Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas from Darrel and Joanne Hammon

Merry Christmas from Darrel and Joanne Hammon
from Pleasant Grove, Utah—December 2013

Joanne and I have had an eventful year. On January 28 2013, we flew from balmy Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to frigid Salt Lake City, Utah. The moment we stepped off the plane we were ready to return to our 86-degree weather. But, alas, there were grandchildren and children waiting for us when we walked down to the baggage claim. It was so wonderful to see them that we forgot the balmy weather—at least for a few weeks.

"Welcome Home"--It was a very cold and snowy evening when we arrived!
 We enjoyed our mission! It was one of the best experiences we have had in our lives. We love the people. They are so friendly and loving. They may be poor, but they are grateful for everything they have, which is very, very little, and they are willing to share everything with you. Perhaps, one of the best parts of the mission was serving in the Santo Domingo Temple once a week. They are so thankful to have a temple in their midst and believe their island is protected from the elements because of the temple. We also enjoyed thoroughly the privilege we had to travel around the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, training lay leaders in welfare and leadership principles. We loved our mission and urge all of you to prepare now to go somewhere in the world to serve. Your eyes will be opened. 

A group of senior missionaries: Los Snow, Rucker, y Hammon
 As you all know, we sold our home and most of our belongings before we left on our mission. So, Anna Rose said we could come live with her and her little family when we returned. The day we were flying in, she and her family were moving from Orem to Pleasant Grove. Thus, we started our new life in a new home along with Anna Rose, Christiaan, and their little family. It has been wonderful so far. We helped them finish the basement so we could live there. We get to see Emiline and William every day. Emiline is going to pre-school three days per week and loving it. William who was born while we were gone learned to walk and now runs and runs and runs. Plus, he is just a fun little boy. 

Happy Grandparents!
We have spent a great deal of time traveling about. When we arrived home, Hailey, Joe, and little Clark lived in Wisconsin; so, we flew there and spent a week or so with them. It was fun getting acquainted with our little Clark who also was born while we were serving. Joanne did come home to be with Hailey during the birth. 

Haily and little Clark on Cannon Beach
 In September, we visited them in Puyallup, Washington, where they are now living with his parent while Joe finishes his master’s in math from BYU. While Joe was doing his thing, we trundled down the Oregon coast and enjoyed four days of absolutely stunning beauty. Of course, the best part was being with Hailey and our sweet Clark. The Oregon Coast is a must see. 

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach
We also spent time with our families in Idaho, traveling there at least four times, once to just visit, once to bury Darrel’s cousin Deloy, another time to bury Darrel’s youngest brother Heber who died from complications of diabetes, and once to attend the 60th birthday of Darrel’s oldest brother Dennis. One of our visits included a Memorial Day visit of all of the cemeteries where Joanne’s kin are buried. Anna Rose and her little ones came with us, and we all stayed at Brad’s. We had an enjoyable weekend with Joanne’s family. We do have beautiful cemeteries in eastern Idaho, especially the Annis-Little Butte Cemetery, where both of our parents are buried.

Little William at the Annis-Little Butte Cemetery
When we were in the DR serving as missionaries, we meet a Dra. Claudina Vargas, a Dominican by birth but schooled in Spain and the U.S. having earned a Ph.D. in Engineering from the U. of Iowa. She has a foundation that works with some of the poorest schools. We were able to return to the DR at the end of July and spend nine days, working with the students, teachers, and parents. Darrel did workshops on leadership principles and values. 

MACILE students in the DR
 We also were able to have a lunch and a dinner with our missionary couple friends and visit our little Consuelo Branch. What an incredible homecoming we had with the members there! We love them so. Overall, our return trip was extremely fruitful. We do hope to return.

Los Hammon con la Familia Díaz en Consuelo!
 Although we are native Idahoans, we have decided that while snow is beautiful, we would much rather be in a milder climate. There is something about living in the tropics where the blue skies dominate throughout the year and you can walk along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aside from the humidity, the weather was spectacular! Plus, the fresh fruit was so enjoyable!

Snowy range in Pleasant Grove, Utah
We wish all of you a Feliz Navidad! May the Lord continue to bless you always with the knowledge that Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother and our Savior, is truly the reason to celebrate Christmas. 

"Precious in His Sight" by Greg Olsen