My first Christmas away from home - it was a little rough for me. Not because a bunch of hard things happened around that time, but because I had a tendency to get homesick sometimes, especially in the beginning. However, it was also a great Christmas thanks to my companion, our branch, and the fun mission conference.
We helped decorate the church for the branch Christmas party. Parties with the Latinos were always so fun. I don't know if it was irreverent or not, but they would always play super loud music (in the church) during the parties and have a great time with lots of food, talking, and sometimes dancing. However, I think this party was a little calmer than normal if I remember right.
The mission Christmas conference was always good. The whole mission would get together, so it was bigger than just zone conference. First we had a speaker, Elder Smith our Area Authority, and then a program with a bunch of musical numbers. After that was lunch, and of course I wrote in my journal what we ate: chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and dessert. Oh the mashed potatoes; they were something I definitely missed while serving with the Spanish speaking people, so it was nice to have them one time. We also did white elephant gifts. I can't remember what I took, but I ended up with these weird clown hooks that you hang on the wall.
At the end of the conference we took a mission picture, so here we all are:
On Christmas Eve that year we did a lot of tracting and looking up referrals. In the middle of it all we got a call from a counselor in the branch presidency asking us to speak in church (2 days later). It was the first talk I was asked to give on my mission and I spent a good portion of Christmas Day writing it. For dinner on Christmas Eve Hermana Chavez invited us over and fed us tamales and watched the Joy to the World movie. Her "husband" was there the whole time drinking his beer. She gave us presents (see picture in Investigators/Less Actives section - the one with the funky purses), and sprayed us with a bunch of her perfume. The rest of the evening we smelled like grandmas. She was such a funny lady.
Christmas Day I made myself some blueberry muffins and bacon for breakfast. You have to have something special on Christmas right? Then we went to the church to call our families which was so nice. Then, of course, I worked on my talk for the next day. That night we went caroling with part of our zone in a couple of apartment buildings. For dinner we stopped at a place that had 3 or 4 fast food places in it. I had Pizza Hut and Sister Gines had Taco Bell. Yum :).