It's hard to believe that Christmas/New Years has come and gone since our last post. But when you're busy, that's what happens. December was a blur for us because we can hardly remember what happened. Sometime we have to go back and see our Instragram posts or photos to jog the memory.
Fortunately, we didn't have new missionaries or departing missionaries during December.
One fun day our Assistants invited us to join them with a pizza party in the office. At all of the meetings, everyone is given bottled water. The assistants collect the water bottles, and when they have a couple of huge garbage bags, they turn in the bottles at a recycling center and provide pizza for the office. It is really fun. The one missionary in the yellow shirt was gagging on anchovies in his pizza, and the other missionary was sticking out his stomach to show how full he was. It has been such fun having them in the office.
While everyone was buying gifts, wrapping, stressing out, making Merry, we, of course, we being deligent missionaries, working in the office and spreading good cheer. We were worried about what we were going to do with all the anticipated Christmas mail, but as long as we stayed on top of picking it up at the PO, having a system of putting new addresses on the letters and packages and then taking it back to the PO early, we survived. Some days, there was so much mail that we could hardly get it into our car. We did have some mail that didn't arrive in time, but most missionaries got at least one package.
We were pleasantly surprised when Pres. Wirthlin said we didn't have to be in the office on Christmas day. We did prepare a Christmas Eve dinner for the other office couple, two sister missionaries and Pres. & Sis Writhlin. Our small apartment was decorated as best we could. The meal and evening was a success. Christmas morning and early afternoon was spent talking with all the family and even spending a few moments saying Hi to Sister Trammell, who is serving in Fiji. And of course, we woke up to new snow. New Year's eve was a blast....in bed by 9:30 pm and sleeping in until 9:00 am absolutely wonderful way to start the new year. We caught up on our laundry, cleaned the apartment, and just relaxed. We oldsters need those days once in a while.
January 2014 started out with extremely cold weather. On the 2nd of January, we had a Mission Leader Council for all the mission leaders. Elder Barlow and Elder Cutler had to clear the sidewalks as best we could, but it was soooo cold....wind chill of -26 degrees...even with gloves on fingers were almost frozen. During the training session, one of the most humble missionaries led a discussion about discovering the promptings of the Holy Ghost...he said "most of the time the Spirit only comes when requested, but living close to the Spirit through righteous living puts you so close to the Spirit that you can almost feel the presence of the Holy Ghost right next to you" and then he gave several examples of this principle from his own mission experiences. He was talking to all the mission leaders including the mission president. You could have heard a pin drop during his presentation. After the meeting, Elder Cutler put his arm around this wonderful missionary and said to him.."I will now call you our mission "Ammon". What a great experience we are having. We will miss having him close by, as he was transferred to the Syracuse Zone this last Wednesday.
Another group of new missionaries arrived on the 7th and some wonderful missionaries departed. We so hate to see them leave, but know that they have served well and are now headed for another part of their life's journey. We had two missionaries who had lost luggage, so when the luggage was found, we were assigned to deliver it to them. We had to travel to the Watertown area. The day before all the roads were shut down because of the heavy amount of snow that fell. It was clear weather when we arrived, but what a storm as you can see by the pictures (4-5 feet of snow).
The weather has been one of the coldest years according to long-time residents. The wife of one of the mission presidency has lived here her whole life...but now she can't wait to move to a warmer climate. This week, however, the temperature is around 35-40 degrees, so we will be having a heat wave.
The next two weeks will be zone conferences, so Elder Cutler and I will be holding down the fort at the office as everyone else is participating at the zone conferences. We will be doing the mail on the days that our office friends are gone, but that will be kind of fun for a change -- at least it should not be like it was before Christmas!
We had the privilege of having President and Sister Wirthlin attend the Branch today. Last time they made a surprise visit we were speaking -- today I was just leading the singing in Sacrament Meeting. The funny thing, though, is that the person who chose the hymns chose songs that no one knew. By the closing song, I could only handle one verse and we stopped the song. Kind of too bad, one of the few times we have someone who plays the organ was in attendance today and we just could not match his talent on the organ.
Happy New Year to all!!! We love you and are continuing to love our service here. We have learned so much and our testimonies of the restoration continue to grow. Our appreciation of the Savior and of the atonement is very dear to us.
Grammy & Papa, Elder & Sister Cutler, Mom & Dad, Friend