At home in Mississauga there's a stocking that I stuffed with goodies in July before boarding a plane heading to Zambia. It's for my son Malo. Someone will put it out Christmas Eve, and I'll miss seeing the pleasure on his face as he opens each gift :^( Thinking about that stocking brings to mind a conversation I just can't seem to put aside. Wanting to do something special for Emmanuel's twin brother , I asked him to choose a favourite food. When he replied - a bun (there are no stores in Mbayi and no ovens for baking, so bread is a treat)- I was surprised, and still thinking in the food category inquired - what else? He asked for stockings. Well, in Canadian that means socks. More than anything, he wanted a pair of socks! I remember staring at his bare feet and remarking "We'll have to get you some shoes to go with those socks."

There are no visuals in Mbayi that evoke thoughts of Christmas - no decorations, candy canes or santas, general merriment, bustling shoppers... The other day as we were driving through the village, I gave out lollipops and was moved to tears witnessing the astonishment and then sheer delight on the children's faces (and a few seniors!) as the gift of a mere (to me) sweet registered. While the lack of adornment and festivity is significant to a Canadian, what is remarkable is the conspicuous love for Jesus. They won't be opening stockings from santa or toasting with eggnog Christmas day, but many in Mbayi will certainly be gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!