Christmas came and went as fast as ever. I will say this - the time has not dragged along and it seems like I just keep flipping the calendar every time I turn around.
Below are four missionaries waiting at the mission home that we put to work decorating the tree upstairs. Elder Massey and Sister Griffus had just arrived and Elders Doig and Odunga were part of the shuffle of transfers taking place.
Pres. and Sister Erickson went to Malawi for ten days so asked if we would decorate in their home downstairs. We used every ornament and garland we could find and it sort of looked like a cross between an English christmas and a Dr. Seuss effort.
We took our photo since we had spent the evening in their living room.
The upstairs fireplace just seemed to be missing something, so as my gift to the mission home I got two carved giraffes since we are in Africa and I think the home should have a little local flavor.
Before Christmas the couples got together and had dinner one night. The following night we had a couples' devotional at the mission home where we shared a favorite Christmas thought.
On Christmas Eve the Lusaka district came to the mission home for dinner and a white elephant gift exchange. These are the six sisters in the Lusaka district: Rakotoninandriana, Poteki, Khumalo, Jaker, Griffus, Chasinda.
Half ate in the living room….
…..the other half ate in the dining room.
The highlight for me was my gift of two toilet paper rolls and a rag from the Elders' Matero flat.
At the beginning Pres. Erickson had made a big deal that all gifts must be removed from the premises and taken home….. so I stuffed this box in the back limbs of his Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, I discovered the same box hidden in a box on top of the safe in my office a few days later. I am a patient person and the time will come when I can gift this box again properly.
Dessert is always a big hit.
We stuck this wreath on the inside of the outside door of the mission home. I got a fellow to do an Interpol check on the President's car before he drove it to Malawi and that Interpol fellow liked the little plaque that said "Return with Honor" so much that he came back and asked if he could take a photo.
The two branches had Christmas parties. Here is a common sight of a family in a car. Our branch has only five or six cars in the parking lot on a Sunday.
There is a kitchen in the church but this is where the water pressure is best so here is where the dishes are done.
At Christmas time Noel was baptized, which was sort of appropriate for the season. He asked to have his photo taken with me.
We spend a lot of time going to the post offices in town. There are three we frequent the most. The first one is a P.O. Box number for letters. (Although most of our letters now come directly to the mission home address: 14038 Katima Mulilo Road, Lusaka, Zambia). If it says "Elder or Sister" then I think we eventually get them. In town is the main post office where all the packages are sent. If it will fit in a box on the back of a motorcycle, then we might get it delivered for a small fee. If it is too big, then it goes to another post office and we need a tracking number to pick it up. Parking is a REAL problem so most of the time I double park and Kristi goes in for 30 to 45 minutes to check if something has showed up for the missionaries.
The next problem for missionaries is if they are serving in the Copperbelt region or in Malawi, they must wait for someone to be heading in that direction to get it to them. It usually isn't more than a week or two longer. It really seems to be the best system so far, as the missionaries are transferred fairly regularly.
In the photo above you can see that Sister Skidmore is a happy missionary as she received a package for Christmas. It is difficult to convey how important mail is to a missionary. Emails are good but a letter in the mail is really something different and you become so happy for some missionaries, and then again it is heartbreaking to watch others that never, NEVER receive anything. Many of our missionaries have NEVER gotten anything from home so you try not to make a big deal of the mail.
If you want to do some service, ask a missionary who you know, who does get mail, if there is a companion or another missionary that doesn't get any, even an email. You might email them a little note to let them know you appreciate the sacrifice they are making in serving a mission.
I hope your holidays were as full and rewarding as ours.
May 2014 provide you with many ways to serve.