In the Christmas spirit…

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Nativity scene on the grounds of London Temple; 400 people attended the “switch-on” of the holiday lights. It was cold but clear and wonderful. The Britannia YSA choir sang carols.

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Hahn/Cock is a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch. It was unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square on 25 July 2013. The fibreglass work stands 15.5 ft high and will stay on display for 18 months. We went into London to see the play Phantom of the Opera in the original theatre where it began — Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was amazing, and very well done in a very small stage.

We had a wonderful Zone Conference with visiting authorities Elder Texeira and Elder Herbertson and their wives. At one point Elder Texeira wanted to make an analogy about cowboys of the western US, and he asked how many in the audience were from the western half of the US. Over 3/4ths of the audience raised their hands! I think all with raised hands were surprised that there were so many. Our district has one elder from Wales and a sister from England, and the other 4 are from the US.

While reading a new book from Sheri Dew, “Women and the Priesthood”, we were pleased to find a description of our own Sister Sahar Qumsiyeh, who works in the mission office. She is from Palestine and is the only missionary that has come from that country. She gave a fireside a few months ago and shared her story. She went through so much in her life and then found the gospel when she received a scholarship to BYU. She returned home and became the Relief Society President in Jerusalem. It was hard to visit all the sisters with the wall separating the areas, so she found a job with the United Nations that gave her a pass through the wall. (She also has a PhD in Statistics!)

Our weather is colder but seems to be warmer than yours! We average upper 30s lower 40s and about half the time it is sunny. The biggest change is the sun, which rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest, never getting very high in the sky. It also sets before 4:00! That makes it really hard on the missionaries when it is dark so early. However, we are working with two families of six, and various other investigators. Last night we had a wonderful, well-attended, Christmas fireside. Elder Young sang We Three Kings with two other men; both of us sang O Little Town of Bethlehem with the young elders and sisters, and we had a wonderful time. The decorations were exquisite, including a full professional backdrop of 10-foot high black wool with pulsing star lights. It really helped set the Christmas spirit, and was a wonderful sharing event for friends and family. We met many new people. We miss our family and friends back home, but know this is where we need to be right now. We have completed 5/23 of our mission (how’s that for an awkward fraction?) and are fairing the winter well. Merry Christmas to all!

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