Monday was a busy day of shopping for ourselves and for the two missionaries who were arriving on Tuesday afternoon. We planned meals for them and helped prepare some of the meals, and the other missionaries helped the new missionaries with their meals as well. The regular store where we usually buy pillows did not have them, so we had to go to another store the next morning. Interesting that the reasonable sheets we buy have a unique assortment of designs and colors.
It is interesting to watch the new missionaries arrive and how they are trained and integrated into the mission. We see them as they just arrive and by the end of the week they are actively involved and working along side fellow missionaries and then they are off to their assigned areas.
Since we do not have a car, the office elders take us where we need to go. With the traffic the way it is here, the ride is quite an adventure. We are very glad they are doing the driving! Sandy usually reads during the drive – it is too scary for her to watch the close calls!
We went with the Hobsons to a town hall meeting sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. It was held not very far from the Mission Office at the American School for English-speaking students. As security checked us in, we were required to have our U.S. passports, and they kept our passports until we signed out after the meeting. We really did not want to leave the passports there, as it did not look like they had the controls in place to protect them very well, but we had no choice but to trust them if we wanted to enter and attend the meeting. We had juice and cookies and then listened to the ambassador and his associates talk to us. They assured us of their readiness to help American citizens living in Mozambique. They cautioned us to be safe and to vary our daily activities so we would not be predictable. Other safety rules were discussed. We were asked to be their eyes and ears and to report whatever abnormal experiences we had with Mozambican police and other government employees so they could contact officials and get things resolved. Outside the building where we were meeting was this beautiful red acacia tree.
This paragraph is from Sandy: We showed you the Mission Office Christmas tree last week. Well, we also have a Christmas tree in our apartment, but it is very unique. It is a palm tree made out of milk boxes, milk cartons, and egg cartons! The nativity characters are also made out of egg cartons! It was fun to create something out of things that people usually throw away! The Christmas tree isn't quite finished yet. It won't be complete until pictures of the kids and the grandkids are added! Then you'll see the finished product next week.
Our apartment on the fifth floor faces west, so that is why we have included so many beautiful sunsets in this blog. The last one in this collection looks like Goblin Valley, in south eastern Utah, made with clouds.
It is very typical for people here to carry things on their head. Here is a man carrying two large bags of something on his head. It is also very common for women to carry baskets of fruit, bread, nuts, or other products on their heads, while also having a baby strapped to their back with a capulana. They often carry other things in their hands, too. They do this all very well even when weaving through busy traffic.
There was a joint Christmas party for three branches in the church building near us. There was a large crowd there to enjoy the party which started with a devotional followed with a talent show with some planned and some extemporaneous talent.
During the week we spent some time helping organize supplies at the Church Distribution Center. The last shipment had been sent by ship and it had taken 7 months to arrive! All the materials needed to be counted so they could be entered onto the computer – then the materials could be sold or shipped to mission areas. On Saturday sister missionaries and Elders also assisted in the distribution center. During that time Mom was able to take a break and attend a baptism downstairs.
On Saturday morning, I went to repair my glasses, but I did not know where to go or if anyone could fix them as one of the nose pads had broken off months ago. I thought I could live without getting them fixed, but it had become uncomfortable and it may be the cause of my many recent headaches. I knew where a glasses place was close to our house, but I felt I needed to go to another one that was further down towards downtown. I found out, when I got there, why I was led there. Roger, the oculist, was more comfortable with English than Portuguese, and he was very qualified to help me. He explained that he could not repair the nose pad, but rather he would need to put my lenses in a new frame that had nose pads. He was able to have his assistant cut my lenses and shape them to fit the new frames I had chosen. As I waited for the glasses to be fixed it occurred to me that if for some reason the cut did not work well that I may have to live without glasses for many weeks. That would be a problem as I need them for close and far vision. However, all worked out well and I am happy with my new glasses.
Sunday Mom and I both of us spoke in the Maputo 2 branch Sacrament meeting. Sister Tidwell spoke about the angels announcing the “good tidings of great joy” of the birth of Christ and all this “good tidings - good news” means to our salvation. Our responsibility is to share the good news with our friends and our ancestors through family history and temple work. I used the text of the primary song, “He Sent His Son” to talk about the mission of the Savior to the world to be born as a baby and show us how to live by teaching and example. It is version of the talk I gave a year ago in our ward at home at Christmas time when we were going to be leaving for our mission last December. I added a short history of the church in Mozambique to note their important role as pioneers in the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ in Mozambique where the first missionaries came only 14 years ago.
Later on Sunday at 4:30pm we watched a Portuguese version of the First Presidency Devotional, and then the mission presented a Christmas narration and song program written and directed by Mom. President and Sister Kretly were the narrators, and the choir of 46 missionaries sang wonderfully! It was enjoyed by a congregation of over 150 people.