It seems so much more than a few days since we've spoken. It was absolutely wonderful talking with you on Christmas Day! I often think about my life before you left and my life after you left. I'm still on the same journey, but it's like my gait has changed. I'm limping a little, or listing to the left. I'll keep prodding along on my journey, but oh the day when there's a bounce back in my step! I hope you were uplifted in seeing your family, and were able to feel of our love for you. We're proud of you and your example to us, the members here and in Brazil, and your companions. That everyone had to stop and tell us how special you are confirms to us how much you are obedient to all that Heavenly Father expects of you. You've always set the bar high, and are again leading others to raise themselves as well.
We did have our yuletide log sandwiches after your phone call. There were no new ingredients, just lots of good bacon ;-)
In watching your face on Skype, it lit up every time Breyer crawled into camera view. She does make us smile as well. After six boys, her sweet little smile and spirit are a wonderful girly change. Every time I call for a boy to take the trash out, she comes running. Sometimes she'll pick up the bags even before I call for help, and try to get me to go with her. It's her favorite chore!
Monday was Christmas Eve. We fed six missionaries, and took them caroling. None of the boys were excited to go, but really how could you not end up enjoying the evening after seeing how much those we visited loved our visits. All 14 of us were even fed cookies and ice cream! I think this might be my new Christmas Eve tradition. Why sit home? Go out and bug everybody else. (And no, four elders and two sister missionaries still weren't as good as having you sing with us!)
Christmas morning the boys were up by 7. Not too bad. I think Porter, Mr. Sleep-in-until-the-very-last-second woke up first, and preceded to wake everybody else up, including Breyer. He forgot that Breyer, she-who-needs-every-second-of-her-beauty-sleep, is a bit difficult in the morning, but the boys were so excited, and showed her the tree, so she woke up quick.
Porter's friend, who was moving and give Porter his toys, was responsible for the rock tumbler under the tree for Sawyer, who spent the rest of the day polishing rocks. Porter also wrapped up some kind of a game system with a few games, so they've each had 20 minutes of computer games every day. Unbelievable! You thought you'd be the only family in the world without computer games. Now you can just tell everyone your family has never bought a video game instead. Porter also wrapped up a ton of Legos for Cooper, so we didn't have to buy any this year! I love recycling!
Hunter went to the hobby store, and bought rocket parts and engines, and has kits to do with each brother. That was a great gift! He's already spent one morning with Miller building his rocket, and had lift off a day or two later.
Sawyer was very generous with his baseball cards and pennies, and painted rocks for everybody else. He's so sweet! If you were to ask Porter what his favorite present was, he'd probably tell you the five sided rubik cube and round face cube he received as gifts. He's only spent a few minutes on each, but has them both almost mastered.
The best Christmas card, says your Dad, was from the on-line dog food company we use. They hand wrote a personalized message to us and Ranger. He thought that extra touch from the business owners was exemplary!
Hunter got his ACT scores this week. He told us that he used "Captain Moroni" as his sign-in name, however, before he could finish the name, the space ran out, so he's had to sign in as Captain Moron. Still makes me laugh typing this. He hates signing into the website now! He's also visiting the weight room regularly after school, with a friend, just for fun ;-)
Friday your dad drove the boys to the temple. Porter hadn't gone to the temple this fall because of basketball, and wanted to so he could earn the stake president's seminary award. They had a wonderful time. They're considering going by themselves from now on. They stopped at Penn Station on the way home, so everybody's bellies were happy as well. While in the store, when asked for the name on the order, Dad heard Hunter say, "Eisenhower." So Dad turns to Porter and Cooper, and tells them their names are Nixon and Truman. Pretty funny!
This week the buddy basketball league had a holiday tournament. Miller's age group wasn't invited, but since Sawyer's team had a few players out of town, Miller got to play up with Sawyer. It was fun having them on the same team. It took Miller a game or two to get over playing with nine year old boys, but once he did he played well. Sawyer's team has been undefeated until the championship game, and they lost by a basket. It was a great game by both teams. Sawyer plays really well when the boy under the basket isn't there. He's all over the boards and makes a lot of baskets, but when he's on wing, he has a lot of steals and great passes. And he never sits.
Our washing machine broke this week, so Saturday Dad and I spent a bit of time finding a new washer. We went from store to store looking at their scratch-n-dent selection, and ran into someone we knew in Lowes, who happened to be the manager of the appliance floor. He had a few in the back he showed us and we were able to get a $630 washer for $300, because it had been unpacked, and had a dent. Yeah!
It's been a quiet week at home. The weather's been chilly, and the boys have been inside all week playing. It will be good to get back to a bit of a schedule this week.
Today in church both Dad and Hunter spoke. Hunter talked about setting patterns and traditions in your life. He spoke about the Lamanites and how the "traditions of their fathers," hating the Nephites, perpetuated for generations. What kind of pattern are you perpetuating in your life? With your children? On your mission? What kind of effect would the patterns of scripture reading and temple attendance have on you? Dad used Holland's quote, "God doesn't care nearly as much about where you have been as he does about where you are and with His help, where you are willing to go." He talked about the movie, "It's A Wonderful Life," and how when he joined the church he aspired to having a home like George Bailey. He had every body laughing when he said Hunter played the piano like Janie Bailey, and his house was just as drafty and his pockets just as empty.
Your news from the field: Your last companion wanted you to know that "your companion is sweet. He sings a ton in Spanish, and like Argentinians will debate with everyone over soccer at lunches, haha." Your last district leader was made a district leader in Campo Mourao. Your CTM companion was transferred to Bauru São Paulo in the area called President Geisel and has a Brazilian companion. He had to travel to Londrina, and then travel five more hours to Bauru the day after Christmas.
I'm enclosing a portion of Jeremy's letter. I loved how he was very creative in his tracting techniques, and had success. Yeah! "Today we woke up to 6 inches of snow everywhere!!!!!! It was insane! We have been shoveling snow all morning and we are already exhausted! It is easily the most snow that I have ever had in my life! It is really interesting to see people out in the snow. They act much differently! We woke up this morning and basically just went out and shoveled a bunch of people's driveways and sidewalks from 6:30 a.m. till around 10:00 a.m. We will probably be taking a nap for the rest of the day today! ... Yesterday, we finally put to use the tracting list that we have been putting together! Since we are Chinese Elders, normal tracting is not very effective and so we got a phone book and went though all the names that are common Chinese last names and we have been tracting those doors. Last night it was pretty much a blizzard so driving was pretty unsafe and we were sliding around all over the place but we were able to tract a couple doors. One of which is a Chinese family and they told us to come back later in the week and they would love to talk to us! YES!!!!!! One of the goals that I made in the MTC was to baptize a Chinese family that has a working and supportive father that could become a Priesthood leader. Most of the people that we run into are students so this was sooo exciting! We are really praying that this family will open their hearts to us and accept the gospel! I will let you know how the appointment goes! They have 2 little kids and that is all that we know at the moment. We are thrilled to find someone though!"
Another week in the books! Keep up the great work. You are our greatest treasure!
Love, Mom and Dad
P.S. One missionary mom said that when her son came home (from the Goiania Mission) he had a "tie tan," as the sun does go through the white shirts but not where his tie was.