This time of year has led me to reflect on the significance of the Christmas Star that led the Wisemen to find the promised Messiah. The star led them on their journey to find the savior of all mankind and they brought him gifts that were suitable for a king. Although born in humble circumstances they recognized his greatness. I realized that in this day and age that if such a thing occurred it would have been difficult to start on such a journey to follow a "star" that would lead to the birthplace of a reputed king. The public ridicule would be intense. Would I have had the faith to follow the signs? And yet we all have the benefit of a Christmas Star in our lives through the holy scriptures and the words of the prophets, and even more importantly the influences of the spirit in our lives. The admonition to "follow that star" still rings true if we can recognize that it has never vanished from the heavens as long as we hold it in our heart.
On December 14 two anniversaries were celebrated. First, it has been 44 years since I entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) to begin my mission to the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. It has been so long ago that it seems it was in another lifetime. Second, it has now been 10 months since we started this mission to the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. That doesn’t seem possible either, yet here are almost one year into our 23-month mission. On December 19th we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. That also doesn’t seem possible. Here we are eight children and eighteen grandchildren later.
We’ve grown to love the members of our Spanish group in the Lowell First Ward. One of those families we have been able to get to know is the Nerio family. Their daughter Elisabeth turned eight earlier this month and asked me to baptize and confirm her on December 21st. This I gladly did. She is a cute little girl with a big smile, and I couldn’t very well say no to her. It was a sweet experience since it has been many years since I’ve baptized anyone in Spanish.
On Christmas Day and we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas program in the Lowell First Ward. The Portuguese Branch and Young Single Adult Ward joined with our ward with the English, Spanish and Khmer groups for a memorable sacrament meeting. Readings of the scriptures of the Christmas story were done in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer (Cambodian) accompanied by beautiful performed musical numbers. It was a meeting to honor the Lord’s birth that perfectly framed the diversity of the Lowell congregations. We were invited to enjoy a Christmas dinner with Paul and Reta Brown and had a great time with their family. We’ve had a wonderful Christmas season that started with delivering Christmas gifts two days ago to some members of the congregation as a token of love from the ward family. We were invited on Christmas Eve to celebrate Noche Buena with members of the Spanish group. It was a fun night of visiting and games and food from Columbia, and Guatemala. Very tasty cooking and even better company.
We enjoyed a Christmas Zone Conference in December The missionaries continue to amaze us with their dedication and knowledge. They got to enjoy some Christmas spirit and festivity which helps to make their separation from family more bearable. Here is the latest zone picture:
And here is our district after our white elephant gift exchange on December 26, 2022:
Another senior missionary couple joined us in December. Elder and Sister Dixon have been assigned to the Lowell 1st Ward to work with the Cambodian Group. They don't speak Khmer but will work with those that do. We are glad to have another set of hands in the ward. We also had the opportunity to take the Phommaa Family to see the temple grounds at the Boston Temple. Shawn and his wife Dasani and their daughter Anna were baptized on December 30th and are the newest members of the Lowell 1st Ward. Here they are at the temple:
Another sweet experience occurred in December when Todd Baker, a member of the Temple Preparation Class we teach, was able to attend the Boston Temple and make sacred covenants in the company of friends from the ward. Here is a picture of us on that day.
We hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas season will enjoy a very happy New Year!