Sunday, January 4, 2015

DECEMBER 13,14, then 21-28th

The kingdom of this world
Is become the Kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords, And He shall reign forever and ever, 
George Frideric Handel

"For lo! The days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old, 
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing."
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Edmund H. Sears

How I love the music and their messages of Christmas !
The music alone  lifts me and takes me to heavenly heights but when combined with the lyrics, they move me ,inspire me, fill me with joy and cause me to reflect.
I will always treasure the opportunity I had to sing in a Messiah Singalong performance one year with our church. It changed my perspective forever of my Savior.
I had always worshiped Him . Yet I tended to think of Him more as my best friend, and my brother, Jesus the babe born in Bethlehem grown to be the Master teacher, the great Exemplar, my Redeemer who died for me and atoned for my sins. It wasn't until I sang these magnificent words from Isaiah put to the spectacular music by Handel "King of kings, and Lord of lords" that it really hit me who He truly is.  My reverence for Him deepened and His majesty and power became more real for me. The concept of worshipping Him also took on more meaning. 
I love Him.
 I am so grateful for this time of year when most of the world takes the time to honor Him and fill the earth with these beautiful songs of worship and joy.

A little back-tracking...

December 14th was our ward party.  It needed to be held on a Sunday due to scheduling problems with all who use our little building. We share it with a Haitian Ward, a Spanish Branch, and a Portuguese group.And believe, me, all those groups like to party! 
So ours was a more sedate party filled with good food that everyone brought to share and beautiful music from the quite gifted members of our ward.  Many young  couples are here attending the Boston Conservatory of Music or Berkeley and we are blessed to have several of them in our ward. Among the many seriously great performances the stand outs for me were  a solo that sounded as good as Josh Groban and young couple who gave us a very entertaining duet -he on saxaphone and she on vocal and  piano. It was a jazzy rendition of "What Child Is This" and we loved it.  The Elders, including Elder Braithwaite, sang a carol.
I didn't get to take many photos because I was busy helping.

We love to steal and hold and hug babies any chance we get!

Between the break of our church meetings and going to set up and help with the ward party, we visited Loretta again, our artist friend who is housebound with her leg.  She had asked us to try and buy some art supplies for her and we have looked high and low in several different cities even trying to find her requests but with no luck.  Finally I found an art supply dealer tucked into paint store right here in Waltham so I stocked up.  We gave her part of it for Christmas and will give her the rest later this month for her birthday. I do not bring this up to brag on what we did but because her gratitude was so touching.  She could not say thank you enough. The simpleness of the lives here and the gratitude of those who have so little is humbling.

Now we are skipping ahead to the Sunday, the 21st.
Eric Moore arrived the day before to spend Christmas with his parents and then help them with the drive home.
We were anxious to see him and as Susan and Mike were singing in their Sacrament meeting, they invited us to attend with them and then have dinner afterwards at their place.
We happily accepted.
They sang a song we had not heard before but thoroughly enjoyed,"Lullaby Baby Emmanuel", and they performed it beautifully.  A very sweet song . I will miss hearing them sing. 
Eric looked wonderful and we had a happy reunion with him. He is a handsome, talented , engaging, fun young man and we enjoyed every minute we spent with him. Again, I can't believe we didn't get a photo with him but you will see photos of him throughout this blog.

The sister Sisters at church together
(I look like a giant!)

Monday was our last Pday together. As Eric had never been to Boston, we all decided the Hop On- Hop Off Trolley would be the best option to make the most of his time here.
We caught it in Cambridge within walking distance of the Moore's apartment. We got off first at the State Capital which is across the street from Boston Commons.

We are holding Flat Perry Panther who was sent to us by our granddaughter Kailea as a school assignment. We were asked to take photos of him in different locales and send them back to her school.  They will have fun seeing all the many places he traveled.

The ice skating rink at Frog Pond in the Commons. 

The country's biggest milk bottle! In front of the Children's Museum.

Part of the Trolley tour included tickets to an hour long presentation of the Boston Tea Party re-enactment.  We enjoyed every bit of it and recommend it to anyone traveling here.
It is presented as if we were among the mob of dissenters who met at the meeting house and then came down to the wharf the night of the tea party, December 16, 1773.  The actors played their parts
with gusto. We were even given the opportunity to throw some "tea" overboard ourselves.

The video presentation at the end of the tour was extremely well done and very moving.  It reminded us of how we felt after visiting Lexington and Concord and viewing the video there. It felt like a sacred experience and we all left with a deeper love of our country and for those who founded it.

After the Tea Party we headed over to Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market Place to grab a bite to eat.
The Market Place turned out to be a humungous food court placed inside a wonderful historic building.  It was very difficult narrowing down what to eat with so many choices before us , but we opted for warm, comfort food on this rainy and cold day.

I got the Cheeseburger Mac, Susan got the Special of the Day Mac (Lobster, shrimp and scallops),
Dale had fried oysters, Mike scallops, and Eric clam chowdah.  Every customer was satisfied.

The following are interesting sites we saw as we walked through a little of Boston.

The Famous "Steaming Kettle".  It now hangs over a Starbucks but it has been steaming since 1873!

 Want that for your headstone?  Kinda spooky!

Popped into the lobby of the Omni Parker  House Hotel- one of the oldest and longest continually operating hotels in the country. Charles Dickens, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes all hung out here. Dickens first recited and performed "A Christmas Carol" here.
The famous Parker House roll was invented here, as well as perfecting the state dessert, the Boston Cream Pie.

Boston's 'Bridge of Sighs'- Ha!
(I seem to find these everywhere now-I sure loved the one real one in Venice)

Don't you just adore the creatures on this carousel?
We were literally running to catch the trolley or I would have taken many more photos.

Home of the Celtics and Bruins.  Hopefully we'll catch a game from each before we leave.

Look familiar anyone?

The lion and the unicorn were recently restored and placed back in their positions. Last time we saw this they weren't there.

A statue of Edgar Allen Poe and his Raven.  He was born in Boston. I was obsessed with him during one of my 'dark' teen years when being depressed was 'cool'. 

The U.S.S. Constitution, Boston's Tall Sailing Ship and the oldest ship in the naval fleet,
otherwise known as "Old Ironsides."
It got this nickname because it's sides are made from sturdy New England oak and when cannon balls hit it they literally just bounced off!

She is soon going to Maryland for 3 years for some dry dock repairs and restoration so we were happy to see her before she leaves.
 On the wharf near where she is docked is a lovely museum telling all about her history.
At one point she was going to be destroyed but this poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes  rallied support and she was restored and has been beloved and treasured ever since.  On the Fourth of July she sails out into the harbor  every year so she is considered an active ship.

Boston all wrapped up in a pretty Christmas ribbon!

We ended our trolley tour back at Quincy Market Place so we could see "Blink", a sound and light show with music from the Boston Pops.  Fun!

After "Blink" we took the T back to Harvard Square and had dinner at the Shake Shack. ( I can't seem to get enough of that place)

Twinners! (don't gag! We had our coats on the whole day and no one saw this except Shake shack patrons!)

Christmas Eve 

Dinner: Shrimp cocktail, Prime Rib, asparagus, mashed potatoes, tossed green salad with cranberries and pomegranate seeds.
We talked around the table of Christmases past and future. 
After dinner we watched "A Christmas Story". 

Christmas Day

Our little Christmas apartment.

This happened a few weeks earlier but was one of the highlights of our Christmas.
Marissa and Doug hosted a family party where they all made Gingerbread Housed, ate dinner, had a white elephant exchange, and did the Nativity. We were able to watch it all thanks to the gift and wonders of modern technology. We even actually got to be a part of the Nativity! If you look closely, you'll see Dale in the upper left corner.  He read the scriptural passages, I was an angel along with Ben, and we all sang the hymns together. All the California family were there except the Orellana's who were in Mexico.  It was SO wonderful to see everyone together doing the family traditions and to actually be able to participate.

We didn't have the "missionary Christmas" we were anticipating.  Before we went to NYC, we told our zone leader that we would love to have any missionaries over to our place to spend the day- if they didn't have a member, investigator or recent convert to spend it with. (those are the first priority) . The Sunday before we left  no one had a place to go and we were excited to think we would have a house full of young elders and sisters but when we got back we found out every one of them had been invited elsewhere.  Fortunately, we had family here with the Moores so our Christmas was lovely even though not what we had expected. They had 2 sister missionaries there and a new convert and investigator so it was perfect.  We had appetizers and desserts- everyone brought a few of each - it was fabulous!  So yummy!

Look at these cuties- one missionary, one convert and one investigator!

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts!

The 'young-uns' had fun playing Uno with some different rules.

Sister Jones made another one of her amazing apple pies.
I'm not a pie fan but hers are fantastic! Her mom would be so proud!

Friday, December 26th. Back to work!

Zone meeting White Elephant

 Our newest 'recruits': Elder and Sister Walsh serving with the Portuguese group.  We are so happy to have them here! They are very needed.

One of the sisters brought these for a birthday celebration. Can't get enough of these radiant faces!

 The sweetheart on the left in the yellow sweater is a 'mini missionary' as they call them here. They serve along side the regular missionaries for 2 weeks.  She is a remarkable young woman.  She is only 16 and she impressed everyone with her desire to serve through her Christmas break.  Her family went to Florida but she wanted to give this gift of service and sacrifice to her Savior.  This is the caliber of souls we are surrounded with here. Is it any wonder we love our mission?

I did a lunch with cute decorations but totally forgot to take any photos of it!
After our meeting and lunch, we visited another one of our assigned ward members.  She is from Albania but has lived here for many years.  She is married and has 2 boys.  The youngest has severe autism.  It is very hard on her as he demands to be watched over 24-7. Again , though, what amazes us is the depth of gratitude she feels for every little blessing she has. She gave a beautiful prayer and thanked the Lord over and over for us! Our little visit meant so much to her. Such humility and grace. 
We love and admire her.  She is a blessing to us.

Saturday, December 27th

We love the pretty drive to Cambridge to Susan and Mike's. We go down Memorial Drive with lovely views of the Boston skyline and the Charles River.
This was very melancholy for us as it was our last time to drive to their place. 

We met at their apartment then hopped on the T to the Boston Pops to see Home Alone on a big screen while they played the entire soundtrack live!

Eric was with us - he took the photo so was not in it.  :(
It was a dazzling night- we all loved it!
It was lots of fun seeing Home Alone, one of our all time very favorite movies, with a crowd of people again.  I especially delighted in the laughter coming from the little girl behind me. :)

We walked through festive lit tree-lined paths to the Prudential Building for a special dinner at the Top of the Hub, the restaurant with panoramic views of the city from 62 floors up.
It was a farewell- to -Boston dinner for the Moores and an early birthday celebration for me.
 It is nostalgic for me.
My dad took me here for dinner when I was a teenager.  He wanted to make me feel special.  He felt sorry for me because I never went on any dates. Poor me! But lucky me to have such a sweet and caring father.  

Sunday the Moores attended our ward with us and it was so nice to introduce them to all our special people.  We had been to their ward several times but this was their first visit to ours. As previously stated, we have a lot of students in our ward and many of them went home for the holidays.  The Moores were one of the first people to arrive (we were doing our usual pick up of members without cars) so Eric started playing some prelude music on the organ. As our regular organist was one of the ones away, our bishop asked him if he'd play for sacrament meeting. Eric is just learning and taking classes at BYU so he passed this opportunity onto his dad.  So even on their last day in the mission, the Moore's talents were put to good use and they served faithfully right up until the end!

After church they went home to finish packing.  We took several people home and then came home ourselves to prepare the dinner for our last night together in the mission field.  The Moores served a most valiant mission.  We are so proud of all they accomplished in such a short amount of time. They pretty much did it all.  The new standard of a good mission is if you can say you left the ward better than you found it.  Their ward will answer a resounding YES! for them. They served in every and any way , asked or seeing needs and volunteering. They taught church classes, marriage classes, did counseling together, sang in the choir, sang duets,played the organ, helped with parties, participated in ward activities, cleaned houses, sought out the lost and lonely, visited the sick and afflicted, taught with the young missionaries, even baptized someone! And they worked in the temple and served any way our Mission President asked. Well done, you good and faithful servants. Well done.
We love you and will miss you!

A passage from our Teachings of the Prophets lesson from a few weeks ago really summed up my feelings so well that I would like to quote it:

We rejoice in the birth of the Son of God among men.
We are grateful for the atoning sacrifice He worked out by the shedding of His own blood.
We are thankful that He has redeemed us from death and opened the door so that we may gain eternal life.
We pray for peace on earth, for the spread of the gospel, and for the final triumph of truth.
We plead with our Father's children everywhere to join with us in doing those things which will give us all peace in this world and eternal glory in the world to come.
Joseph Fielding Smith

We hope you all had the merriest and brightest of Christmases.
We love you!


  1. Home Alone with a live soundtrack!? How fun. You're dad is the cutest- the boys you grew up with would kick themselves now for sure. Love you guys.

  2. You guys always know how to make the best of whatever it is you are doing. I am dying with all the food pictures. You are living my dream everyday. I think I would be more excited about the food even more so than all the great history. Save the Celtics game for when we come and visit!

  3. this was a packed post, i am already forgetting everything i wanted to comment on! but looks like you had a blast with eric and a wonderful last few days with mike and susan. your twinner outfit cracked me up! so you love the shake shack? better than any cali burger place?

    loved that story about papa taking you to dinner as a teenager. what a sweet father!

    glad you had a merry christmas! xoxo