This past Tuesday we said good-bye to Elder Larsen, Elder Gann, Sister Turhirirwe and Sister Otwane, having completed their missions. On Wednesday, we welcomed one Sister and one Elder to begin theirs. Elder Gann had his parents come to get him as he told them the best way for him to describe his mission is for them to come and experience a little of it for themselves. They will fly home tonight. The parents of Elder Larsen kept it a surprise for the other members of the family, saying that they were preparing his room for guests that would come for Christmas (he was not due home until January). I emailed to see if he had arrived home as he traveled a longer route through Frankfurt Germany. His family said that the surprise went very well. It is so fun to hear of times when families reunite and wish I could hear of our African missionaries as well.
We are looking forward to our Christmas Conference this Thursday. It takes a lot of planning, especially by President and Sister Judd. All the missionaries will be coming in and 56 of them, because of not traveling back to their areas late at night, will spend the night in the mission complex. They will sleep on mats throughout our office, mission home, and living area of the Office Elders and Assistants. Each apartment will be given a gift of a blender to help make the preparing of their food easier and hopefully eat healthier. The food, talent to be shared, singing the Christmas hymns, and spiritual instruction, will give us all a lift and soften the difficulty of not being with our families. These young men and women really amaze me as they leave family and friends, and make a wonderful contribution of devoting their lives to missionary work.
I decided that I would purchase a keyboard instruction book for Patrick and start working with him while my companion is in meetings on Sundays. He was very excited when I told him I would do this and committed himself to the time it would demand of him. He will visit with President Ampomah about using the keyboard in the chapel on Saturdays to practice as that is the only way for him. I would appreciate prayers on his behalf for his ability to understand everything he needs to learn so he can be a blessing to the Branch. He also needs to be able to teach others as well, as that will help to solidify what he is learning. He is about 24 years of age and is from Nigeria and is in the Sunday School Presidency and also teaches the "Come Follow Me" program to the youth. The missionaries really appreciate him as he goes with them a lot to visit the less active.
One would think Christmas is coming with all the packages that continue to arrive. I feel for Elder Lloyd and Elder Benans-Hillard, the Office Elders, but they never complain. They also were responsible for getting all the variety of phone chips so the missionaries can call home for Christmas. They have worked hard to get it all right and I hope there are no problems so the missionaries have this opportunity. It is such a privilege to work with these young men and see how they take on such responsibility and do it well. I have to share another situation that happens quite often here, especially this time of year. The police stopped them (has happened more than once) and comes up with a ridiculous law when in reality they are doing it to get paid for not arresting them. They calmly talked to the 3 policemen and they seemed very happy to receive a Book of Mormon each and let them go on their way. Similar situations have happen before, although sometimes a money bribe has to be given because there is no other way. It goes against everything we believe but because of the unfairness of some of the policemen to get something for themselves, it happens sometimes.
Well, the satisfaction of the peanut butter sandwich and apple have begun to wear off and daylight has passed. It has been a good Sabbath Day and even though there is much growth that needs to take place in the Senchi Branch, the people love the Lord and they will succeed. I also have needed to grow and this experience is giving me that opportunity. With the Lord's help, I too will succeed.
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)