Just before Christmas we were invited to Jelen's (second from left) home for a family home evening with some investigators and Srs. Otto and Benton, who are teaching them. After the Christmas lesson/message, Joshua, (pronounced hosway) wanted us to play a game of hot potato. His sister knocked on the wall while her back was turned to us, and when she stopped, whoever had the hot potato had to perform a song, dance, etc. I'm not sure which was funnier...watching everyone do stunts or sing songs when they were caught with the potato, or hearing Joshua cackle over the antics. Jelen made us some homemade fruit drink that was served hot, like wassail and a typical Guatemalan tamale. It was delightful to see their holiday traditions and to have them include us.
At first Joshua was content to have his photo taken every five minutes in a dozen different positions (with sunglasses, his Christmas stocking, etc. Before the night was over,
he had my camera and was posing everyone for photos.
Sr. Benton helped Jelen and her beautiful daughter in the kitchen.
One of my office tasks is to sort the mail and Christmas packages that come to the missionaries, so their zone leaders can deliver them to the outlying areas. This was my favorite. One of the young missionary's mom's hand sewed an envelope with a humble gift inside. It was a real labor of love and made me realize what really matters at Christmas time.
The streets and marketplaces here are swarming with people and cars during the holidays. This is a typical Centro Xela marketplace. Seconds after I shot this photo, it was filled
to the limit with vendors and shoppers.
The mission office staff includes six elders (young male missionaries) and two enfermaras (young female missionaries), one of whom is the mission nurse. They helped us put on a Christmas mission conference for 175 missionaries from the Quetzaltenango mission. They hauled so many things for us for days on end, they were completely worn out by the time we were treated to Christmas dinner in the mission home. As soon as they finished their meals, they headed for the sofa and collapsed into a deep sleep.
This is the quieter version of Elder Thatcher.
Fireworks are the highlight of the Christmas celebration here. Each night we would see these gorgeous fireworks from our living room window. The culmination is on Christmas eve, when the entire town explodes with a midnight fireworks display. The city devolves from a flurry of crowding and activity, to a quiet, peaceful hamlet in a matter of a few hours. The entire week following Christmas is a much slower place, with many businesses closed until after the new year.