This seems like a very good day to start a blog entry, since such a date will not come around again for 100 years. (at least that is what I think) December is about half gone, and we will not have seen even one snow flake or had one day of freezing temperatures. We have seen plenty of 90 and 100 degree days, and then we have some in the 60’s and 70’s. We are not sure what the real summer months will bring but my guess is more consistently hot days. We are not fans of hot days and are less fans of hot nights. It was in the high 70’s overnight and in the high 90’s yesterday, and today and our flat is a bit like a WWll bunker; cool when it is cool out and hot and staying hot when it is hot out. Oh well !
We had an amazing Mission Presidents Fireside earlier in the Month, the music mostly by the missionaries. It made us less aware of the fact that we are missing the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. We also have watched and listened to the First Presidency Christmas broadcast, and on the 15th we have the Chinese Branch Christmas Devotional and social event. On the 24th for FHE we are doing the nativity. Sharla has handed out the script and parts for every participant, most of whom are new members or investigators. It will be interesting to see who shows up and how it goes. We love these people. They are kind, loving, appreciative, and so willing to enjoy life. They are a boisterous and loud bunch and often sound angry. They are not; they are just loud. Later next week we have the Mission Christmas activity at the Mission Office.
Now it’s almost a week later, and we just concluded the Branch Christmas Devotional and feast. It was an experience of a lifetime. The program was rather traditional with lots of Christmas hymns, scripture reading, short talks and a power point presentation prepared by Kikik, who has been a member for 2 weeks. The music was provided by missionaries and branch members. Some of it was amazing, and the rest of it was also amazing, but in a different way. There is no doubt however, that the spirit was present, and the event was enjoyed by everyone. The food was much like you would get at home, but how the whole thing was handled is very different. People started showing up to set up and prepare food at 3:30 for an event scheduled to begin at 5:30 with the devotional, and the meal to follow at 7:00. Even hot food items were prepared and set out around 5:00, long before the meal was to be served buffet style.
The rule that hot food should be served hot, and cold food served cold does not apply with the Chinese or Vietnamese. One night for a Vietnamese Fireside we were at a member’s flat helping prepare food to take in. Her “flatmate” came bursting up the stairs yelling at her and telling her that she could not prepare food for a commercial event in their “shared kitchen”. It went on and on. A couple of missionaries came by to pick up food to take, ( a 20 or 30 minute tram or train ride) and Elder Guy, a big rugby player from England was about to flatten the scrawny little “flatmate” with his fists. Sharla shoved as much of the food as was ready in their arms and told them to leave, then used her “calm down angry parent principal negotiation skills” on the flatmate. We concluded the preparations and headed for the train station, me carrying had a big aluminum roasting pan full of something that was very hot, and Sharla and Tam loaded down with bags of food. I’m sure we made quite a sight traipsing/running down the street one after the other carrying all of this food, with Tam tottering along in very high heeled shoes. Tam finally succeeded in hailing a cab, and we arrived sort of on time. It was the same that night…meeting first, eat later.
I am one to eat first and perhaps talk later, but in this blog I have talked way too much. We love serving these people and serving with “our missionaries.” We love sitting in teaching situations and feeling the spirit witness the truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are thankful for the opportunity to share our testimony that He lives and invite others to hear his message of love and salvation. There is no doubt that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love and care for and about the whole human race. We value their love and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Max and Sharla