Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Parties

On Christmas Day I received the obligatory call from my daughter serving in the Taiwan Taipei Mission.  She said that her mission wasn't doing anything mission-wide for Christmas but that her district might get together and have a small meal together.  I was a bit surprised that not much was happening since my other two daughters who had served in the Italy Rome Mission and the Korea Daejon Mission had some kind of mission party or activity.  In the Korea Daejon Mission the mission president's wife even coordinated our sending our presents to the home so that she could make sure every missionary got some small gift at a zone conference.  Perusing my missionary peeps on my sidebar I found out what missionaries do on Christmas varies greatly from mission to mission.

Christmas parties or missionaries receiving gifts is an optional practice and is entirely dependent on the mission president.  I personally don't have a preference for whether a mission celebrates mission-wide but I could tell my daughter was slightly bummed out that her mission wasn't doing anything as a group. Since I served in two different mission fields my Christmas experiences I saw three different mission presidents in action.

When I served in Italy Rome we didn't do anything as a mission then of course we were scattered across half a country.  My first Christmas we worked during the day regularly but in the early evening my companion whose family owned an Italian shoe factory took our district out to a restaurant with the money his sister sent him as a Christmas present.  He also offered to get me something since he said his sister told him to share it with his companion and bought me a couple of kid books with common items illustrated in Italian.  I learned the word for household items by reading Scrooge McDuck. At dinner our district of six elders ate some type of gelatin-filled ham and shared a wood burned pizza with boiled eggs on it. Then we went Christmas caroling in front of our apartment and in our building.  My second Christmas in Canada Toronto we had a series of zone lunches and a small bag of candy was given us with your traditional hard candy with a nice red Christmas ribbon.  We went to a non-Member German investigator's house for Christmas dinner and ate some divinity fudge and a Christmas ham.

 I remembered that we tried tracking on Christmas day and my companion was almost thrown down the stairs by a drunk so there isn't much you can do on that day and usually the mission president uses the day for missionaries to visit members or close investigators.  We tried in Canada giving away fancy green "The Son of Man" pamphlets but we only have five or ten so they didn't last long nor were the people overly receptive to a Christmas day visit.

I remember that the previous mission president in Taipei had done a couple of mission-wide activities so I asked my daughter why the current president wasn't doing anything and she told me that the current mission president wasn't as rich as her previous president.  She figured they were not having a gathering based on the fact that he couldn't probably afford it so the missionaries were on their own.  I think that finances don't have much to do with whether or not a mission president holds mission-wide activities from time to time but more on preference or inclination.  I think each mission president receives a certain amount and decide how to allocate their money.  Some see it money spent to motivate the missionaries and others differently.  I don't fault them either way.

So I thought it would be interesting to see what missionaries did in a few missions to celebrate Christmas.  Elder Darin Knudsen serving in the Puerto Rico San Juan West Mission had a cool meal with his mission president:
We also went to Aruba for a day and the church pays for that so no worries and we had zone conference and Christmas conference and after the president took us all to a super amazing restaurant like Benihanas where they cook the food in front of you but even nicer!! It was weird as a missionary but still cool. Also the ward had a Christmas party which was really cool! The president was here in Curacao for all this so that was always fun as well!!
Elder Tyson Bailey serving in the Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission had a similar experience like my daughter who served a couple of years ago in Korea: "So tomorrow we have our Mission Christmas Party, it should be fun, I'm hoping my packages are there at the mission office. I will have to check and see if they have a G.P. book but I will let you know what happens."

Elder Thomas Nielsen serving in the Finland Helsinki Mission had a zone conference the week before Christmas also like my daughter who had served in Korea:
I would like to share a little bit about my last week with you guys, because it was incredible. So we had ZONE Conference (that’s when I picked up my stocking/amazing package) and President Brown taught some things that really hit home, and that really have and will strengthen me beyond my mission years.

Sister Natalie Aplanap serving in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission like a lot of missionaries throughout the world spent the day with members:
So our Christmas turned out really well. After we ate at the Enderle's and finished talking with our families, we went to another member's home and played games and ate dinner with them. That was fun. The day after Christmas we celebrated Boxing Day with an Austrailian member we have in our ward, lol. She made us some really good Austrailian meats and gravies, and we even had a real English plum pudding! I have never had that before, and it was actually pretty good. It reminded me of Dusty and Brice! She even put silver in it for tradition, but I don't really think I understood what the background on that was... Some English thing I guess?
Sister Molly Anderson serving in the California San Bernadino Mission used the day to do service for other sister missionaries living together by cleaning her apartment:
SO how was everyone's Christmas?? good i hope...ours was pretty good we made some cute little cookies Christmas eve and delivered them to some folks on christmas day...then we cleaned our house haha. cleaned your house? you might ask, yes i would answer but we like cleaned cleaned and cleaned some more. the stove the fridge mopped all the floors. the work here is really really slow and president wanted us to serve and do service...we have to clean the house and take care of the yard once a week anyway so we just did it that night so the other sisters in our house wouldn't have to worry about it. it was nice...kind of cathartic to be truthful..it felt good to clean so much. i love cleaning haha. anyway.
Elder Sam Hobbes serving in Chile Antofagasta Mission had to do some back-breaking work on Christmas:
On Monday, I got a call from our mission president with a special assignment for the morning – to drive some of the sister missionaries to their Christmas activity at “La Playa Escondida” (The Hidden) near Antofagasta. I went along with Elder Madrigal, Marcelino (the President’s son) and the mission president’s wife (Hermana Urra). When we got to the beach, I miscalculated the density of the sand along the shore, and sure enough, the little Ford Ranger I was driving got stuck in the sand! So, while the sister had their Christmas activity, we also had a fun activity digging the truck out of the sand! At the end, we finally got the truck out. We ended up tying rope to the hitch of the truck and hooking it up to the President’s Explorer. When this didn’t work, we found out we just needed a little more lift in the back, so my companion drove as I lifted up the back of the truck with all my might. It was lots of fun. :)
 Sister Maegan Olsen who serves in Salt Lake City in the Temple Square Mission did a combination of different things:
This Christmas was so wonderful. Thank you for the oranges and gifts, it was such a special Christmas! On Christmas Eve we went to the Humanitarian Center and had a nice dinner, then we worked on different service projects like quilting and putting together school kits. It was so much fun! We got stockings and a couple of books about Temple Square. On Christmas morning it was just Sister Romero and I and we opened presents together and then we went to the Taylors for breakfast. In the afternoon we went down to the square and we all had dinner together and had a musical Christmas program. Each zone sang a different song and there were some awesome solos. I loved it. Christmas away  from home is different, but still wonderful.
I'm glad my wife sent my daughter a small package with some of her favorite things like Brownie mix (very expensive to a missionary in Taiwan), and flaming hot Cheetos which helped her get through a festive period like Christmas.  With so many different variables coming in to play throughout the world I guess each mission president does their own thing for Christmas.

1 comment:

J. Lee said...

Your daughter did get to attend the 7th Ward Christmas Pageant the second week in December. I'm pretty sure I saw her there with her companion. Ask her how she liked it. BTW, I live in Danshui, her current area.