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January 22

Dear Diary,
Timkat has just finished—three days of celebrating the baptism of Jesus. On the eve of Timkat, we gathered at the river. The priests came, carrying their holy tablets, and sprinkled everyone with water. Some people stayed with them to pray all night by the river, but we went back home.

The next morning, I put on my white shamma again and we walked to church in a big procession. The priests wore their red and white robes and carried umbrellas with silk fringes. The dabtaras from our church chanted to the sound of the clinking sistrum and the beat of the makamiya as they walked before us. The music and chanting makes this my favorite holy festival.

I prayed that the malaria would pass our village this year, and that angels would watch over everyone, and that no more kiftina would visit our cows, and that the harvest would be big and rich. Mother said she prayed that all her children would stay healthy and strong. Dawit said he prayed to score many goals on his soccer team and be the most popular player. I thought that was a selfish prayer, Diary, but Father said all prayers are meaningful if they come from the heart and not to judge.

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