Sunday, December 25, 2011

                                   District meeting with the elders ends up with lunch and a little fun.
                                          A special sewing "class" with Heidi and Katrina Miller.
                                                Helping Sage Lewis get ready for some sewing.
After Christmas dinner with Matt Chandler, Riley Nelson and Gary Holyoak.
                                                     Deck the halls with all the grandkids.
       Mae, Spencer, Grahm, Aidan, Gabe, McKay, Calan, Jake, Izzie, Morgan, Gabi, Cate, Gavin, Owen                      Nora, Tanner, Keaton, Taya, Kyla, Tayler, Claira, Parley (opps), McKenna, Lexie, Elizabeth, Lucas

What a wonderful Christmas Day.  We had a chance to talk to most of the family today and yesterday.  That was our highlight.  Today we only had Sacrament Meeting as did all of the wards in the Church.  The choir sang two wonderful songs and the program was intermixed with scriptures telling of the birth of Jesus Christ and Christmas songs.  I had the chance to accompany Gary Holyoak as he sang "Oh, Holy Night."  It was a beautiful arrangement that took me a considerable bit of practicing, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Gary has a wonderful voice.  President Duval of the Stake Presidency was there and spoke of the importance of Jesus Christ.  He reminded us that if Christ had not been born or atoned for our sins, the whole reason for the earth would be wasted.  What a a blessing it is to know that we can live with Him again and with our Father in Heaven if we repent and accept His gospel.  I am so grateful for His life and sacrifice for all of us.

Our week at the Institute was quieter than usual.  With the University closed for the holiday break, we had time to prepare for next year.  It is fun for us to have the other missionaries come to the Institute for their district meetings and lunch.  We enjoy their enthusiasm and love for each other and the gospel.  With transfers this week, we were fortunate to keep the entire Fairbanks zone intact.  President Beesley has mentioned that this zone works so well together.  That's a wonderful compliment.

Wednesday, Heidi, Katrina, and Sage came for a "sewing class."  It was great fun to help them with their projects.  They are wonderful girls and I enjoy teaching them and being with them. 

On Monday evening at our home evening group, Gary Holyoak brought his barbershop quartet to give us a Christmas concert.  It was delightful to have them share their love of music with us.  It was so fun to hear them sing Christmas songs as well as other barbershop music.  They have been cast in the Music Man production that is being presented this spring.  They will be perfect and we look forward to seeing it.

Last night, Christmas Eve, we invited the elders to come for dinner if they didn't have an appointment.  We were happy to have  Elder Coombs, Elder Sonderegger,  Elder Kafoa and Elder Blackhurst join us.  We love to share time and food with the elders. On Christmas Eve we provided transportation for President Olsen (our landlord) to the airport to fly up to Barrow with his daughter Julie to be with his wife who is working in Barrow.  Thursday night  we took Trisha to the airport so she could catch a fllight back to Boston to be with her family for Christmas. Today we were blessed to have Gary, Riley, and Matt join us for dinner in the afternoon.  Others in the branch had families to spend Christmas with. 

Thank you for your love and support and prayers.  We appreciate the great blessing  of serving here but miss our family especially at these special times.  May the Lord bless all of you and your families during the coming new year.  

JoAnn and Jim