Monday, January 4, 2016

A Missionary Christmas

This is not our first Christmas away from home and family, but our first one among palm trees, banana trees, monsoon rain on a small island looking after 30 missionaries.  Adrian sent us a few small gifts and they adorned our three foot Christmas tree along with 12 ornaments.  As all good parents want their children to have a Merry Christmas and gifts, we put together 30 gift bags for our missionary children.  We loaded them with apples, oranges, a sleeve of oreo cookies, a pair of socks, a new toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste, a General Conference issue of the Liahona (some in English, some in Samoan and one in Tongan), a stick of beef jerky and a package of peanuts.  We know that for several missionaries this was their only present; it adds new meaning to giving.  We love these missionaries.

December 23 was set aside on our island for all the missionaries to gather together and celebrate.  The zone leaders organized a service project of cleaning a large yard and arranging for the missionaries to play rugby, table tennis, and water balloon volleyball on the cleaned yard.  
There's an old white guy in the middle with the Rugby ball..

The house in the background was build by a former NFL player for his mother.  Two of our sister missionaries live on the third floor.

We then had some "silly" stuff like moving an oreo cookie from your forehead to your mouth without hands.  The 10 second rule for cookies that hit the ground was applied by most of them.  

Elder Faletoi and Lamaroux, the zone leaders for the West Zone designed the green shirts.

In the interim, Theron and I set up the cultural hall to serve the missionaries lasagna (I made 4 largeeeee ones), garlic bread, green salad with grapes in it, and cocoa Samoa brownies with cocoa Samoa hot fudge sauce.  We set up a gift table in the center of the tables and after eats we gave them each their gift bag.  Then, after they had eaten, they started giving back - best Christmas presents ever (well except for our son Marc).

The West Zone Elders performed a haka dance for us which i believe is the Maori way of saying We are the most fearsome and aggressive warriors on the island, however, for us it meant 'we love you' and 'thank you'.   (click to watch the video)

Elder Barclay, Zone Leader for the East Zone, carved a hymn book for us.  This is very traditional here in Samoa.  They carve designs through the different layers of the cover resulting in two shades of green and a gray cardboard below. black markers are used to add contrast and clear packing tape is used to cover and protect it.

 The sisters gave us a very large conch shell.  Everyone gave us hugs and the special group picture!!

The Christmas program at our Church on Sunday in the Mesepa International Ward (MIW) was terrific.  The young children sang 'Silent Night' in sign language, English, and Samoan.  The two elders assigned to our ward were asked to give talks and we were asked to bear our testimony.  We are so thankful for the birth of Jesus Christ and the love he offers us.

We talked to all of the family and what a joy to receive a phone call at 3:30 a.m and watch Mason, Ali, Tyce, Kacy, Marc and Brittney open presents.  Then a couple of hours later, Adrian called and we watched Cameron and Taylor, Adrian and Todd open their presents.  A little later that morning, we were greeted with this picture on our ipad of Brookelyn, Jessie and Lauren along with Curt and Melanee.  We have the most beautiful family in the whole world!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas one and all.  Happy New Year.  We look forward to seeing you in October.

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