This last week was a great lead into Christmas! Very excited to see what comes this next week and if it's anything like this last week it's going to be great!
Tuesday... Today was the day that the new arrivals came. And it was Elder Tanner's first full day as an assistant! He adjusted really well. He gets really tired like all of us :-) that's good! But really today is my favorite part of transfers, picking up the incoming missionaries. They are very fun to work with and it's fun to see their anxious faces. We had a really good time coming back too. We had to drive a couple different cars and we were racing back with the TIWI driving system which monitors your speed so you can only go so fast. So it came down to skill. However elder Ord was driving a car without it. But guess what! I won! When we drove there Elder Ord and I pulled up to the house exactly at the same time. It was crazy and a lot of fun. This group of new arrivals is good they are very solid. it'll be a great addition to the mission.
Wednesday... Transfer day! It's a lot of fun seeing the excitement that's in the air as people come to find where they're going. We had a good transfer meeting and then we're off to the airport to take the departing missionaries home. We continued the tradition of eating at Ben's chili bowl. So it's a fun place to be ha ha. On the way back home we all hit a tired wave but we made it back safe. We got home and went and did some admin work and then we went to the hospital to give a nonmember a blessing who's grandma had asked for one. It was a very good experience and I'm grateful that I'm able to give priesthood blessings.
Thursday... Thursday after transfer meeting is never very exciting. We go through and do all of our updating and admin stuff to make things go easier for the office staff and President and Sister Cooke. But we did take some time today to prepare for their Christmas gift which we were giving them the next day...
Friday... Today was the Christmas gift day! It was a very very very good day! We spent the morning scrambling to get everything ready in time because of the transfer but we were able to get everything situated to have a good evening. So this is what we did. We kidnapped the entire Cooke family at 4 o'clock in the evening. We walked into their house with a silver box had them sit down, told them that we would be kidnapping them, and we blindfolded them off. Once blindfolded we asked Elizabeth to say a prayer for safety, and off we went! Our vehicle of choice was big nasty. That is the name of the 12 passenger peto Van The mission has. And inside the van we had inception music playing quite loudly. We took them on a routes they would not recognize until we arrived at our first destination being our apartment. But we had changed the interior to look like a restaurant and they were fooled! For a while anyway. We fed them an appetizer of cheese ball and crackers, then some salad on chilled salad plates, some delicious cheesy broccoli soup in a bread bowl, and to top it off with some carbs chicken fettuccine Alfredo. It was a wonderful evening with some delicious drinks. The goal of the night was for them to spend time as a family and to not have anything to worry about. Once we finished eating we read blindfolded them, loaded them in the van, turned on the music, and drove away. At this point we drove quickly down to the Kennedy Center where for the remainder of the evening they would watch Handel's Messiah performed by the national Symphony orchestra and choir. We got them very good seats, sitting up front and they said that it was so close they could watch the expression and passion in the conductor, orchestra and choir faces. As we drove home they told us they really enjoyed the evening and I hope they did. We tried to do something that would mean a little bit more to their family and give them some time together.
Saturday... We began the day with service for the elders quorum president. We helped them move a ton of furniture to get their house ready for some remodeling. It was a really good experience. They are an incredible family. They also love canning things and they gave us some delicious jams, salsa and other stuff. After that we had some good time proselyting and we cleaned up our house from the previous day. It was a really good day and we got tons done.
Sunday... Church! Our ward is incredible. We had a wonderful day at church and then we were able to attend a baptism. It's so incredible to see the growth of the church in families that we were there when their parents got baptized and now the children are being baptized. Afterwards we spent a little bit of time proselyting then we helped Sister Cooke prepare the Christmas gifts they are giving to the mission. They're a little behind so they asked for some help. We then enjoyed dinner and helping the Cooke family set up their Christmas decorations. it was really weird spending time with family. Not used to that. But I enjoyed it :-)
This week was wonderful I had a lot of opportunities to see how I can improve from the examples of the people that I work with. In particular there was this one family we met with then taught this week. I've had the opportunity to observe the husband. I've seen the kind of man he is, which is what I want to be. And then the new stake president for the DC stake is a wonderful example. He is a perfect image of a worthy priesthood holder. That's one thing I've come to realize on my mission is how blessed I am now and have been throughout my life to be around people that lead good lives and are an example to me. There are some amazing people here and I'm grateful I get to be a part of the work here.
I love you all and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
-Elder Chandon Herring