Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye Again

Welcome to our home!  We're excited to host the Farewell Breakfast for four lovely, seasoned missionaries who will be going home at the beginning of next week.

The early birds, (Sisters Lewis, Snodgress, and Miller) are first to offer their help in final breakfast preparations.

Sisters Burton and Gordon have enjoyed being companions during Sister Burton's final transfer.

Sister Cottrell is an expert trainer for Sister Valladares.  They are doing such a great job!

Everyone come and get it!  Sister Mackenzie leads the way, with Sisters Avila and Aranda coming up behind.  We had a breakfast casserole with fruit, orange rolls, and juice.  The sisters seemed to enjoy the food, and I enjoyed having them in our home.

Sister Holladay gets a roll while Sister Avila helps herself to some casserole.  We've got 28 in our VC group this transfer - our largest number yet.  In order to have that many sisters, we're borrowing five full field sisters to work with the VC sisters. 

A quick pic of the sisters as they finish their breakfast.

Table 2 -  Everyone looks happy and wide awake for 7:00 am!

Table 3 - Yes, you're beautiful also.

Table 4- Elder and Sister Jenkins are keeping Sisters Aranda and Schwartz in line. 

Sister Kranendonk shares memories of serving with Sister Anderson.

Sister Burton tells us some of the things she learned from Sister Parker.

Sister Dashjav shares fond memories and experiences while serving with Sister Burton.

Sister Schwartz shared a very touching tribute to Sister Falcon.  She paid me NOT to show her crying on the blog - she said that's not her usual demeanor.  She's usually all smiles.

 Following breakfast, and hearing the beautiful testimonies of our departing sisters, we adjourned to the Christus for a final group picture .  What a beautiful group of young missionaries !! (That's including the couple in the middle, of course.)  Our four departing sisters are sitting in the front:  Sister Falcon, Sister Anderson, Sister Burton, and Sister Parker.

The next thing on the agenda was the traditional singing of 'God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again."

Many smaller group shots were taken of former companions and special friends.  All of these sisters develop a bond of love that will last a lifetime.

Sister Anderson was our Administrative Assistant during the past six months.  She was so efficient and dependable,  I don't know how I will get along without her when she goes home.

Lovely Sister Parker was our hospitality chairman for the past two transfers.  She made everyone feel loved and welcomed, whether it was on birthdays or when they arrived new in the mission.

The talented Sister Burton was in charge of the music for the English firesides once a month.  She used her amazing talent at the piano and singing in the choir to really bring music to the firesides that enhanced the spirit of the meeting.  We'll miss all of her other special gifts as well.

Sister Falcon has been a VC trainer since we arrived in January.  With the able leadership of Sister Falcon, we have watched the Visitors' Center run smoothly even while the new "greenie" Beckstrands were learning their duties and responsibilities.  We'll MISS her.

Thank goodness there is always the blessing of new sisters to help assuage the sting of losing the departing ones.  This new arrival is Sister DeMille who hails from Cedar City, Utah.

Sister Demille (actually Hermana, since she will be a Spanish-speaking sister) will be trained by Sister Slater.  Lucky girl!

Our other new arrival is Sister Brownell from Beaverton, Oregon.  We've already discovered that she has a lovely singing voice and is delighted that she can be part of our VC choir.  What an asset!

Sister Javed will be the trainer for Sister DeMille.  Sister Javed loves to coordinate her clothing with her companion.  Already we see them here in colorful skirts with black tops.  They look good together!

Meanwhile, outside the Visitors' Center things are really moving forward in preparation for Christmas Lights.  Jon Jackson is putting garland on the front of the VC with the help of the motorized lift that gets him up to his work.

"Is this where the bow goes?"

Ah, yes - that looks BEAUTIFUL!

All around the grounds the lights are starting to look amazing.

I enjoy watching each new area being prepared for the lighting event.  Many, many volunteer hours go into preparing the grounds for this annual event.

In front of the Visitors' Center, these men are preparing the stage for the concerts that will begin at 7:00 pm each evening.
Next they put the canopy over the stage floor to keep off the rain in the event of inclement weather.  The risers and piano will be added closer to the opening night's concert.

Out in the bowl we see Wise Men and camels beginning their long trek to find the Christ Child.

Josh Jackson and his friend Katie spend their Friday night date putting up a 12 foot Christmas tree in the Visitors' Center.  This project took them about two hours of concentrated effort.
Their hard work certainly paid off.  When it has been decorated in a couple of days it will be magnificent!  So many people donate so much time and effort to make this event a success.  That's what the Spirit of Christmas is all about.  Next week I will share the beautiful exhibit that has been set up just across the hall from Katie in Theater 1 - over 100  nativities from all over the world! It is totally amazing!

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