Christmas is celebrated here even though there is no snow or icicles. Stores have ads about purchasing gifts and displays with lots of toys just like at home. Some walking street vendors even get into the act by selling artificial Christmas trees and all the trimmings. They looked like walking Christmas trees.
One of the missionary zones wanted to do Christmas caroling to the main public Maputo hospital, but unfortunately the request was met with an approval process that required signatures, stamps, and approvals by various agencies to such an extent that Christmas was bound to be over before the approval process was completed. Missionaries instead focused their efforts to the preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in their areas for their Christmas gift to Mozambique.
For Christmas, as well as other times, live chicken, turkeys, geese are sold to take home to be turned into dinner. It reminds me of Great Grandpa Tidwell telling us about how it was like that when he was a boy in the 1920’s.
Remember the grocery shopping we did last week? Well, Monday we did the last of the shopping for dinner for 60 for the night of the 24th of December after the Zone conference. Then, later that morning, Elders and Sisters assisted in some of the food preparations and setting up the Mission Office.
Zone Conference was on 24 December. It was held in the Matola branches chapel which was dedicated last July. A unique experience was had by all as 2 Mozambican missionaries, Elder Da Silva and Elder Matezo, were set apart in Zone Conference. These full-time missionaries started their missions here in Mozambique while waiting for their visas to go to Brazil.
President Kretly in his unique spiritual energetic style was able to keep everyone’s attention while he taught missionaries about focusing on their calling of contacting, teaching, baptizing, confirming, and supporting. President Kretly is the CEO of Franklin Covey of Brazil and he incorporated the idea of personal mission statements into one of his presentations. He asked, “What do you believe your mission is in life? What kind of a person do you want to become? What should you do to realize your desires? What five things will you do to be able to make your life into the masterpiece you want it to be?” If you have made a Personal Mission Statement before, you may want to revisit it and see if your goals need to be altered or refined, make sure your actions meet with your goals, and make plans to continue in the right direction to attain your mission. It was a good exercise!
The Office Elders made a slide show of all of the missionaries reviewing 2013. It will eventually be available on Youtube. The Zone Conference continued, while we went to Maputo and made the final preparations for the 6 p.m. dinner.
We were entertained by a skit by each of the districts.
Dinner was served about 7:45 p.m. Sister Kretly had cooked beef and pork and turkeys and Sister Hobson and I had also cooked turkeys and gravy and mashed potatoes. We had salad and fruit platters and there were lots of dessert -- brownies (made by Sister Hobson), Christmas cookies (made by Sister Tidwell), ice cream, a special Brazilian dessert (made by Sister Kretly) and Elder Kitchen and Elder Porter made 5 pies, which were a surprise. One of their pies had a Mozambican flag on its top crust.
The dinner was very tasty and very much appreciated, but maybe next year it will be catered as last year’s was, since it was a lot of work and we had to deal with so many logistical challenges.
This group picture was taken by President and Sister Kretly’s son visiting with his wife from Brazil. Notice the red and green ties (the Elders’ gift) and green zebra scarves (the Sisters’ gift).
On Christmas morning we found that Santa had found our apartment!
On Christmas morning we went to a Christmas brunch at the Hobsons on floor 2. The sister missionaries were invited as well, and they announced their arrival by caroling at the door. They also brought a pan of delicious cinnamon rolls.
Later on, we enjoyed opening presents and then we finished a PhotoStory project so we could send it to the grandchildren. Sister Tidwell also made Parkerhouse rolls in our counter-top oven and they were so delicious!
The mission provided me, Elder Tidwell, a Visa card to use for mission purchases. In this country vendors prefer a Visa card or cash, though a check can be used. With the size of the mission, often the mission president is not available to sign a check. So, with a card, I get to go with the office Elders to purchase beds, air conditioners, etc. This also makes it so they do not have to carry large amounts of cash.
This picture documents how we had to travel when we bought two bunk beds and 5 mattresses and tried to fit them into their van.
We’ve had many very warm humid days. On the way home on Friday, the Elders had the A/C on in the car super high. The traffic was horrible, so we had them drop us off around the corner from the apartment. When we got out of the car and stepped out into the warm humid evening, our eyeglasses immediately fogged up and we couldn’t see anything! We laughed so hard!!
The warm weather didn’t stop us from taking a long walk on Saturday morning to the “bat park.” Unfortunately the whole large park was closed for renovations and may likely be closed for the duration of our mission. From a distance, we were able to verify that the bats were still in the park. Now they are protected more than ever. On our walk we also saw tiny frogs and heard larger ones and collected some pretty blossoms which had fallen to the ground.