What a sweet time in the mission field. We have elders and sisters so excited to talk with the people back home (crazy but even the senior couples get that way too). We were very busy with a Christmas party on Dec. 22 for all the sisters and elders in three zones (40) and with help from two other senior couples it was awesome. We started with breakfast and then minute to win-it games followed by the skits and songs. After the skits we talked about how we should be looking at what gifts each of us could be giving the Savior. Each missionary wrote what his gift to the Savior would be this year. The list is very personal but could include greater charity, love, forgiveness, more prayerful, being grateful, the list can go on and on. The skits were a lot of fun. Some of the skits were spiritual and some were just funny. I will tell you that while missing family, the Christ spirit (as President Monson has called Christmas spirit) is strong here in Africa.
Here is the breakfast buffet: bananas, muffins and juice.
I was over the biscuit (cookie) from the forehead to the mouth game and so I have a few pictures.
The skits had lots of singing.
Here the sisters are greeting each other. I mean it has been days since some of them have seen each other.
Here you had to bend over and get the sack in your mouth. Some could do it others not so much.
M&Ms from the table to the straw pylons.
Here is Mary coming into Bethlehem on her donkey.
No party can go long without some type of line dancing.
In this skit the elders are playing the sisters and greeting each other at a zone development meeting.
The sisters are playing the zone leaders and are not impressed with show of love and excitement.
On Christmas eve we were able to have one of the districts over for our fabulous candle light dinner. We love that our family carried on this tradition and met together as a family for their own candlelight dinner. Two of the American elders were able to Skype their family while here and the African elders called their families on Christmas. As we were eating it was decided that each of us would share a Christmas memory. Sister Squire gave the Christmas where we were called by the mission president to tell us Tyler needed medical attention (fasting and prayers works, he was fine eventually), and I talked about family traditions and the excitement of Christmas morning. As the elders went around one of them passed so we did everyone else first. All were thankful and had a family memory they shared. We take these Christmas memories for granted until you are far away and then you remember when you had opportunities to share fun, music, and memories. We finally got back to Elder Paul and he said he really didn't have any great memories of Christmas. He is from Rwanda and all his family were wiped out in the genocide. He grew up in an orphanage and so while people would come to visit, there wasn't really any lasting Christmas memories. That really made me happy for my memories and very sad for so many who do not have the opportunity, because of adult choices, to experience a happy Christmas in their childhood. He will one day have a family and can build these memories for himself and his children but for now I hope our candlelight dinner memory with his mission brothers will do.
Our Christmas lights from Utah died after about an hour or less so we bought some new African lights and life is good.
We also brought the glasses that show different icons (stars, snowflakes, and snowmen) when you look at Christmas lights. The elders loved them. Our dinner consisted of BBQ beef, jello, green bean casserole, potato salad, chocolate ice cream with mint brownies and fruit drinks supplied by the elders.
Sister Squire brings out the crazy in all of us...
On Christmas day we had the sister missionaries over for breakfast before they got out to work. The guidelines are that other than a 30-40 minute call home, it is a typical work day. I know it is because people have a more tender heart at this time of year and are more willing to contemplate the gift of the Savior. We finally got them all here and had a wonderful visit. As we asked them about Christmas, as with the elders, no mention was made of any presents they had received at Christmas. In Africa, they don't have a lot of money for presents but still they do give out gifts. It just isn't what is important. Again, it was memories of family and how each would spend the day in their own way doing things as a family. It is difficult in America, with our great abundance, to teach where and what to focus on during this season. We are very accustomed to receiving stuff and the more stuff the better. I wish I had an answer for how to do it but it would be different based on the personality of individual families but finding what our gift to the Savior would be is a good start for any family.
These sisters look cute in any type of glasses.
They had to get a picture or two with our enormous Christmas tree.
For the sisters we had an early breakfast so they could get out and work. We had home made cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole, juice and fruit. Just like with the elders, it disappeared quickly.
When I ride with this posse, no one messes with me. President Chatfield, a cowboy at heart, has a book about cowboy values and being true to the "brand" is one of the tenets. We are trying to represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the brand we "hired" on to.
It was amazing how one or two bad jokes can turn the the tables on a given situation and out come the guns...
However, a good meal and acting like a mom does work wonders for this sister.
After the sisters got back to work we took a drive over to the Jinja Children's Hospital. Sister Squire has me doing all these good things that I would never think to do on my own. We had the option of going in to Kampala and having dinner with the other senior couples at the Mission Presidents home but decided that four hours of driving on Christmas was not what we wanted to do. At the children's hospital we went into a ward where there were at least 20 beds and every one was full with a child and parents also crammed into the space. It was full and hard to walk around. We had a plastic car and a sucker for every child and their parent but they were all gone when we finished in that room. Some of these kids are so sick and your heart goes out to the pain and suffering they are going through. Hopefully, this small gesture will brighten their day for a few moments. We also had a package from Nancy's sister with some decorations that we put up in the room. When we were leaving the guard asked why we didn't go to the ward in the back. We were out of stuff and felt bad that we didn't get to everyone.
We love looking at all the snow that finally came back home but guess what, we will take this kind of snow any day :) Instead of a white Christmas, we enjoyed a green Christmas! We loved talking with all the kids and seeing the joy in the children as they experience another Christmas. We reminisced about how quickly those days go by and before you know it, you are in Africa on a mission.
Finally, our guard was doing a 24 hour shift to cover for one of the other guards and so we got him into a game of Phase 10. Hopefully he had fun but he hasn't asked to play again. He is going to teach us on of the African games when we get it.
We love you all!