Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Missionaries and the Christmas Holidays

At this time of the year we remember our missionaries who are in the field. Usually family and friends will send them a Christmas card or two. Some missionaries even have to spend Christmas in the MTC. I remember my own mission and the two Christmases that I spent one in Italy and one in Canada.

The Italian Christmas I received a box from my mother with hard Christmas candy and Queen Anne chocolate covered cherries with a pair of panjamas. I shared the candy with my district in Ragusa. My companion Elder Dal Pozzo come from a wealthy family that sent him a couple hundred thousand lira. He was generous and took all of us out to El Padrino's restaurant. Where we had pizza and some kind of gelantinous dish with ham in the middle. The pizza in Italy is a lot different than in the United States. It doesn't have mozzarella on the bottom and the tomatoe is not spread on sauce. Our pizza had hard boiled eggs on it. It was cooked in a wood burning oven which made it flavorful.

My Canadian Christmas was much different as I was in Kitchener. We went over to a nonmember German older lady who had a crush on my companion Elder Byrd. He was a cute guy with baby blue eyes and light blond hair. We sang a few carols and drank non-alcoholic eggnog. He got a few presents from his family in Utah including some kind of strange pudding to make a Valentine concoction that was pink. I think I got a scarf. It was ultra-cold there as your snot would freeze on your face mask. I can't really remember going anywhere for Christmas dinner. I do vaguely remember about this time I was out with another missionary on exchange as Byrd and a former companion wanted to visit some past contacts. The other elder and I went in to an apartment building to get warm and knock a few doors. There was a drunk on the third floor who was coming down the stairs and he started yelling at us. He told my companion if he didn't get out of the building he would throw him down the stairs. My companion was going to disregard him but the guy was really looking for trouble and pushed pass him. I was down below and saw the guy turn. I could see he was going to hit the elder from behind. So I said something to him to distract him. I then told my companion elder let's just go. We did and the guy calmed down. It was a wasted night. Christmas eve and Christmas day are not good days for missionary work beyond caroling or giving out Christmas cards. I remember we made snow angels as part of the festivities.

When my own two daughters were on a mission my wife and I were in Saudi Arabia. The mission presidents' wives contacted us and told us months in advance to send them packages. My daughter at BYU Idaho took care of the packages for us. We sent them some unique things from Saudi like dates and figs. Today mission presidents and their wives have special Christmas conferences in December where they pass out the loot. They make sure every missionary gets something even if their family doesn't send something.

In Lisbon Sister Laura Thomas shares:

Well, I write to you from Lisbon. Yep, that's right, I'm actually in Lisbon right now. We have our Christmas Conference tomorrow in Miratejo (just south of Lisbon), so the whole Algarve zone came up for the conference. There will be bowling today. We are all excited. Most of the irmas are getting together to go bowling today. It should be really fun.


Elder Sean Gilmore in Buenos Aires says:
We just got back from the mission party and it was pretty fun, but unfortunately P-day is just about over. I still have my full hour to type though, so you should get some good details on how the party was. I got the Christmas package yesterday, and everything was in it, it was sweet, obviously I already opened it. I also got Grandma Sherry's Christmas package, which I wasn't expecting, it had 2 ties, mango bars, a card with a note for 75 dollars for a car fund, slipper socks, and handkerchiefs. I got Grandma Wilma's letter last week asking what I wanted for Christmas, so just tell her I am fine, and that if she really wants to give me something just save something for my nest egg. Yeah I can't listen to that one CD, but I guess I will hold on to it for the next 18 months or something. The rule is it has to be MoTab or the hymns, so a lot of elders try to find any kind of motab cd that isn't hymns because it is like listening to worldly music...but still following the rules.
On Christmas day they called us and we four-way called as the two girls one in Korea and one in Italy and two daughters out West and us talked together. That is the beauty of cell phones. I think we talked too long as one hour elapsed. I ran out of things to say. When I was on a mission missionaries didn't make calls. I only heard from my parents by mail and that was sporatic. Today it is a more coordinated effort to give them a sense of connection.

Elder Derek Hyde tells his parents in his weekly email:
I have my calling cards, they only cost like 15 soles and will last me about an hour and a half. We have a phone in our room and I think we will spend the day in our room. What time in the afternoon do you want me to call. Should I call the cell phone or the home phone?
I wonder what other missionaries have done over the years at Christmas time.

2 comments:

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Have a happy holiday season wherever your mission takes you and a happy New Year.

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