Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Christmas season was alive and well in Sydney.  We tried to take in all we could to enjoy the charm of the city during this holiday time.  Several couples went to a Christmas Concert at Town Hall in the city.  It is a beautifully restored building that reminds me a bit of the tabernacle in S.L.C.  The concert was very nice with several choirs, the Navy band, some amazing soloists and a children's choir.  The organ is really second only to the tabernacle with its many pipes and dramatic sound.

We had to bid farewell to 2 of our favorite young adults this month.  Brea left for New Zealand and Katlyn went back to the U.S.  They are both darling girls and have added so much strength and leadership to our young adult ward.  They will be sorely missed but we wish they well.

The mission held 2 days of Christmas Conferences for all the missionaries---half the first day and the the rest the following day.  All the couples went along both days to help with the meals, games, activities, and gift distribution.  It was so fun to meet and spend the day with all 170 missionaries.  We served a light breakfast, lunch, dinner and helped with the activities.  We were exhausted at the end but it was a wonderful time together with all these diligent missionaries.  And Pres. and Sis. Checketts were amazing with every detail planned so well.

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas day with wonderful Skype time with each family.  The homesick bug snuck in the door and caused a few tears (or a lot of tears) but was quickly swept away the following day.  We absolutely love our "Box of Sunshine" and enjoy the sparkle it brings daily into our lives.

The day after Christmas is boxing day and I am beginning to think it is a bigger celebration than Christmas day.  Shopping is absolutely crazy that day (not that I ventured out) and all kinds of other events.  The senior couples had rented a boat (and driver) for the day to watch the world famous Yacht Races.  There are 110 boats in the event which goes from Sydney harbour to another place called Hobart.  The race is about 28 hrs., depending on the weather.  We docked in a suburb and cruised into Sydney harbour and jockeyed with the other 10,000 boats for a place near the starting lane.  The sailboats were gigantic and the whole event was one of a lifetime.  It was such a fun and interesting day.  And YES,  we are on a mission!!!!!

I have never seen so many boats that were literally within an arms reach from each other.

Monday, December 14, 2015

We have been enjoying the beautiful lights at the Sydney Temple.  The grounds are so bright and the life-size nativity set up in front is very impressive.  Inside ones of the buildings there is a beautiful display of 30 paintings of Christ's life and a new Nativity DVD is shown.  We hosted one evening with 24 young missionaries and last week we took 45 YSAs and investigators with our wonderful missionaries to the event.  Everyone was so touched by the spirit and teachings that night and we all rejoiced in the opportunity to share our love of our Savior with so many.  What a perfect way to begin this Christmas season in Sydney.

One of our young adults received her temple blessings this week.  She is an amazing young woman from Kenya who found the gospel about 4 years ago and is rock solid in her faith.  She is studying law here.  How blessed we are to know her and feel of her joy and spirit.

Our ward Christmas party was last Saturday and was so fun.  More than 100 attended for dinner, some fun classes including cookie decorating by E & S Asplund.  We enjoyed a very nice nativity followed by a special message from Bishop Jeffree and a 2015 video of all the ward events.

Our FHE last night was dynamite!!  After being taught about temples, each group was given food items and challenged to build a temple.  It was hilarious and quite ingenious creations immersed.

Life is never dull here and we should be staying young.......but not happening!!