Think about this, Christmas would not exist if we didn't have Easter. So that we can be reborn, Jesus Christ needed to be born.
"Long ago, in a tiny town, He was born. Born to mend broken hearts, born to strengthen our weakness. He was born to free us from our burdens and reunite us with God the Father."
"Jesus Christ was born and gave His life so that every person might have the opportunity to decide his or her own future. He suffered so that we could choose not to suffer. So that we could choose right over wrong, so we could choose to change if we’ve found ourselves going in the wrong direction. We make the most of this gift by choosing to follow Him. To accept His grace through repentance. By making this choice we choose happiness." (From the video, "What I'd Jesus Never Came" at Mormon.Org)
When we repent, we are choosing happiness!
Happy birthday to me! What a nice Sabbath birthday I had relaxing this morning with MDH (my dear hubby) and talking to a few of our children, then a surprise gift from these two beauties. At church I was surprised to see a birthday shout out for me printed in the bulletin, put there by our sweet Relief Society President! So then I had lots of birthday wishes from ward members. After church we had a successful caroling event to top off the evening and a wonderful day!
Elder Martin is so great at driving on the wrong side of the road now and he doesn't mind driving all over Auckland, like we had to last Wednesday night. A sister missionary, who broke her ankle a few months ago, had her last doctor appointment and we were asked to drive her to it. It's an hour trek in traffic up to Takapuna to pick her up, and an hour back down in traffic for her appointment (that is the area she was in when she broke her ankle). Then we take her to dinner, and another hour back up again in traffic to deliver her home. This may seem like a total pain, but it's all part of what we are happy to do. We are blessed to have a reliable car that takes us where we need to go.
Saturday, we went to Shakespeare Park with Elder and Sister Bath, and it was a great day for these wind surfers because it was so windy. There were swimmers and sun bathers, but still much too cold for us! One of those kites got away from a surfer and it came swooping down towards Sister Bath, who was sitting on the sand, landing not too far from her. Getting hit by one of those kites would be frightful!
We drove to a different beach at Wenderholm Park and the air was much calmer. Notice that we are fully dressed. Summer has started, but it's not warm enough for sunbathing yet. Craig loves the weather, but Im waiting for it to be a little warmer!
They should call this "shell beach" because the ground is solid shells.
We love seeing this bird on beaches, and here are some babies. We have no idea what this bird is called, but it's striking orange and black colors make it so interesting!
After an afternoon of beach-hopping, we had a casual dinner, saving room for dessert at Giapo's, an unusual and very expensive ice cream shop. Mine is afghan chocolate ice cream dipped in a caramel-chocolate sauce and covered with chocolate-coated corn flakes with a cookie hat attached to the side. Craig's is a chocolate hazelnut ice cream covered with a powder made from crushed nuts, and then topped with an egg-white swirl, toasted with a blow torch, and hazelnuts added all around!
Elder and Sister Bath shared the day with us and helped make it a fun birthday celebration! Sister Bath had the same ice cream as me, and Elder Bath's was a strawberry something that was melting way to fast !
We loved seeing this rooftop Santa, along with all the other Christmas-lit homes in Ponsonby, a suburb in Auckland.
This is a photo from a week ago at our ward Chirstmas in the Carpark party. Brother Ikamau, a gentleman from the ward, told us how he thought we fit in the ward and that we mixed well with the members. That was a nice compliment. He liked our dancing at the ward party. You can see that Craig was getting his moves on to the song, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"!
This tree "ornament" I bought sums up how it is here with Christmas in the summer.
This is a photo shared on FB by a sister in our ward in Saratoga Springs, Utah, that reminds me of the beauty of the lake and mountains right outside our door back home. Christmas, as we are used to is snowy and cold, so different from in this part of the world.
Whether it's summer or winter, the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus Christ, and He doesn't care if we celebrate in shorts or a winter sweater. Today in church, in a talk given by a member of the bishopric, he said, "With the hustle and bustle of shopping for one last gift, take time this week to get on your knees and thank the Lord for your trials this year, and for your blessings."
At our Transfer Meeting this week after relating a true Christmas story, President Balli told us, "Share a message of the Savior, serve others, share a gift if you want, but don't miss the opportunity to share your testimony of the Savior this Christmas!" That's something we didn't do much at Christmastime in our pre-mission life! We are loving the opportunities now everyday to share our testimonies. The new star helped the shepherds and wise men find Jesus. Today, missionaries are "stars" helping others find Jesus. We are the light; lighting the way to Him.
We are so thankful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His love for us. A love so unimaginable, that He
would atone for our sins and make it possible for us to return to live with Heavenly Father. From the baby Jesus to the adult Jesus, the message is the same, Jesus Christ is "The Gift"!
We love you all and pray for you a safe, and wonderful Christmas with those you love!
Elder and Sister Martin