Eighty Degree Christmas

I’ve decided that the only good thing about the holidays drawing to a close (other than the fact that I’m sick of Christmas music) is that no one can rightly keep calling me “Sister Reindeer” anymore. I even got that comment from a cashier at Target the other day. Sister Lind, being the comedian that she is, just burst into laughter. 

 
We spent Christmas eve with two different families, which was a blast. We spent the morning helping the Willis’ prep for their Christmas dinner for a few hours since tracting proved to be useless. I swear between Sister Lind and I, we had to have peeled at least 100 potatoes for their famous potato soup and Christmas soup. We also got to meet Alina, Wanda and Eddie’s granddaughter, who goes to Connecticut College. Small world! She lives 10 minutes away from dad! She’s such a sweetheart. And being at the Willis’ is always a blast – I feel right at home and you never walk away hungry. Within five minutes of walking in the door, Jinga handed us from-scratch cupcakes with cream filling and chocolate ganache, a glass of milk, and sat us down before we could even say hello. 
 
Early in the evening we went to have dinner with the Merkels and their son. I have to laugh because Sister Merkel is always going on about one of two things: the fact that she’s going to be 80 (she doesn’t look a day over 55) and her home provice (Alberta, Canada). She deserves some sort of award because she made ham that I actually willingly ate. Don’t have a heart attack now. She stuffed us to the brim. Brother Merkel’s son, Bill, and his girlfriend were there. She’s from Iran, so it was a treat to talk about Middle Eastern literature for a few minutes before sharing a Christmas message with them. 
 
Afterwards we headed back to the Willis’ for their Christmas party. It was a full house with enough food to feed the navy, I swear. We had a lot of fun talking with people. Elder Magele and Elder Bertoch were there too, and shared a Christmas message. They did a great job, and when they finished, Elva asked if they could sing. They stood there before Sister Lind and I chimed in that not only could they sing, but they both had beautiful voices (true story). It ended with Elder Magele going all scary-Samoan on us and muttering that he hated us under his breath. They got over it quickly, especially since Jinga sent us all home with cupcakes. 
 
Christmas morning was a blast – we had district meeting at 0800, but Sister Lind, the Tarzana sisters (Abbott and Wood) got up early to make a breakfast of German pancakes and hot cocoa for the elders as our Christmas present. The punks all dispersed before we could get a photo, but it was a great time. Elder Sautia (our other Samoan) played Christmas carols by ear and we had our meeting in the foyer around a big Christmas trees, and we pulled in couches and comfy chairs. It was perfect and really felt like a family Christmas. 
 
Sister Lind and I both took glorious naps as our Christmas gifts to ourselves, which was wonderful.
 
We spent the afternoon with the Bishop, his wife, and his daughter Valerie. Elder Bertoch and Sister Lind skyped home, Elder Magele and I watched The District with Bishop. Valerie and I made gingerbread cookies and talked about her mission (she served in Peru) and Bishop quizzed me randomly on my signing. A nice, quiet, Christmas day was just what we needed. 
 
Also, Christmas day was 80 degrees the entire day. I secretly wanted to die. I miss snow!
 
This week has been dragging on because Sister Lind was put on the “disabled list” by the chiropractor last week. She was in a car accident a few months ago, and is just now receiving treatment. It’s been pretty painful for her, so we’ve been cooped up inside most of the week. I’m about to climb the walls, but thankful she’s getting better. Otherwise president would receive word that one of his sister missionaries in Canoga Park went postal and flew off the pan handle. 
 
It didn’t help that we had the absolute strangest sacrament meeting yesterday. It was the equivalent of a sing-along. Someone would get up, bear their testimony on a hymn, then the congregation would sing a verse or two. Or the entire song. It was interesting. And seriously strange. I went out to help a mom with her son and she looked at me and said, “Sister Red, did they just forget to ask people to speak this Sunday?” I wondered the same thing. The highlight of the meeting was playing with Nicholas, who is special needs. I crouched down to talk to him and he just launched himself at me to give me a huge hug. The entire meeting he was trying to hum along to the songs (he has a trache). He’s the sweetest. When we set up an appointment to meet with his mom, Nicole, on Tuesday, he got so excited and kept clapping his hands. I love that kids love missionaries! It makes all the door-slams worth it. :)
 
Since Sister Lind has been down for the count, I have been reading James E. Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ,” and the book, “A Prophet’s Voice, Messages from Thomas S. Monson,” which is a collection of President Monson’s conference and devotional talks from the time he was sustained as prophet. I was reading and thinking about the new year, and this quote stuck out to me from his April 2008 General Conference talk, “Looking Back and Moving Forward:” 
 
“Change for the better can come to all. Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor – to come back. ‘Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints.’ In the private sanctuary of one’s own conscience lies that spirit, that determination to cast off the old person and to measure up to the stature of true potential. In this spirit, we again issue that heartfelt invitation: Come back. We reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship. To those who are wounded in spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears. Take literally the Lord’s invitation, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light…”
 
I loved this quote because it was refreshing to think of in terms of the new year – we all have the invitation extended to us to draw closer to the Lord, no matter where we are in the journey of our faith, to renew our covenants and become a new person. That’s what the new year is about, becoming a new person in the Lord. 
 
Story behind the last picture. I glance over because Elder Sharp is singing, “Sweet Spirit” by Sons of Provo (Utah Mormon thing) to see him holding the computer upside down because he couldn’t figure out how to rotate the picture of his family on Christmas eve. 
 
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and have an even more wonderful New Year! Thank you for all the Christmas love – it means so much and made me so happy. 
 
Love ya’ll!

Sista Red

 
PS – Preparation days are the worst sometimes. Someone says, “oh sister!” every 5 minutes and I can’t concentrate. :/
 
Picture 1 – The Los Angeles Temple. 
Picture 2 – Elder Nielson, Elder McCauley, and Sister Lewis ditched before we could get a photo. 
Picture 3 – Our first companionship photo! We look exhausted.
Picture 4 – Elder Magele, Elder Bertoch, Sister Lind, and myself.
Picture 5 – Terrible picture of me, Elder Larman, and Sister Lind, but fantastic shots of Elder Quizon and Elder Mathews. 
Picture 6 – It was a rough holiday for Rudolph this year.
Picture 7 – Elder Sharp and the Struggle Bus. 

 

 
 
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