Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas phone call

Alright, the last couple of weeks have been real crazy and I'm not just talking about Alex.  In this blog entry I am going break from the usual and talk a little bit about Alex's family for a minute.  Once you read the whole story, you will understand how a lot of what has been happening with his family, all ties into where Alex is current serving his mission.

So here we go.  Alex has an older brother who just recently turned in his mission papers.  Under normal circumstances, we would have expected a mission call about 2-3 weeks after he turned in his papers.  Well things didn't quite go normally.  Instead of just the normal envelope from the church, we received a called from our Stake President who informed us that the missionary department would like to know if Alex's brother would be ready to leave in 3 weeks.  That's right, it's not a typo.  They said 3 weeks, not 3 months! Our Stake President said that he couldn't tell us where Alex's brother was going at that time, but it was somewhere very important and of special significance.  Thinking that we would have to wait another week for the envelope from the Church to arrive, we were surprised when it came the next day.  When Alex's brother opened the letter we were all surprised to find out that he was being called to the Rochester, New York mission.  That's right, the same mission where Palmyra, Fayette and many other very significant Church historical sites are located.  With Alex now serving in the Independence Missouri mission and his brother soon to be serving in the Rochester, New York mission, we are going to have the greatest Church historical sites tour ever in about 2 years from now!!   As you can imagine, trying to get a missionary out the door in 3 weeks has been crazy.  I won't go into all of the details about Alex's brother's call here.  I will save that for when I start his brother's blog in a few weeks.  But needless to say, Alex is very excited, we are very excited and Alex's brother is extremely excited.

Back to what's up with Alex.  Well this month has been pretty busy for Alex as well.  I have already mentioned previously that Alex was expecting to perform several more baptisms this month and as of the last couple of weeks, those baptisms have happened.  Alex wrote to tell us all about the most recent members of the church and their baptisms.  He said that the baptismal services went very well and that the spirit was very strong.  The only hitch that they ran into was that while they were filling up the baptismal font, they ran out of hot water and by the time they figured it out, the font was a bit chilly.  Alex told us that during the baptismal service he and several other missionaries sang the song "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" from the children's hymn book.  Alex told us that with only two verses, the song was a little short so he spent some time during the previous week writing a third verse.  He didn't tell us what he came up with for the words to this new verse, but he said that it all went very well.  I'm not sure that adding to even a children's song is Church approved, but hey, if you are so inspired, why not. Alex is very excited to see these new members of the Church learning and growing along side of the other members of the Ward.  Alex even talked about how one of these new members has already been interviewed to received the priesthood.

Speaking of musical numbers, in the last blog entry I told you that Alex and his companion had been asked to perform a musical number during Sacrament meeting, the following week.  Well, the duet actually did turn into a quartet.  Alex and his companion recruited a couple of other members of the Ward to help them out.  They all  sang "Guard Him Joseph" and according to Alex, it went pretty well.  He said that the others who sang with him had pretty good pitch and that he was able to blend in ok.  In Alex's words, "I didn’t think we sounded too horrible".  I'm sure it was great, but I am still waiting to hear a real opinion from somebody who was actually there. ;-)

Since this last week was Christmas, we got the rare opportunity to have Alex call home and tell us himself all about what he has been doing.  As always, it was great to hear Alex's voice and to catch up on some of the details about his mission.  Not only did we get to hear from Alex, we also got to hear from his companion and some of the other missionaries that were accompanying them on Christmas.  We talked to Alex for quite a while on Christmas as they were all headed from Manhattan to Wamego where they were going for Christmas dinner.  Of course the Christmas dinner that they were going to wasn't the first of the day nor was it the last.  Just like on Thanksgiving day, they ended up spending time and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with several different families.  In fact Alex had to have his companion call us earlier in the day just to tell us that Alex would be calling a little later than scheduled because they had a teaching appointment along with breakfast at the home of one of their investigators.  That was all good though, because it gave us time to get through all of our Christmas morning traditions as well.  We got a short letter from Alex on Monday after Christmas since we had just spoken with him a couple of days before.  Alex filled us in on how the rest of his Christmas went and the fact that he and his companion attended mid-night mass also.  If you remember from a couple of blog entries ago, Alex and several of the other missionaries have been spending their P-Day playing ultimate frisbee with a member of the local Catholic church.  As part of this new friendship, this catholic member invited the missionaries to attend mid-night mass on Christmas.  Alex told us that it was very interesting and that it was fun to see their friend give one of the readings during the mass.

We got a package from Alex just before Christmas.  Along with the Christmas presents that were included in the box, Alex finally sent us the memory card from his camera.  Out of the 150 or so pictures along with a few videos, here are some of the highlights:

This is during his NASCAR period while serving in Burlington, KS.  We still don't know why he was so into NASCAR, maybe because there are some really "Nas-cars" (say that with a southern accent and you will get the joke. ;-)

While Alex was serving in Burlington, KS last summer, he told us a story about how he and his companion helped a neighbor do a little demo on their house. The problem was that Alex is a little shorter than everybody else that was working there.  So in order for him to be able to reach the ceiling, Alex had to pile up some of the debris and stand on it to get a little extra boost.

No, this isn't a picture of Alex but you can see a faint reflection of his feet in the window.  There is a zoo in Manhattan, KS where the missionaries volunteer most weeks to help out.  Alex told us that according to the records held by the zoo, this chimpanzee is the second oldest in the world.  How they know that, I am not sure.  Alex also told us that if you remember the scene in the movie "Return to Me" where the gorilla plays handsies on th window with one of the stars of the movie, Alex did the same thing with this chimpanzee one day as well.

Just a couple of caged animals at the zoo.  Nothing more to see here.  We are walking, walking...

We have no idea where Alex came up with the cowboy outfit here.  We certainly didn't send him with the hat, the big belt buckle, the boots nor those jeans.  It looks like he is back at the Wamego apartment, but why he is dressed up as a cowboy is still a question to be answered.  Maybe someday he will tell us. ;-)

"Look Mom, lunch!!"
Sorry for the joke if this is really your child's favorite pet chicken. But it does look good! ;-)

Alex told us that this is the picture that he and his companion are using for their Christmas card this year.  If you remember the Christmas card last year, Alex and his companion at the time did the same thing except they were jumping off a snow covered rock.  If you haven't received your Christmas card from Alex yet, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!"

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