Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thanksgiving and Christmas Lights 2012

Preparations have been moving forward to begin Christmas Lights on Thanksgiving Day.  It is amazing how many people have been involved in helping this project be ready for opening night.

New LED lights give vivid color to the grounds.

This is the first year that purple lights have been added.

A scene depicting Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem is positioned on the grass to the west of the Visitors' Center.

The Visitors' Center is decked out to receive the thousands of guests who will come to enjoy the lights.   We will have host couples on the grounds inviting people to come into the center to see the nativity exhibit,  hear the Christus presentation, learn about God's Plan for His Family, and see the story told in Luke II of the birth of the Savior.

Wonderful volunteers decorated the gigantic Christmas Tree in the foyer at the front of the Visitors' Center.  The small pictures are of different scenes during the construction of the Mesa Temple.
It is charming to see bouquets of lighted flowers standing all over the grounds.
To the east of the Visitors' Center there is a life-sized nativity exhibit.  The baby Jesus is placed in the cradle every night at 5:00 pm and left there until the lights turn off at 10:00 pm.  Then he is safely locked inside the annex building to avoid tempting anyone to take him home with them.
Above the stable a beautiful star marks the birthplace of the Savior of the World.  This particular star was re-strung with LED lights during the summer.  It is amazing to know that there are 10,000 lights in this one star alone!

On the grass north of the VC, three wise men, accompanied by their camels, make their way to the stable to visit the infant Jesus.

People coming to the temple grounds pass through these columns into a 'fairy land' of lights.  What a beautiful sight for young and old alike.

Bake at home, three pumpkin pies are in the oven getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner on the morrow.

The arrival of our families from Utah make the holiday especially enjoyable.  This little cherub is 10 month old Quinn.  She's not sure who that funny lady is who is taking the picture.  She was only a week old when we came to Mesa.

Our twin granddaughters Annika and Mia are not so shy.  They are excited to be out of their car and safely at grandma's - it was a l-o-n-g trip.
Our granddaughters are busily making place cards for all the guests who are expected for Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon.  Anna amd Mylee make the cards and the twins carefully place the stickers on the corners and find a place for them on the tables.

Brooks has been exploring the temple grounds.  He came home with this GIGANTIC yellow fruit - grapefruit?  lemon?  we're not sure which. 

These lovely sisters lounge on the sofa following a large Thanksgiving feast.  They helped clean up the dishes and then crashed!  We were delighted to have 11 of the sister missionaries join our family for dinner.  Here we see Sisters Aquino, Hamstead, Lewis, and Shurtz.  Sisters Christensen, Schwartz, Fors, Watkins, and Hollady, Avila, and Mackenzie have already left.
 After the sun set we took some of our family to see the lights.  The man next to Elder Beckstrand is our son Jeff.  Our daughter Traci and her husband Joel are on the right.  The children are loving the beautiful warm weather here, even in November.  Back in Utah there is snow on the ground.

Our son Dwight, his wife Melanie, and three of their five children stop for a quick photo.

The moment of discovery has come.  The only way we can convince ourselves that this is really a huge lemon is to cut it open.  Ready, set.....

GO!  Yup!  It's a lemon.  It looks like a lemon, it tastes like a lemon, I wonder how they got it to grow to such a monster size.

 Sunday morning arrives and Dwight's family have packed up their car for their return trip to Utah.  I took Traci's family to the airport to return to their home in Draper, Utah yesterday. It will be sad to see them leave us, but what a fun holiday we have enjoyed.

      Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy our beautiful family and feel their love and support as we serve here in Mesa.   We are so thankful for all of our children and grandchildren.   The opening of the Christmas Lights event this weekend has already brought thousands of people to the temple grounds.  We're so very thankful to be working at the Visitors' Center and to be able to share the gospel with all who come here.  What a CHOICE assignment.  We feel truly blessed.