Dean Cornwell - Congo
I'll be home for Christmas,
You can count on me...
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.....
A week from today is Thanksgiving and I awoke this morning thinking of it. Then, I thought, it is also always the day when those disgusting well-organized people like Lew and Dorothy Davis, have their Christmas letters in the mail. (Hi, Lew & Dorothy)
When I was at the MPH hostel, there was an artist selling Christmas Cards for only a dollar apiece. They are attractive but I would have had to figure a way of getting them home; maybe it will be an idea for next Christmas.
Christmas in the Congo is nothing like our season in the U.S. In some ways it is much more a Christian Holiday than ours. I remember fifty years ago when I was asked to drive a big mission truck through the quarters of Coquilhatville, (now Mbandaka) so that church members could sing Carols. The choir had a wonderful time, and when I went back after two hours they were not ready to quit. They went right on singing Carols, clapping and dancing. At Christmas time in Congo -- there are regular Sunday worship services, much mention of the birthday of Christ, choir offerings, but in my experience few other ornamental offerings. There may be gift giving in private homes, but nothing like the ostentation we experience.
There are a few things I will miss-being with family, choosing presents for grandchildren, the morning family breakfast with Christmas Bread. I will miss the Christmas Eve program at South Bay Christian Church, hearing the twenty or so old Christmas records from years past. I will miss fruitcake and a box of See's chocolates, and the nurses' Christmas Party from Same Day Surgery at Little Company of Mary Hospital.
But, believe me, I will not be sad, and it will not be a day of wistfulness for me. I am so happy being here and doing the thing I am doing-having the opportunity of completing the mission Sarah and I began-that I won't give a moment of thought to turkey or standing rib roast.
Coming everyday to the university, seeing and greeting these poised young men and women, and knowing I am going to be contributing to their lives and the life of this new country, this is enough of a Christmas for me.
If I have not said it clearly before, let me say it now: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Many of you receiving this letter have given sacrificially so that I can be here. My office now is looking, good freshly painted-a new air conditioner, a wire in to connect me to the internet. Today or tomorrow, we go to buy a new computer with printer and scanner and the additional parts needed for good communication. Next week, we will complete arrangements to buy a good Mitsubishi 4 X 4. All of this has been accomplished because of money from you. And I will be receiving gifts regularly to support this work and office. What a great Holiday Season I will be having.
I wish you all a Happy and healthful Season, and May God Bless us all!
Dean serves as a long-term volunteer with the Protestant University of Congo. He serves as Communications Director for the University.