Of Carols and Cardboard. [TIA.]

With Melanie this summer-someone who back in high school, turned me onto the joy that is chocolate for breakfast.

Breakfast this morning consisted of one pot of coffee and an oreo.

Because I’m an adult, and I get to decide what that means.

On Monday, my team and I had grand plans of spending our evening watching Frosty come to life and drinking cinnamon apple cider while we finished our cardboard Charlie Brown tree. [Affectionately dubbed Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose. By far the most multi-cultural little tree I’ve ever ornamented.] 

There’s a phrase we throw around on this foreign continent of mine: “TIA”. It stands for “This is Africa”-and is the sole appropriate response to a myriad of nonsensical cultural situations that might be thrust upon you during the course of any given day.  Customarily accompanied by an indifferent [albeit rather amused] shrug and slight rolling of the eyes, it becomes a sort of mantra for those of us that live here-the barest shred of reason to cling to in a sea of crazy. Par example:

The Indian Squaw himself.


Why is there chocolate brown water pouring out of the faucet? TIA.

Why were there thirty six tiny spider bites on my neck and arms this morning when I woke up? TIA.

Why is there a baby goat in the stairwell? TIA.

Why is my rice moving? TIA.

Or as the case was on Monday, “WHY has the power been off all day?”  …all together now: TIA.  And in Africa, electricity is as elusive a gift as the North Carolina snow flurries I’m missing back home.

Dayton with Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose. I told him to say "ho ho ho".

Which is just fine, until it interferes with Frosty and apple cider.

Now, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear-and that’s just what Michelle, Christy and I decided to do by pumpkin-spiced candlelight while waiting for the power to flicker back on. [Take THAT, baby downstairs!] We sang every carol we could remember-and many that we mostly couldn’t. [Humming through the words that escape you has to count for something, right?] I’m certain our neighbors were busy fantasizing about the three of us getting hit by a car rapide as we cheerfully belted the lyrics to everything from sacred hymns to Santa Baby.

After no less than an hour and a half, a highly amused Dayton wandered downstairs with a Bunsen burner [Apple cider. And everybody said amen.] and a Tupperware full of peanut m&ms. I wish you could have seen him on the porch, crouched over that tiny, open flame like an Indian squaw, carefully stirring cloves and cinnamon into apple juice. Meanwhile, our underwear hanging on the laundry line behind him danced in the wind like vibrantly colored Tibetan prayer flags in every possible shade of the rainbow . [And when the strains of Mariah Carey busting out her falsetto to tell you the only thing she wants for Christmas are coming from the general direction of my laptop in the background, you can hardly expect underwear to do anything else.]

Note: every man on my team is going to need extensive therapy after this year. Having three faux-wives is no stale cookie! [Well, “piece of cake” clearly isn’t contextual…]

The power eventually flickered on just long enough for Frosty to sing his opening number before it melted away again. Thus, the tree isn’t quite finished yet [oh, but just you wait! It’s coming along…], and we’re ever so slightly behind on our Christmas-movie schedule. Never fear.

In other news, tonight is our first women’s Bible study for the girls on campus that follow Jesus. We’ve invited thirteen women to come-THIRTEEN! This time last year, Christy and I didn’t know a single woman that professed faith in Christ. THIS is exciting!

Also, YESTERDAY we got a phone call informing us that on Thursday [TOMORROW], a Jesus film team is landing in Dakar to spend about ten days doing ministry on campus. And we’re responsible for their little white butts. Where are they going to live? How are they getting clean water? Who’s going to spend the five hours it will take to get permission for them to be on campus?



[We are, however, very excited about the surprise help. :)]


Filed under Christmas, Cross cultural moments, Ministry moments, My ghetto-fab life

9 responses to “Of Carols and Cardboard. [TIA.]

  1. Your Roomies

    I would like to clarify whose underwear most resembles and I quote, “brightly colored Tibetan prayer flags”- that would be Ashley’s. Don’t be mixing up my undies with yours.

  2. Ahem. Don’t make me picture blog your underwear just to prove you wrong…


  3. Kristin

    Seriously, that is the best fake tree ever. So well done!

  4. hey girlie!! just ran across your blog and “TIA” really made me laugh. our team often said “TINA” (this is not america) or “TIB” (this is bosnia… definitely doesn’t have as good of a ring :) :). hope you’re doing awesome!!

  5. Aicel

    I am CLEARLY obsessed with you, and your blog.

    iitfcipy? Is it time for coffee in spain yet?

  6. Aicel

    I am CLEARLY obsessed with you, and your blog.

    iitfcisy? Is it time for coffee in spain yet?

  7. Hey, i don’t know you, but i knew aicel from church in DC and she had posted a link to ur blog awhile back on facebook and i absolutely loved it because you say everything that someone living in “not america” wants to say about culture shock and those missionary “fail” moments but doesn’t say. and that sometimes the only thing to say is “TIA”. I’m not in Africa now, but spent time in Mozambique which is definitely muslim and Africa, and all you could say was “TIA”… and am now living in Brazil and have got lots of “TIB” moments. anyhow, i just wanted to encourage you and say that your blog is really well-written and i really like it!

  8. Griff-I MISS you! TIB works just fine-I’ve heard some of your stories, they’re legit. ;) I’d love a skype date soon!

    Aicel-we are the worst penpals EVER-I can’t believe I keep missing you on skype! Spain. Soon. Can’t wait. :)

    Emily-Thank you so much-that’s encouraging, and I’m glad you’ve been able to relate to some of my stories! Do you blog about any of your “TIB” moments?

  9. Pingback: Of Forest Fires, and Chocolate Covered Anti-Depressants. « Audacious Faith

Leave a Reply to Kristin Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s