Saturday, December 28, 2013

16 - 22 Dec 2013 Guilhermina,Cookies,Tree,Skype,Devotional

This week began with transfers for the missionaries.  Although there weren’t many transfers between the zones, most missionaries advanced to other leadership responsibilities (such as junior companion to senior companion) so there were lots of corrections to the transfer cards.

This week, when we did our shopping, I talked briefly with another young lady who weighs produce at Premier.  She was happy to be asked if we could take a photo!  Her name is Guilhermina! 

Each week at Staff Meeting (which are usually held on Tuesday mornings) someone gives a spiritual thought.  This week’s thought was about Nephi and his brothers.  Laman and Lemuel had tied Nephi up; Nephi prayed that the Lord would give Nephi “strength…[to] burst these bands.”  Elder Greenman explained that in answer to Nephi’s prayer “the bands were loosed from off [his] hands and feet” and then concluded that sometimes our prayers are answered in a different way than the way we have asked.  Nevertheless, our prayers are always answered in the way that the Lord feels is best for us.  Food for thought!

We held our last family history class for 2013 on Wednesday.  It looked like we wouldn’t have anyone there, and then we heard the hurried footsteps and one of our students who had not been able to attend for a long time came and sat down in the classroom to catch his breath.  This 19 year-old young man is always smiling!  He explained that he really wanted to come to class tonight and was glad he made it.  The lesson we had planned, the use of pedigree charts and family group sheets, was perfect for him.  He understands their use far better than he did the first time we talked about them and is anxious to gather information about his family.  We are taking a break from classes until January 8, since the next 2 Wednesday evenings are Dec 25 and Jan 1!

The Elders gave me a stack of baptismal fichas (records) to input.  When I got the box I prop the pages up with from the top of our file cabinet in our office, I saw something move in the box!  I screamed and dropped the box.  Investigating, Elder Tidwell and I saw a tiny lizard, about an inch and a half long.  Its little black eyes looked frightened, too! I carefully carried the box downstairs and outside and Elder Tidwell got ready to take a picture!  I tapped the box, but the lizard didn’t come out.  Its little suction pads on its feet clung to the cardboard. The little guy didn’t move until I nudged it – and then it scurried into the garden and disappeared!   Either that day or the next Elder Tidwell saw another similar-sized lizard scurry into the bedroom across from the office.  So, look out!  Little lizards are lurking! 

This week we were heavily involved in preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner for 57 missionaries, President & Sister Kretly and President Kretly’s son and his wife. The dinner was to be held in conjunction with Maputo Zone Conference from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve day.

On Wednesday and Thursday evenings I made Christmas cookie dough for Date Pinwheel Cookies, Molasses Krinkles and Russian Teacake cookies.  Then on Friday at the office, I used their gas oven to bake 25.5 dozen Christmas cookies!  If I had used my counter-top oven, it would have taken forever!!!  With the regular-sized gas oven – 6 hours!  I wanted each of the missionaries to have a taste of homemade Christmas goodness.  The Elders said the kitchen smelled like heaven!  One of them said that he could eat them all with no problem!!!  (Now, adds Elder Tidwell, if the oven at the office had run out of propane, who knows how we would have resolved that problem, but all worked perfectly.) The elders each got to taste a Molasses Krinkle, but I froze the rest. 

Our Christmas tree is now complete with pictures of all of the children and grandchildren!  Who would have known that the shiny inside of milk cartons could be made into silver palm tree leaves!  I told Elder Tidwell that I would really like to have some Christmas lights in the apartment, so we went down to the store that was still open and purchased a little package of 100 tiny rice lights.  As we checked out, the store bagger opened the box of lights and tested them in an outlet to make sure they were working!  That is something you never see in America!  Then, after we left the store, the store manager called after us, “Wait! Wait!”  I went back and he handed me a bag and said, “A gift for you for Christmas.  Feliz Natal!”  It was a box of four pretty glasses!  Free gifts like that aren’t given out very often in America either!  What a country of contrasts!

We hung the string of rice lights in the kitchen!  Before Christmas, we purchased another couple of strings of rice lights, so in the evening we have lights flashing on and off in a variety of cycles and everything looks very festive!

We are grateful we get to Skype with our families!  We got to see the two beautiful blue parakeets (Rose and Blue) that Kelsie received for her 10th birthday.  Sometimes the grandchildren sings songs to us and show us their new toys and other things.  Here is a candid shot of Amelia and Georgia via Skype!  

We also enjoy phone calls with everyone via our Vonage phone system.  We are also very thankful that so many products are available for purchase here in Maputo.  This week the camera on my laptop stopped working.  Elder Tidwell was able to buy a webcam and by simply plugging it in, it worked!  We’ve had some problems with sound on Skype, but everything seems to be working well now.

On Friday we finally had mirrors in our bathrooms installed!  Hobson’s invited us to dinner that evening and we called it a celebration dinner!

Although the Saturday before Christmas is not the best time to be at Premier shopping for food for a big Christmas Eve dinner for the missionaries, none-the-less that is where we were!  We ended up with two grocery carts full – one containing boxes of water and cans of juice, the other one was filled with a variety of fruits for the fruit basket (pineapple, red grapes, green grapes, apricots, peaches, oranges, apples, plums), veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms) for the tossed salad, an additional 60 apples to go with their pizza lunch, and ice cream for dessert. 

There was also a Santa activity for children at the Premier grocery store on Saturday. There was also a place to get presents wrapped by the parking lot.  

Mozambique is about 60% Christian, and Christmas is a special holiday here.  One Internet site indicated that dove ornaments (symbolizing peace) and cross ornaments (symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice), both on the symbol from the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) are often hung from trees.  There was a lot of shopping happening at both of the stores on our street, and the stores were open on Sunday before Christmas (it has always been closed on other Sundays) and were open also on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day is also called “Dia da Familia” or Day of the Family.

Sunday we held the missionary Christmas program (just like the one we did last week in Maputo) at the Matola chapel; Matola is north of Maputo.  We didn’t have as large of an audience, but the Christmas spirit was felt through music and word.  One of the members told Sister Hobson that the program was “Too beautiful to be too short!” One of the elders wanted a copy of the script!
At the end of each program, all of the Elders and Sisters stood and recited the following from the last paragraph of "The Living Christ" declaration: 

“Prestamos testemunho,” juntamente com “Apóstolos Seus, devidamente ordenados, de que Jesus é o Cristo Vivo, o Filho Imortal de Deus. ... Ele é a luz, a vida e a esperança do mundo.  Seu caminho é aquele que conduz á felicidade nesta vida e á vida eterna no mundo vindouro.  Graças damos a Deus pela incomparável dádiva de Seu Filho divino.”

For you English speakers, that was:

“We bear testimony,” along with “His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. … He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”

This is a powerful true message we share with you at the holiday season!

We end this week's blog with a unique sunset!

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