Christmas in the mission field is oddly incredible. Missionaries are well aware that their commitment to serve will take them from home and family for two Christmases yet, they are fine with it! They teach harder, sing carols louder, eat heartier, and in the end, say it was their best Christmas ever! It's a Christmas Miracle!
This is our District on Christmas morning. We ate a traditional American breakfast of Grandpa's hotcakes, ham souffle, hot chocolate and fresh oranges.
Always searching for a creative pose for the classic District picture, these Elders opted for the pyramid. (top: Elder Johnson; middle: Elders Schanck & Frandsen; bottom: Elders James, Simmons, Betteridge.
About a week before Christmas, Sora Lundberg asked us if we could arrange for all the Bucharest missionaries to visit an orphanage on Christmas Day. You would think a simple phone call to the orphanage would be all it would take but we soon learned that every visit needs the approval of each Sector's mayor. Emails went out to all six Sectors and after 4 days, we received no responses. Why wouldn't they want us??? We promised small gifts for the children and entertainment for their dull lives provided by 25 smiling missionaries!!! Finally the break came as one of our wonderful members helped us gain permission.
Traian was raised from the age of 2 in this orphanage. He was educated in Bucharest and attended a university here, obtaining a Masters degree in music. He is an absolute genius at the piano. A little over two years ago, he noticed two missionaries on the street and stopped them to ask why they were so happy. When he heard their answer, it rang true to him and he wanted what they had. He is one of our favorites and one reason we will find it hard to leave in March.
Traian and missionaries getting ready to spread Christmas.
This is Sora Lundberg, our Mission President's wife. She is telling the children (through Traian's interpretation) that "No matter what, your Heavenly Father loves you. Never forget that". She told the children that we wanted to have fun with them and invited them to share their talents with us. Without prodding, some jumped up and sang and danced and played instruments. It was a wonderful experience to watch them perform.
This couple did a ballroom dance number.
This boy sang an opera piece.
Missionaries performed as well. Elder James is holding his rugby ball which he gave to one of the little children.
We're pretty sure the little children had never seen anything like this! Elders Simmons and Frandsen did a Beat Boxing routine, complete with crazy dance moves!
Sora Lundberg roped me into a skit where we pantomimed going to the movies. It was a huge hit! (What's a "movie"?)
This little girl won our hearts as she wore the scarf and hat we gave her and played with her new Barbie doll.
She held her "treasures" with such care and ate everything in her baggie.
The missionaries were remarkable. Wherever I pointed my camera, I saw missionaries loving the children and giving them small gifts.
Elders Mathis and Boehme were super heros to these little boys.
Soras Olson, Mullen, and Fraser shared their joy.
You can't buy this excitement!
Our "good sport" President Lundberg speaks into a toy cell phone, to the delight of this little boy.
This is a picture of jubilation. Our missionaries will never forget visiting an orphanage in Romania on Christmas Day. We hope the children will never forget that they were showered with love by the missionaries and that their Heavenly Father will never forget them.
On a more frivolous note... This is the gift I gave Elder Linerud for Christmas. As luck would have it, it can't be shipped to America. A boat that can't be shipped?? Think about that!