Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 24th,

It’s Christmas Eve but it feels like the 4th of July! I think this is making it easier to be away from home at Christmas because it truly doesn’t feel like Christmas. We have to constantly remind ourselves that it is December.

We weren’t going into work today but with the Breits announcement yesterday, we felt like we needed to go in and try and get things arranged to take care of the students until someone else comes. Jeana Niu, our employment specialist, came in too. She has worked with the Beans with some of the students and she also has a little bit of experience with the Perpetual Education program. She will be the one that will be picking up most of the slack until we get more help. I felt sorry for her today. She spent 3 hours in the office with the Breits and they never stopped talking! I was afraid that her brain was going to explode! Thank heaven Jeana is confident in her ability to help the students.

We left at noon and came home because I had to make enchiladas for our dinner tonight. I had already cooked the meat so it was just a matter of putting them together. We can’t buy regular soft tacos here but we found some of the big burrito ones that they sell at Sam’s Club at the fair a couple of weeks ago. I bought a big package of them so that is what I used. We made casseroles instead of individual enchiladas because they were so big. I made a huge pan with them, kind of like lasagna. I layered the tortilla, then meat and cheese and then I did it again. After three hearty layers I cooked it and then added more cheese and some green onions and olives. It turned out sooooooooo good!!

We decorated with what we could find here. There was some red butcher paper at the Mission Office, so we covered the tables with that. They also had some greenery and Christmas balls, so we put that down the middle of each table. We brought little Christmas trees from our houses and Sister Aland ran off a neat thought from the internet and pasted it on red paper. We placed those all along the tables too. In the end it looked like Christmas and even felt like Christmas.

We had an amazing Mexican Fiesta for our Christmas Eve Dinner. We served chicken and beef enchiladas, refried beans, Mexican rice, tacos, salsa, guacamole and chips. We also had punch and wonderful desserts. We all ate so much of the Mexican food, because we never get that kind of a dinner here, that no one wanted dessert until at least an hour after dinner.

The one sad note of the day was that 5 of our missionaries, serving on the island of Vava’u, were in a bad car accident today. It truly was a miracle that they weren’t all killed. The young man that was driving the van was going way to fast. He started to fishtail on a narrow road, lost control and the van spun around and hit the only palm tree that was anywhere near by. The van wrapped around the tree which kept them from going down a ravine where the van surely would have rolled several times. None of them had a seatbelt on. The driver was not injured, the missionary in the front with him hit the windshield. He cut his forehead, sustained a concussion and has several broken ribs. The seats right behind the driver were filled with luggage. That is the part that hit the tree. Anyone sitting there would have been killed. The other 3 missionaries were in the back of the van. Two had concussions and one needed a lot of stitches to sew up the gash in his leg. The other missionary was just bruised but no other injuries.

With the help of the Lord they all survived. Another car saw the accident, called an ambulance and they had help within minutes. The church chartered a plane to fly the two most seriously injured missionaries along with a nurse, to Tongatapu to the hospital here and made arrangements for one of them to be sent to New Zealand the next morning. That was scary news for us to hear on Christmas Eve. Sister Mitchell left our dinner to meet the plane and then go to the hospital with them. Our mission president still isn’t back from the Niuas so Elder Tukuafu also met that plane. Sister Mitchell called us to tell us that Elder Riddle, one of our favortie missionaries, he was in our ward before he was transferred to Vava’u, was the missionary in the most serious condition. We are sick about that but the nurse that flew down with him said that he was doing a little better by the time they got here. They are hopeful that he won’t have to go to New Zealand.

That kind of put a damper on our party, at least for those of us that know these missionaries. Some of the couples played a game after dinner and others started putting a puzzle together. The rest of us just visited and waited for more news.