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Christmas memories: Christmas joy found in Africa

ACCRA, Ghana — The celebrating of Christmas in Ghana is not lavish with many lights, tinsel, decorations, and Santa. Christmas is very family oriented and most of the Ghanaians who live and work in the big cities return to the villages of their birth to celebrate with their families the birth of the Christ child.

Memories of senior missionary couples are mostly connected to letters and cards from loved ones at home and lots of e-mails. In Ghana, the senior missionaries have the young missionaries, those far from home and native West Africans, to their apartments for a great Christmas dinner as close to home as possible. There is always the reading of the first Christmas from Luke and many other old stories and traditions either told or retold.

This last Christmas, we had 10 young missionaries and five couple missionaries to our Ghanaian home. It was quite an international gathering with missionaries from France, England, United States, Tonga, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Sharing memories from our different homes were warm and memorable.

We couldn't find a turkey, so we prepared five stuffed chickens and boiled African beef. We enjoyed Yorkshire pudding, kele wele (fried plantain), rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, and delicious fresh vegetables and fruits.

After dinner we shared a Tabernacle Choir video, stories from home, testimonies and singing of carols. We were particularly touched by the testimonies of our West African young missionaries. They have great faith, perhaps because their lives are not filled with worldly possessions and distractions.

The best memories of Christmas are not so much gift giving but the true love and meaning of the birth of Christ and the great love He has for us. We loved our two Christmases in Africa! We were truly able to come to know our Savior and feel His love in each of our lives. — Elder and Sister Kirkpatrick returned home in March of this year. They are members of the Holladay 26th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay Stake.

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