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Missing Christmas

A Letter from Melissa Johnson, serving in Zambia

December 2020

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We have two different Christmas traditions – an American Christmas and a Zambian Christmas – and they couldn’t be more different. I am so very grateful that we have been blessed to know both ways to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Zambia, being in the southern hemisphere, celebrates Christmas during the rainy season. Christmas in Zambia happens during the spring where the season is moving from the hottest, driest time of the year to the wettest. Everything that has been brown and dormant comes back to life and it always amazes me how quickly the landscape changes. It is also a time of hunger as many families have exhausted their supply of stored food from the previous year and are waiting for the harvest that will come now that the rains have started. There seems to be to be something so wonderous and holy about new life springing forth at the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

In Lundazi you won’t find Christmas lights and Christmas trees – actually I’ve never seen decorations in anyone’s home in Lundazi. There is no push to buy gifts and no Black Friday. But you will see goats tied on the back of bicycles and hear their bleating all over town as people who have some extra money buy a goat for the Christmas meal. There are plans for a three-day church gathering to celebrate the birth of Christ. A gathering where people come together at the church to spend the night singing and praying and in fellowship. Days of lessons and baptisms. A communion service and a Christmas service that is full of joy unlike anything I have ever experienced here in the U.S.

I miss Christmas in Zambia. I miss the simplicity. But I am still grateful. Grateful that I’ve been able to learn about and celebrate Christmas in Zambia. I’m grateful that I can celebrate the birth of Jesus no matter where I am. I pray that you will find the joy of Christmas this season wherever you are.

Charles and I couldn’t let the Christmas season go by without letting all of you know, once again, how happy we are to call you friends. You light our way, you support us when we fall, and you spread the love of Christ to us so that we can spread it to others. Our witness to Jesus Christ is more joyous with you by our side. We and the people of Zambia rejoice with you in this holy season. Merry Christmas!

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