Christmas is here and after hosting Thanksgiving we had to recover for a few days before we pulled out the decorations.
Jeff wasn't a huge fan of our Christmas tree so we were walking through Sears during black Friday and found one we liked at Sears. We bought it and bought the decorations that were similar to the ones on the display.
He was laughing at me for setting up the old one in our family room with all the kids old pictures and ornaments.
Christmas isn't the same with a family member missing. There are times that I miss him and this is one of them.
I was looking as his plaque in the hallway at church...
His plaque and Greg's plaques are right next to each other and they are both out in the mission together.
They were able to see each other at their Mission zone Christmas Party (I will include it at the end) and I was glad that they were able to remind each other some of home during the Christmas season.
Some of our Christmas celebrations...
Ashley at a reenactment of the last supper in seminary (the real reason for Christmas)
I am so grateful for a seminary teacher that goes above and beyond for her students and shows her love for them all the time.
Jeff and I enjoyed a Christmas concert with Steve and Tahna, Mom and Dale. We always try and do some sort of Christmas performance together during Christmas and Steve picked a good one this year. We look forward to going back next year!
Taylor and I had an experience where we got to help at a Hud housing project for elderly and disabled adults at their holiday breakfast.
Taylor provided the music and I donated some items and helped set up and put on the breakfast.
Everyone was super nice, and the residents were appreciative.
I was so happy we did it.
It was our favorite service project during the Christmas season!
The missionaries were also there helping and I lined them all up to take a picture and made them give me their families contact info so I could send the picture to them.
One Elder looked at me funny and I said "You might not think it's a big deal but trust me you're families will appreciate it" He then looked sheepish and said his mom has been asking him for more pictures.
I know because I'm always begging Jacob for some pictures.
Ashley did a performance at the Winter Cheer show this year.
It was a lot of fun to watch them perform and see all the other students do a great job in their performances. Great job guys!
For mutual one night I helped the young women make and deliver tomato cage Christmas trees. It was a new thing I did this year. Instead of getting out someones decorations and putting them up we brought a little tree to them along with cookies. Everyone we visited liked it and it was a great night.
One night we decided to go down to the Mission Inn to see the lights. I think it's been a couple of years since we've gone.
Of course we got the donuts we always like to get and enjoyed the lights together.
Jeff and I and Steve and Tahna got to go to a David Archuleta and Nathan Pecheco Christmas concert a few days before Christmas.
It was a last minute thing but ended up being a great night that we really enjoyed.
We had seats way in the back but someone moved to sit with friends and offered us their good seats right before it was starting.
They both did an amazing job!!
I got to bring stuff to donate and help with the cheer and pom Christmas party/breakfast at the school. It's fun that Ashley has good friends in there with her.
All the mascots minus one.
Kate and Ashlyn
In one of the classes that I substitute for regularly there is a requirement for volunteer hours.
Knowing that the deadline for the semester was coming up soon I shared some of the project ideas on justserve with the class. I brought a few supplies in and some instructions for the cards for hospitalized kids and the students ended up making over 100 cards for it!
Christmas Eve we had the Oleson's over for dinner, games and a last minute cousin white elephant gift exchange. Dinner was good, the games were fun and the the white elephant exchange was so funny.
The winner was Taylor with ultra creepy vintage Santa Baby. It was so creepy all we could do was laugh. I'm going to have to step up my white elephant game and we'll have to do it again. So hilarious.
We also exchanged real gifts. Thanks Joel and Virginia!
After everyone left and we prepared for Christmas morning...Jacob's flat, empty stocking was that evidence that wasn't here.
We are excited to be able to talk to him on Christmas Day.
Christmas morning came and we didn't open presents until about 9.
The joys of having older kids
As soon as we opened them we all got ready for church and raced down to the building.
Church was only for an hour and it was full of musical numbers and shorter talks. I like it!
We came home and packed up to head up to Palmdale for Christmas with Jeff's family at Kenny's house.
We looked at the traffic on our route and realized that our drive would be over 2 hours and we were late!
While we were driving Jacob's facetime call came through. It took him a little bit to settle down because he kept bringing the phone to people in the house to introduce us to them. Once he sat down we got to talk to him.
Once we got to Kenny's house the rest of the family got to talk to Jacob.
He talked about his future plans which I said he could worry about when he gets back.
He told us he got a tricycle from someone at a white elephant party and was riding around a neighborhood with it while tracting. Oh my Jacob. He still has his personality.
He tried to talk one-on-one with Taylor but kept getting interrupted. I kept moving from room to room to talk with Jacob and be able to hear him and eventually went into the backyard before it was time to go.
I look forward to talking with him in May. He's doing great so far and we are so proud of him.
Meanwhile back at the party.
Kenny was nice enough to open up his house for all of us.
Wall to wall family
I'm sure their house seemed quieter once we all left.
Thanks Kenny for hosting.
Instead of driving all the way back home and then back out to Camarillo the next morning to see my side of the family we decided last minute to just go straight out to Angelas. The traffic was bad on our drive out and we thought it made more sense to go there since we were already 1/2 way there.
Luckily Angela and Robert were OK with us coming.
Ashley was in heaven because she got to hold Paisley.
Angela had her a week before Christmas. What a cutie!
We had fun hanging out with Angela and Robert and Joel and Virginia and left the next afternoon.
Love those little toes.
Well look forward to seeing her at her baby blessing next month!
Some of Jacob's letter for December
December 6th 2016
Hello Mom/ Family!
Thats so cool that the ward mission leader said good things about me! He's a really nice guy and im excited to get to spend Christmas with him and his family! And thank you for sending the brownie recipe! I just got the stuff today to make it, and im going to impress my district with my amazing cooking skills. There's so much to tell ya'll so ill just split it up to make it easier for me
Diet: I have gained a couple pounds, but today when we went shopping i bought a bunch of healthy food! Hopefully all my clothes will still fit by the end of the mission lol. Its not really the personal eating, but the members dinners are usually not the healthiest.
Members: They are so nice! And im pretty sure they really like me! Ive got a few comments from the youth saying that im cooler than other missionaries so that was touching. Its really nice too, because even though its a small ward, we get fed at least 4 days of the week, most of the time more. And southern cooking is so good! It has so much more flavor, but it is not too healthy. You know how in europe there was almost no handicap people, how it was a rare thing? Its the opposite here, there are so many overweight people but their so nice!
Random People: So ive been though to be someone else many times so far. People always ask me if i went to their high school, and a few thought i was on TV, and they would not take no for an answer :P. Their usually really nice, not too rude when knocking doors or anything, but a lot of them really like saying hi to me, so it makes for good missionary opportunities! We met a random guy at like 8:57, who listened to us, he was kinda crazy, and he tried to give me money, so i can have you guys send me some special beer from cali to give to him, and it was funny because he really liked me, but not my companion. And the next day, we had a drunk guy invite us in, which we went in because his wife is a potential investigator. And he really liked me, but not my companion, but he kept putting his arm around me and hugging me, and now my jacket smells like booze.
Investigators: So the two that ive baptized, or was there, was David and Cynthia. Then we have two more that are on date. One on Christmas eve, we thought he was a transgender at first, but now were pretty sure hes not. Then a convicted felon on the 14th of January. But its so cool how willing these people are to change their lives. We've had some other solid investigators, but its hard when they dont ever want to make set appointments, so you can never catch them home. But i really hope i dont get transferred so i can see these people get baptized!
Companion: My new companion is great! Hes a hard worker, and thats all i wanted in a companion! But hes super fun and we get along great. Our personalities are pretty opposite in a way, like im more blue and white (motivated by people and peace) and hes more red and yellow (power and fun). If that doesnt make to much sense, thats ok, but ive really found as long as were working hard, all day, then anything else about the companion doesnt annoy me. It was just, my last companion was a cool guy, but he slept all day, we worked about 2-3 hours a day when we have like 10, and nothing came from it. But as we are doing all that we are supposed to, weve seen great results, and weve been blessed in so many ways! I dont want to sound negative, but i could not stand another transfer with my last companion so im so glad to have gotten this one!
After Mission: I know i probably shouldnt be thinking about this so soon, and i dont want you to think im not focused on the work, but i just wanted to tell you some opportunities that came up. So far, i have a couple ideas, one missionary ive gotten real close to, his mom loves me just from the emails and pictures. And weve planned that i could maybe go up to Utah with him and live there, and then go to college together at Utah State. He already asked his parents and they said yes, so its nothing definate, but i just wanted to warn you now. Cuz im planning on probably getting out of Cali soon after the mish, nothing against you guys! I just dont want to fall back into old habits, and ill be ready to get my life going! Again, nothing for sure, i just wanted ya'll to know what i was thinking so if i leave home a little after my mission you wont be too surprised.
The Spiritual side of things: Ive really seen myself grow a lot spiritually in this last transfer, and ive seen different articles and different missionaries have told me how to be a missionary that has the mission really affect you. Not just be a good experience, but completely change who you are. Thats my biggest thing, is i want to learn and change and grow, and i know its gonna be hard, but im ready! Ive learned the best way to do that is not just doing what im supposed to because im told. Doing that will still be able to change others, but not so much myself. Its only by giving your heart and mind to the work as well that youll see the real change occur. Thats why i try and stay optimistic all the time and by doing that ive found real joy in doing this work!
I love you all so much! And today was amazing! We had district activity at the lake again, and this family has like 500 acres of land! And we rode on 4 wheelers through it and it was awesome! The pictures were us on this old 30 foot platform that was rocking back and forth while we were up there. The one dabbing is my companion, that one was for you lil sis. And i was kinda hanging off of it. You would probably not have approved of that if you were there ma lol. And it was a lot higher than it looks!
This week has been absolutely amazing! We have been working so hard and we’ve seen so much success! I was kinda discouraged cuz u thought we didn’t do as good as I wanted, but we did amazing! Like we found like 5 investigators this week! The black people here love short people! It’s so much fun! It’s so hard to put everything that happened down, but ever since i got a new companion so much has happened! Investigator wise, we found people in ways that we were lead exactly to. Its pretty crazy how perfect it is when finding some of these people that are ready! I kind of have to keep this short since P-day is almost over, and we had a zone activity (which ill send you pictures of next week).
First off, something special that happened this week, was we went on exchanges with the zone leaders. I was with this short guy, not like dwarf short but still short, and he is really smart! We had a packed day of all set appointments, and we found someone who was really ready to hear the gospel. He also is really into deep doctrine. So I have a challenge for Taylor, I want you to explain to me what Revelations 12 and 13 mean, and it’s really deep so it might take a lot of studying. It was really confusing at first but he explained every verse and i was all like waaaaaa. And then he said that wasn’t even that deep so there’s still so much I’m learning! This gospel is so great because I am always learning!
I know this is short but i promise I’ll write a longer one next week!
December 19, 2016
I have not yet received the package yet, but I’m looking forward to it! I can’t believe it's Christmas already! It feels like just a couple weeks ago i was in the MTC! I might not talk as much in this email, since ill talk to yall on Sunday. But there is still a lot to say just not enough time to say it! Ill just say, this has been the best 3 months! Not exactly the most fun or exciting, but I’ve definitely grown so much since i came on the mish. Ive learned so much in the scriptures that i never knew before. We just got done reading the book of Mormon as a mission, and i think that’s the first time i really read it, like not just skimming through it, and there’s some deep stuff in it! So I will give yall a challenge, and ill do it with you. I want to read it again, since i feel like theres so much stuff i missed, but i want yall to read it too. Starting at new years, i want each of you personally to read the book of Mormon and finish it by Easter. It would take reading 5 pages a day, so it wouldn’t be that hard. But i really want yall to really take this seriously, just cuz know my testimony has grown a lot since i read it, and i know it can strengthen yours. Another idea! At family home evening, since your all reading personally, then you can have discussions on what you read or something, just so everyone can stay on top of it! I look forward to hearing from yall soon! Merry Christmas!
P.S. Ma, i heard you made a new friend with someone in the ward! Did she send you our Santa pictures? We just had that idea at dinner there so idk how we came up with those costumes so fast
December 23rd 2016
Here is an email I received from Wanda Stevens. She is the Ward Mission leader’s wife and hosted the elders at her house on Christmas day.
Hi Christine!! Just wanted to send you a picture from last night. This is the elders with all my kids. When we got back to the house last night, I had several homemade goodies set out on the table for everyone. Elder Grieve went immediately to the brownies I had made and excitedly asked me if they were "blondies". I said that they were coconut pecan brownies. I wish so much you could have seen the look on Elder Beaulieu's face!! Just complete surprise and shock that I had made his favorite brownie but he just thought it was an amazing coincidence!! I had to tell him that I got the recipe from you!! Apparently, he tried to make them himself the other day and burned them! Lol. So both him and Elder Grieve were so excited to get non burned coconut pecan brownies!!!! I sent them home with an entire plate of them and I'll bet they are already gone!!! Haha.
December 26th 2016
Hello family again!
It was so great talking to ya'll yesterday! I hope Christmas went well, and I’m glad to see all is well at home! Not much has changed since yesterday, so I don’t really know what to write since I’ve kept you caught up so far, so this may be a shorter email. One thing i was going to start doing was keeping a blog, and I wanted to send like group emails, and have ma put them on the blog. Because if we do a blog it has to be about spiritual stuff, not just how the week was, but you can keep one of my compiled group emails, which I’ll start doing again next week! I love yall so much and if there’s anything I can do to help, even though I’m out here, just ask! Have a great week!
An excerpt from Greg Montandon’s email….which told about their zone Christmas party and included pictures!
December 26th 2016
“Wednesday we had the zone Christmas party and I got to see JACOB it was soooo cool when i saw him i dropped my stuff and ran and hugged him and we pretty much ditched our companions and went on an exchange for the entire day I missed the guy it was really fun catching up and the party was really cool and i gave a short powerful statement in front of like 200 people and then Jacob did a piano solo and killed it!! it was so nice! we represented riverside and we killed it ahaha”