We are SO excited to hear about your new companion (insert name and information, please), your new living arrangements, and your new responsibilities. Which assistant to the president did you replace, and why? As important, we're desperately awaiting news on how to Skype with you Christmas day.
We're also eager to hear about your Christmas conference. Did you just love our surprise? It was slightly irreverent but we sure had a lot of fun making it for you! The music was picked especially by your brother Porter. I thought it was perfect. Tonight Sister Genaro posted pictures of your Christmas conference, 105 to be exact. We found you in one, against the back wall. Feeling a little cheated over here! Hopefully you have a few of your own you'll share tomorrow?
We also found a picture of you in your zone with Elder Costa...
...and one picture of you welcoming missionaries this week as they arrived at the airport? I'm guessing on that.
Dad has a question for you this week. Everyone sets out dishes of uncracked nuts and nut crackers in their homes, here in America. Do people in Brazil get Brazilian nuts for Christmas? Have you even seen a Brazilian nut while you're on your mission? (Did you know the biggest exporter of Brazilian nuts is Bolivia?)
Two thoughts I found this week that I love. One is by Ludwig van Beethoven: "Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine."
This one made me think of your father, Mr. Brown Sign himself: "Don’t people know that sometimes you can just look out the window of a car and see the world go by and it is wonderful." We surely know. We've traveled all over this land, figuratively and literally hanging our heads out the window because of your father.
Speaking of Mr. Brown Sign and our adventures, I was reminded of the Alamo this week. We were speaking of angels and their importance in the Christmas story, and your father reminded me of this story, the first account of ghosts at the Alamo, which came only a few days after its fall. Santa Anna sent messengers to order the total destruction of the Alamo. When the Mexican troops neared the church with flaming torches, six fully formed spirits suddenly appeared before the front doors of the mission, waving blazing sabers and yelling, "Do not touch the Alamo, do not touch these walls!" The Mexicans fled in fear and would not be persuaded to return regardless of threats made by their superiors.
When Colonel Sanchez, who was tasked with leading the destruction of the mission, reported back to General Andrade, he recounted the tale but the general only scoffed, thinking the story ludicrous. However, not one of the men of the first task force would return to the Alamo. The general then gathered another group of men and returned to the Alamo, determined to burn the Long House Barracks. Again, the building was saved from destruction when a tall male spirit arose from the roof of the building. The entity, standing above the Mexican soldiers, was said to have held two flaming balls of fire in its outstretched hands. At the sight of this abnormality, the soldiers fell to their knees and covered their eyes. Fleeing once again, the Mexicans refused to return and for the next ten years, the Alamo lay in ruins.
Your grandparents made this week most enjoyable. While you were sharing your news with us early Monday morning, we had been put on a two-hour delay and then school cancellation. Thus, Cooper's middle school quiz bowl tournament was cancelled, as was Hunter and Porter's televised quiz bowl competition to determine a bid for nationals. Of course we were all very disappointed, as that was the reason your grandparents chose these days, but enjoying time together at home was wonderful. We had a Horatio Hornblower movie marathon, played lots of Rummikub, went to Cooper's band concert, rented and showed off the projector R.E.D. II (Retired, Extremely Dangerous...so fun! Your grandmother always likes a few projects to work on so we cleaned out the washroom and moved in a new bookcase.
(Pushing a box back into the washroom - with a stowaway!)
They couldn't stay long enough to see the brothers play basketball, but Larry came to their three games, very sweet. He had fun reminiscing about the time he spent in the gym, and actually saw a few classmates there now grandparents themselves. I am sharing a photo of each, but look for more next week in your email.
(Here are your brothers playing a friendly game to kick off vacation! )
I have been thinking of the role of the shepherds in the Christmas story, and how they were visited by an angel to be witnesses of the Savior's birth, and message, and "make abroad" the news of the Christ child. You too have been called as a witness of Jesus Christ, and are also to spread his message and love abroad, down in Brazil. Just as you played the role of the shepherd year after year in our Christmas pageant (with Grampy), you are now playing the role of the shepherd.