Friday, January 8, 2016

More Christmas Family Fun!

     We're thankful for pictures that help us to share the fun of Christmas with our family.

A glimpse into some of the Christmas season fun.
Family Christmas Party

     On the morning of December 20 (their evening of the 19) we were able to join our family Christmas party. Our connection wasn't the best but it was wonderful to see all of the family together enjoying each other. We visited one on one with some of the family; were able to hear the grandkids sing to us; saw baby Colby in the same Christmas outfit his dad, Collin, wore on his first Christmas; and got to see them unwrap a couple of gifts. We sent each family a wood, hand carved Liahona. One of the Branch Presidents in our mission is a skilled woodcarver.

Family Christmas Party Fun as seen from the Philippines!

We didn't get to watch them act out the nativity but we know it was extra special--
just look at this beautiful group of grandchildren in their costumes. They're amazing!

This is a wonderful family photo!!!!!
There's only one problem, our cute daughter-in-law took it so she's not in the photo.
She's a great photographer so maybe she can photo shop herself in it.
Our family has grown a lot in 40 years--it even grew by 3 in 2015!

Visit with Dad and Mom

A couple of days before Christmas we were able to Face Time
with Dad and Mom and Craig.
Dad hasn't been feeling very well so it was great to visit with them.
 I love the photo of Bart and his dad, both smiling,
and how the picture makes it look like they're together--very sweet!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas Visit

     This year we had the wonderful gift of having Candace, Mike, and their 7 beautiful children join us for Christmas!!! It was so much fun and truly brought the magic of Christmas into our hearts and the mission home. They arrived about 12:30 a.m. Christmas Eve--exhausted from a very long day of 3 airplane rides and a 2 hour ride from Manila. It was wonderful to see them and get to give them actual hugs. We stayed up for a couple of hours visiting and enjoying the time together before the last of us finally went to bed.
     On Christmas Eve we relaxed, played games, put together some goody bags for neighborhood children, some had naps, and we took a ride to San Pablo and rode around the lake. The ride gave them a glimpse into the fun of travel here in the mission. By evening everyone was already tired so we had a little program and grandpa read the nativity. We opened the gifts of pajamas and put out stockings. It was so much fun. The kids went to bed and the adults stayed up and visited for a while.
     Early Christmas morning the grandkids were awake and played games in the back bedroom while they waited for 7:00 a.m. when Candace told them they could go downstairs. I told them they could wake grandpa up at 6:30 and we could go downstairs. So they climbed on the bed by grandpa Bart and sang "We wish you a Merry Christmas . . . we won't go until you get up." It was so fun and reminded me of years ago when Candace and her siblings were young. Candace then lined the children up and they headed downstairs where everyone looked at the treasures in their stockings. Most of them got kendamas, including Gabe who got a mini one (it was so cute to watch him play with it and hear him say "kendama" in his cute voice). They loved playing with them and their other gifts. We then ate breakfast before opening the gifts under the tree. It was a wonderful morning and we loved the time together. We played Scrabble and other games and had another relaxing day. During the afternoon we took the goody bags (with chocolate peso coins and a few real pesos) and went to the neighborhood behind us wishing people a Merry Christmas and giving the bags to the children. At first the grandkids were hesitant but soon they were asking to be the one to hand out the candy. We visited with some of the neighbors and the Larsons were able to see some of the humble homes of the sweet people. The assistants and office elders joined us so we saw them as they shared the gospel with some of the people. That evening the assistants, office elders, and three of the senior couples joined the family for dinner and a program. We had a delicious Christmas dinner and a wonderful program with piano numbers, songs, and a sweet nativity acted out by the children. Calder wrote an original composition "There's No Place Like the Philippines for Christmas" all about coming to see us. It was too cute! Truman showed his skills at doing push ups and the elders sang some Filipino Christmas songs. Once again, the kids started falling asleep early so the family photo has two of them asleep--it's a priceless memory.

  Of course, some of our Christmas fun was being able to join the other children and grandchildren 
on Skype and Face Time to share in their Christmas fun. We are so thankful we could visit them all!

It was so fun to visit with everyone. We got to watch some of them open presents
 and even got to watch the fun of Kaleb and Kat's kids coming into see what Santa brought.
We love our family and loved our Christmas visits with them!!!

     After the Christmas celebrations were over we continued to have a great time with the Larsons being together and sharing a little of the Philippines beauty and culture with them. We also got in a little mission experience by attending a baptism, meeting missionaries, and Zachary and Calder were able to teach with the Assistants for a couple of hours. We're so thankful that the Larsons were willing to have their own Amazing Race across the world to spend Christmas with us. We had a wonderful time with them and shared tearful goodbyes when the week was over.