What a difference a year makes! Here we are in Bolivia - 80 degree weather (in the daytime), no snow in sight, no kids to wake us up at 6:00 am, no real tree (we do have a small, make-believe one we found in a closet down the hall - it's festive enough, I suppose), and the family is all 4500 to 5000 miles away.
But, it's still Christmas, and working here at the temple added a wonderful dimension to it.
The temple was open on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was pretty slow. But, just to show the dedication of the members here, a couple from Tarija (18 hours away by bus) came with their children to receive their own endowments and be sealed as a family. I was blessed to be able to help them, and it was obvious that they were very well prepared, and eager to have these sacred ordinances done for them and their family. They were really cute together.
On Thursday, we had lunch with the missionaries, and spent a quiet Christmas Eve together, just Molly and I. She has really worked hard to keep the family involved through the distance with her idea of an Advent Chain with memories from everyone in the family. We hung each memory over a picture on the wall in the "dining room" in the shape of a Christmas Tree (more or less):
It was fun to be reminded of what everyone thought was memorable from Christmas in the past. It was sweet that so many of those memories were so closely tied to simple family interactions.
So, on Christmas morning, to continue one of the traditions - the 6:00 am "wake Dad up to go turn on the Christmas tree so we could open presents" part - I texted all the kids at 6:00 am asking them why they hadn't come and jumped in bed with Dad and Mom this year? Yes, I realize that they would have received it at 3:00 or 4:00 am, and interestingly enough, one of them responded immediately. Becky was still up wrapping presents! Quite fun.
We got a very nice, well-crafted video from Seth and his family. It was about an hour long, and highlighted each family member. They told us stories, sang songs, showed clips from their school program, and just made our day that much better. They seem to be enjoying living in Wisconsin.
We talked to all of the other kids as well. They seem to be doing well, supporting each other, helping in every way they can to be a wonderful support to us and to each other. It was a very enjoyable Christmas day for us.
So, we found that we can still enjoy Christmas, and family, from so far away. And, with the added dimension of the temple, of the work done there to unite families, and provide the blessings of the gospel to ancestors long since passed away, it just makes it that much sweeter. The focus of every day at the temple is on Jesus Christ and The Father, and the magnificent plan of happiness that encompasses Jesus' birth and life. We're grateful to be here.
|Cochabamba Temple - Dec 26, 2015|