Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year to our Wonderful Family and Friends Afar,
Christmas came and went with nary a sign of brumal (wintry) trappings outdoors this year! But inside, you'll note as per the photo on the right, that our 2' mini-tree with family pics o'er head and Christmas songs ringing through our flat are all we need to make the season come alive with JOY! Lush green and HEAT abound and never stop unless you're a eucalyptus tree and it's time to shed your tired bark skin. Even while shedding, they hold their leafy heads high with full foliage. But Jolly Old St. Nicholas must need to shed his arctic outer coat when he heads out to deliver his presents in the land "down under." And did you know he uses six white boomers ( rare, white, old kangaroos) to guide his sleigh here because his reindeer can't take the terrible heat! It's true, so check it out on youtube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98fMRw1LuiU. The Aussie children have a ball with their Christmas songs, many of which are delightfully new to us. Truly, we have been surrounded by loving saints and sharing friends who made Christmas meaningful and memorable. Christmas Day the 18 Senior Missionaries who aren't local (The locals have family around.) got together with the Mission President and his wife and six "orphaned" Elders for a royal Christmas dinner supplied by all of us pitching in. We ate for hours, laughed, and felt so grateful to be a part of the Australia Brisbane mission which is seeing such success in the work.
Talk about a HUGE GOAL: last December the Mission unitedly set a goal for 500 baptisms for the ABM---a large leap from last year's 364 baptisms! That was the amazing outcome for 2016's efforts. So here we are looking the year's end in the face and we have 491 baptisms so far with several more scheduled for the next few days!! Regardless, these missionaries are THE BEST and most dedicated young men and young women we've ever had the privilege of working with. Attending baptisms and supporting our young Elders and Sisters punctuates our weeks with happy celebrations. Each new member has a story to tell of their conversion which humbles us! How beautiful to consider we are all equal in the sight of our Heavenly Father and He desires only the very best for us---returning to His presence! Dressed in their new dresses above are the sweet young African girls 💕, converts, who have just been baptized! Pictured just above are 4 Mandarin-speaking Elders from one of our two Chinese Branches. Their thumbs up indicate a great Christmas dinner has filled them up well! We fed a crowd---18 seniors and 6 juniors celebrated!
Such fine people we have the privilege of working with side by side. As mentioned above, this is the "American portion" of all the current Senior missionaries.
|Food for Thought: A student provided "snacks"|
for one of our PathwayConnect gatherings and
decorated the table with this quote and oodles of
healthy and not-so-healthy yummy treats.
|Our fantastic hardworking evening PathwayConnect class!|
More holiday spirit and fun experiences help us feel the reason for the season---the goodness of our Heavenly Father's gift to us of His Beloved Son. We know His humble birth signaled ultimate redemption for us all if we set our feet upon the path back into His presence and steadfastly take advantage of the precious opportunities to seek and follow our Savior's example. Thus, we've applied often on our mission Nephi's admonition to us in 2 Nephi 25:26---"We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." Did you know that you prophesy of Christ every time you bear your testimony? And when you keep a journal which includes your spiritual experiences, you are writing according to your prophecies! Talk often with all children of God---our own, and all whom we have interaction with, about the hope that is in us because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It truly is the "Good News" of all time and eternity.