This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas in Zambia

Christmas in Zambia isn't much like I am used to in the USA.
The decorations are only found in the stores that are trying to push a "first world" type of commercialization.  We found some in a mall to pose in front of. 

Things at home didn't change too much.  Notice the little foam gingerbread house we found under our stairs.   A puzzle for Christmas was underway.

We celebrated Elder Tom Humpherys' birthday during a family home evening.

I checked out the spot where Elders Parker and Shabalala ruined their steering linkage.

I checked out Sisters Frimpong and Rakotonindriana's fender bender. 

I got the call after I was asleep that Elders Hill and Barton didn't have a jack in their truck.
It seems it was loaned to another truck that didn't have one.  (This is why the trucks are inspected often, but I suppose not often enough).

The rains have started finally, and another crop of maize is beginning to sprout.

We had a Branch Christmas social.  Everyone participated in the entertainment.

Here the Relief Society is singing.

This is our Branch President Mulinga, judging a game of matching answers and questions.

Finally, with great anticipation, I got to sleep with sugar plums dancing in my head!
What a great surprise that Santa found us here!
We had to take a photo to show our grandkids.

That shirt is just following a trend of using local chitenge material for new fashion.
(One of my sons-in-law called it "hideous", so you know what is now named in the will)

The young missionaries get to call or Skype home on Christmas day.  Three sets came by at different times to talk to their families for an hour each.  Fortunately, both Kristi and my computers and the internet were working pretty well.
You will notice that the puzzle got a little help too.

A few days later it looked like this.

On the day after Christmas, Boxing day, still a holiday, the missionaries from the Copperbelt drove down and Friday night was Christmas dinner.  It wasn't quite turkey but they seemed happy with pizza and fried chicken.

The young missionaries don't get to see each other except for meetings and service projects.
It is always a fun reunion to watch them see old companions again.

You can never go wrong serving food to a missionary.

After the dinner we had two groups open "white elephant" gifts since there were over seventy of us there.

I "stole" my gift from Elder Allred and I felt sort of bad and was going to give it back to him but he showed me how happy he was with a small cap gun so I got to keep my prize.

If my son-in-law makes another comment this will be required headwear at the next family reunion.
I quite liked it.

But I wasn't as excited as Elder Cahill and his tele-tubby doll!

Everyone had a good time and Elder Hinckley wasted no time in fixing his dessert.

Following dessert Pres. Erickson showed the movie "A Christmas Carol".  
Dickens' Christmas Carol always has a good message about many gospel principles.

The missionaries went to sleep at their hosts' flats and then we returned on Saturday morning for a light breakfast and a devotional that lasted about an hour.  
Following that the Copperbelt missionaries headed back north.

So I have enjoyed another Christmas.  Each one has been a little different over the years.  Some more commercial than others.  Some Christmases have been filled with relatives and we have spent a couple of years with just each other.  I have spent some with my parents and now some with grandchildren.  As a nineteen and twenty year old I spent Christmas teaching about the birth of Jesus in England.  I spent one Christmas without family in Thailand.  Now here I am in Zambia and like the Grinch I find that Christmas comes just the same, no matter what.  It is really whatever you want it to be.  Presents are good, family is great, familiar food and music helps to create warm feelings of Christmas.

The warmest feelings come from HOPE.   

The scene above is all about that hope.

Here you see a little child born in humble circumstances.  We see babies born every day here,  yet what made this one birth so different and so special?   HOPE !

You see, this child depicted above is the son of a Heavenly Father.
He has consented to "descend below all things",  He endures a world full of pain and sorrow and yet He lives a sin free life to qualify Him to be the Redeemer of the whole world.

This is why I celebrate Christmas.  It is because Christmas is the hope for an Easter.
It is because of Him that all mankind will live forever, eternally.
It is because of Him that I can be sin free and live not only with Him but also with our Heavenly Father.

I hope you all had as merry a Christmas as I have had,
 and that warm feeling of HOPE burns in your heart.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making a List - Checking it Twice!

Zambia is getting ready for Christmas.
Clearly, Santa is making his list of the naughty and nice.

I think Elders Hinckley and Jena and Sister Kristi will make the nice column.

In fact,  I believe these folks already have a check by their name.

I think the naughty list is for whoever plastered campaign posters on EVERYTHING in town.

They will be seeing coal in their stockings on the 25th.

I doubt if Santa will miss visiting these kids.  Plenty of nice as they jump the rope.

This lady turned out to be the same age as her husband again.
He is just hoping 49 roses will put him on the same nice list as her.

We checked out the new burial site for past President Sata.
We ran into some of the young men from our branch.
They seemed really nice to me.  No naughty here.

They even thought President Sata would be on the nice list,
 but I expect someone else will determine that.

We found "The Cenotaph" in town.  
On top is the empty sepulchre to honor the war dead from Zambia.

The local cathedral was also very nice.

This girl can be naughty but this year she is really trying.
(Because Christmas is close)

I might be a little naughty for starting another big puzzle that fills the living room.

When you finally level out a dirt road and dig some drainage, that is nice.
But what do you call the street sign in the middle of the block that is named, "Untitled Path - 18"?
Seems sort of naughty to me.

These two lovely ladies came to see me and they were especially nice.
I was a bit naughty by telling them we didn't need to rent their new flat.

The fellow in green is the guard at the Mass Media flat.  He thought everyone was nice because he got a broken washing machine to take home.  Elder Shabalala was nice to worry if Daniel would be able to ride all the way home with it.

This Rhino beetle is really nice although he looks naughty.

We caught these cousins eating a nice meal in the middle of the day.
That is a very typical meal of nshima, relish and some beef ribs.
If you look closely you will learn how to nicely eat Zambian style.
Don't be naughty and suck on your fingers.

I found a whole church full of genuinely nice people gathered for District Conference.

I am a little naughty when I think the best part of the conference is afterwards.

These children all got a "gold star" next to their names on the nice list.
They just put on a great Primary program for the rest of the branch.

No naughty people in the photo below.  This is the brand new Masala Branch near Ndola.
Just last Sunday they nicely went from the "group" to the "branch" column.

The fellow below sort of looks like the Grinch!
He tries to be nice but every once in a while the naughty comes out.
I hope Santa will forgive wanting to wear a coloured shirt once in a while.

So if Santa checks the list twice maybe he will catch me like this photo below because of this really nice lady that doesn't give up on anyone that got coal last year.  I'm trying -  honest - Santa.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bulletin Board

In the middle of November I mentioned that I received a pin from Elder Hawkins most likely because of the sayings I have on my bulletin board.

I now have four of them on the board that help me with my responsibilities here.

This one eliminates quite a bit of whining.   Sometimes after I point to it I still have to explain. 

This is my newest one.  I thought everyone at the young adult stage of life knew this, but a visual reminder doesn't hurt.  It certainly takes away some of the responsibility from the Senior Missionaries.  I  haven't experienced being sick in Zambia so far.  My only problem is the volume of each food group.  Perhaps that should be "eat sparingly from all food groups."

This one is very good for me.  It is sort of the opposite of the definition of insanity.
Sometimes solutions must be completely rethought out to succeed in a new way.
It is never too late to set new goals in life.

The saying below was the first one I put up and it has been up for over a year.  It has brought to me endless hours of guilt free time.  It is really nice and it feels good to be of service, and I really do want to make the young missionaries' lives as easy as possible.  However,  part of a mission experience is adding to your maturity and your ability to plan ahead and foresee consequences.
That is also the difficult part of parenting.  Watching and waiting for growth to take place.

This is also a good saying for parents everywhere.