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.