Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming up to Christmas in the Marshall Islands...

On the last Sunday of November, the Pattersons invited me and some other missionaries over for the first week of the German tradition of Advent. We listened to some Christmas music and heard a spiritual thought by Gary concerning the birth of the Savior, lit one candle figuratively (since they didn't have any candles yet) and then enjoyed food and company. These pictures are from the third week of Advent...

We had great food and had invited some non-members and new members of the church to join us.
The Hewstones joined us as we watched the Church's short Nativity spot with "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant playing behind it. Amazing!

My first presents under my Christmas tree! Kim and Wyck and Macey and Indy and Ryan and Sophie sent me a package with wrapped and unwrapped fun presents inside AND pictures of the grandchildren! Now all 10 grandchildren are on my refrigerator and I can see them everyday!

The fourh week of Advent!

Abrn and Elder Keeley with Gary Patterson in the background - our 4 candles lit - Christmas in just around the corner...
Some of us enjoying the last Sunday of Advent with the Pattersons - Mima and Sherrie and their daughter, Abrn, Sister Teichert, Elder Sanchez.

For Christmas, the President brought in all the Elders on outer Islands except two. Elders Miller and Amohonga came from Lae, and Elders Heimuli and Pritchard came from Ailinglapalap. Here they are ready to play Rugby with their fellow Elders, coming in on P-day. (Elders Thomsen and Tingey remained on Jaluit - no air service because the last flight there blew out its tires on the coral runway.)

I was food shopping at Payless in Delap a few days before Christmas - as I was at the check-out stand, the Marshall Islands High School Choir began to sing - when they sang "O Holy Night", I had goosebumps running up and down my arms and spine. Because of early Protestant missionaries in the 1800's, Christianity is respected and honored in the Marshall Islands.

The Marshallese can SING!!!

Zone Conference on Christmas Eve

Wednesday night before Zone Conference, we had a practice for the Christmas Program the next day. It was written by Sister Smith. These Elders of the Long Island District (and Ailinglaplap) sang "I Wonder When He Comes Again." (Clockwise)Elders Heimuli, Sanchez, Enlow, Pritchard, Moimoi, and Fa'alogo.
Zone Conference (Dec. 24th), watching "The Knife", by Elder Teichert and our daughter Kim and Nate Hoffman.

All the Sisters, except our mission Mom who was running around with a millon details on her mind.

The Sisters ready to give Sister Smith's candy leis as the Elders enter the dining hall...

Welcome to Christmas Dinner, Elders!

The tie and necklace exchange was a real hit!

At the end of the exchange, the exra ties brought by our president were given to a Marshallese young man who just received his mission call to the Oklahoma City Oklahoma mission - President Smith had invited him to come and announce his call to us.

Elders and Sister anticipating the Secret Santa Stocking Exchange.

JoJo and I just before she had to leave for a Stake YMYW Fireside - she is the Stake YW President, a returned missionary (Australia) and we depend on her for so many things in the office - see our matching flowers? We are sisters...

Typical responses to Sister Smith's Secret Santa stocking exchange...

Untypical responses!

I had Sister Avery, who is leaving our mission in January and is getting married in the Denver Temple. She was thrilled with her white Marshallese flower to wear on her wedding day and with Shelley's white handkerchief from the Nauvoo Temple Dedication and with all her other stocking gifts that held some meaning for her. She is finishing out her mission as a mentor to the other Sister on island - welcome back from Ebeye, Sister Avery!

A few days before Christmas I received a package full of fun Christmas gifts and food and LETTERS from my wonderful friends in the Creekside Ward.
It was a precious hour of opening your gifts and reading all your thoughts and feeling your love. I am trying my best to represent who we are as a ward and as friends who love our Savior - it is His love that unites us and gives our lives their meaning and provides us hope for what is ahead. I love you all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rain in the Marshall Islands at Christmas time...

Buckets full of rain everyday for two weeks - we've estimated that about two feet of rain have fallen.
Elder Faalogo of new Zealand and Elder Enlow with their new rain gear from their mission Mom.
Some Elders who have said that they would never put on a poncho have decided that ponchos are not so bad after all.

Caroling by the Young Single Adults of Long Island Ward outside my second floor apartment - they borrowed the hats from Sister Bell at the mission office and they were actually pretty good with our English carols and their Marshallese harmonies - great young people - the taller sister in the back just came home from a mission to Georgia, USA. For them, there was a slgiht let-up in the rain - and snow? "Only in my dreams..."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life After the Lytles

Your trousers and Levi's live on in the Assistants, Elder Lytle.
(Thanks for the Christmas tree, Sister Lytle -
how does your old apartment look? I love it and we're adding new memories
on top of the precious old ones...)

Gary and Laurie Patterson with Elder Wilstead at his Yokwe Yokwe in Long Island (Dec 5th, 2009). He had a Yokwe the night before at Delap where he served the longest. He was only in Long Isand for about three weeks and they still held a Yokwe Yokwe for him - the people are so grateful to ALL the Elders and Sisters who come and serve.

Elder Keeley, burning the wayward strands off Elder Wilstead's suitcoat in my apartment just before we all left for the airport, Dec 9, 2009. To the question I posed, "Is this normal?", Elder Keeley replied "The President taught us this."

President Smith and his departing 'son', Elder Wilstead, at the Majuro Airport.

I'm not sure what they are looking at, but I wonder how many people turned to see...Sister Smith (Mom) has this influence on her 'sons'...

Some fine Elders to see him off - can you tell which one is the great Marshallese young man who has his mission papers in?

Elder Wilstead with Elder Enlow and the President just before Elder Wilstead walked through the Security door and 'died.'' I had a very profound experience when he walked through and Elder Gilbert said softly "He's dead." I could picture him very much alive doing what needs to be done going through security - and beyond as he greets his family at each stopping point before Kansas. There is no such thing as dead - we are all alive, all the time, no matter what stage of living we are in at the moment.

Thanks, Elder Wilstead, for all you did to bless our lives and yours here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yokwe Yokwe and Adieu...

The Majuro Stake Yokwe Yokwe for the Lytles - November 27, 2009.
President Tibon and the Lytles

Heartfelt singing at the Long Island Yokwe Yokwe - glorious, full, and longing. Nov. 28, 2009

Sister Teichert, Sister Lytle, Juana

Long Island Ward Yokwe Yokwe - so many hugs, so many tears, so much love.

I love this picture - Sister Lytle's last offering of cookies to the office visitors - her love and His watching over many.

Final dinner in the Lytles' apartment - so when are you going to take it, Elder Bell? Some of us look a little more ready for a picture than the others.

Our final luncheon at the Marshall Islands Resort, where alot of great information was shared with our visiting authority, President Coward .

Many came for the send-off from the Lytle's apartment and at the mission office...

These assistants will miss their mentors and all the good food...

Stake President Tibon calling the Lytles to say goodby, with the Relief Society sisters from Long Island ward in the background.

Adieu...'til we meet again, probably in Nevada.