Well, the internet is back up and running for us again for the most part ... except when we have no power and any other random time it decides to stop working. I realise that my blogging from now on will be for the most part 'business as usual' but with times when, like for the last couple of weeks, it just won't be possible! Unless I say otherwise my absences should only be temporary!
In some ways though it was nice to just have the long four day Easter weekend without having to think about blogs Friday and Monday. As Abigail went to school just over 48 hours after we arrived here, these were the first full four days we've had together as a family since we arrived in Dodoma just over 6 weeks ago and they were much needed!
It is strange to celebrate significant events in the calendar, like Easter across the cultures ...
In the UK, it really is about the chocolate Easter Eggs to a large percentage of the country. Supermarkets are stacked with them for months in advance and every different chocolate manufacturer seems to come out with their own special ones. They get stocked months before hand ... pretty much as soon as the Christmas things get taken down in many cases and are definitely there after Valentines. But Easter is primarily about the chocolate!
(It has been interesting to read about the introduction of 'The Real Easter Egg' over the last couple of years. One that not only contains the chocolate but also the Christian message of Easter on the box. I have been able to catch updates as to how different supermarkets have debated as to whether or not to sell them.)
Living in the States for three years, it was interesting to see the differences. The supermarket is stocked with Easter stuff ... but it's different. Lots of Easter baskets and plastic eggs. There are very few special chocolate eggs as the Brits would expect. Just lots of all different varieties of 'candy' to stick in the eggs for the myriad of Easter Egg hunts that take place. There's a lot more Easter Bunny stuff going on too ... having a photo with him each years is like having a photo with Santa at Christmas, just something that has to be done!
Another tradition we found a little strange in the States linked with Easter was that a lot of our church friends would get new outfits (often matching with other family members) and wear them to church on Easter Sunday and also have family photos taken in them. The perfect Easter Outfit was something some people would be looking out for months in advance! It was just an American thing, at least where we were living!
Now in a third culture, we have just celebrated Easter here in Tanzania and of course it has been different again! There is no hype here, no tv adverts with Easter bunnies and Spring chickens, no plastic or chocolate eggs piled high in any of the shops ... in fact you could be forgiven for missing Easter altogether!
In a country that, in many reports, is listed as being roughly an equal percentage of both Muslim and Christian, public holidays are often observed for both religions but with no particular hype for any. In our family we knew it was Easter because my husband had a four day weekend and we celebrated it in church and with friends ... but for a lot of local people it was just business as usual! Interestingly without the advertising onslaught, it was almost easier to concentrate on the real meaning of Easter.
While we didn't have eggs of either the British chocolate or American candy-filled plastic variety, we didn't miss out totally! We had an Easter/70th Birthday party on Easter Sunday afternoon and during the party I had planned an Easter Egg Treasure Hunt for the kids ... hiding the eggs (shown below) around our compound, to unveil the truth of the story of Easter for me, that 'Jesus is Alive'!
As a Christian this holiday is more significant than Christmas and the birth of Jesus. This is when he paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of every person that has ever lived. Before he goes to the cross, Jesus has one last conversation with God. He prays about all kinds of things including his disciples. In John 17:20, though he says ...
'My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message' (italics mine)
... that means you and me! In those final hours and words between him and his Father in heaven he prayed for us too. Amazing and mind-blowing all at the same time!
Easter Sunday is a celebration that his death wasn't the end of the story but just the beginning. Jesus overcame death and lives ... then and now! That's more exciting than any Easter Egg, on any continent, I have ever experienced!