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Zambia News - Ros Jeffersons's Blog 25  : Christmas at Chitokoloki (31/12/2015)

Christmas décor at the Annex, Chitokoloki.  There is no holly nor mistletoe and no real Christmas trees, not even poinsettia which grows wild here is in flower at Christmas. However, we do have flame lilies which are very beautiful and provide a splash of Christmas red.  I brought the (early to arrive) Christmas cards in my suitcase to add to the Christmas atmosphere.  Thank you to the early birds!  I have also enjoyed lots of newsy emails and virtual Christmas cards – again thanks are due to those who have taken the time to write.

Christmas began here last Monday night (21 December) with carol singing.  The crowd of potential singers met at the old leper colony which now houses TB patients and other more chronically sick folk for the duration of their treatment. We comprised hospital staff, missionaries and their families, not to mention the hangers-on, especially children, more of whom joined us as we went along, till the crowd was large.   The singing began at colony and the crowd slowly wound its way to various staff and missionary houses and finally to the hospital itself where, once the carols were over,  the singers enjoyed a small snack. We each had lighted candles; it was quite tricky to hold a candle without dripping the hot wax on oneself, hold a carol sheet, read the (Lunda)words, sing the carol, and walk along all at the same time.  We sang a mixture of English and local carols, one of which went to the tune of the Zambian National Anthem.   Another Lunda carol is so repetitive that even I knew it my heart by the end of the evening as we had sung it so much.  I am not sure that I could still remember all of it, however.  Of course the singing was excellent and lusty.  There was a veritable multitude of bugs under the trees at colony which were more than a nuisance.  They were attracted by the light of the candles and there were so many that one could hardly open one’s mouth at times for fear that a bug might drop in!!  

The next big event on the Chit Christmas calendar was Christmas eve and the giving of presents.  This was held at Keith and Gayle Bailey’s house this year – the house where I stayed during my summer visit.  We have a secret Santa, so that everyone buys and receives one nice present.  Another tradition is white elephant presents, again one per person, some of which are just for fun and some of which are highly desirable;  until the ‘auction’ is over, any present can be stolen from its original recipient.  One needs a good sense of humour.  One parcel was dressed up as a snowman and turned out to be a garden ornament which changed hands several times during the auction, but finally went to Ruth Hanna.  Of course we enjoyed a festive supper together – every household brought some ‘goodies’ resulting in a lovely finger buffet spread.

Christmas morning began with the ward round on the children’s ward – all the little patients had received presents before Christmas so the day was not out of the ordinary to them.  There was also a Christmas morning Gospel meeting held in the hall with carols, little dramas by the Sunday School children, a Gospel  message (this year Keith Bailey was the preacher. He spoke about the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus and its meaning for us. I arrived from hospital just in time for the message) followed by a nshima meal cooked by the sisters over open fires.  I did not stay for the latter as we had our own Christmas dinner planned for the early evening and nshima tends to weigh heavily on the stomach!  I could  not resist a Christmas swim in the afternoon in a lovely warm pool.

In the evening 17 of us (almost the whole station) gathered at the McAdams for Christmas dinner.  Again we all contributed to the food.  The meal was delicious with excellent company.  We were fairly traditional with roast turkey plus trimmings, roast ham and various vegetables, and a variety of desserts, including home-made Christmas pudding, secreted across the miles in my suitcase.  Thereafter, post-prandial and replete, we resorted to games to entertain ourselves for the rest of the evening.

On Saturday everything was back to normal again, hospital work during the morning and a bit of visitation in the village in the afternoon.  The McAdams and Dorothy Woodside (US worker) came here for supper and fellowship.

On the Lord’s day morning there were the regular meetings, and the evening missionary gathering. How good to be able to remember the Lord in His appointed way, and show forth His death  until He come. I had been reading in Zechariah during the preceding week, remembering the Lord’s betrayal by Judas (so accurately foretold by the prophet), and how in a day yet future Israel will recognise their true Messiah in Christ and celebrate that true day of atonement, realising their national guilt and leading to repentance.  We remember that God had His purpose in the death of His Son at the cross – our judgement was born by Him when He made His soul an offering for sin, and equally so for the believing remnant of the nation in a future day.

Since I last wrote another matter for prayer has arisen. Philip and Deborah Cole serve the Lord in Chingola on the Copperbelt.  They help with the containers at Musenga and are also involved in a work with the street children in the town.  Their little daughter, Emily, aged 4, has had a swollen lymph node in her neck for some time.  Initial biopsy results were concerning and the family are returning to N Ireland this week for further investigations and treatment. Please remember them in your prayers at this difficult time.

If the Lord will, later this week we will commence a new year.  What will it hold? We do not know, but we do know the One Who goes before us each step of the way and Who works all things together for good.  How good to trust in Him alone for the future, knowing that our circumstances are ordered by a loving God.  There is no room for fatalism, nor for rebellion against His will for us, only for trust.

Step by Step

‘He does not lead me year by year, nor even day by day,

But step by step my path unfolds; My Lord directs my way.

Tomorrow’s plans I do not know, I only know this minute;

But He will say, ‘This is the way, by faith now walk ye in it!’

And I am glad that it is so, today’s enough to bear;

And when tomorrow comes, His grace shall far exceed its care.

What need to worry then, or fret? The God Who gave His Son

Holds all my moments in His hand and gives them one by one.’

Barbara C Ryberg