Merry Christmas. We have just concluded our 14 hour day. We are tired and so happy. We left this morning at 8 in the morning to get to the visitor center at the temple for our mission conference. For the first time since we arrived in DC we drove without hardly any other cars through empty streets in DC. In DC Elder Anthony jumps from one lane to another like dodgem cars. They do not have left hand turn lanes so if you are in the left lane you have to wait for traffic coming toward you to turn left or watch and jump into the right lane so you aren’t stopped and miss the light. That holds up the whole lane. Today Elder Anthony drove all the way to the temple in the left lane. It will never happen again I am sure.
Our mission president and his wife are wonderful people. They conducted the meeting as if we were their family and we did what they normally do on Christmas morning. Instead of being in PJ we were all in suits and nice clothes which was very different for their family. They showed the nine minute version of the nativity. They had their four children bear their testimonies and share their feelings about Christ. Their oldest son said that our opening song had been Come All Ye Faithful. He said I feel today that I am with the faithful. All of us have left our family and we are the faithful that have come to serve the Lord.
The missionaries gave the mission President and Sister Cook a gift for Christmas so they opened their gifts. The missionaries gave them two really nice shirts that said Charlie Mike on the back, a gift certificate for dinner, and a big framed picture with all their signatures on. President Cook also talked to us using the scripture in Matt. 22 where the Savior asks, “What think ye of Christ?” He told of a man that came up to his family when they were out for dinner and said, “Keep being a witness of Christ”. President said we must never stop being witnesses of Christ people are watching. The man was not a member of the Church. We sang a hymn and closed the spiritual part of the meeting. We then as a mission watch the movie How to Tame a Dragon 2. It was not a movie I would pick but the missionaries loved it so it was fine.
After the movie we went over to the stake center next to the temple. The Pratt family with some of their friends fed about 300 missionaries a full Thanksgiving dinner, turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, jello, dressing, and desert of pumpkin, apple pie, or brownies. This family provides this service and all the food every year. I asked one young lady in line if she had opened her presents yet and she told me that they had to be at the stake center at 8 and they hadn’t. What a sweet service to give. I can’t imagine what that dinner cost them. After we had a talent show. It was filled with humor and fun. President and Sister Cook gave the whole mission a Christmas gift from their own money. We each got a T-shirt with the mission emblem on the front and Charlie Mike written on the back. Our mission president is a retired three star general. (His wife is an attorney.) Charlie Mike in military terms means “continue the mission”. He always says to the missionaries Charlie Mike or continue the mission. Then they gave each missionary I really nice water bottle. We finished our time with the missionaries at 3:30.
We found a quiet place in the stake center and was able to face time or skype all of our children and see all of our grandchildren but Max and we finally connected with David, Stacie and Max after we got home. It was so great to talk to our loved ones. That was the very best part of the day. Many of the missionaries found places to call home.
We finished seeing our wonderful grandchildren just before we had to report to the visitor center to work. They needed helps to man the visitor centers because the sister missionaries did the free concert tonight. My job was to count how many people came. Elder Anthony was the greeter. I thought it would be dead tonight and we would be bored, NOT so. I started using the counter at about 1500 visitors. That was at 6:15. I turned over the counter to a sister missionary at 9:35 it was just a few short of 5000 and the visitor. The center did not close until 10:00 p.m. I was totally amazed to see the people just pour in. They came from every country. Elder Anthony was so great at welcoming them. People loved being greeted. One man came over and said five years ago there was a man like you that was so nice and greeted people outside in a wheel chair. Do you know what happened to him? Of course we didn’t. An Elder came up and said Elder Anthony you must be someone special like a VIP. Elder Anthony said everyone that comes in is a VIP. They had two concerts with the sister missionaries and they were both packed and we ran out of tickets. I had a lady come and asked me who the man on the temple was. I had to quickly explain. Three people wanted to know how they could get into the temple. Elder Anthony grabbed an Elder and had him explain because he was too busy to stop. It was a great experience and Elder Anthony greeted until he could hardly talk and his hand was worn out from shaking hands. One lady who was a member told me that a lady had come to her and told her that this was the best Christmas she had ever had. She couldn’t believe the lights and everything was free. What a wonderful experience. We got home at 10:00. Once again the streets were quiet and it was an easy drive home. We are tired tonight but happy and content.
|I know I keep adding temple pictures but it is so beautiful that it takes your breath away. It looked so pretty in the blue ski this morning.|
|This is Elder Eyring. Hist brothers name is Henry B. Eyring.|
|The Chinese Elders went all out on their part of the program.|
|Can you believe how many people they are feeding for Christmas.|
|Talent show pictures.|
|Pres. Cook doing the slap dance with the elders.|