Hemisphere!!

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