Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas is all around.

Christmas is getting closer.  Everyone is busy rushing around to decorate their homes, and buying the perfect gift for their loved ones.  I hope everyone of you who read this blog have taken 2 minutes to watch the wonderful video "He is the Gift" posted on:
It is a very special experience and will bring the true meaning of Christmas into your holiday.
The missionaries in the Tennessee Nashville Mission have been handing out pass-along cards to all they meet to encourage everyone to view the video.
This picture on the left is from a Nativity Festival that the Clarksville Kentucky Stake put on last weekend (Dec 5th, 6th and 7th). This first picture is by a local photographer in the ward,  Isn't it lovely? They had one room dedicated to art work....all extraordinary. We happened to be in Clarksville delivering a couple of study tables and an I-Pad to the missionaries there.  We stopped by the church and found this festival.  I was blown away.  I will attach a couple more pictures
so you could get the feel of it.
This is the 5th year for this festival.  We had the opportunity to speak to the area public affairs director, Rosemarie Kline, who has headed up this effort since it began.  She told us of her struggle to get other churches to join in with the LDS Church in this activity.  Finally after 4 years, this year they have some choral groups coming to share their music. As you will see in the other pictures, they had the large cultural hall filled with about 150 nativities and a live nativity on the stage.  The animals  were large painted cutouts....(which I adored).  They used to have the live nativity outside until one year when they almost froze to death.
The picture above is one of the rooms they furnished for that period.

Isn't this picture beautiful.  Sorry for the light spot....I tried with several shots, but I was unable to get rid of it.  You can see from the texture that it is on canvas,
Here is the best idea (well one of the best) that I saw.  They drew this picture on a large chalkboard and invited children to draw their own star in the sky.
The festival was a hit.  The evening before we were there they had about 650 people come.  They had the front page article in the community section of the newspaper.  One of the high school choral groups came and sang the entire "Messiah" while people looked through the wonderfulness of this festival.  On Sunday evening they showed the Church's Christmas Devotional while people came.
On our way to Clarksville we got to catch lunch with one of my favorite missionaries and his companion....Elder Hansen and Elder Peery.  Elder Hansen in on a bike now.  Well, 50% of the time....they share a car with some other Elders.  It is cold (Well, I think it is cold).  He is missing Pikeville.

Last Thursday and Friday we had Zone Conferences.  One in Hopkinsville (about 1 1/2 hours north into Kentucky).  We had a visiting Authority from Salt Lake City so we were on our good behavior. (when are we not?)  He was super and inspired us all.  Thursday evening we met with him again back in the office in
Brentwood.  He spoke with each of the office staff and thanked us profusely for our service.  During his talk during the daytime session he told us and the missionaries that there is a reason we are in Tennessee-Nashville Mission.  We were sent here by prophecy.  If we don't know why, we have a right to know why and we should pray until we have that answer and then we should write it down.  I do know why I am here and why I am in the office.  Someday I will tell you.  I have received that knowledge.
Elder Dunn just received that knowledge this week and he feels very comfortable with it.  But he does still miss his pickup truck.
These sisters are Sister Tagilala (Olimaipa Suzanne Viladai Tagilala) and Sister Tangataolakepa (Munaloto-Ki-Waikato Anglique Lupeeva Tuifua Tangataolakepa).  Say that 3 times fast.  Sister Tagilala has the softest hair. She is quite a bit shorter than me so I love to go over and lay my head on her hair.  She is one of my favorites.
Anyway, On Friday we had our second zone meeting in Mulfreesboro Tennessee (1 hour south of the office).  We (the office staff who attends both meetings) heard the same talks again......but they were so different in many ways.  The missionaries participate a lot in the discussions during the meeting.  Elder Renlund (a member of the 70s) is inspiring and funny.  He was a cardiologist and his wife an attorney.  They are both great.  That evening we had a dinner at the mission home for all the senior missionaries in the mission with Elder Renlund.
 Some of the seniors had hours of travel in order to get home after the dinner; but it was so fun and I
really have found a new sisterhood with a couple of these ladies.
On the lighter side, we ran into 3 of the most unusual Salvation Army bell ringers at the local
Wal-Mart Store.Who knew that you could be a bell ringer and also a Ghost Buster, a Storm Trooper or whatever the other guy is.  I guess the South is not much different than Hollywood where I grew up.  There were also wierd people walking the streets there too.
Today we had Stake Conference (the meeting of 7-8 Wards or congregations).  The Nashville Stake does not have a Stake Building; neither do several other Stakes around here.  They hold their Stake Conference in the MUSIC CITY CENTER in downtown Nashville.  It is large and beautiful, but we had one of the smaller theaters.  Dean Davies was a visiting authority for that.  He is in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.  He used to be in charge of finding and securing the land for temples.
 He told Elder Dunn and I that he was involved in selecting Ina Road for the temple site. He said just late this last week they got the interior plans for that temple okayed by the city.  He wouldn't tell me what the outside will look like.  We have had such a busy week.....and one that was exciting and very sacred to us.  We learned a lot and our testimonies of Jesus Christ has grown even stronger.  Didn't think that could happen.  We are so lucky to be here.  I wish each one of you could experience the joys that we feel each day while we work with these wonderful missionaries.  They are amazing.
This next week will be another great week because........Monday is December 15th........the day to make sure the rent is paid!!!  I am ready.
One more thing.  We bought a new GPS for the car!  It is a long story, but if you know me very well you have already guessed that it is because I got lost.....again.  This time major lost in the dark with Elder Dunn waiting at a car dealership,  Ask Emilee...she will tell you.

We love you all!  We think of you so often and laugh at some of the good times we have had with each of you.  Do we look tired?  Well, most days we are!  But we are so happy!  We wish that same happiness to all of you!

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