Christmas Parties, the Skinny Committee, and Lessons from the Life of Joseph

(re-posted from November 2006)

It’s almost December, and even down here on the bottom of Africa, people are gearing up for the holiday season, although it looks a little different than the Christmas seasons I grew up experiencing…

Last week I was out with the women I work with in the rural area. We had been sitting around cutting fabric for quite a while, when all of a sudden they started having a rather loud discussion (in Siswatti). One woman walked around, and pointed at each of the women one by one, and each woman shouted out a number, while the rest of the women made noises of either approval or disapproval. Someone finally explained to me (in English) that they were trying to plan their Christmas party, and were first deciding on the date…thus the number shouting. J

Eventually they moved on from the numbers (although a date still wasn’t chosen) and from there the discussion started to get a little bit more heated. My friend continued to explain to me the planning process…their next step was choosing committee members to organize the party. Someone complained about the committee members always keeping the left over food for themselves, and not sharing it with everyone. Someone else said that “even if there are only 5 tomatoes left over, they should be cut up so that everyone gets an equal amount.” (There are over 40 women!) Another woman shouted out that all the committee members the previous year were the fat women, and that this year only the skinniest women should be allowed on the committee. Then they started trying to decide which women were the thinnest, and had several women stand up and so they could compare. I had another appointment to get to, and figured it was a safe time to cut out of the meeting, since I was pretty confident I wasn’t going to be fitting in the “skinniest” category. J

I was out with the women again today, and it sounds like we’ll be having our Christmas party on December 21. Thanks to some donations from family and friends I think we’ll be able to serve them a nice meal, and send them all home with a small present. Hopefully there won’t be any fights over the leftover food. J

Today turned out to be an excellent day with the women. We’ve finished making bags for our Christmas sales, so today wasn’t packed with cutting fabric, and we had some really great time in the Word. I got to share a bit about the life of Joseph, and the many hardships he experienced. We focused in on Genesis 50:20. Joseph’s brothers are begging him for mercy for all the evil things they did to him, and Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” What an amazing perspective Joseph had on the circumstances of his life!! God had used the hate of others to demonstrate His love and power to Joseph, and Joseph seemed to learn the lesson well.

The women started asking lots of questions about forgiveness, how to treat those who hurt them, etc. One of the women said that she often gets in fights with her neighbor, and in the heat of the moment doesn’t even think about how a Christian should act, and wanted to know how she can remind herself, in those moments of anger, how to respond in a godly way. Another woman asked what you were supposed to do if you forgave someone, but they continued doing the same wrong to you over and over. We talked about the Holy Spirit’s power in the believer’s life, and also the power of The Word to renew our minds and transform our actions, so that we can do the things our flesh absolutely rebels against…like loving and forgiving our enemies.

It was such practical discussion about the Christian life, and God so clearly led us to answers in His Word. These women, who many times seem shy and reserved in group discussions about spiritual things, seemed to feel so free today to ask questions, and eager to receive guidance. I pray that they begin to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and that they gain a hunger for the freeing truth of the Word of God. Please join me in praying for more precious times like the one we had today.

Thanks for checking in on what’s up in Swaziland!

If Ellie wasn’t so busy pulling all the ornaments off of our little Christmas tree, I’m sure she would want me to say hi to everyone as well!

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