|Picture courtesy Sister Jenkins ASNM 2017|
Who would ever have thought I would miss Snow? In my mind, cold weather, snow and Christmas go hand in hand. Even though I grew up in warm, sunny California, and love California in the summer months...I do love Utah and the warm coziness of family times, warm fires, family outings and gatherings, hot soups and Hallmark Christmas movies in December. This year is going to be very different. Today it is 107 degrees. I felt the hot sun on my arms, top of my head and neck walking home for something cool to eat for lunch. I walked into our Flat to find it was 85+ degrees inside due to a non functioning air conditioner. We made the calls to the grounds contractor. He has put in the request for a repair, but????? Lot's of people have A/C problems this time of year. I see some sleepless nights ahead. No one said it was going to be easy. Maybe I will bring a pillow and blanket up to the mission office and sleep up here tonight? Sounds like a good idea.
Last week we had our Christmas Zone Conference with all 7 Zones, 160 missionaries in one building. These missionaries LOVE to visit with each other. It is like long lost friends when they get together. President and Sister Checketts had a wonderful day of activities planned. While the President was teaching the missionaries, the seniors were working rapidly getting the tables, settings, and decorations finished in the cultural hall. Other senior missionaries were in the kitchen and Primary room prepping salads, watermelon, cooking pulled pork, sweet and sour meatballs and vegetables, and of course the Mission staple, rice and lots of RICE. What a beehive of action we had going on.
After an hour or so we heard this wonderful, angelic sound coming from the Chapel. It was all those amazing missionaries singing Christmas Carols. We quickly finished what we were doing in other parts of the building and went into the Chapel looking for an empty seat here or there. We joined in for the last 1-2 songs. Now that is what you call enjoying the true meaning of Christmas. Then President announced the rest of the day's activities. We started with a few clippings the President edited from some LDS films. Spirit of the Game, a great movie about missionaries in Australia 1950. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. A simple story but inspiring. Of course he had to put in some out takes from The Best Two Years. Many of these missionaries had never seen this movie as they were just young kids when it came out. I love this movie as well, but this day I loved watching these missionaries laughing hysterically as they watched for the first time and completely related to all the funny out takes. Oh my, their reactions were priceless. I was laughing so hard watching them laugh.
|Beautiful Christmas decorations made by Senior Sisters|
We then went and enjoyed a delicious meal that Sister Checketts planned. There was an abundance of food. Next on the agenda were games. Races stacking cups. Getting Oreo cookies into your mouth from your forehead, and one other game? We then did pictures by the different countries we were from. (BTW Do you know where missionaries say missionaries from Utah are from?? The Factory! I thought was kind of funny) The picture of missionaries from the States was 4-5 times bigger than any other country. Mail was passed out which is always a big high light for missionaries. Lastly the movie Moana was shown. Fun movie and day of activities.
It was getting late and the President was anxious to get the Missionaries out the door and on their way home via cars or public transportation. I was disappointed that the Mission song was not going to be sung. Then I saw Sister Checketts talking to the President. Guess what? We sang the mission song and the President and his wife both recorded it. I can not tell you how powerful this song is. And when you add those beautiful Polynesian voices that harmonious so magically....well it brings one to tears! It reminds me why we are serving and what our purpose is. It makes all the difficult things that happen day in and day out i.e. broken AC's worth the struggles. Oh how I love these missionaries, these faithful Senior missionaries and this work. This is time well spent.
|Sydney Temple decorations 2017|
Now for a story that I got permission from the President to relate. President Checketts continually stresses and encourages each of us to have the spirit with us at all times. He also sets an amazing example. When new missionaries arrive to the mission he does not assign them to their areas until he has a chance to visit with them and feel directed by the spirit where to place them and with whom. President Checketts knew we were getting a young man to the mission who has a heart problem and has a pacemaker. This would cause any President concern because they never want anything bad to happen to one of their missionaries under their care. I don't know how worried the President was, but our mission nurse was quite concerned and doing background research so she would be up to speed on his condition. President Checketts decided to put Elder Smith who has the heart condition with Elder Jones (names have been changed to protect the parties). After visiting awhile with Elder Smith, who I can tell you is delightful, charming, and oh so faithful young man, President felt inspired to put him with a 2 month new missionary, Elder Jones. When President Checketts told Elder Jones what the background was on Elder Smith, Elder Jones was not worried or put off in the least. As an after thought Elder Jones mentioned to President Checketts that he had been a pre-med student before coming out on his mission and wants to someday be cardio thoracic surgeon. Now this missionary wasn't going to perform any surgery, but he wasn't going to be afraid to help his new companion in any way he could. Coincidence?
I think not.