Highlight of Christmas, hands down. He said, "Serving a mission is the hardest thing I have ever done," but he looked so happy, so full of life and so much more like himself than I've ever seen him. He also said, "The trial of my faith has taught me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. All of it."
We LOVED talking to you yesterday! You look fantastic and I'm thrilled by the strength and conviction I feel when you bear your testimony. Thank you for that strength and example.
We had a really fun Christmas Sunday. Because church was at 10 and Steph had to be at the airport at 9 am, we decided to start a bit early which was of course totally fine with the little girls. Stephanie decided to have a sleep over in the girls room and it was a good thing as the girls had a bit of a hard time sleeping (go figure :) ). Mom and I were pretty prepared this year and had the presents all wrapped and ready to go the day before. So it was fun to let Steph and Sam do some Christmas elf errands to pick up surprise presents from the Patrick's place (e.g. a Big teddy bear for the girls and you Mom went and got me a nice compressor I had no idea about).
About 5:30 we could hear the girls squeals as they came out to get their stockings and saw the big teddy bear. By 6 am Mom and I were enjoying the delighted voices by the tree and decided to join the fun. This year the kids helped to distribute the gifts. Sam especially has developed a knack for leadership and led the charge making sure everyone got equal chances to open gifts. It was super fun to have Stephanie there to add to the squeals and excitement. We really enjoyed her 10 days here with us.
After the gifts, we decided to keep the Christmas breakfast tradition and whipped up some crepes and sausages. Yum!
After breakfast we donned our Sunday best, including dollar store Christmas ties we found in our stockings. Then off to the airport to send Steph back to be with her sweetheart in Los Vegas where Tyler is already hanging out with James doing some climbing. They are planning a fun trip down your way for the week between Christmas and New Years.
Church was a nice 1 hour program of music and readings. Most of the family participated in a nice choir number with Ben playing the piano.The news of the day was Russell Jeffrey proposing on Christmas Eve to Sandra Rodriguez. Surprise, surprise, right?
Sunday afternoon we were relieved when our Septic contractor came to install a winter fix for our septic pump problems allowing us to actually flush our toilets again. Only Mom had to brave the outhouse this time!
A fun afternoon making a new soup (Assiago Bisque) and then playing new family games (Sorry and Monopoly) rounded out a wonderful Christmas day.As usual, starting any new game there were a few tears and struggles, but this morning when I went in to the girls room, they were playing monopoly!
Today, we take up the 3rd year tradition of spending Grandma and Grandpa's $50 each. Last year as we sat around the table at the food court we kept wondering who wasn't back from shopping only to realize it was you we were missing. I think we'll feel the same this year :)
Hope you have a wonderful 2nd year. Be a good example to your companion and help him endure to the end. It is the Lord's errand, so spend your time wisely.
I'm going to try and share a mission experience every letter, so I'll share that and close.
I recall working in the La Chine area in heart of Montreal. Some of your descriptions of Van Nuys reminded me of that area. Tons of immigrants and lots of walk up subsidized housing. It was in La Chine that I learned the power of street contacting. Coming from the south shore of Montreal where it was mostly residential and we drove a car, taking the bus and metro and being surrounded by people all the time was a whole new world (this was my second area). Very quickly I had to get comfortable talking to as many people as possible. I carried around a small notepad for names and numbers and it wasn't uncommon to come home at the end of the day with 5-10 numbers which we recorded in our area book. The next morning we would often spend up to 2 hours just calling people and trying to fill up our blue planners (Not sure if you have run into these planners hanging around anywhere in your apartments, but these preceded your little white planners. They folded up just right to fit in a shirt pocket. Although I didn't spent too long in this area, my favorite memory was teaching an apartment of 5 phillipino ladies. They were so ready to hear the message and despite a few concerns they embraced the gospel ideas readily. I was privileged to be part of teaching 2 of the ladies, Virginia and Marina. They asked me to baptize them except that I got transferred to Thetford mines the Wednesday before. Still was an amazing experience.
Everything your doing is making a difference. Keep up the great work.
Hey everyone! I wasn't able to write yesterday because the libraries were closed and so we treated yesterday as a holiday.
Anyway, first off I want to say that I loved seeing you on Sunday, every time I am always a little nervous but when I see your faces I am filled with so much joy.
Adventures of yesterday!
We have this person who wants a children Book of Mormon and she lives all the way up this hill and we bike up every once and a while to see if she is actually hope... three times... nothing, but I am definitely losing some weight everytime I bike up it.
This guy we talked to told us to have a great Boxing day... he is the only guy here who actually celebrates that along with Canadians.
We had several appointments set and they all fell through so did all of our back up people, which then set me off in a grumpy mood and I didn't want to talk to anyone or anything, but I forced a smile on, and tried what I learned during the canoe trip, I sang a hymn and laughed at myself. Even though I understand how it feels Sam, sometimes you don't want to cheer up.
My bike fell apart a little a link in my chain got twisted a little so it was skipping gears a lot, and so we bent it back into place and I don't know how good that was for the bike but I hope it holds up until at least the end of the mission.
I love you all so much and I learned that when you are apart for a while you even get shy around family, but I love how quickly at ease we were, even for the length that we have been apart, I think that is how it will be like when we get to heaven when we see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again, then we will be surprised how familiar we are, and depending on how we lived our lives here, we will be filled with joy and consolation at his presence and will be glad to enter the work and the glory waiting for us. So may we be valiant in the testimony we have of ourselves.
I am grateful for all of you and hope all is well.