Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas in the mission field

December 29, 2014

     We got a text from our Linds earlier in the week. She talked about our first Christmas away from home as being unforgettable. She was right! This has been the best, most unforgettable week of our mission! My two little pictures posted below explain it all.
     Our office has all worked together this whole month to make sure each missionary gets "Christmas".  Sister Black, our called and chosen Mail Lady from Panguitch Utah, keeps a thorough list of packages going in and out of the office. On a dime, she can tell you if Sister Villanueva or Elder Edgington or any other missionary in the field will be having Christmas. We would often get calls from some mother in Idaho or some other foreign country wanting to know where her missionary's package had ended up. All of these packages seen below were one day of the process. Multiply that by 280 missionaries in our mission .Sister Black or one of her other helpers, which could be me on any given day,  would mark and note the package on her list. We would get all old addresses and postage lines blacked out. She would NEVER let any of the rest of us mess with her making proper new address labels to be slapped on the packages. It is a fine science. Then, get out of her way because she had to race to the post office to stand in line. Her husband is the finance secretary for the mission. When she said GO, his pen stopped in midair writing all those checks and his coat was on. Besides being a man who can quote the Gettysburg Address from beginning to end, he does exactly what his wife wants him to do. We enlisted all the district leaders to make sure we knew who would not receive Christmas. It has been an eye opener to me to see families who send their son or daughter out and that is ALL they can do. We experienced the sweet project, at home in Show Low, of the McCaleb girls as they got together two sets of clothing for sister missionaries. There are truly families who give their all to send their missionary out to spread the joy of the gospel.
     As the days drew closer to Christmas, our president's office turned into Santa's workshop. We shopped, sorted, and wrapped gifts for those on our "list". When any of us had a spare moment we got to decide who gets what and then, get it all together just like a loving mother from home would do if she could. On Christmas Eve day, after all zone leaders had been contacted to meet one of us in a parking lot in their area to collect the last minute packages for EVERYONE in the mission,  we closed the office and hit the road, each car taking a section of the mission to deliver to. Unforgettable.
     The other picture shows cards from home from our loved ones. That means ALL our loved ones. There were many days in the month of December when my elder would bring the mail in and we would shed tears just looking at return addresses of Christmas cards mailed to us! We were humbled by so many kindnesses sent our way. Thank you sounds kind of hollow, but.....thank you.
    Our Christmas day started with 26 young sisters and that many Senior missionaries for breakfast and devotional at the visitor center, lunch with two elders who skyped and facetimed their families in our little apartment, and finally, dinner with the two AP's and some more senior missionaries in our apartment building. We have never been busier. We loved it. We have experienced the true joy of Christmas on both ends. Giving and receiving. ALL because of the Gift of Him. Unforgettable.


     Christmas came and went this year in a blur.  It was great and I am so glad that we were so busy.  There are a few traditions in the field that I am grateful for.  One of them is eating Christmas Breakfast at the Visitors Center.  That was very nice.  The other is playing Santa Claus for missionaries.  I had one experience that I would like to share.
      Elders Crow and Garrett (other senior missionaries)  and I gathered up presents and we headed for the southern reaches of the mission.  When we arrived in Warrensburg, we met the Zone Leaders and some sister missionaries and delivered the packages.  This was two days before Christmas.  One of the sisters was from Tonga.  There happened to be a small package from HOME for her. The only one she got. That gal was so excited, she was hugging that package and jumping around screaming and yelling things we didn't understand, crying all the time.  I will not soon forget that remarkable feeling I had.  It was knowing that someone remembered this dear sister and probably at significant cost (the postage was probably more valuable than the contents), for Christmas.  I think to the Sister, it was a piece of HOME that was so overwelming.  They come from the islands from poor families who cannot afford to send them.  They literally come with the clothes on their backs so to speak.  They cannot speak the english language very well. The American culture is so different.  They are so homesick.  They have great faith but they get down a little at times.  Can you imagine the feelings they have when they get something from home.  HOME sweet HOME.
      I am so grateful for the gifts that came in the mail to Sister Seaman and me this year.  The arrival of each one brought those tender feelings about HOME.   Gift giving is the best (#He is the Gift), but this year, watching the receiving was right up there.  Can we all remember the lonely, the left-out, the not-so-popular, the far-away all the time.  May God grant us the wisdom to take care of all who come into our paths and let us give them a reminder of HOME even if it is with just kindness.


Packages at the Mission Home

We'll sing for a key.  They locked
 themselves out of their apartment.

Christmas kindness from Loved Ones

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