Monday, December 12
Devon and I did a Tufts Christmas FHE tonight. We read four of our favorite Christmas stories - "Christmas Day in the Morning", "The Christmas Orange", "Trouble at the Inn", and, of course, Luke 2. I was surprised that only one young man had heard "The Christmas Orange" story, and no one had heard any of the other stories - well they all knew Luke 2. After that we served the two trays of Christmas cookies I had baked. Then we played a Christmas carol game and a Christmas trivia game - both fun. To end the evening I taught them "Everyone Who Loves Christmas" and the parts to "Jingle Bells". Doing all these familiar things felt like Christmas at home. I loved it, and the kids had a great time, too.
Wednesday, December 14
Had a great District Meeting today. It is the first one since transfers and was really good. The new DL, Elder Knecht, really tried to emphasize the positive by having everyone tell one uplifting experience since being on their mission. We heard some great experiences. I continue to be so impressed with the young men and women serving in our mission. Love them all!
Tonight was the last Institute class for the semester. Devon's lesson went really well. But, one depressing thing happened. There is a homeless Indian man who comes to the church once in a while if there is an activity and will eat the food. About six months ago he came in and stole the Tuck Shop money - probably about 10 pounds in change. Well, he did it again tonight. A couple of kids saw him leave and thought to go check the money. Sure enough, it was gone. Guess we'll have to hide it and post someone to watch for him. It makes me very sad for him. Life for us will go on without the money.
Thursday, December 15
We went with the YSA and missionaries to the Bullring tonight to go Christmas caroling. It was bitter cold - but I was toasty warm with tights, socks, jeans, sweat pants, a T-shirt, 2 sweaters, a hoodie, scarf, coat, and gloves. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! We sang for about 45 minutes. During that time we passed out numerous pass along cards, gave away one Book of Mormon, and met a nice man who gave us his contact information and invited the missionaries to come by his home this week. He also said he would attend the Ward Christmas party next week. I would say it was a pretty good activity!
When we got home I had the nicest surprise. Linda sent me an email with a picture of my birthday present - a Christmas picture of me and my sisters, as little girls, on Christmas morning with all our presents. She also posted some other priceless photos from our childhood, including photos of the famous merry-go-round Daddy built for our back yard - priceless! Best present ever!
Don't know why, but my iPad crashed. So today we drove to the Apple store in Solihull to get it fixed. We were there for an hour, but he was able to restore almost everything - all the important stuff, so that is good!
When we were walking back to the car, we noticed a stand selling roasted chestnuts. We've never had chestnuts, roasted or otherwise, so we stopped and bought a little bag of them. They were warm and pretty good - once we got the shells off. They remind me of pine nuts...just a lot bigger.
Tonight is Chill Night with the YSA.. We didn't know if anyone would turn up - especially tonight as many students have gone home - but we went anyway. There were five YSA that came. Three were involved with the YM/YW Stake Christmas party that was going on at the same time, same place, so they were in and out. But, we did have a really great game of Bananagrams and Wizard.
Saturday, December 17 - HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US - 45 years
I remember telling Devon, "I just want to grow old with you." Well, looks like I have! It's hard to believe so many years have passed. They have been wonderful years, and we have so much to be thankful for. Top of the list is our wonderful family, immediate and extended. Second would be the Gospel of Jesus Christ and all the blessings and opportunities that are a direct result of the Gospel. We truly have had a "wonderful life."
We went to dinner tonight at a Brazilian restaurant in downtown Birmingham. It is much like Rodezio Grill back home. Same format, but about 1/4 the variety. Still, it was very good and the manager was so kind and attentive when he found out it was our anniversary - couldn't do enough for us, including a complimentary drink. We had Brazilian lemonade - a mix of lemon and lime - so yummy!
Afterward we walked a few blocks to Symphony Hall and saw a wonderful program of popular Christmas music with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, 3 soloists, and a group of talented back-up singers. The music was good and it was a lot of fun with people in the audience singing along, clapping, and swaying to the music. Then we came home to watch the BYU basketball game on the internet. How could it get any better?!
Sunday, December 18
Very cold, rainy day. As we were walking into church it was trying its hardest to snow, but other than a few flakes that was all. When we got home, however, there was actual "white stuff" on the grounds around our flat. I have to admit it looked more like hail than snow, and it is pretty wimpy, but I had to take a picture anyway. Hopefully this will be the extent of our snow this year.
The pianist was a no-show at church today, so I got to play for Sacrament meeting. It felt so good to sit on the bench and play Christmas music - prelude Christmas songs from the Primary Song Book, and carols from the Hymn Book for the meeting. I feel so comfortable on "the bench" - thanks, Mom and Dad for all the lessons and nagging!