All of the guests rendezvoused at our house so we could go over to Gian Franco's together. The first thing we learned about the Congolese culture this evening was that the woven basket I have on our coffee table has meanings beyond what we realized.
Our Congolese guests from Uvira told us that if you have this basket on the table it means you will have visitors. And those who come to your house and see this basket on the table will know that this family is warm and welcoming. This basket is also used at the dote ceremony. The groom's family places the dote (money for a bride) in the basket, and then the parents of the bride take the basket in the bedroom and count the dote.
This is Gary at the beginning of the party attempting to carry this box the way everyone here does. Not much success, however!
This is our group at the dinner table. We had a wonderful meal which included 4 kinds of meat, 3 different kinds of salads, fries, fried bananas, and a fruit cup for dessert. When it was time to eat, many of the guests went to wash their hands because they chose to eat with their fingers even though silverware was provided. Meat was the most popular item on the table---we had goat, lamb, chicken and beef. I noticed several people were piling their plates high with food that there was no way they could eat. One of the branch presidents explained that in the Congo, when you were invited to dinner, you took all leftovers home with you. Sure enough, most went home with a plastic bag full of food from their plates!
After dinner, we read the Christmas story in Luke and sang several Christmas carols. Then the Van's provided some impromptu dancing which was fun for everybody. We did the Chicken Dance, a line dance, the Hokey-Poky, and the Maquarena.
Everyone seemed to have a great time. They said this was the first time ever that the group of presidents and their wives had been together socially. We enjoyed being with them and feeling the joy that they expressed through word and deed. Great evening for all!!