Our week was kicked off with our annual Christmas Conferences and they both turned out really well. On Monday, Elder Dan Jones (local area seventy) spoke to the missionaries on the name of Christ. He did a great job helping the missionaries understand that they have taken upon themselves the name of Christ and what that means to them as they serve. For the second day of conference, President and Sister Hayes from the temple spoke on the Savior and the temple. They involved the missionaries in a gospel reading and mixed in songs they had everyone sing. On each day of the conference five missionaries gave talks on Christ-like attributes that we are all working on (faith, patience, charity, humility, and hope). They all did a wonderful job sharing their testimonies on how these attributes are strengthening and blessing them. I spoke on the attributes I see in Mary and how as we develop those qualities we can come to know the Savior as she did. Aaron spoke about Luke 2, specifically on the shepherds that were abiding in the field. He likened the missionaries to modern day shepherds, called to carry the message to all that will hear them. Each day we had missionary choirs, duets (voice and instruments) and it has to be one of my favorite meetings of the year.
For the afternoon portion of our conference, Aaron decided to have some fun and show “Finding Dory”. He teased the missionaries that it was Church approved film that was all about finding families. ;) We then had our Christmas feast and it is unreal how much Texas BBQ and sides the local members put together for the missionaries. They bring in a huge BBQ smoker that cooked just over 110 pounds of meat each day (tri-tip, sausage, chicken etc). We watched a mission slideshow with all the pictures from the year including the baptisms and temple trips; really cool. One of the highlights is the talent show and it’s one of the favorites of the missionaries too. We have so many talented kids that can sing, dance, play every instrument under the sun, act, lasso (rodeo elder) and juggle. This year didn’t disappoint and we had some very creative talents shared. We have the parents send all the gifts to the office and we hand them out as they leave for their areas. We finished the conference on a spiritual note with Aaron sharing the story, “Whoever Takes the Son Get’s it All”. A great couple of days full of wonderful memories.
The boys watched the Y beat Wyoming Wednesday night making them a little too nervous at the end. Thursday night, we took the kids to see “Sing”. A really fun movie, although I was experiencing anxiety for the main character through most of the show. I have a problem. ;) We headed into Houston to the see the zoo lights Friday night. We have yet to see the zoo during the daytime and it is a big zoo worth visiting. We did see 7 giraffes as they were out but most of the other animals were sleeping. The lights were very impressive, covering most of the trees all the way to the branches. All I could think about is the patience of the person that put all the lights on and the hours it took. We got some fun family pictures from it so totally worth it in my eyes.
I was hoping for a calm Christmas Eve, however I could see I wasn’t going to have enough boxes and wrapping paper. Yikes! Aaron also couldn’t locate a Santa suit to borrow for our Sub for Santa. Yikes! We headed to Wal-mart to buy a Santa suit and wrapping paper. I also found out that some things I ordered for Jessie were sent to our home in Utah by mistake. Yikes! So after our Walmart run, I had Aaron drop me off at Justice and Old Navy for some quick shopping. Nope, not quick at all…..two hours later. Our Sub for Santa experience was really good. We delivered the gifts and Santa visited with the kids in each of the three families. As we departed, we sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas. My heart was touch and swelled with joy and I was humbled by the expressions of gratitude and excitement of the parents and kids. This is always a great part of our Christmas tradition. I wanted to recreate the food we traditionally eat at the Wade Christmas Eve party but Panda Express won out. Once home we played the dice Christmas gift game that we play at the party (unwrapping and overly wrapped present with gloves on). The Karaoke microphone gift was the hit. We laughed silly at Bode’s commentating during the game. We watched Christmas Vacation together and then readied for Santa’s arrival.