A Christmas Treat

On Thursday night of this past week something unusual was happening in Mbayi. Little children were cuddling teddy bears, tummies satisfied, their mothers watching the cooking fire burning low while remembering a chicken in the pot. That's because a group of mothers in Canada raised funds to sponsor a Christmas party (again this year!) for Mbayi mamies. About eight months ago a container arrived with many gifts from these mothers for mothers here but it was the four boxes of teddy bears in various sizes & colours that caught my heart. I set them aside with Christmas in mind and I'm so glad that I did! Oh how my heart was bursting with mixed emotions each time I handed a toy into the outstretched arms of a child unfamiliar with receiving a gift. The party was a huge success!!! As I arrived in a vehicle laden with goodies the women began to dance & sing 'We are going to a better place and that's called heaven'. Eventually we settled down in a dark,thatched building to watch the first part of The Jesus Film (on my laptop) which I narrated from the Gospel of Luke as it was then translated into bemba. The women and children watched and listened with rapt attention, a baby's cries hushed, nothing allowed to interrupt this special presentation.

Then it was back out into the sunshine for cake (a treat so rare that some had never had it!), lemonade, snacks and lollipops. Once the food was finished and the children happily playing with toys, I guess it seemed as though the festivities  had come to a close. But I'd saved a surprise so huge that at first there was just stunned silence. Then a chorus of cheers erupted. There was a chicken for everyone!!!! The impossible was happening- families were going to have a chicken dinner! One young mom excitedly confided there was no food at home.

Today in church our Bishop said—if you don't have chicken on Christmas day just thank Jesus that He came for you. And that's what most in Mbayi will be content with on the 25th. There won't be a table heavy with delicious food, brightly wrapped presents under the twinkling lights of a gayly decorated tree or stockings filled with goodies from Santa, like I was accustomed to. But many will remember with gratitude—December 20th—the day of teddy bears, cake, chickens and a film about the birth of Jesus.