Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Week 2014

California San Diego Christmas Devotional
Senior Couples 
Monday was an amazing day!  Right up there at the top of the mission days!  The Mission President and his wife planned a Christmas Devotional for the whole mission.  We met at a Stake Center - the biggest in the mission and for the first time since we have been here we were able to be where the whole mission was together at the same place.  What a great experience it was to sing together and feel the spirit of this wonderful group of missionaries - and to be a part of it!  Pride, humility, joy, thrill, love, gratitude, and happiness were all emotions that were in my heart as I sat there and enjoyed the event. We all met in the chapel and filled it to the brim.  We had an opening prayer and song and then filed out to the cultural hall.

Singing the mission song
We lined the outside of the hall, three or four deep and thens sang the mission song.  It is so fun to sing that together. There is such strength and power when we unite together.  Amazing.  You had to be there to experience it!

We then were fed breakfast casseroles that several Relief Societies put together for us along with muffins, fruit and hot chocolate.  Usually when we meet together in groups the mission president is quick to tell the missionaries to leave the meeting reverently and quickly return to the work.  If not, the missionaries just love seeing each other and catching up and would spend lots of time just socializing.  But this time they gave us a lot of time to eat and then to just enjoy each other.  Everyone was taking pictures with former companions and just really enjoying being together.

 I got to reconnect with our dear Mormon Battalion sisters and other missionaries that we have grown to love and respect and have moved on to areas farther away.  Everyone enjoyed that so much and it was such a happy group of missionaries!  What a nice present.  

Sister Kennedy and Sister Baker

We then went back in to the chapel and finished our devotional with beautiful music and a wonderful talk from Pres. Schmitt.  He then told us that he wanted to offer a blessing on us all.  He then bowed his head and prayed to the Lord for each one of us.  "Eye has not seen nor ear heard......"  It was beautiful and we all left lifted and blessed.  It has been interesting to have our mission president be about the same age as my oldest son!  At times I feel like he is a young kid and other times I see the mantle of his calling come upon him and he becomes a giant, wise man.  We love him.  

Now you see them...
We went back to the office and finished the Christmas package sorting!  We had to make sure we had all of the packages in the right piles for each zone.  This is what it looked like Tuesday morning before all of the Zone leaders came to pick up the packages.  This really doesn't do it justice.  They are all packed to tightly you can't really appreciate how many there are.  The past weeks have been about this full too.  Our missionaries were well taken care of.  

What is sad is that we are still receiving packages that well meaning parents thought might get here on time - but didn't.  They now won't get those packages until next Tuesday.  Oh well, two Christmas days are OK.
Now you don't!

Roger got his iPad set up to watch the BYU bowl game that afternoon but had to take off to do some housing business for the elders and ended up leaving his iPad on for several of the senior couples who were visiting the office at the time.  So they all sat around Roger's iPad and watched the game.  Quite a site and quite a game!  
Beach balls for ornaments!
Wednesday we were able to take part of the day and play a bit.  Of course we went to the beach.  I am not in to the cold water much but still love being on the beach and walking along it.  So while Roger played in the water I walked around and handed out "He is the Gift" cards.  I had my iPad with me so I was able to show the video to several people down there.  I showed it to one homeless man who told me he didn't even realize that Christmas was the next day and that the video didn't address him at all. He isn't caught up in the materialistic side of Christmas - he is worried about everyday life and surviving.  We talked a bit about what difference Christ's birth could make to him in his situation.  When I talked about the Atonement and that Christ has experienced all of his trials; that he knows his feelings and his heart, he seemed to really be touched.  It was interesting and very thought provoking for me.  Boy life can be so hard and I am so blessed.
It is wet suit time

That evening we were invited over to the Scott's place for a yummy Christmas Eve dinner.  They are  the couple who came to the La Jolla Institute and now stay in the place we stayed in this summer.  It was nice to be back "home".  We had the sister missionaries who serve at the Institute, the Knorrs who serve with us and the Bedkes.  We have been having the Bedkes and Scotts help us out in the office the past few days with all of the packages and extra work load from the holidays.  It was a nice group with great food and a sweet Christmas spirit.  We ate and then read from Luke 2 together, played Christmas carols with music pipes and enjoyed each other's company.

It was nice to have something special to do on Christmas Eve and we really enjoyed each other.  Thanks Scotts.  The Bedkes were called to go to India for their mission but are here waiting for their visas.  We have loved them and they are not too sad that they are having to hang out in beautiful San Diego while waiting.  The Scotts were supposed to be going to New York to an Institute there but that didn't work out so they were called here.  Sister Scott has had cancer and thought that she was good but after they got their call her cancer came back.  She is in the middle of treatments and just happens to be about 5 minutes from one of the finest cancer doctors in the world.  It is amazing how many times we hear those kinds of coincidences.  The Knorrs were called to do finance and housing at the office but they couldn't come until about 6 weeks to two months after the couple who was doing it before us.  So we were asked to do change our calling and be in the office and they have been able to do things they are better suited for.  It all seems to work.  Amazing how the Lord is in the details.

Christmas day was very unique but good.  We woke up and opened the presents that we had.  Thanks to those who remembered us and took the time to share with us!  It was so fun to know we are loved.  Then decided that it was a good day to go to the beach!  When we got there the waves weren't very good so Roger decided to hang out with me. We had a great time walking the beach and exploring.  I was actually was glad that Roger couldn't play in the waves because I got him to myself and enjoyed being with him.  It was great to be in the sun and enjoy.  It was a beautiful day!

On our way home we took one of the Walmart cards that we got from the kids to a sweet lady we have been working with since being here.  She is in our ward and has struggled with depression.  It was good to visit her and be able to share your gift with her!  She was so thrilled.  Thanks guys.  We are trying to decide who should receive the others and will let you know who we give them to.  What a great idea!

We then went home and I was able to get in a good swim.  Since we have been at the office we haven't been able to swim much.  It just isn't as fun to swim after dark.  It felt so good so I decided I will try to find a way to swim more.

We were invited Christmas evening to a lady in our ward's home.  It is the same place we went for the very untraditional Thanksgiving dinner.  This time Carol's son made roast duck - yes duck!, duck lasagne, three fabulous salads, wonderful homemade rolls (I asked for the recipe and they said that it was made out of a little bit of flour and lots and lots of butter!) angle food cake with raspberries, pecan pie, semi frio, and goodies galore!  Lots of great people and food.

We were able to FaceTime with many of Roger's kids and I got to see Mike and Kinley the next day.  That was great to see everyone.  We miss you all!

We had a great Christmas and one we will remember for a long time but I have to say that I will be ready to be back with family next year!

I have loved the theme for Christmas this year.  He is the Gift.  I have done a lot of thinking about why he is a gift to me and how that gift helps me in my life.  It has been a good effort to write down those things that the gift of the Savior specifically is to me.  I have also done a lot of thinking about the giver of the gift and how hard it must have been for him to watch his son go through what he did for us.  I appreciate the gift and the giver of the gift and have totally enjoyed the focus of that this year.

Love each other and help one another!  That is what this life is all about.

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