Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Christmas Week. . . .

With Christmas approaching this past week the visitors center was very busy. Sunday evening the visitors center had an all time record number of people visit. 7,460 people came through the doors. That is not counting all the hundreds that were outside to see the beautiful lights.. There was a line up of cars waiting to turn in to the grounds to see the 650,000 lights. 

 Christmas Eve morning I was able to stay in and get presents wrapped before we left for the visitors center at 2:30.  It had started to snow and you know how excited I get when I see it start to snow.. well it didn't last long, but we did have some big flakes for a while. The visitors center was very busy that evening, everyone coming to look at the beautiful lights and come inside and see the 92 nativity sets and the beautiful trees and the wonderful performance.  The missionaries that were helping with the parking that evening were from the Washington DC South mission. I told them all about a "new sister" missionary that was coming to their mission very soon from my home ward in Arizona. They are all excited to have Sister McCormick serve with them and told me they would make sure she is well taken care of.. I really hope I get to see her while I am still here.. The missionaries get to come to the visitors center as often as they want if they bring an investigator with them. Some of the missionaries said they come several times a month.. So I hope I get to see her.  It would be so special.

 I have met many of the young men missionaries from Arizona, Idaho & also from all over the US and the world when I am serving them dinner,  . It is so fun to talk to them about things and especially those from AZ. & Idaho to see what we have in common and who we might both know.. One group of 4 sat down the other evening and I asked where they were from and one said "Arizona", I said "hey, I live in Arizona". The next one said "Meridian, Idaho", and I said "well I grew up right there", the next one was from Kaysville, Utah and I said "there is a great pie shop in Kaysville", and the 4th one said he was from Payson, Utah and I said "well I have driven through Payson".. They are so entertaining to talk to and get to know..

 Elders Eatnshaw & Wilson
 Christmas Eve evening, the last two missionaries I served dinner were Elder Earnshaw from New Jersey and Elder Wilson from Anaheim, California. Elder Wilson asked if he could sing me a song for my Christmas present, in thanks for serving them dinner.. I said "sure", he asked me what my favorite carol was and I said he could sing whatever he wanted and he said "no" what is you favorite.. So I said well how about "The First Noel".. He started to sing and I was in awe, his voice was amazing and he sang so beautiful.. He is a voice major and wow could he sing.. I was so touched that he would do that for me..

 On Christmas morning we had our mission Christmas party. We all met at the VC in the auditorium first to have a group picture taken. It was the 180 missionaries serving in the DC North mission. The young elders and sisters and the senior couples.. The photographer comes from SLC. to take our picture, I can't wait to see it.. We then got to hear President and Sister Matsumori share some thoughts and stories with us and then we watched the movie "Elf".. It is so fun to watch it with all the missionaries.. they laughed and laughed and loved it.. so did I. We then presented the gifts to President and Sister Matsumori from all of us.  The young missionaries gave them scripture covers and a book with pictures and thoughts from each of them. Then we gave them the Picture we had made for them and the basket of all the goodies we had gotten for them from the senior missionaries.. They loved it all and were so appreciative.

The picture I made for President and Sister Matsumori
that we had triple matted and framed.
Sister Brown from Mesa
 Sister Avalar
 Sister Wong, Lin & Tuft
Sisters Bowman & Aldridge 
We then went to the church building next door for a Christmas luncheon of turkey, dressing and all the works.  During lunch the young missionaries had a talent show and performed..I love how they can let their hair down and have so much fun. We even had a group from Tonga that taught a group of elders to do the Kailao dance. They dance in a fierce manner that emulates fighting, all to the accompaniment of a beaten drum, which sets the tempo. Unlike most other Tongan dances, the kailao is performed without singing. The sequences of movements to be performed by the group are called by the lead dancer, who will give the name of the sequence, then will signal when to do it..
 The Tongan Dance
Sister Kristan Miller
Sisters Brown, Me, Feldman, Clemet & Joost all from AZ.
All the current missionaries from Arizona
 Two of my favorites are a picture of the 4 young sisters and myself all from Arizona and then a group picture of all the missionaries from Arizona. I also got pictures with many of the Elders that I have served with.. I just love them all so much and admire their dedication and service and love of the Lord.
 Elder Peterson & Nielsen
 Elder Sanchez
Elder Rushton

Elder Fisher

Elder Hunt

Elder Epperson

After our Christmas party,  I was able to go back to our apartment and skype with my family and that was so much fun. I was able to see everyone except my grandaughter who is in Chicago going to school and my grandson who is on his mission in South Carolina.  What an awesome family I have. I am so thankful for their support and example to me of love and service.

Weds. morning I was sitting here watching it snow outside our apartment windows.  It is beautiful and since I don't get to see it often, I am loving it.. when it  snowed on Christmas Eve it didn't stick and Wednesday it was covering everything in a beautiful layer of white.  It snowed for about 3 hours and then started to rain.. rats!

 Don't you just love the Christmas season, filled with such a wonderful spirit of love. I have gotten so see several friends this week.. Kim is a friend from Texas that I met in my days as a scrapbook rep. Her son and daughter-in-law live here and they came to be with them for Christmas. It was so fun to see her.. I love to walk around the VC and hear my name called and turn around and see a new friend I have made while serving my mission. I was able to have lunch with my friend Suz from the first ward I served in on Friday. We met for lunch and caught up on all the news.. It is so great to spend time with friends.

 This weeks performances at the VC:

  • Christmas Eve, The sister missionaries: performed in song and instrumentals. They are all so talented and the music was so beautiful. Many have multiple talents; piano, cello, voice, flute and violin. My favorite song that they sang was "Breath of Heaven".  It is such a joy to see the amazing talent in these beautiful young women.
Such beautiful music from this group of sisters
 Sisters Welch, Wong, Gtos & Miller
 Sister Wong
Sister Wankier

  • Voices 4 Contemporary Vocal Quartet: this group is comprised of Justin & Heather Hart, Merilee Spencer & Devin Toma. Members of Voices 4: have performed across the globe in solo and ensemble performances from Broadway to classical concerts, from summer stock stages to the recording studio. For this special event, these four fantastic voices are coming together for an evening of entertaining and stirring music featuring well-loved tunes of the Christmas season. I loved this performance..
  • Harbor City Music Company from Baltimore: Harbor city Music Company Show Chorus is an award winning women's chorus comprised of 65 members from the surrounding Maryland counties. Members of the chorus range in age from the mid twenties to mid eighties. A very fun performance to watch..
  • Pickwick Players - Vocal Ensemble: The Pickwick Players is a double-quartet of singers and actors who sing in a variety of styles, and accompany their music with  readings and stories that help the audience appreciate the settings and background of their selections
  • Feliz Navidad: Feliz Navidad is a group of 18 musicians from different Latin American countries who performed Holiday music traditional to Latin America. The entire program was done in Spanish. It was fantastic.. I Loved it..
  • Trifecta- Holiday jazz trio: Trifecta is a trio of musicians from the US Army Band "Pershing's Own" and the US Air Force Band who play saxophone, bass and piano. This will be the third year in a row that they have performed at the Festival of Lights, and they have become a huge audience favorite. Bishop Vance from my White Plains 2nd Ward played the saxophone.. What a fun evening, they were fantastic and the theater was packed.

Bishop Vance
  • Follow your dreams singers - "Scrooge, the musical": this group of gifted singers based in Northern Virginia performed excerpts from "Scrooge, the Musical," a Holiday treat for the entire family. This talented troupe of performers produced the musical Les Miserables earlier in 2012, and in 2013 will be producing the musical Fiddler On the Roof.
The time is getting short back here in Maryland.. only 54 days until my release.. I am having mixed feelings about leaving.. I have made so many wonderful friends here and hate to leave them, but so very anxious to be back with my family in Arizona. I have been seeing quite a few friends at the VC in the last month from areas that I have served, and it brings varied emotions as I say goodbye to them.. some I know I probably will never see again and others I might.. I have been truly blessed meeting such wonderful people who have touched my life in so many ways. They are like my family away from home.

 "The better part of one's life consists of his friendships".
Abraham Lincoln

 "The message of this season that is applicable throughout the year lies not in the receiving of earthly presents and treasures but in the forsaking of selfishness and greed and in going forward, seeking and enjoying the gifts of the Spirit, which Paul said are 'love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." James E. Faust

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