Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014- The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

This is such a glorious time of year.  I have been so very lucky in my life to have a wonderful family with whom I have shared the holidays.  I have such sweet memories of my birthday and Christmas.  I never felt cheated because my birthday was in December.  I always loved the fact that my birthday was the day before my sister's.  One of my favorite pictures ever is of us celebrating our combined birthdays.  I don't have it here with me, though.  I was actually cute then!

We are 17 years apart, but she has always looked out for me.  Even now, when I was concerned about the missionaries having Christmas packages, she and her neighbor responded.  The missionaries were grousing a bit about not being remembered at Christmas and I told them that they did not need to worry, someone had thought of them.  It was very sweet.

My birthday started with a sweet breakfast from our Spanish sister missionaries.  It was a very nice way to start the day.

My sweet mother-in-law has made an extraordinary effort to see that we have cards in the mailbox.  She sent money for my birthday.  It was spent on the last few things we needed for the upcoming Journey to Bethlehem.

Now Elder Dixon can't keep saying that it is a waste of time to go to the mailbox!

The missionaries knew it was my birthday and created a card for me.  They called to wish me a Happy Birthday or Para Bems.  Kaitlyn sent us a great little package with Danish Dessert (because we can't find it here).  She included some charms with strict instructions that I am to share them.  Hmmmmm, that will take some thought.

Our sweet Brazilian Elders had a picture taken of themselves and put it in a frame.

We received two adorable Christmas cards from Titan and P1 with ME's help.

Our delightful Mission Mom, Sister Bennion, also called to wish me a Happy Birthday.  We LOVE our Mission President and Sister Bennion.  They are really choice people.

Unfortunately, however, my birthday fell on a the date that missionaries were notified of transfers.  As I have expressed before, I hate transfers.  I ESPECIALLY hated this one, though.  Because fewer sister missionaries are coming out, one of the sister apartments in our complex was closed.  Other sister apartments had been closed earlier.  We always hate to lose missionaries, but the Sisters add an extraordinary element to our mission, and losing them is really hard.

Even worse, our sweet Sister Barros returned to Temple Square.  She was my second companion (Elder Dixon is still the first and will remain so) and served wonderfully in the short time she was here.  We had held out hope that the Mission President on Temple Square would let her stay, but it did not happen.  The Brazilian Elders loved having her here and have acknowledged that she did great work.  She and Sister Madsen (who had been so wonderful at supporting the work and devoting a day of their work to the Portuguese Branch), came over to say "until we meet again" and brought a lit cupcake and balloons.  As we posed for this picture, Sister Barros tapped the balloon so that it would be in the air in the picture.  It hit the lit candle and exploded.  We laughed so hard!  Unfortunately, we did not capture that on film.  I will miss these Sisters!

We had our District Meeting on Tuesday morning.  We had several transfers in our District and another apartment of sisters was shut down and replaced with Elders.  Our Elder Castro was transferred out of the Branch to work with a Spanish-speaking Elder.  Elder Sousa was transferred into our District as Elder Lima's companion.  Elder Galvez (originally from Guatemala, has learned English well, but does not speak Portuguese yet) has transferred in to be Elder Cruz's companion.  We lost one of our Zone Leaders that we love.  One of the Elders who has been here as long as we have been was transferred to another area.  Our District Leader was sent to another area. One of the Sister training leaders was transferred.   It was a day of signing "bye-bye" books and as Elder Castro said "Sister Dixon, you will cry."  He was right.  I did.

Sorry about the quality.  If you had seen the poor photographer trying to take pictures for all of us, you would have understood.
 Elder Castro's Christmas wish is that he will be rid of his cast.  This time, it is not bright red.  He wanted something more appropriate for the Temple.

We have heard from Elder Castro from his new area.  He is so excited.  He was able to be part of a baptism on Saturday.  He has not had that opportunity yet in the Branch.

Elder Cruz and Elder Galvez are already hard at work.  They have found people to teach and are working in a new location.  Elder Cruz looks very happy.

 I found out that if we want a picture published, they will not do so if there are hand gestures.  Can't get the Brazilians to quit the upward thumb!

These are the North Point sisters.  They have served the singles in our District area.  They are a close companionship, and being transferred was hard.  We enjoyed dinner with them.  One of the things I love about them is when they didn't have any dinner invitations they would call and see if we had plans.  We will miss them.

We attended a farewell fireside for 10 sister missionaries and 3 elders.  Poor Sister Bennion!  She has worked hard to have a missionary choir and that just does all kinds of damage to the balance!

Once we learned who we will have to be the characters in the Journey to Bethlehem, we turned our attention to costuming and food.  Our very talented Sister Mingorance got permission to use some of the costumes from their school, but they didn't have enough of what I needed, so I see up a workshop.  This is what our apartment looks like while I am doing this:

This probably makes my family and close friends laugh, because I tend to avoid sewing, if possible.  Thanks, Pete, for lending me the sewing machine.
 This picture brings back memories of raising teenage girls!  I have to make two costumes for each room because our missionaries must remain together in twos.  Also, I will need one English speaker and one Portuguese speaker in each room to accommodate whichever language the people attending need.  We are also pulling in our Spanish Elders because they have some Spanish-speakers who may come.
So, in this pile there are two shepherds. two kings, two carpenters, two innkeepers, a couple of serving outfits and I am finishing up the tax collectors.  I will put pictures in once the costumes are on people.

I am very nervous about Saturday.  We haven't tried an activity like this before.  I hope it is well-received and we have enough of everything.

Today we had Stake Conference at Lanier Technical College in Cumming, Georgia.  The Stake Center is not large enough to accommodate the Stake attendees at the Sunday Session.  It was nice.

On Thursday we have the mission Christmas party.  On Friday we go to the Temple with the missionaries.  On Sunday, I will need to teach the Young Women and we have a baptism.  Next week, Kaitlyn, Andreia and Titan will be coming to visit!  What an exciting time!

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