Monday, December 23, 2013

December 22, 2013

Christmas is almost here!  Amazing.  Can it really come with no hint of snow or cold?  I get moments where I fell all Christmasy but most of the time I am totally not believing that this is Christmas time. I guess it totally is because I am so far away from what has always been my focus for Christmas - my family!  We are having a wonderful time though doing different things this year.

The other day we were close to the beach and we had some free time so my surfer boy had to check if the waves were up.  They were looking good so he jumped out in the water.  It was a beautiful day and I was wondering what I should do while he was there - walk the beach, talk to people, go get some stuff at the store.  I finally decided to just sit down and relax.  It was a good choice.  It is so hard for me to sit and just do nothing while out here.  I feel that I should be using all of my time to do good!  As I sat I looked over and saw a man with a guitar, wearing an Hawaiian shirt singing Christmas carols!  So cool.  So I moved over closer and listened as I watched the beautiful blue sky, the waves, felt the warmth of the sun on my face.  He also sang one of my favorite songs that starts out, "slow down, you move to fast.  Gotta make the moment last…. Feeling groovy!"  and I was able to relax more.  When he started singing, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" I had to smile.  It was a delightful hour and I felt the love of the Lord in my life.
Roger the Soldier!

We have been still spending plenty of time at the  Battalion.  There always seems to be extra things to do there.  We have  many tours of 4th grade kids come in for their unit on California history.  So much fun.  About 70 kids show up at the same time and we have to split them up in to three groups.  One starts the tour, the other goes out to gold panning and Roger takes the third group into the theatre room and teaches them about the 1816 flintlock musket that the Mormon Battalion was given in the army.  We have a 12 Days of Christmas program for 12 days before Christmas.  At 7 each night there is a different musical group performing in our theater.  That has added lots of people coming through each day.  The sister missionaries had had many opportunities to sing in the town square or at functions around Old Town and they have really impressed so many with their talents.  It is a fun time to be at the Mormon Battalion.

Our ward has been fun too.  Christmas parties with the ward, the Relief Society etc.  Lots of good opportunities to rub shoulders with good people and for them to be able to bring friends around too.  We continue to have good study classes on Wednesday nights.  In an eight day period of time we had three dinner appointments with members of our ward.  Each time they invite us and our Elder Missionaries.  That is always fun to be with the missionaries.  We really love them and admire their determination to work hard and be successful.  They are great examples to us.  Roger teaches the Wednesday classes and I taught last week in Gospel Principles and will teach again this week.  We have been trying to clean up the list of members of our ward.  There are so many that no one knows that they really exist or not.  We are plotting them all on a huge map of the ward and then will split them up with others that live around them and try to find out if they really live there and if they want church support and love.  It is a monumental task but it needs to be done.  I am so used to looking at our ward list and knowing everyone on it.

One of the other senior sisters and I spent a day baking inedible gingerbread men to give to the senior couples living here in our complex.  They turned out cute.  We made a girl one and boy one and put missionary badges on the front with the couples names on them - tied them together with a bow and gave them out.  It actually was fun.

At the missionary office they keep track of which elders and sisters don't get packages and then try to make sure that they get something.  There are five sisters at the Battalion who are foreign and poor and won't be getting anything from home and the couples there have split them up to give them a few things.  I was thinking that it would have been fun to do that as a family event from us and our kids.  But they just let us know two days ago.  So we went out and did our one and only Christmas present shopping trip for this year!  Two days before Christmas is not the time to go out!  It is amazing to see the circumstances that these sweet sisters come from and their sacrifices to be on a mission.  We really enjoy them.

Christmas Lights at the Temple
We have had the opportunity to be at the San Diego Temple several nights lately too.  It is beautiful there with a great spirit.  They have assigned more missionaries to be there because of the increased number of people there just to see the lights etc.  We have talked to people from all over and have had the opportunity to show pictures to many of the inside of the temple and explain what goes on in there and why we have temples.  Most want to go inside and we have to explain why that doesn't happen.

The weather here has been amazing.  During the day it is sunny and beautiful but by night it gets quite cold - way down to 55 or so!  It is strange how cold that can seem.  At the temple, I wear tights with leggings over them, my clothes, my coat, gloves and a scarf!  They keep telling me it is because it is a moist cold that it gets me.  Maybe I am just getting used to this warm stuff here and becoming soft.  It is 77 degrees today!

Balboa Park's Art Section
We are taking the opportunity to go to Balboa park most Tuesdays to visit the free museums there.  Each week there are different museums free.  It is a huge part close to downtown with lush greenery.  Last week was extra fun with all of the Christmas decorations up and many people enjoying what is there.  It was a great atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sunshine makes me happy.

We are seeing good things happen with people we have made friends with.  More and more doors are opening and we are feeling their love and appreciation.  This is hard work but I have felt the "burdens on my back lifted" as we have tried to do all we should.  There are days when we are out the door by 8:30 am and don't get back home until 9:30 pm. being busy all day and changing clothes many times by the time we are done.  I have felt better than I have in a long time even though I am VERY tired by the time we fall in to bed.

The Mormon Battalion tree with pioneers and covered wagons
We feel the Lord hand in our mission and pause to thank Him for His life and example to all.  What a blessing it is to put that tag on with His name on it and represent Him.  I still don't comprehend all He did but I know that I will feel better about standing before Him because of being here on a mission.  I understand more fully His love for each of His children and His desire to help them.  How lucky we are to know He lives!

Merry Christmas too all!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Missionary Christmas Tree - Another senior couple left the tree and the lights and I have picked up the rest of the decorations here and there.  Candy canes from the Senior Couples FHE, elves and snowflakes from a bench here at our apartment where people put things to share with others.  The bows are from a ribbon that I brought home after the ward Christmas party, etc.  All free.  Kinda fun.

Here we are working at the KPBS TV pledge program
with our tour guide friends.

Pretending to be famous!

Some of the sisters at the Mormon Battalion also serve in our
area here where we live.  They came by and left us a cute
"heart attack".  How how loved we feel!  We love those
The Dr. Seuss Christmas Tree outside of the Old Globe Theatre

The Christmas Concert at the San Diego Temple.  What a beautiful setting!

December 13, 2013

Well, I finally feel like Christmas is coming. But it isn't because of the weather! I was starting to feel sorry for us because it was highs of around mid 50's for about a week - FREEZING! Then I heard what Utah's weather is doing and I am glad to be here. Still it is hard to get that "Christmas Feeling" with the weather so nice. It was high 60's today and into the 70's all week next week. I know - you are feeling sorry for me.

We have had lots of Christmasy things going on. It was our Ward Christmas Party and wow so many people showed up! We were so proud of our ward members for inviting neighbors etc. The whole cultural hall was filled and the food and program was great.

We got to usher at a wonderful performance of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and then got to see it! So fun! It was professional and wonderful! It was in Balboa Park at the Old Globe Theatre and we went with our new tour guide friends. We were able to go to lunch with them after and get to know them better. Such great people.

At each of the church things that we have been to, Sister Guyman brings the best things. That's who had us to dinner along with our Elders the other night. They are an older couple and are so darling. Their house was decorated for Christmas, the table was Christmas plates, napkins etc. And the food was great! It was fun to be fed good home cooking in such a warm, inviting atmosphere.

We were able to spend part of a day in Balboa Park together just playing. Balboa Park is a huge beautiful park in the middle of San Diego. There are lots of museums in there and on Tuesdays they take turns having several of them free. So now that we aren't working at the Battalion on Tuesdays we have decided to go to several of them when we can. It was a beautiful day and fun to just hang out with my best friend.

We are still loving this mission stuff but I have to admit that it is harder this month knowing that Christmas is going on without us at home.  With that being said, it is good being here too.  We can have a different emphasis and focus on doing missionary stuff.  There is something very cool about being out of the world a bit and be able to do the Lord's work.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6, 2013

Wow!  Time is flying by so quickly!

I didn't get to tell you that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  The best part of it was that we were able to see most of the kids and grandkids - via FaceTime!  Yeah!  It was hard to see them all enjoying being together without us but it was so good to be able to see their faces and talk to some of them!  We had our meal at the Mormon Battalion.  We had about 40 people there, Mormon Battalion sister missionaries, senior couple missionaries, several families of the couples who were visiting for the holiday, a new military convert and his family and some of his friends, a tour guide and her son who we invited as our "family" etc.  We had tons of great food and enjoyed the afternoon.

The day before Thanksgiving my son Adam and his wife had a new little boy - born early and only 4 lbs. 12 oz.  That caused me a bit of concern but everyone around us here has been praying for little Covey and he now home and doing well.  He spent a little over a week in the NICU at Utah Valley.

We have been busy with the Mormon Battalion more than usual because one of the senior couple's mom died and they went home to Utah for four days for the Funeral.  Amazing what dedication they have.  They left on Thanksgiving, drove home that night and the next day, got home in time to dress her mom Friday, went to the funeral Saturday, spent time with family on Sunday and were home here by Monday afternoon.  We handled their shifts and ours during that time which has left us without much down time.  It has been good and we have enjoyed it though - just need some time now to wash clothes and clean a bit!

Our ward has been getting busier and we are excited about that too.  We have been trying to start a rescue and focus program in the ward.  It is coming along well and we are realizing that we will be spending lots more time finding people who we have names, birthrates, etc for but who no one knows or has seen in the ward.  We will also be trying to visit inactive families and invite them to come back to church.  The ward council is excited about this too.  We will be moving into our ward boundaries on January 12th!  That will make things so much easier to be involved there and helpful.  We had our third Study Class on Wednesday night.  We are studying Preach My Gospel and everyone there seems to really enjoy the interaction and learning.  We meet in a lovely home of one of the members and it is sooooo nice to be in there warm, pleasant surroundings.

We have been making friends with so many good people - people who aren't members, who are and many who are somewhere in-between.  There are some who are coming back to the gospel and others who are new to it and need guidance and love.  We also had 6 sister missionaries go home last week and we have received 5 new wonderful sisters.  They have been so great to just step in and learn.  I am so amazed at the strength and quality of young women we have here.  I learn so much from all of these people and really am enjoying being able to be a part of their lives.  What fun a mission is!

We have had our hours at the Mormon Battalion cut.  We are getting a new director for the Battalion next month and the previous director is trying to get things into shape to receive them.  We are part time helpers there and the other couples are called there as their primary responsibility.  They need more hours so we get less.  We love it there so much so it was a bit sad but it comes at a good time with the things we want to do in the ward.  We still are involved up to our eyeballs with the social media and tourism stuff we do for the Battalion.  In fact our evening tonight should be interesting.  One of the tour guides in our group is going to host one of the PBS pledge nights tonight at KPBS here in San Diego and we are going to be answering phones there for the pledges.  We will be on TV hanging out with the other tour guides in our association.  We should get to meet lots of interesting people tonight.

I was thinking how cold it was here yesterday and then I looked on Facebook and saw the crazy temperatures in Utah!  Oh my.  Sorry.  It has been highs in the low 60's and high 50's and we are freezing.  I won't complain.  We love the weather here - lots of sunshine.  Part of why I am cold is I have to wear dresses.  How do you keep warm with a dress on?  The sisters have taught me that I should wear leggings under my skirts so I am a bit warmer these days.

The gospel is true.  I see the light of it in the eyes of so many here and I also see the challenges that come when it isn't there.  I feel so lucky to be here to be a part of this great work.  Thanks for so many prayers offered for us.  We actually feel your prayers and they help us when things get hard.