Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving: A Time to Reflect and Give Great Thanks

Thanksgiving: A Time to Reflect and Give Great Thanks
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Puerto Plata in the a.m.
Thanksgiving is approaching, and we are thousands of miles away from home. No snow haunts our doorsteps--thankfully; no trees are turning their beautiful green leaves for the multicolored reds, yellows, and gold of harvest falls; no pumpkins, carved or otherwise, line our driveway or even our window sill because a) we don’t have pumpkins here and b) we don’t have a window sill. But Thanksgiving is more than turkey, cranberries, stuffing, numerous salads, and pumpkin pie. It’s about being thankful for what you have and/or what you have experienced.

Vision Project in Los Alcarrizos
                In our Family Home Evening (FHE) on Monday night, six couple missionaries sat around the living room of President and Sister Bair, the Temple President and Matron of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple. We discussed what we were thankful for during the past year. For all of us it was hard to come up with just a few things to occupy our five minutes per couple. In fact, we went over time because we could not give "a full account of these things” And so it went.
                My thankfulness this year includes the following:

33 years--Celebration in Puerto Plata
                My lovely bride of over 33 years—We celebrated our 33rd this year in July. What a great 33 years we have had. They haven’t all been easy, but they have filled with opportunities to serve and to learn together. Thankfully, she is patient with me and overlooks my flaquezas, my weaknesses. Gracias, my Querida, for all that you do, for that you are—for you are truly one of Heavenly Father’s finest. 
Anna Rose, Christiaan, and Family
 Joseph, Hailey, and baby
                My two daughters and their growing little families—Our two daughters are spectacular, they married wonderful husbands, and they are mothers with beautiful, intelligent children. Our youngest had her first in September. We thank you two for being such incredible human beings and for your consistent and ongoing support.

                Skype—Yes, Skype! Without Skype, we wouldn’t be able to watch our grandchildren grow. Without Skype, we wouldn't be able to talk face-to-face with our children and our family members. Skype lessens the challenges for couple missionaries in staying in contact with our families. We thank you, Skype, for allowing us to communicate with our family.

Hermano Zarzuela is second from left
                Our Mission—We always knew we wanted to serve together. Our mission as welfare specialists in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office has truly been a life-changing experience. We have been members our entire lives. We thought we knew about what the Church did. In reality, we knew little of what the Church does throughout the world and its far-reaching service. Having opportunities to be a part of welfare and humanitarian projects and working in the Area Office have opened our eyes and our hearts. For example, watching Brother Zarzuela from Santiago receive a prosthesis in the a.m. and then witness his walking up the stairs in the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple and into a session was one of the most inspiring days ever. We thank the Lord for sending us to the Caribbean Area to serve.

The Díaz/Beloni Family

Cristina, Los Hammon, y Fransica
                Dominican people—We have met some incredible people. Los que trabajan por la Iglesia en la Oficina de Área son unos de los mejores! They stop by our cubicle often and see how we are doing and then stay and visit for a bit. They have become friends and colleagues, ones we shall never forget. Additionally, we have enjoyed visiting people from different organizations who are wonderful people who want to help those most in need. We thank them for their service and for who they really are.

Sister Hammon and some of the sisters from the CCM
                The Centro de Capacitación Misional (CCM)—This is the Dominican MTC. We have had the privilege of working with so many missionaries from around the world who have come to the DR to complete their missionary training for a few short weeks. They are indeed men and women of God. Some of their stories cause lumps to emerge in our throats and tears to stream down our cheeks. Their lives have been filled with experiences beyond their years. We thank them for their willingness to serve despite sometimes severe opposition and obstacles.

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple
                The Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple—The moment you drive or walk through the gate to the Temple, you instantly feel at peace from the chaos that surrounds the temple in this huge city. The Temple is gorgeous, the temple grounds immaculate, and the setting stupendous. Truly, the Santo Domingo Temple is one of the most beautiful temples build. Thank you for the beautiful temple.

Relief Society President and President and Sister Muñoz from the Las Americas Stake

                The Love of our Heavenly Father and His Son and their protection—We cannot finish giving thanks without giving thanks to our Heavenly Father and His Son for their protection during our mission. There have been many times when we have physically witnessed being protected and many more times when we know we have been protected. We can thank them often enough for all of the blessings we have received.
                And, yes, there are many, many more reasons why we are thankful during this week of Thanksgiving. Indeed, every day is Thanksgiving for us, and we wish you all a reflective and fulfilling Thanksgiving, not just this week but for the entire year.

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