Thursday the 22nd was a wonderful and exhausting day for the couples. It started at 8:00 when the men loaded up the van with a few hundred packages, took them to the stake center and arranged them alphabetically for later pick up. The last part could not have been done without the help of some of the sisters and elders.
Preparing food and getting it served to over 150 missionaries took a lot of time and effort but by noon it was ready for them. The missionaries each brought a $5 white elephant gift which they stored in a room until after dinner and the conference picture.
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It was a great sight to stand on the stage and see the missionaries eating and chatting to their friends. The middle picture is just before the senior couples were asked to stand on the wings and I took the last picture from my far right position. It took a major effort by the assistants and President Anderson to get us all arranged for the picture. I doubt if they taught this in the MTC.
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The missionaries were arranged around 8 tables and shared their gifts…elder Clark got Hermit the Frog. After a marvelous video of Elder Holland giving a talk to missionaries at the MTC they got a parting gift from Santa and Sister Claus before coming through and getting their mail and packages. They then departed for their areas so they could teach for a couple of hours before calling it a day.
The senior couples stayed and cleaned up before coming home and collapsing…at least this senior couple did. It was a wonderful and spiritual Christmas Conference.
Yesterday I looked out and saw this laughing dinosaur over the trees and managed to get Â a shot before it disappeared 2 minutes later. A week ago I took the center picture with all the beautiful blue sky with just Â fringe of clouds to the West. Not many mornings look this way here. The last picture should have been a video. The egret was walking along the hedge and every so often it would put its foot on a branch that would not hold its weight and would kind of fall into the hedge. We seldom see egrets on hedges for that reason.
I finally made it to the mall to finish my Christmas shopping. As I passed this circle of chairs I realized that all but one was filled with men obviously waiting for their spouses to finish shopping. Some were asleep and the rest looked very bored. Christmas – bah humbug?
The other picture is a familiar one near mall entry doors. They provide covers for wet umbrellas so that the floors do not get so wet. That gives you some idea of how often it rains here in Southern Florida – and they say they are having a drought. If it starts to get wet again I wonder if they provide boat service for getting to and from your car?
The picture of the Savior is printed over a collage of pictures of missionaries and hangs in President Anderson’s office. We ran out of room for packages in the room where Mary and Sister Collins does the mail so we decided to move the growing stack into the same office until we can take it to the Mission Christmas conference on the 22nd where we will hand out them out. Notice all the Post Office “pack all you can” boxes. Some are very light and some feel like the missionary is going to get a load of gold for Christmas. The middle picture shows how Sister Beagley used her talents to decorate the office waiting room. The traditional decorations go well with the pictures that are there reminding us again of what Christmas is really about.
We decided that we would drive through some of the nearby everglades to see what is there. The problem we ran into is that Florida is so flat that there is almost nothing to see from the road except the grasses growing along the side of the road. Occasionally there is a break where the water comes close to the road and there are places where you can pull in and put a boat in the water. But after traveling about 5 miles with nothing going on we decided that it was not the way to spend a whole afternoon.
The boat in the right picture soon pulled along side the dock Mary is standing on and two happy if slightly tipsy fisherman disembarked. I asked them how the fishing was and they said not good but that it was a beautiful morning. Actually I doubt if fishing was their main activity.
I wonder how people navigate these waterways because once you are in the water there does not seem any way to know where you are without a GPS…maybe they navigate using the power lines as their guide.
We do want to go back and take a airboat ride…there is a good one about 30 minutes from our apartment – or so they tell us.
Â Congratulations to Kristy and Jim….
Colin James Pier
5 lbs. 13 oz.
Born 12/14/2011 11:09am
I had to add these two pictures of Charlotte and Olivia getting to know their new brother…I think Colin is going to get a lot of love from his two older sisters.Â
OK so the first picture is not from DM but as we were leaving for it, we notices this watch cat in one of our neighbor’s windows. It is often sitting there keeping a couple of eyes on what is going on. We have never seen it outside so it must be well trained.
As I have said before, going to District Meetings is one of the perks of being a senior missionary. To share the excitement and spirit of the dedicated young missionaries is a real boost for us. They sing, share, and learn. They make commitments to achieve goals that they set themselves and report on how they are doing. The middle picture shows the District leader Elder George on the right and his comp Elder Smoot. They lead by example and set goals that are a little stretch but achievable. The last pictures shows a very reluctant Elder Stholton leading the opening hymn while one of the ZL elder Beard sings out. I almost caught Elder Meredith but only got about 1/3 of his face.
Tonight all the senior couples went over to the mission president’s home where President and Sister Anderson fed us a delicious dinner, we had a good time talking, watched a video on the birth of Jesus, and then shared white elephant gifts. We surprised the president and sister Anderson by gathering on the porch and singing Christmas carols to them. The last picture is elder Collins opening his gift.
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The Sommerfeldts are on the left and the Beagleys are on the right in the first picture. Next we have the Buetlers and the Collins. The last picture is a lovely display of temple square that sister Anderson has sitting in the front room.
This is the same scene from the other end showing the Lion house, tabernacle and Eagle Gate with the temple in the background. The center picture is another shot of the amazing Christmas yard that is down the street from the chapel. The final one is the loot we brought home. A lovely figure that the Andersons gave to each couple, Mary’s stocking filled with goodies and my battery operated all terrain vehicle.
As I have mentioned before one of the great blessing of serving a senior mission is getting to know the mission presidents and their wives and the wonderful couples who are willing to be away from family and friends for 18 months to two years to serve the Kingdom.
President Anderson send out a letter each week that shares some experiences that the missionaries have written to him and to re-inforce some recent teaching or training. This is one of the stories he shared this week. Note that the family got baptized on the 11th and will now enjoy the blessings of the gospel this Christmas.
“Our testimony of Christ is invoking the Spirit and melting hearts. The Lord is blessing the people of South Florida in answering their prayers to find the truth, butÂ we must be obedient and worthyto find them:
Ã¢Â€ÂœÃ¢Â€Â¦it was dark, people weren’t really too interested in letting us in or even answering the door.Ã‚Â We were discouraged and about to head to our next appointment when we realizedÂ we hadn’t finished the hour. So we trudged on.Â Â At the next house we were rudely refused, but on the 2nd house after that, we found Jesus Garmas.Ã‚Â He opened the door and after giving the approach asked us Ã¢Â€Â˜Who sent you?Ã¢Â€Â™Ã‚Â I explained again that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and it was Him that sent us, and he asked again, Ã¢Â€Â˜Who sent you?Ã¢Â€Â™ We testified again of Jesus Christ.Ã‚Â I asked him if he felt he needed the blessing and said Ã¢Â€Â˜well yeah, I’ve been trying to get baptized but didnÃ¢Â€Â™t know howÃ¢Â€Â™, Ã¢Â€Â¦He went on to say how unusual it was that we were out and about just giving blessings… we explained that we had received inspiration to come to this area, and had just started knocking down the street until we came to him.Ã‚Â Well he went to get his wife for the blessing but she didn’t want to Ã¢Â€Â¦and we agreed to come back the next day.Ã‚Â We left and as we were contacting people across the street he came back outside his house and called to us over the hedge Ã¢Â€Â˜Hey when you’re done over there I need you back over here.Ã¢Â€Â™Ã‚Â Well we finished with the people we were talking with and went back, and he told us that he couldn’t let us leaveÃ¢Â€Â¦He had prayed the most sincere prayer of his life to be baptized and then we knocked at his doorÃ¢Â€Â¦We left the blessing Ã¢Â€Â¦ and afterward testified of the Holy Ghost and how he could be baptized even as early as this month.Ã‚Â He was in shock, Ã¢Â€ÂœReally?Ã‚Â I can get baptized this month?Ã¢Â€Â™Ã‚Â We then invited him toÃ‚Â be baptized the 11th.Ã‚Â He looked at his wife, who looked at him and asked Ã¢Â€Â˜what are you looking at me for?Ã¢Â€Â™ Then he said Ã¢Â€Â˜They answered my prayerÃ¢Â€Â™Ã¢Â€Â¦Ã‚Â When we went back and taught the restoration, he sat us down at his table with his wife and daughter and her boyfriend, and the first thing he said was Ã¢Â€Â˜Why did you ask me how I felt last night after the prayer?Ã¢Â€Â™ We talked of the Holy Ghost and how that is how we know what is true from God.Ã‚Â He said Ã¢Â€Â˜I thought so, because I felt it, and I slept better last night than I have in a long time.Ã¢Â€Â™Ã¢Â€Â¦he is getting baptized this Sunday.Ã‚Â The family came to church yesterday and loved it Ã¢Â€Â¦ It truly was a miracle and one of the blessings of being the Lord’s servant.Ã‚Â I feel so blessed to be a part of this. Ã¢Â€Âœ
I interviewed this wonderful man and his wife yesterday. Not only did he get baptized, but so did his wife and 16 year old daughter. The daughterÃ¢Â€Â™s boyfriend is taking the lessons and another daughter is becoming interested. These miracles are waiting for all of us.
Mary has finished decorating our Christmas tree and we have one present under it. There are three pictures because if I use the flash you can not see the lights and if I do not use the flash you can not see the actual color of the tree and some of the ornaments…any way Happy Christmas Everyone.
Rather early this morning I received a call from the zone leaders asking if I could go out with Elder Clark this afternoon because Elder Beard was going with the APs to Miami. I said I would love to go and so I spent three hours teaching the gospel. We first went to an older sister – she is exactly 12 days younger than me – and talked about the plan of salvation and what happens when we die and are resurrected. It was a very good experience because she loved the bible and kept a good study journal. On the way out we got a contact with the family in front and an invitation to come back during the week.
We then went to keep a teaching appointment but no one was home so we went harvesting in the same area. We only got into one home but there we were able to bless the house, teach a short lesson on Joseph Smith, give a blessing to Delores who was not feeling well, and get a return appointment. We had a good conversation with another man but he would not let us in to bless his house. We did pray together and made an appointment to come back and teach. On our way back to the car I suggested we try the house where we were originally going and found the woman home and made a new appointment for later in the week.
Our final appointment was with a young woman who spoke little English so Elder Clark taught her in Haitian Creole. We had to teach outside because she was alone. She sat on a 5 gallon bucket and we sat on the step. I was able to bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the first vision in English with Elder Clark translating but I think she understood by the spirit. In the picture you will notice the clothes on the fence behind her. Teaching outdoors with clothes drying on the fence brought back wonderful memories of both Indonesia and South Africa.
It was wonderful to feel the power of the spirit and the blessings of the Spirit that led us to know what to teach and ask. I am looking forward to the next time I can go out with the missionaries.