Christmas has come and gone here at AOA. It has been a singular experience that we will always remember. Home and family are an essential part of Christmas, and this year was no exception. It was just different. Monday evening, we gathered in the home of Brother and Sister Bonnett for a traditional Christmas dinner. The missionaries serving here have become like family. It feels like there a was never a time we didn’t know and love each other. Our conclusion is that we knew each other in Heaven and looked forward to this reunion here at AOA before the veil was drawn.
Elder Brown expressed it this way, “The macro-Plan of Salvation is composed of individual micro plans. God watches us and manages the intersection of our lives, including the people that we meet, and when we meet them. Each of these micro plans is watched over by our Heavenly Father and His remarkable Son, son, who in the acme of understatement said, ‘I am able to do my own work!”
After dinner, we sat around Bonnett’s tree singing some carols and reading a few of their favorite Christmas stories. That close feeling of home and family was welcome and so familiar.
Tuesday was the sisters last day of regular work this week. I think most needed the time to tie up all the loose ends of the season and get settled in for Christmas Day. The men worked three days as usual. Darrel was involved watering roads for the major improvement project in full swing. He ground out over 20 stumps on our service day.
Wednesday evening, we all traveled down to Chillicothe for dinner and a walk through the light show in the park. The air was cool, but the weather perfect for our outing. The deep piles of leaves prompted memories of making huge piles of leaves just so we could run and jump in them as children. While lost in those wonderful thoughts, we discovered that leaves, like drifted snow, fill in the low spots! Suddenly I felt the solid ground turn into a ditch that was thigh deep. Darrel went down a nano-second before me, but was much faster on the rebound. My knee has complained some about our frolic in the leaves, but it’s not my good knee, so I guess I’m not out much. Fortunately, no camera was rolling at the time. Other’s imagination is all my dignity can recover from.
Thursday was our service day. Rather than regular assignments we simply looked for ways to serve and went about doing good. We were amazed at the end of the day to see all that was accomplished. A few of the sisters went to Tower Hill and Pecan Grove to clean up three pickup truck loads of branches and twigs that remained after our big windstorm. With only seven men here, they are spread thin enough, that storm clean up hadn’t made the official list. Those loads were a fantastic addition to the burn pile which I torched on Christmas Day!
Our director reported that seven stumps were removed from Bonnett’s property. A propane tank was delivered to “Biscuit’s” (a local farm hand) trailer to provide heat. A foundation for a porch was built and a porch attached at the same home. Gravel was spread and rolled near the Duplex and East Entrance, limbs were picked up, flower were beds raked, unwanted trees removed, the four-wheeler serviced, metal sheeting picked up for the new work center addition, and temple days scheduled for the first quarter in 2022. It was a productive and rewarding day as we shared the “Light” through service. It was our chance to “observe and serve.” Sister Linda K. Burton taught this principle in the Oct. 2012 General conference. She concluded, “May we all seek to first observe, then serve. As we do so, we are keeping covenants, and our service…will be evidence of our discipleship.”
On Christmas Even we had all the missionaries in our home for our traditional Shepherd’s dinner by candlelight, followed by a devotional. None had experienced such an event, and seemed to enjoy and appreciate it. Our devotional focused on the vital role of the prophets and apostles testimonies throughout time.
We concluded, “The combined testimony recorded in “The Living Christ” is a blessing to us should our faith ever waver. All the holy prophets prophesied of Christ’s birth and mission. Other prophets and apostles recorded the fulfillment of those prophecies. We can expect nothing less of those prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. The Living Christ” clearly states, “We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.”
At a future date families will rehearse the prophecies concerning His 2nd coming as well as the testimonies of the fulfillment of each one. Some of ours may be among them.
Via technology we were able to share Christmas morning with some of our younger grandchildren. Christmas through the eyes of children is delightful! We loved being a part of that even though miles and time zones separate us.
I’ve heard of people spending Christmas at the beach, so we thought, “This is our chance!” AOA’s “Grand River Beach” was lovely. The weather was perfect and the water exceptionally clear. We rode down in a Ranger and gathered pebbles to a make a rock nativity in the future. That evening we all joined Elder and Sister Brown in their home for their tradition of a steak dinner on Christmas.
This morning we had sacrament meeting in Elder and Sister Dunford’s home. Since we don’t have a dedicated chapel, meeting in a home for this special occasion seemed like a great plan. It was! Following the sacrament, each had come prepared to share a memory of Christmas past. In that setting, the Spirit was generous! We worshiped and rejoiced together as we shared the individual ways Christmas has been a “Star of Bethlehem” lighting the way for each to find the Savior amid the world’s celebration of His birth.
We look forward to beginning a new year this next week. May we each allow the Spirit to show us at least one way we can improve in our effort to become as the Savior is and be better prepared to meet Him at His Coming.