There is always great anticipation when Christmas Zone Conferences roll around. For many missionaries this is a first Christmas away from home. There are both elements of homesickness and hope. We take our responsibility of keeping the Spirit of Christmas in our mission festivities seriously. We feel like our Conferences are the grand balance of learning, inspiration, celebration and unity.
We began the meeting with our regular opening and mission business by our assistants. Following that President Clark gave a fabulous presentation on Teaching Repentance. We have had many hours of training on how important it is for missionaries to understand repentance so that they can teach it effectively. The topic fits well with Christmas. The Atonement and Repentance are some of our Savior's greatest gifts to us. They were reminded repentance is a joyful word.
After this presentation all of our departing missionaries bore powerful testimonies. This has become a loved part of Zone Conferences for many. It is wonderful to see the growth from the beginning to end of their missions.
Sister Clark then presented a wonderful initiative for our mission for 2017. She taught about the power and purpose about the Book of Mormon. We always hear about the Book of Mormon being a “a marvelous work and a wonder.” Elder Nelson, at the 2016 Mission President's seminar called the Book of Mormon “A MIRACULOUS MIRACLE.” Her teaching included role plays and discussions. She ended by showing our missionaries what they would be receiving for Christmas - A hard copy of the Book of Mormon with a bookmark and red pencil. The charge was to mark every reference of Christ, his words and his attributes. As they read, any special experiences should be recorded in their journal. It was gratifying to see and hear their excitement with this unifying and inspiring study of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a springboard to testimony and revelation. It launches us to higher heights. "As we read the Book of Mormon with the guidance of the Spirit, it helps us answer personal questions and it testifies of Jesus Christ." PMG pg 107
Next came lunch, a demonstration on the 7 minute workout and activity sessions.
There was a light crowd for birthdays this month.
SOE's (Standard of Excellence) continues to soar.
Grateful to sing to those who prepared meals for our large gathering.
Next we move to a tradition that our mission enjoys. Each of the zones plan and make decorations for the special Angeles tree. Some of the zones really put a lot of thought into their decorations.
Gapan had beautiful snowflakes with pictures of companionships in the middle of each snowflake.
Bongaler decided to make a ginormous star.
It may or may not have teetered neatly on the tree.
San Jose made individual ornaments to adorn the tree.
Cabanatuan went with a variation of the snowflake ornament. It's amazing how popular snowflakes are in a country that most have never seen snow.
Guimba zone made brilliant green decorations that needed the beverage they contained consumed in advance. This is the better use - very creative.
Lovingly decorated by our great missionaries!
Afterward the missionaries were divided into 4 separate groups. Our senior couples each took a group an activity. The missionaries loved it! The Whiting's activity was viewing the Christmas classic, "Mr. Krueger's Christmas." An added delight was popcorn and juice.
Elder and Sister Pugh had the missionaries playing win, lose or draw with a
Christmas song theme.
Elder and Sister Dansie's activity was made up of three components. One was coloring with crayons. Another was decorating sugar cookies. The last was taking Christmas costume pictures. It was amazing to see how much fun the missionaries had coloring
scripture hero pages.
Elder and Sister Spung had the Christmas Bingo room. The missionaries loved searching for angels, snowmen and the three kings on their Bingo cards!
We ended our Christmas Zone Conference on a spiritual note. We had a musical program with narration and song. Each zone was given a spiritual Christmas song as their part of the program. They all practiced and added to the spirit of the meeting. The closing number, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, was powerfully sung by one of our zones. The pinnacle was when all missionaries stood and sang the last verse. There was an overwhelming power of love and appreciation for the Savior. It helped send our missionaries off to celebrate the Christmas holiday in the rich, thankful Spirit of Christmas.
"O COME LET US ADORE HIM!"