Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014

This week I am so grateful for my wonderful husband.  We had a very busy week, and I couldn't have accomplished all that had to be done, without my sweetheart.  He is an organizer, a worker, and the best dishwasher there ever was.  I am so grateful that he is my companion for the entire mission and for the rest of eternity!  

Tuesday I brought decorated sugar cookies to my English class.  We have been learning words about Christmas.  So, before they could have a cookie, they had to describe the cookie to me.  It was a fun way to motivate them.  

The missionaries did an especially good job of describing their cookies.

The missionaries gave a great lesson for home evening.  They started out by showing part of "Charlie Brown's Christmas."  I love when Charlie Brown said that he would not let commercialism ruin the true meaning of Christmas.  

Elder Bybee and Elder Moreland gave a wonderful Christmas message.

We started Christmas Eve very early.  I was in the kitchen all day, getting ready for our ten missionaries to come and join us for Christmas.  Elder Larsen made the last trip to the grocery store.

Here we have the Las Palmas elders on the bus, headed to our house.  
Don't they look festive with their red ties!

And Hermana Trone and Hermana West looked very festive in their red and green skirts.

I was so grateful for the elders and sisters who came right into the kitchen to help.
They are they best!

And we were so happy to start our evening meal together.

Our Christmas tradition is to have a nibbly dinner on Christmas Eve.  But since almost all of the ingredients I needed were not available here, I decided to use Hermana West's family tradition and have clam chowder, salad, and Jewish Sweet Bread for our Christmas Eve dinner. 

The next part of our evening we had a devotional as a commemoration of finishing the reading challenge that the mission president gave us, to finish reading the Book of Mormon before Christmas. We each took a few minutes to share something special about our reading experience.  Then Elder Larsen gave a wonderful message about the importance of studying and learning from the scriptures.  

After our devotional, I began the reading of The Forgotten Carols.  This was a family tradition that we wanted to share with the missionaries.  It is a story about a nurse whose empty life is changed when a new patient recounts the story of Christ’s birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others, as well as their forgotten carols, help the nurse discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, and her heart is opened to the joy of this special season.

We read the first half of the story, and then shared some special desserts.  I had written to each of the missionary's families to get a recipe for a Christmas treat that they would enjoy.  I think we were successful and they were all very surprised.

Elder Hansen's favorite is cherry-a-lets.      Elder Priest wanted cheesecake.

                 I made chocolate pretzels for Elder Maxfield and caramel corn for Elder Bybee.

 Hermana West loves orange rolls and Hermana Trone loves cinnamon rolls.

         I made arroz con leche for Elder Nash and I made my first Ecuadorian natilla for Elder Sarango.

I was told that Elder Norrell and Elder Moreland love everything, and they did seem happy
with the choices.  I did get a recipe for a homemade chocolate cake that I am planning to try
the next time we have or district meeting with the Telde elders.

Several of the companionships did matching pajamas.  

Since my companion didn't want to participate, the hermanas included me as a threesome.

Somehow, Santa did not get everything done in advance, and had to stay up late stuffing stockings and wrapping presents.  It's a good thing we don't have the same hours as the regular missionaries.  

The next morning, the missionaries studied for an hour while Elder Larsen and I were getting breakfast ready.  We had real Oscar Meyer Bacon, yum, orange rolls, cinnamon rolls, and cheesy scrambled eggs.

We had drawn names so that we could exchange gifts, but I don't think the missionaries were expecting Santa to bring them a stocking that was filled with things from the United States: lifesavers, Reeses peanut butter cups, Crest toothpaste, peppermint candy canes, and for the hermanas-footies with heel grippers, my favorite.  I did include a large bar of traditional Turron candy.

Everyone seemed to be very happy with their presents.

Hermana West had Elder Maxfield.  He likes gofio, which is a ground flour that most of us are not too found of.  Hermana West got creative and made him gofio pancake mix and also included a coveted bottle of syrup.

We were all impressed with the wrapping job that most of the elders did.  A store plastic bag and duct tape.  Very intersting!

Elder Hansen received a wallet from Elder Sarango.  Elder Sarango was very thoughful and included photos of himself and his companion, Elder Nash.

Elder Hansen was very thoughtful and gave Elder Moreland three packages of mayonnaise.  If you can't tell from the photo, he HATES mayonnaise.  

He was much happier when Elder Hansen pulled out a second package.

Elder Bybee was spot on with my warm wrap blanket.       Hermana Trone loved her fuzzy socks (not                                                                                               pictured), her tiara and her special doll.

Hermana Trone made homemade fudge and caramels for Elder Larsen. Yummy!
We gave each companionship a set of measuring spoons and measuring cups.  This might make their baking a little easier.  And they each received a jar of peanut butter and a can of A&W Root beer. We have a British/American store right across the street from the church and Elder Larsen ordered two cases of root beer.  Unfortunately, only one came in, so they will have another treat to look forward to.  We also gave them a roll of summer sausage and hot cocoa mix, but that package arrived the day after Christmas.  

 Hermana Trone had a package arrive at our house the day before Christmas, so was able to open that as well.

After the present opening, we finished our reading of The Forgotten Carols.   Everyone really enjoyed it.  Only two of the missionaries knew the story.  It was a wonderful experience to share with the missionaries.  It brought back lots of memories of our reading time with our kids when they were at home.  

Because Elder Sarango speaks limited English, I had to type the story into Google Translate and then he was able to read it from the computer.  It seemed to work and he enjoyed the story and the music.

After we finished our story, the kitchen work began.  The missionaries were on the computer writing emails, helping in the kitchen, playing ping pong, and playing basketball outside.  I was so appreciative of all the help.  

After hours of cooking, we had a delicious dinner.  We even had cornbread dressing with the cornmeal that Elder Larsen's parents sent us and another pecan pie.

But then we did have a small problem after dinner.  No hot water!  After 12 showers and dishes being washed all day long, the hot water was gone.  The dirty dishes were piled up for several hours while we waited.

The missionaries took turns at the computers skyping or facetiming with their families.  I'm sure that was the highlight of their days.  There's nothing like talking to family.

Then we decided that we needed to take a group picture of everybody. 
 Here is our creative tripod.

And here is our wonderful group.  Too bad We can't see much of Elder Maxfield!
Even though we were far away from our families, and we didn't get to see our grandchildren enjoy the excitement of Christmas morning, we did have a wonderful Christmas.  Being with all of these dedicated servants of the Lord really brought a special spirit into our home.  We love the Savior and His gospel.  We are grateful for the opportunity that we have to spend this time in His service.

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