We have just come through the season of remembering and reflecting. First it was the Thanksgiving remembrances, you know, the remember to get this and that from the store, remembering this or that detail of the recipes, remembering which side of the plate the fork(s) go on, remembering, where we put this or that once or twice a year chafing dish or crystal bowl, or turkey carving platter and knife and fork set. And, heavens forbid do not forget to get the turkey out of the freezer, or out of the oven for that matter. And the ice cream, we don’t want to forget to get the ice cream out of the freezer in time, but not too much time to thaw. We do so hate to try to scoop un-scoopable ice cream. Oh yes, the pies, don’t forget the pies, or was it plum pudding that we have as a tradition for Thanksgiving? I forget. Oh yes, it’s the pies. The pudding is for Christmas. “Honey! Honey! Did you remember to mail the Christmas cards?” Let’s see, what else was I supposed to remember...what was it…? Oh yes, the Pilgrims, or was it Columbus and the Indians, they fit in there somehow. It is just getting so hard to remember all the “stuff” of Thanksgiving. Thank goodness all that thanks-giving is behind us. Now maybe we can remember to give all the thanks we likely forgot or skimmed over in all the remembering of the stuff.
If that isn’t hard enough, then comes Christmas with all the stuff and “to-dos” remembering that go with it so busy holiday. It seems lately that we have to be reminded about all the “stuff” of Christmas even before we get to Thanksgiving. Even some of our Christmas Carols remind us not to forget, “You better watch out…”
The list of things to remember is just to long and laborious to remember. It can tire a person plum out just to trying to remember, especially now that we are trying to forget all the mess that is created from all the remember to get this out and that out and to use this and that and to buy this and that and to give this and that but not this or that and…. Oh yes, we are supposed to remember the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the tree, the toys, the food, the lights, the shepherds, the star, the wisemen, the sheep, and the donkeys and camels, the manger. And yes, don’t forget the baby. Be sure to get the nativity set placed just so. Traditon, you know.
Whooeee! Now that the relatives are gone and the dishes are done, they are done aren’t they? … “Sweetheart, how are you coming with the dishes? The garbage? I know, I know. I’ll get to it in a little bit. I promise I will not “forget.”
Then comes the time to really remember, New Years. We try to remember, was it ham or roast beef last year? Is the fact that we had ham so many times makes it a tradition? Does tradition trump the tastebuds or the sales price of the New Year’s day dinner. Did we remember everything for the New Year’s Eve party? Did we really stay up ‘til midnight last year. Wait a minute, midnight comes, what is it? 8 or 9 hours sooner here in Africa. I wonder if we could celebrate the turning of the new year based on Japan time?
Now don’t forget, this is the holiday to remember the past so we can set goals for the future. You know, diets, being on time and all those other things we remember that we set goals on last year that somehow got forgotten soon after or along the way somewhere.
So I am committed to remember not to forget the important things in 2014...things like birthdays, and where I put the keys and whose turn it is to give to which family and so many other things that I tend to forget until I am reminded to remember, usually too late. All this remembering seems to just make me forget. So this year I am starting the year committed to remember only the important “stuff” so I need to start now to separate the important from the not-so-important stuff.
Now that we have held the Christmas party for the Missionaries, sent a little something to the kids and grandkids, created and conducted the Stake Christmas Music program, recovered from the S & I Graduation, cleaned up from the visit and dinner with 10 Elders and Sisters for Christmas day dinner, and now finally, after having finished the preparations, materials, training, and luncheon for fifty and having conducted the Seminary and Institute Pre-School Training Conference, I think we are done with all of that stuff - for now. And now, before we start into the regular stuff of Class visits and report chasing and Internet cussing, now I think we will sit down look at each other, reflect on all the stuff and remember. Remember what? That it is all part of it. It is all the stuff that adds to, makes possible and creates the traditions that carry the importance of the stuff that sets the stage for the reason we are remembering.
Now we will remember the pilgrims and why they came and how they were led and how their tradition set the stage for our traditions and freedom and worship. We will remember that next year we’ll set the baby Jesus in the Nativity scene first and then surround HIm with all the other stuff. We will remember that the gifts, small and late as they may be, are none-the-less gifts of love and remembrance to celebrate that love and the people whose love and gifts are reflections and statements of enduring remembrance of who is important in ours and their lives.
Now we will reflect and realize and remember what went well, what could be better next time and what order and priority we need to give to turkey, trees, father time and to each other. Now we will just pause, breath and feel. We will feel grateful, thankful and appreciative of all that the “stuff” helps us to celebrate. And, we will remember that it’s all okay - because we do remember, sometimes a little after the fact, but we do... We remember...you.
And that remembrance makes us happy, makes us smile, makes us feel secure and that it is all worth it - all of it. We will remember that much of the stuff is the stuff of serving others - serving them good meals, good times, good things and good memories so they too can remember.
So in case you or I forget, just remind me, as Bryndi so thoughtfully did, that it is all worth it and that it is the peace and satisfaction that comes from the fact that we did it - gratefully, with service intent and that we did not do it alone - nor without direction, inspiration and a sense of worth. Thanks Bryndi. You are right. It is all worth it. So now that I have a minute to reflect, ponder and give meaningful thanks for our heritage, the birth of the Savior, His life and gifts, the prospects of a new year filled with more service, even if it is stuff, I will remember.
Thanksgiving was here and gone, but we did remember the day and the season of gratefulness and just how much we love and enjoy the freedoms we have and the investments in that freedom that have come from so many who followed their hearts and desires to serve God and country. We were drawn close to our family, though a world away, yet we knew that they were together on that day and all days in the hearts of each other. We give thanks for family.
The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas were a blur with so much cooking for Mission Christmas gathering, Missionary Christmas Dinner and celebration program in our home and with calls to home to be there in spirit and voice and video. Another thing to be so grateful for. We enjoyed the demure focus on buying gifts and Santa Claus that are not so much celebrated here in Botswana. Christmas here at its best is a time (their summer break and vacation from school and work) to go back to their ancestral villages and property to gather with relatives and to work the land, if the weather permits. Remember Christmas here is 90-100+ degrees.
At its worst, Christmas tends to be a time of huge alcohol and illicit relations. Even in the church there is a challenge to avoid the “traditions of the fathers” regarding that aspect of the season. But our reflections were sweet and Bryndi’s gift most appreciated.
New Year’s Day even brought the Mission President and Sister Wilson and the Gublers to dinner and a short round of Scripture Mastery cards. We were done and tucked in bed at least 10-12 hours ahead of the Big Apple celebration.
The first day of 2014 brought the start of a very busy ten days finishing up the preparations for the Seminary and Institute Pre-School Conference. There was so much to get ready, binders to put together, curriculum and assignment notebooks and a lesson plan to cover what should have taken a week.
We had 90% of the teachers attend the meeting. The Stake President spoke briefly and then was called away to a tragic death of a member in a car accident. We went through the Teachers Binders that covered the nature of the call (Seminary and Institute Teachers being a Stake calling). We covered the duties of the call, enrollment of students and making that a key element of the call, teaching and reporting the attendance scripture reading and assignment completion. Here most classes are Home-Study, rather than Daily Seminary classes. We had a significant number of new teachers, especially Institute teachers, to train. The Book of Mormon curriculum is fantastic and all the teaching aids and resources make guiding the students through the scriptures and inviting the spirit to do the teaching pretty simple.
We focused on the Gospel Teaching and Learning handbook for teachers. It is an incredible compilation of principles, processes and enrichment tools I feel the spirit so very strongly each time a open and read the book. We are very GRATEFUL for those who compiled this great tool.
We used Dave MacFadden’s caramel popcorn recipe to prepare a break treat for the group. Only we had found some strawberry flavored (and colored) powdered sugar (icing sugar here) and while the caramel corn was still hot we dusted it and stirred it to make the kernels of corn stay single. It was my attempt to make “Mother Goose Korn,” a childhood favorite of mine. Result?
At the end of the day Saturday we were tired, relieved and had cleaned up the mess, the flat. The bacci (the brand new little Nissan crewcab pick-up, there are three in service in the mission where the cars just can’t handle the desert village roads) had been loaded to the brim with supplies, as was our little car. They too were empty and we had another few minutes to sit and reflect and ponder.
We have noticed that there is always sort of a “postpartum” let down after every very intense, busy project. Sure enough, no sooner did we lay down the dish towels from the last cleaning of the luncheon and accoutrements (almost every pot, pan, utensil and bowl in the flat) and before the soft couch could on our weariness from the day, that feeling of an empty “next!” came flooding on us. But, it was short lived.
The next would be church in Molepolole the next morning and dinner for the zone leaders in the evening. Then Monday, the big question of residency from the government for us and about 20 of our associates, including the Mission President….
So, it’s Onward and Upward with more stuff to look forward to, then to reflect upon and to be grateful for. More stuff on which to consult the Master for His directions, will and inspiration.
And now that I have remembered where we have been and lifted my eyes to see the trail and work before us for this week ahead when, if we get an extension to our passport days here, we will fly to Namibia to work with the teachers and Unit leaders there….
Sister Cloward will fill in the details of how all the stuff got done and how she remembers and reflects upon the whirlwind of the holidays and the challenges that lay before us.
As I am reading over Elder Cloward’s rendition of the last month, my mind is caught up in the fact that we DID receive a 7 day extension on our visa yesterday (HOORAY) and are heading out the door to fly to Namibia in 10 min….hmmmm….that doesn’t leave me very much time to add much to an already long blog. HOWEVER, Elder C forgot to mention that when we spent all night cooking up a meal for the S&I teachers Preschool, the HOT caramel that was poured over the popcorn (and yes, it took over an hour for me to pop all that corn) had to be “stirred” into the popcorn and peanuts and TINY pink mints quickly before it solidified into one HUGE popcorn monster. As we were using our wooden spoons and hands (no gloves...mistake!) the hot caramel burned Elder C’s thumb and my right hand (I had 11 blisters form immediately...they oozed out at our training and today, Tues, they are now in the scab phase). I have NEVER seen blisters form so quickly! They popped right up and were clear and white. WIERD. But I am blessed to have my hand look pretty normal today.
I would love to add my two bits but that will have to wait, the plane is calling me via my dear companion.
And we were so grateful to receive 2 pkgs from Bryndi the night before Christmas. Nykelle & Krysti’s package arrived 3 weeks later and we once again celebrated in calls and gratefulness for the thoughtfulness and rememberances of our all our loved ones.
Now I’ve really gotta go….Namibia, here we come!
[*Note from Bryndi here: Kiss and Nyk, I spoke to mom and dad right after they received your packages. They were soooo thrilled for your thoughtfulness! Hence the pictures they took! And Rach! I noticed your handwritting on the back of mom's box! You crack me up girl!! Awesome! :)
Doug and Judy are actually hours away from leaving their mission and headed to a different Mission in S. Africa. Their visa's (along with 13 other Missionaries in Botswana) didn't come through so they will join a different mission for a few weeks/months ??? until they hopefully can come back to Botswana! But the work of God will go forth!! No visas going to throw off His work?! Not a chance! ONWARD AND UPWARD MOM AND DAD! We are proud of you!! Doug will let us know more and we will post where they will be stationed when we find out.]