Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Begins Again

We had a wonderful start to the month of December with a trip to the Washington DC Temple with LaShaun and Mari.  We all had a great time and even got the bonus of being able to stay late enough to see the Christmas lights around the temple and enjoy the nativity scenes from around the world in the visitors center.

We seem to appreciate the temple more here.  It might be because of the distance we have to travel to get there.  The extra sacrifice of time and effort probably makes it more meaningful.  Also, I think we have studied more for our temple and seminary classes about the original tabernacle of Moses and other ancient temples.  We have come to value the ordinances and covenants we make in the temple even more than we ever have before.  Jim was actually able to drive to DC this time in 3 1/2 hours.  We talked and read an insightful article on temples by President Benson most of the way so our travel time seemed to go by really fast.

We also had a special zone conference on December 8th.  Since Megan is now in our zone it was really awesome to be able to share this spiritual meeting with her.

She was asked to play the prelude and postlude music and also accompany for the hymns sung and a vocal solo sung by her companion.  We enjoyed seeing the mission video at this zone conference and also many wonderful talks and testimonies.  The Christmas initiative "A Savior Is Born" was also discussed.  The initiative involves an internet website that is amazingly good at bringing the true spirit of Christmas into the season.  The web address is  We highly recommend making it a part of Christmas.

President Johnson's weekly letter today said that there have been 16 million views of the video on the internet in the first 10 days.  It is great to be a part of sharing the message of the Saviors birth with the world.

Another unforgettable Christmas season memory was the baptism of Nick.  He is such a nice man and so anxious to be of service in the church.  He bore his testimony at the end of the baptismal service and he made an interesting comment.  He said,  "I put the missionaries to the test as I wanted to see if they would live the principles they taught.  When they showed they lived what they were teaching I took a new interest in their message."  Nick was referred by his neighbor, Debbie, who is a member.  She is a great member missionary!  Elders Simmons and Howard were able to assist with the baptism and confirmation.  They along with Elder Gille who has been transferred were wonderful examples for Nick.

We also had more "tender mercies" in regards to one of the refugee families we work with for their housing needs.  They had financial and transportation needs that led them to decide to move to another area of the city that is known as "scary and dangerous." We weren't too happy about their decision at first, but they felt it was something they need to do. There were major problems at first with the lease not including their 18 year old son.  We decided we needed to find out for ourselves what could be done to help them.  The day we started to tackle the problem we ended up getting lost in the city trying to find the Housing Authority office.  We weren't even sure how to find the help we needed once we got there.  After going from one place to another we finally found the right place we were supposed to be.  We were SO surprised to see a member of the church we know there at the reception desk!  She made the comment that she was only filling in at that desk for an hour that day. It was awesome that we were there at just the right time.  We think this was not a coincidence.  She was so helpful in referring us to the exact person we needed to answer our questions.   Later on as we helped the family navigate through the paperwork at the apartment office, her help again proved to be invaluable and literally made the difference in whether the son had a place to live for a couple of months. It is so humbling when things like this happen.  It is wonderful to feel the Lord's love for His children.

Then a week or so later we helped the family move into the apartment.  President & Sister Johnson ended up being there too.  They have met the family before and love them as much as we do.  I had a great time that day helping Dorcas learn to use a sewing machine that she had  previously bought at a garage sale.  It turned out to be an amazingly great machine. We mended a pair of her brother's pants and sewed some curtains together to make them fit their windows.  We are hoping we can help them have a wonderful Christmas holiday this year.

I also had the time of my life at the first of the month recycling a little Christmas tree for our apartment.  A member was throwing it and some Christmas ornaments away because the birds had eaten red coating off the artificial berries on the tree.  My eyes lit up when I saw it.  I snatched it right up and had Elder Butler put it in the car trunk.  I did a little resurrecting work at home and.... I think it is the best tree that I have ever decorated!  We also have a few special decorations that were sent to us last year. They have helped make a festive little corner in our apartment!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

I also forgot to include info about a great P-day that we were able to spend with Sister Welch and Sister Wall during this month.  We did Christmas shopping in the "Strip District" and had lunch at a really good Mexican restaurant there.  We
especially enjoyed

the Mexican soft drinks along with our meal.  Then we took off to the Science Museum for awhile.  I think I have finally gotten my fill of this museum since we have visited it many, many times now!!

We ended up going downtown for a quick trip to Market Square where they have an awesome Christmas tree with an ice skating rink around it.  There is also a German Christmas village set up with many booths of unique Christmas gifts being sold.

 We ended our day by taking some great pictures of the two cute sister missionaries in front of the tree.   The tree looked so great with the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) buildings in the background.  But of course, we think the girls in front were the highlight of the picture!

A Savior was born to bring light into the world!!

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