It is finally starting to feel like the holiday season for us! Unlike Thanksgiving, everyone here celebrates Christmas! It is a little different feel than we are used to, instead of coming in and drinking hot chocolate, we are taking a dip in the cool swimming pool. Instead of loading on the warm gear, we are putting on as few clothes as possible! It is very hot for the cool season. Nonetheless, we have the biggest tree in South East Asia just 10 minutes away, and beautiful sparkling lights out our window at the big department store down the street. There are a lot of ads for buying Christmas gifts, but they just do things differently here. I get the feeling it is more of a friend holiday than family. They give gifts to coworkers and hired help, but maybe not parents and siblings. I don't know if this is how it is everywhere, but this is what we gather so far. There are lots of gift baskets everywhere, especially with liquor. I think this is a common type of gift.
We moved this week to a new temporary housing apartment (I know, we are nuts). It's just a different branch of where we were before. The location is closer to the train station and shopping, and the place has a few little extras. Mostly, we just felt we needed a change. Being in this little apartment is a bit of a challenge. We are just getting anxious for our place to be done (we move in Jan. 1st), and for our sea shipment to arrive. We did get our air shipment this week, which felt like Christmas! We have "new" toys and books, our language materials, Jeff's instruments, and more! We are happy to be in a different place, but I have to admit, I cried the whole taxi ride here. I was so sad to leave our other home. The friends and staff members we met there made our first experiences in Bangkok unforgettable!
Here are a few of our favorite people. The man on our left was Janie's favorite. She would spontaneously reach for him when we saw him. He, of course, loved this and took every opportunity to hold her. She pressed her face and hands against the window as we drove away on Wednesday until we couldn't see him anymore. (They all came out and waved goodbye as we drove off.) In the middle is Jack's "girlfriend". She chased after him for a kiss everyday, gave him chocolates, and played "superman" with him. The man on the right was the door man that always boxed with Jack while we were waiting for our taxis. He was a very good sport! Unfortunately, many of our favorites were not working Wednesday morning when we moved out. We are anxious for Mom, Dad, and Sam Hillman to stay there when they come next month so we can go and say hello.
The highlight of our week was something called "Journey to Bethlehem" put on by our stake. It was an amazing production put on in the church where you go from room to room and hear from the angels, shepherds, wisemen, innkeeper, and Mary and Joseph. It was extremely well done, and very touching. It was such a wonderful way to start out the season and remind us why this is such a special time of year.
The members went through the "journey" on Wednesday night, and Friday and Saturday was mostly for investigators and friends. The missionaries were all there and very busy, they had activities for the children, entertainment in the parking lot, and food you could buy with your "money" (rocks you got at the door).
These are some of the booths you could choose from to buy dinner, drinks, ice cream, cookies and fresh fruit. I couldn't do much to help, but I did get to make 12 dozen cookies to contribute. Usually 12 dozen cookies wouldn't be that big of a deal with my mixer, pans, utinsels, etc., but I don't have any of that! It was quite a challenge. It took me a long time (the oven only holds 9 at a time), and the cookies were not exactly like they usually are, but it worked! I was glad to play a very small part in such a wonderful thing that hopefully helped push the work along in Thailand! I found myself wishing that you could all experience what we did. It was wonderful.
Jack loved his Shepherd hat that they provided for the kids. He was so proud to look like Joseph, so we went back several times to make sure Joseph knew that Jack had a shepherd hat too. He wore it the entire way home (a long walk, train ride, and another walk). If he didn't already call enough attention to himself.... This actually got more looks than when he goes out wearing his superman cape!
In addition to the live nativity they had inside the building, they had a nativity outside where people were getting their pictures taken with Mary and Joseph (a little different), but they would also participate in the musical presentations taking place close by. Jack stood by this stable for I don't know how long.
I thought this picture of Janie was so cute with this beautiful flower that the gardener gave her. The tropical flowers here are just amazing. I thought this looked like it should be on a cake or something, just too perfect. He told (or motioned) for us to smell it, and it was like heaven! What a sweet man to share that with Jane.
This is at one of our favorite places, Carrefour, they have the only Toys R Us in Bangkok. We go and play before we get our groceries. This day, Jane found a shopping cart and loved pushing that thing all over the store. The employees are so sweet to let the kids play and they are patient with any accidents that occur. But, that would never happen with my kids!
Another cute one of Jane. She was so proud of herself for eating her yogurt all by herself. She's learning so many things so fast! She walks all over now, way more than crawling. She loves to be with the big kids, and does a pretty good job at keeping up! She is the queen of hugs, kisses, cuddles, and big "Janie Specials" (zubbers on our cheeks or anywhere else she can get).
My kids have a blast playing together. This is just one of them playing on our bed in our old place. Janie constantly surprises us with how tough she is. She can stand up for herself when Jack gets too rough, but she also takes a beating pretty well when they are just playing around.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the holiday season. It is such a magical time of year. As much as we love the glitter, gifts and excitement of the holidays, more than ever we feel so blessed to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Merry Christmas!