Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010 was the first Christmas either of us had ever spent away from our family and friends. We were in a new and different land with new and different customs and friends. But one thing was the same, the gospel. It didn't matter if we were in Canada or Ireland the gospel was the one consistent thing in our life and you could always count on Frosty the Snowman. It didn't matter that there was no snow. Poor Frosty. He was a familiar face we could relate to. It made us feel right at home, even without the snow.

At Christmas everyone loves music. Whether at the indoor mall or outside in the streets of Dublin. Music was everywhere. Big bands or one man bands, it didn't matter, the music was terrific. They were everywhere, on the streets of Dublin, in the malls and in the cemeteries. Ireland has a radio station that comes on the air in mid November and goes off the air two days after Christmas, which plays nothing but Christmas music 24 hours a day. It is run by volunteers and can be heard throughout the island.

Most people believe that the shamrock is Ireland's national emblem. It is not, the harp is. This woman was our favorite. She was out everyday, sun, rain or snow, on the same corner in front of Trinity Collage playing beautiful Christmas ballads on her harp. You could tell how much she loved her music by the way she took special care or her instrument and played with such feeling.
This was Deanne's Christmas present. It is a one of a kind ceramic manger scene by Belleek, Ireland's finest china maker. They don't come cheap and are a collectors item.

Nobody likes a good sale better than Deanne. What would Christmas be like without Christmas shopping. Dublin is a perfect place for shopping. So much to see and so much to choose from. Life is great when you are in sales heaven.

The streets of Dublin are the most alive I have seen anywhere. Night and day the streets of the downtown are alive with thousands of people, shoppers, strollers, buskers, lovers, preachers, street peddlers and just plain gawkers. When I talk to people from Ireland who have been to north America the one comment they have in common is the absence of people on the street after 5:00 pm. The down town area of Dublin is a fun place to be and fairly safe. Dublin has some of the largest department stores you will find anywhere and they are always packed with people. Much of the downtown is shut off to autos. If you want to see the down town it is best to take the public transit, one of the best in the world. We usually drove into the the Stake Centre and caught the bus which stops in front every 10 minutes night and day. For a treat take one of the open air tour bus around the city. They are cheap but fun and full of merry makers the year round.

This is Henry's Street, one of my favourites. It is fun just strolling for three blocks down its cobblestone broad expanse, stopping at the open air street stands or rummaging in the mega department stores. Our favorites were Penny's, Dunnes, Arnotts, Mark and Spencers, Debenhams and Curreys.

What would Christmas be like without Santa's castle. Deanne hopes he is home.

Shoes!!!!!! Dublin has the funkiest and best shoe shops you will find anywhere. This pair shoes are just for Debra. Notice the hearts on the toes. We are now in shoe heaven. Personally I don't like some of the men's styles, they are more fit for Leprechauns, but ladies shoes are some thing else. The big rage here is high boots. The higher the better. Some come up well above the knee to the bottom of the mini skirt. The mini skirts are something else.
This is Grafton Street. While Henry's Street is a street of large mega Department Stores amd open air markets, Grafton Street is mostly smaller exclusive upscale shops. But the street scenes are different. It is also a centre for the arts. Many artists have set up small outdoar stands to sell their art along the street and it is also the first point of entry for new music acts to enter the market. We have seen as many as 6 performers per block along Grafton Street performing and selling their newest CD. If you look close you will see the Canadian flag. This flag flies in front of a very exclusive department store owned by the Weston Family of Canada which sell the best in fashions Canada offers at a considerably higher price than they would attempt to sell for back in Canada. The most popular shop in the downtown is Carroll's. You can not visit Ireland without going to Carroll's. It is Irelands most popular gift and souvenirs shop with 10 outlets in the downtown area. But if you want a truly unique Irish gift, Kilkenny's or House of Ireland is the best. Graftton Street starts in front of Trinity College and extends south to St Stephen's Green. St Stephen's Green is Dublin's version of Lethbridge's Galt Gardens or the Boston Common. It is huge, but famous for its art displays and acts.

One of the highlights of the Christmas season was when Deanne and I were asked to perform in the Savior of the World musical. Notice the priest in his robes on the left hand side. It was a fun experience. Wouldn't have missed this experience for the world.

I love this picture of a very special villager singing the greatness of God.

And the second from the right angel truly sang like an angel announcing the birth of the savior.

The entire cast comes forward to take a final bow and receive the accolades of the crowd.

Deanne and I in our costumes. Deanne performed as a villager and an angel. I performed the part of a priest and a shepherd.

This is our Bishop. Bishop Green. A very humble and dedicated man with a powerful testimony. A servant of the Lord and his fellow man.

A new crop of missionaries has just arrived. Young and eager, ready to go and serve the Lord.

Santa Clause in Europe lives in Lapland, a small village in North Finland where a whole industry has grown around the legendary character. Millions of tourists flock there each year for summer shopping in the small shops and winter skiing and fun.

For Christmas all the missionaries in Ireland come together for a special Christmas banquet and fireside with the mission president. Here are some of the couples we labor with.
This is our mission president's wife and daughter who came to spend Christmas with mom and dad. The young lady in front just returned from a mission in California.

Here is President Griffith giving one of his pep talks to the soldiers.

More President Griffiths.

Now it is mom's turn. What a wonderful spirit and perfect couple in every way for this calling.

Old Humbug Griffiths, He is father and guardian to an army of over 200 missionaries.

What would Christmas be like without a visit from Crusty the Clown. Here Crusty visits with the children of the Finglas Ward at the annual Christmas party.

Santa Clause puts in an appearance.

This is Nicole and her mother, an investigator family we are working with to teach and fellowship.

Our family home evening group assembled on the Monday before Christmas at our home for a Canadian Christmas Supper.

The table is set and the food is ready. Let the party begin.

And a delicious meal was enjoyed by all. Thanks sister Hancock.

All is ready for Christmas at the Hancock's.

The tree is decorated, presents put under the tree, stockings hung and the fire lit. Where is Santa?

Just so we don't get too homesick the snow finally came just in time for Christmas. This is the common area on top of the parkade in front of our flat. Got close to 6 inches. It shut down the whole city, which is not accustomed to snow at any time. Christmas 2010 was the 4th time in recorded history dated back 2000 years that is snowed in Dublin on Christmas.

For Christmas Eve the Dublin Stake Young Single Adults gather for a Christmas Dinner with their Adult Leaders. In the kitchen sister Card is putting the final touches on the food entries.

Our two sister missionaries who we are very proud of are Sister Spackman and Sister Steel, both hail from Idoho. Sister Spackman is from Burly and she does have a Canadian connection. Sister Steel comes from Northern Idaho, just south of Creston, BC where CBC Canada is daily listened to.

And a delicious meal was enjoyed by all.

This is Carissa, a special guest in our home for Christmas. Clarissa is a student in Dublin from San Paulo, Brazil. She was a joy to have in our home and Sister Hancock did her best to make her feel loved and wanted. She calls Sister Hancock her other mother.

What would Christmas be like without Sister Hancock's chocolates. Here is a sample of this years production.

The stockings are hung and ready in hopes that St. Nicolus would soon be here.

Christmas morning and time to open the presents.

Mom hands out Santa's booty to the antisipating crowd.

Christmas morning breakfast was enjoyed by all. We did have peanut butter in case you noticed the jar, just for Elder Hancock.

Out our back doar Christmas morning.

Our missionary family assembled for Christmas dinner.

The food is on the table. The ladies in the kitchen have outdone themselfs in their efforts.

It is time to chow down turkey, Christmas pudding and all. It was so good.

And a good time was enjoyed by all.

Now what should we do????????

What would New Years be like without some music. Elder Card brings out the fiddle. It's time to party.

The new year looks a lot better than a week ago. This is our back yard on New Years Day. Compare this to Christmas Day.

What better way to start a new year without a trip to our favorite restaurant in Ireland. Welcome to 2011. Just like home.

Please enjoy the rest of our blogs by scrolling down to view older blogs.