Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009 (Christmas Day)

Bright and early Hna. Johnson and I were preparing the final dishes for the 10:00am brunch with the 6 office Elders. They arrived right on time with 4 extra chairs. Our apt. doesn’t have enough seats to accommodate 8. The brunch was great and enough for everyone to have seconds and leftovers.

Last week we made the invitation to all of the elders to have brunch with use on Christmas morning. When we did we apologized to the non Americans that it was going to be a traditional American breakfast of eggs, bacon, pork sausage, and biscuits & gravy. Elder Eric Staff, a Panamanian, shouted for joy at the news. This morning he really enjoyed eating so much good “American food.” His grandparents are of German decent, that’s where the name Staff comes from. He’s 6’1” and 225 pounds with a healthy appetite. He’s a great missionary and very helpful to Hna. Johnson and I. It is a pleasure to have him working in the office with us.

After brunch we cleared the tables and played games. There were 4 players at Hna. Johnson’s table playing “It Came to Pass”. On the box is says: “A heart-pounding, card-slapping game of strategy and fun for Latter-day Saints.” The game uses Book of Mormon words and phrases like: Unbelief, Repentance, Pride, Secret Combination, Charity, Mercy, Justice and Desolation. The Elders and Hna. Johnson really had a good time playing it.

The other table had 4 of us playing “Go to Heck” (Which is sometimes called: Stabbed in the Back by a Loved One). This game is a “Heart-pounding, card-slapping game of strategy” too. However it has nothing to do with anything connected to any book of scripture. It is a lot of fun to play even when you get stabbed in the back. The Elders and I had a real good time.

We finally said our goodbyes and all the Elders were off to appointments with investigators or contacting or to phone their parents. When Elder Staff said goodbye he gave me a big Dominican hug. Then with tears in his eyes he said, “Give that hug to Hna. Johnson for me. And tell her how much I appreciate both of you for taking the place of my family at Christmas time. It was a very special moment. Little did Elder Staff know that the feeling was mutual, because he and the other 5 elders were taking the place of our 6 sons and their families that we were missing so much at Christmas time too.

Hna. Johnson and I were in the Mission office where we have access to the internet. By 2:30 (11:30 Ariz. time) we were making our webcam call home to our family. All 6 of our sons and their families had Christmas brunch at Jared and Tere’s house. Grandpa and Grandma Burk prepared all the food like they always do. It’s a huge undertaking for them. In addition to our sons and their families, Pam’s brother Gary and his family were there as well as her sister Debbie and her family.

The webcam call was great. We talked to everyone for a long time, then we started over and talked to everyone a second time. It was great. We spent about an hour and a half on the webcam talking to all of our family. Christmas is such a special time in our family. It means so much to Hna. Johnson and I to be close to them even though we are thousands of miles away. It was very hard to say goodbye and finally click the button to end the call. But we did and we will treasure these moments and images for the next year to come.

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