Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"P" is for Christmas

"Priceless, Precious, Personal, Performances & Participate"

So far these are the highlights of our Christmas season!

Our participation began last weekend with the Annual Missionary Fun Day on Saturday. This event is really for the young missionaries to come together from all over Fiji and get to spend time together in games and sports and meals! It is a huge hit! The Senior missionary couples were involved by preparing and serving lunch and dinner. Those 2 meals were huge hits also. Thankfully I wasn't in charge but I did get to contribute brownies and enchiladas and dish them out to 90+ hungry young men and women. The evening event was a talent show put on by groups of missionaries from the various Zones. I did get coersed into, I mean, asked to be one of the 3 judges which was really not easy! The performances, including clever costumes, were original, enthusiastic and very well performed. Most all of the items were Fijian dancing and singing done by non-native participants. A few months in this country and they can perform like they grew up here!

Sunday evening was the spiritual event, the Fiji Suva Missionary Fireside. It was a wonderful hour and a half of Christmas hymns sung by all the missionaries in their white shirts and colorful ties and spiritual Christmas stories and testimonies including talks by Elder Wakolo, an Area Seventy and Pres. Ostler, the mission president. The Stake Center was filled to capasity with members and investigators, friends and friends-to-be.

Monday was another choice experience. One of the SM couples, Mike & Cherie Tait organized a service project. When we heard about it, we jumped right on board. Taits had found this small institution called The Hilton House for Handicapted Children. After visiting to check it out, they determined it would be the perfect place for us to offer some Christmas help. This facility houses about 20 or so severly disabled children who live there full time. During Christmas most of the children had returned to their families and villages for a couple of weeks. There were 5 children who have no family... basically abandoned at birth so they were still there.

Here are the residents we got to visit with. A variety of ages and disabilities. From l-r in the back, boy:19, boy:6, girl:32, girl:18 and upfront, girl:16 Very humbling to say the least! But we tried to bring a strong feeling of love and Christmas joy as we sang Christmas carols and visited and ...

showed them how to blow bubbles. The 2 girls who could handle this were thrilled!

That's the Taits standing on the left and the woman on the right is the dear person who runs the facility. They were so appreciative of our tiny effort and we left feeling that joy you do when you get to serve somewhere that you know needs whatever you are willing offer.

The next day we got to participate along with all the employees at the Service Center in a gift brought to the office from one of their customers.

This group just showed up unannounced. They were all decked out in their tropical island Christmas attire: colorful suluvakatogas (skirts) and salusalus (floral lais).

Then they came inside to the reception area and enthusiastically entertained us with Christmas carols in those beautiful Fijian voices,

expressed appreciation for business from the Service Center and handed over this yummy cake,

then concluded by inviting us to dance along Fijian-style! I wasn't going to turn down that kind of celebrating. Paul stayed back to snap photos!

The next big event in the office that afternoon was a Goodbye Party for the Service Center Finance Department Manager, Arama Puriri. We have been very lucky to have made his aquaintance and work with him daily for the past 17 months. He is a really high-quality person not only at work but in his Church callings and as the father of 6 young children (5 boys and one girl named Nauvoo - I love her name). He is of Maori decent and he and his family are moving back to New Zealand as he has a new job at the Church's Pacific Area office.

Yesterday, Wednesday was another really great holiday outing. This time the Service Center employees set up a Christmas caroling outing. About 15 individuals including Paul & I went to 2 special locations and enjoyed bringing a little attention and warm Christmas feelings to people who sometimes get neglected. The first location was a Catholic Church-sponsored old folks residence called Home of Compassion. There were only about 8 residents and 5 staff but they seemed to enjoy our songs and smiles. Almost all of the dear elderly folks were in wheelchairs or had some kind of obvious physical challenges but they smiled and were very welcoming. Next we drove to an area that Paul & I had never been to. There we visited a place called House of Hope. This is for unwed, young, mostly teenage mothers and their infants. We were told that the youngest mother living there was 13! There were 2 dormatories with 8 rooms in each domatory. One domatory was for moms and infant sons and the other one was for moms and infant daughters. The newest baby was 2 months old. Once again we could tell that we had cheered them up with the familar sweet Christmas messages. It was reciprocal; it cheered me up to be around so many sweet little ones.

Finally, do you remember my story of going Visiting Teaching with the 2 new VT sisters? That was back in October. Last Sunday, the 3 of us decided we would go visiting again this week and take some Christmas love to the women they visit. Once again, it was a very dear experience. Swati (on the left) and Jyoti (on the right) are the two companions. Jyoti invited her husband to come along. The woman they visit is such a dear soul! Her name is Kailash Pati. She is around 82 years old but still in quite good health. She speaks some English but it was best when all 4 of them conversed in Hindi. Swati read from the book of Luke about the birth of the Savior and then Bro. Chand translated and shared the message to her in Hindi. What a special experience.

So that is how we have been enjoying this wonderful season. We know this is a very unusual year and are trying to make the most of focusing on the purpose of the Birth of Jesus Christ and finding ways we can make our gifts reflect His Gospel through serving those we are blessed to come in contact with.

We miss ALL our loved ones -- family members and dear friends -- during this Happy Holiday season but we are so grateful to know the purpose of that infant, Jesus Christ that was born in a manager who's birth the world acknowleges at this season. We are so grateful to be serving Him at this time and sharing His love with those who are seeking for peace and looking to the Savior to find it.

"For God so loved the world that he sent his only Begotten Son"


Barbara said...

Merry Christmas my friend...this journey is coming to an end but you are still going strong with all that you are doing!
Bravo to you.

Martha said...

A beautiful Christmas message!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful mission. I have enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your fabulous pictures these past 17 months. Thank you for the wonderful service you have given. Merry Christmas!

kj said...

I'm so glad you danced, Sherrie! That Christmas group looked fabulous. Their leis were stunning as I'm sure their voices were. What a celebration.