Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Reflection from In front of the temple
 Dear Family and Friends:

Here in the hot Brazilian climate it seems to us more like the 4th of July.  There are fireworks going off all the time also.  There aren't many decorations that we see around or Christmas music to listen to.  At least here at the temple there is a wonderful life size nativity  display. The sunsets are gorgeous and the temple is always lit up so beautifully each evening.

We are thinking of you at this special time of the year when we celebrate the Savior's birth.  We really feel it is special to serve Him every day.  It is so peaceful and beautiful here that it seems like we are set apart from the world.

Here are some excerpts from a recent letter from  President George Oakes of the Campinas Temple to a personal friend of his:  “Dear Roger, Yesterday, as I walked to the temple through the gardens, I noted all of the people sitting on the grassy hillside, sitting around the fountain and standing around talking to one another. They were dressed in their Sunday best which includes for the men a white shirt and tie. The children were running and playing and no one paid much attention to them. Why? Because here on the temple grounds they are safe and surrounded by loving caring people. One man sat on the concrete walk against a palm tree with his two little boys seated, like him, cross legged listening to him read the scriptures and talk about the temple. As I looked around and as I thought of the surroundings from which most of them had come and the difference in the environment here on the temple grounds, the spirit spoke to me that Heavenly Father is pleased with the Brazilian people and that what I observed is a lot like it will be in the millennium.

Last Saturday (17th) Choirs from most of the stakes in the region performed beautiful Christmas music in front of the temple.  There was also a choir of about 40 missionaries, and there were over one thousand people here to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas.  This event was open to the public and there were a lot of non members in attendance.  After the concert we went to our ward Christmas dinner.  In this ward the chapel serves as the multipurpose room also, so the benches were removed and the tables and chairs were set up and decorated.  The Christmas music was sung in English, which was so touching that it brought tears to Verae's eyes.  Afterwards we took the tables and chairs down and the sisters mopped the tile floor.  Then the men put the benches back in place for our Sunday meetings the next morning.

The picture above was taken a few days ago in front of the temple and the glass doors are reflecting the palm trees in front.  It appears like the picture was taken from inside the temple looking out.

Dec 24th.  
Instead of trudging in the snow, it was really hot and muggy when we caught the bus with our friends, the new temple missionaries from Payson, Utah.  We had a wild ride as we were standing up in the bus while the bus driving flew around each corner.  We all started to laugh as we were holding on for dear life.  Finally we reached our destination to eat out with our friends to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary which was a few days ago.  The restaurant was quite quaint and open to the outside.

Then as we were walking in all the heat to the grocery store, Sister Christensen and I decided that when we got home we were going to have to take another shower.  Well, with heavy groceries in hand we all walked up an incline to get to the bus stop to rest and talk about the new adventures that the Christensen's were having, which is nothing like they expected. 

The bus finally came and you can imagine how that ride was.  On the bus ride home, we were almost rolling in the isle trying to stand up while we were holding on to all our heavy groceries. We felt like it was very close to a wild Lagoon ride.  Then after the Christensen's jumped off the driver started the bus going so we yelled WAIT!!(in English).  He did stop but we had to laugh again, because he probably didn't know what wait meant, but he could tell we didn't want to ride with him any further.  Well, if nothing else we are making more unusual memories.

Today (Christmas Day) we went to church with some other missionaries, who didn't go home to be with their families, and then to Bishop Xavier's new home for a bar-b-que dinner with all the trimmings.  They played American Christmas music which made it feel a little more like Christmas. Bar-b-ques are a little different here than at home.  They cook 4 or 5 types of meat in a fireplace type bbq with real wood fuel and cut all the pieces up and you pick a little of each along with the salads and drinks.  It was served on the deck overlooking their beautiful yard and swimming pool. One grandpa got in the pool with his grand kids while we visited with the other missionaries and the Bishop.  It was so nice of the Bishop and his dear wife to invite us to have Christmas dinner with them.

We wish you all a merry Christmas and hope to see you soon.  Many the Lord continue to bless you and your families through the holidays and through out the coming year.

With Love,
Elder and Sister Hansen

PS.   We will be coming home on February 2nd and will spend a day or 2 in Salt Lake before heading for Richfield.  Can't wait to see all of you again.