Wednesday, March 7, 2012


December 27, 2011

   This has been an especially fun, exciting week leading up to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Sunday, the 18th, we went to dinner at Kristy Hoefferle's, a sister in the 2nd ward, whose husband is deployed for the third time. They have three son's, 14, 12, and 10. We had a delicious dinner, then enjoyed talking around the kitchen table with Kristy and the missionaries, who also came.
   Monday was our day to serve at the Visitor's Center. That night there was a concert by the Suzuki Flutes. This group consists of over 100 flutists, ages 4-18. It was amazing the variety of Christmas/Hannakah songs they played, as well as the different types of flutes and piccolos there were. They were very entertaining and fun to watch!
   Tuesday, Sister Harper and I started by making a list of sisters we felt inspired to visit that day, and then said a prayer and asked Father in Heaven to guide us to those we needed to visit. Three names came to both of us...each is at a very different stage in her life. The first, Susan, is a retired school teacher who has struggled with poor health. When we called and asked if we could come over, she said that she would love to see us (a much warmer response than the first time we called). We had a short but very enjoyable visit and hope that our friendship might encourage her in coming back to church. The second call was to a young mother, Elizabeth, who has three children, 7,5, and 2. We have tried to concact her a couple of times before, without success. She teaches in Relief Society and is always there to give service to others...We had such a great visit with her, and at one point she said that she was so happy that we had come. She said that she felt like all she did was talk to children, and it was such a relief to have "adult" conversation for a little while. The visit was great for us, too, because we got our "grama fixes" with Lindsey and Leah, her two little ones. Our last visit was with an elderly sister, Margaret, who moved into our ward from the district a few months ago after her apartment had been broken into and she was afraid to live there any longer. She is in poor health and has custody of her 15 year old grandson who is constantly in trouble. When we called her, she said she had been thinking of us a lot and was just about to call. We visited for awhile about Christmas, etc., and then she told us her conversion story. It was really amazing; the spirit was so strong and we stayed for almost two hours with a promise to return soon. All three sisters are in totally different circumstances, yet they all have the same needs: someone to love them and listen to them. It was a truly wonderful day.
   Wednesday, we usually go to the temple, but I went to see an orthopedic doctor for my back instead. He's not quite sure what's going on, so I'm having an MRI after the first of the year (that's the first I could get an appt). Meantime, I have lots of prescriptions to keep me comfortable. The problem is that they make me tired, so I try not to take them. Oh well...
   Friday, we met with Roz, the RS Pres of the 1st ward to sort and deliver food to families in the ward. We made our first two deliveries, when Roz asked if we wanted to go to the National Harbor on the Potomac and see the Gaylord National Resort. Before we went into the resort, we decided to have lunch at the Cadillac Ranch. The hostess took us around the entire downstairs and eventually upstairs where no one else was sitting. When our server came she looked at my missionary tag, then at Sister Harper's, and back to mine; then asked if we knew if there was an LDS church nearby. I asked her if she was a member of the church and she said that she was, but that she had been inactive. She and her husband (they got married in Sept.) just moved here because he is stationed at Andrews Air Force Base. She hasn't gone anywhere except to work and back home, and says she doesn't have any friends or family here. We told her we would gladly help get her lined up with a ward, and know a great couple for them to become friends with. Stephanie and Arick Drake live in the 1st ward and are so excited to meet and befriend Stephanie (the server) and her husband, and we will give the missionaries their name and phone number so they can contact them also. A coincidence that we ate at the Cadillac Ranch, were seated at Stephanie's station, and she was lonely and ready to come back to church? I don't think so... After a great lunch and looking around the Gaylord, we finished our deliveries with wonderful visits to thankful sisters...a fabulous day!
   Christmas Eve was spent at the Visitor's Center--it was PACKED--almost 5000 people were there that day and evening!!! The young single missionaries provided the program; 11 of 27 sisters sang non-traditional Christmas songs while a narrator told the Christmas story. Such beautiful harmony and a talented accompanist--it was a wonderful way to spend celebrating the eve of our Savior's birth.
   Christmas morning we attended Sacrament meeting in both wards that we serve. They each had special musical and spoken programs to celebrate the birth of our Brother Jesus Christ. After church, the missionaries came over to get a small gift we had for them. We asked what time they got up to open their gifts, and they surprised us by saying they were up at 4:30a.m.!!! They were too excited to wait any longer; one of them had already spoken to his family at 8:30 our time...In the evening we went to Bishop and Suz Martin's for dinner. (he's the bishop of the 1st ward) They invited another family, the Hughes, that live in the other ward, so it was a great, fun group. We all shared Christmas traditions, then played a beanbag toss game. Then to top it all off, they had Christmas stockings filled with oranges, candy and scarfs that they had made for us, as well as a Christmas book, "The Fourth Wise Man". Of course, nothing can replace being home for Christmas, but the Martin's did a great job of making it almost perfect. When we arrived home from the Martin's, I spent the next couple of hours skyping with Kassy, Emily, Courtney, and their families, opening gifts and just visiting...I talked with Dave and his family earlier in the day...all-in-all a wonderful, spiritual first Christmas in the mission field.
    I am so grateful for Him whose birth we have celebrated, and for all that He has done for all of us...may we all show our gratitude by the way we live our lives and the service we give to others.