Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you all have a happiness and root-beer filled New Year! For us down in Consuelo, it was pretty chill, other than catching some of that upper-eighties Caribbean sun. Can you all imagine how much it would stink to have to shovel your driveway or worry about driving through snow or "being cold?" Haha! It's a good life.
I feel like I should start a feature called Baking Adventures. Maybe something hip, like Kitchen Katastrophe (Citchen Catastrophe?). Pouch Cotato? I dunno. Either way, I reckoned that for a Christmas district meeting treat, we ought to have an apple pie and ice cream. It was actually a pretty great idea except, well, my apple pie experience is limited to eating them. But I had a recipe book, and I can sure follow a recipe! It was going pretty well, but I found myself up a crick when I realized that it called for apple juice concentrate and by jove, I haven't seen apple juice concentrate since the summer o' '14. But I figured hey. There's already apples in it. I just need to pour some sugar water over it! So I did.
Yeah, sugar water is not an appropriate substitute. The pie tasted like. Shortening. Flour. And very thick water.
I bought the ice cream.
Christmas Eve was a different type of day. The powers that be decided to give us electricity all day and all night, which was cool for about the first five minutes of our neighbors playing dembó so loud it was literally rattling our windows from two houses down. For the first time after fifteen months of wishing the power didn't go out three or four times a day, I was sitting there like, "Goshdangit! Can someone please shut off the blasted power?"
Anyhow, Christmas in the mission is a different sort of experience. For starters, people here start breaking out the word "cold" when temperatures plummet to the high seventies. "Just a sip or two" refers to seven or eight bottles of [not root] beer. A great part of the populace dresses up in dental floss and hits the clubs. All to celebrate the birth of Christ.
This is, of course, not the missionaries' Christmas. Elder Leiter and I went to the house of the Bermúdez family, a family that is part member/part investigator. We feasted together on chicken and spaghetti and a Coke knock-off. We cleared the plates and sang Christmas songs and assorted hymns. We then shared stories and testimonies, and there, there was such an incredible feeling.
We were thousands of miles from home. There with no familiar food, speaking in a foreign language, without our parents or aunts or cousins or siblings. There was no tree, no Michael Bublé Christmas music. There was no snow, no hot chocolate, no fire crackling in the hearth. There was nothing that I ever would have associated with the Christmas season.
But there was warmth. There was peace. And sitting there, singing "Noche de Luz" with these people who I've come to love so much, I felt like I was part of a family. I felt full.
And as Christmases go, it certainly could have been worse.