WEEK TWENTY-SIX December 30, 2013
For those in the frigid country back in Utah, struggling to get the thermometer into the teens, Sister H and I were reminded again of our Christmas days in Encinitas, for on Christmas morning we had breakfast with the Thirty-Fourth, Thirty-Fifth and Thirty-Six families, all related to the One Family, and at their request, in a Newport Beach backyard with the thermometer hovering at a delightful 83 degrees. Sister Thirty-Fourth looked so much like our daughter-in-law we did a double take. Said she, “I just must have one of those faces everyone if saying I look like someone they know.” When we showed the picture of our daughter-in-law she exclaimed, “Oh she looks like Princess Diana,” and was quick to confirm “there must be a resemblance to me.”
Based on my experience as a young missionary I had not expected much activity for us on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day but we were surprised with the number of invites on each, accepting one on Christmas Eve and three, brunch, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day. However the rest of the week was largely as I had expected.
During the week we blessed a non-member family member of one of the families we are teaching and were reminded again of the blessings of always making good decisions and relying upon the Lord.
On Christmas Eve we had dinner and participated with the Thirty-Eight family in their family traditions, we three generations of the family. Four of their six adult children were present and I found myself thinking what a great addition they would have been to our BYU 3rd Ward when I was bishop. The father of the family served in Wales on his mission and told us at his first door he remarked how wonderful it was to be here in the British Isles whereupon he received a good dressing down and had the door slammed by a Welshman. He told us that when you enter Wales the signs are in English with Welsh names underneath, as you get further into Wales they reverse with the Welsh being on top and by the time you get mid Wales the signs are only in Welsh. He said the town my family is from, Merthyr Tydvil, was where the Church built the first chapel in Wales. I sure hope the opportunity comes for us to visit Wales at some time.
We returned home in time to receive a call from our son Chip and learn of the Lord’s saving intervention in a surgery Chip had participated in receiving the praise of the doctor, “I don’t know of anyone else who could have kept that person alive.”
At our Christmas Lunch, with the family of the Bishop of the Aliso Creek Ward we had a ginger beer taste off following the meal. He had learned earlier that I liked ginger beer, as does he, and had purchased seven different offerings which we sampled and rated.
Our Christmas dinner was followed by a blessing to the husband who was going in for cancer surgery the next day. He called following the surgery the next day to share this: "As soon as you spoke my name a powerful, all-encompassing feeling of warmth and comfort settled upon me and I knew everything was going to be alright. You hadn’t even said one word of the blessing yet." This experience illustrates a principle relative to priesthood blessings, the words the priesthood holder speaks are not what is important. It is the performance of the ordinance itself that initiates the flow of the spiritual blessing the Lord is willing to impart. Here is an example where no words other than the ordinance itself were necessary for this good brother or for the Spirit to communicate.
This week a sweet sister (Thirty-ninth family) whom we had given rides to and from Church, elected to enter the waters of baptism and invited me to confirm her a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her fifteen year old son was walking out of State Bros. and someone, he can’t remember who, handed him a pass along card. For some unexplained reason he took it home. His mother, who unknown to him was searching at the time for something missing, picked it up and called the number which in turn brought the missionaries to her door. She shared her testimony at the baptism, saying: “Today is my special day because of unexpected circumstances. Heavenly Father used my Son as an instrument to bring me the gospel of Jesus Christ and His restored Church. I was baptized twice and I am still happy. Elders so helpful. I didn’t even know the Bible before. Now ready for my purpose in life. I feel lively with a belief in God, my God, and a faith that will not be shaken by other churches. I am glad to be one of you. I feel like I belong to a big family.”
At the baptism I felt impressed to express just what a good man the Ward Mission Leader is. Every time we interact his genuine wholesomeness and sincere desires to fulfill what the Lord seeks of him comes through. I told him meeting him was a good enough reason for us coming to this mission and was surprised when he said he’d told his wife he thought we were assigned to this mission just to train him.
We took the sisters out for lunch one day and one asked what our typical day was like. When we got home I forgot to add, one or more doctor visits each week, naps, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, and dealing with the car. Monday morning I spent three and one-half hours at the Hyundai dealership just to have an oil and filter change and a 7,500 miles inspection.
Lastly, we weren’t missed for Christmas as each of the families of our children sent along fun gifts and along with a tree decorated by granddaughters Mya and Taylor we had a little Christmas spirit in our apartment. We even received a handmade gift from the Sixth family, two trivets made from curly maple and dark walnut.
Below is shot out our back window on Christmas day and our trivets.