Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas #2 in Siberia 12/25/09

Christmas #2 in Siberia
Weather cold and clear Temp -22F (-30C)
Wind calm

Our second Christmas in Siberia has been most unremarkable on the one hand, but very rewarding on the other. It is interesting how things that were so impressive the first year are so routine the second year.

A week or so before Christmas we had stuffed American candy, Cool aide, and stick candy into a thick warm sock, followed by its mate to plug the hole and tied with a ribbon, for each missionary and made sure they were in the various cities for Christmas day. These had to be sent in the mail pouches carried by the incoming seven missionaries who arrived on the 23rd. I even forgot to take a picture of our project so this one below from last year will have to do.

Christmas eve we had the zone over for a one-hour dinner before they all headed for English Club. It was brief, but good with turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, muffins, and salad. Sister Simmons even gave her beautiful gardenia plant a haircut to provide some greenery for the table. What a sacrifice. 

Everyone enjoyed the meal and we even had time to give them their stockings from us. Most had the candy eaten before the meal was over; that's what it's for, right?

Even earlier in the month we hosted an evening of filling homemade boxes (out of those US Mail flat rate boxes) destined for missionaries who lived in our mission, but were currently serving in other missions. It was organized by Yulia, our office accountant and a former missionary, because she remembered how lonesome it was serving away from home and wanted them to get something from "home".

Remember, our cities are spread out from L.A. to Chicago so getting something from "home" is a bit of a stretch. It was really something from friends who remembered you. It is remarkable how close the Young Single Adult community is in the mission, considering the distance between cities, but they know one another and certainly have a bond, making this time of year special.
After the missionaries left for English Club, we cleaned up and watched; "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart. I do pretty well until he is returned to his current life and his friends bring the money to replace the money that his uncle Billy loses. I cannot help crying during that ending scene. It is so touching when his friends come to save his business and reputation. Why can't we make pictures like this anymore? Maybe it is because there are no more Jimmy Stewarts.

The final Christmas activity was the day at the mission home with the Trejos. We ate, played games, exchanged "white elephant" gifts, and watched the musical "Scrooge". The gifts were to be something in your apartment that you wanted to get rid of. Above you see the elders from the "Palace", a large apartment where we store all of the extra stuff we don't know what to do with. Their presents look alarmingly similar. To the right you see why. They all had microwave ovens with something inside. Here Sister Simmons finds a stuffed turkey inside her microwave. President Trejo made them take the microwaves back, but maybe we can find a home for one or two.

The mission gift was t-shirts with the Siberian Battalion logo. I proved that in spite of the 35 pounds I lost, Russian XL's are still undersized. I also proved that I can still move fast enough to set the camera timer and get in the picture myself.

Christmas is a time for the missionaries to relax and have a bit of home in the midst of the harshness of Siberia. We are grateful to be with them and share these experiences and this time of renewal and peace.  God gives us these valiant spirits for the work here and it is our privilege to serve them and share these times with them.

What a time. What a country.


Shannon Simmons said...

Ahhh, so good to know that the white elephant gift exchange is alive and well, even in Siberia. I had plans to go to three of those parties this year, but then the snow storm hit and I was only able to go to one. If you would like to exchange those microwaves for a couple of white elephant gifts from DC...haha. Tradition is good.

Trisha said...

Nice to see your spoils. Love the idea of the microwaves as boxes. What imaginations those missionaries have while the rest of them freezes.

Bob Steed said...

That is pretty funny. The Elders use microwaves as gifts and gift boxes and then the President instructs them to return the microwaves. What a fun expample of these young people learning to love to give, but also learning moderation in all things. Even good things.