White Christmas, Shmite Christmas

We did a lot of things this week that for us, here in Portugal, signify the Christmas season. First, Linus finished off the Christmas decorating by hanging up everyone's snowflakes. He did a fantastic job and it looks nice.


Second, Ruby, Herbie and Moses had corta-mato. They and I were much less nervous this year, so that made it much more enjoyable for me. They all were in a new age group and youngest in their category, and all were beaten by kids on the older end, so were the first in their age (except Ruby who won--as a 9th grader with all the high school girls). Herbie took 7th and Moses 3rd. All of them will go to regionals sometime in January.


After the race Herbie and Moses celebrated by riding the elevator up to our apartment (instead of taking the stairs), and Ruby celebrated by going back to class.

And then we did three more Christmas things all in one day (yesterday). I actually enjoyed it all until today. There were so many leftovers from the branch Christmas party yesterday that we also had a linger longer today. And at that point I'd had too much branch party.

The first day of party was perfect. Ruby did the games. She was annoyed about being in charge at first, but she got it together and her attitude set us up for a nice kids vs. adults game of Portuguese trivia. The kids won; our kids have learned a lot about Portugal in school.

Herbie did an excellent job of writing, directing and narrating the nativity play. It was by far the best we've had since we moved here. Penelope was a very convincing traveling pregnant woman. She looked exhausted and did a lot of groaning.

We had to leave and some other people did too, so we cleaned up quickly, dropped off Pedro in Lourinhã and stopped at the Decathlon on our way to Lisbon for our annual Christmas money splurge (Thank you, Grandparents!). We didn't have a lot of time until we were expected in Lisbon, but the kids all found what they wanted on the master list that we had made beforehand, and Woo found a couple of things also.

Then we sped off to meet missionaries in a Lisbon zone for some caroling at a giant train station. It was not very cold or Christmasy, but there were a lot of people (thanks, also, to a giant mall across the street).

Penelope and Archie got tired early on and sat on the ground. I suggested that they get some cards from the missionaries and hand them out, which they did. They were very successful in handing them out as most people are much more happy to be greeted by a small child than a missionary.

They got a lot of smiles. I saw one woman stop her phone conversation and tuck her phone under her arm to take a card from Archie. He also interrupted a woman taking a selfie of herself and her daughter. She took a card. The kids were not very good at talking to people, but a few people they gave cards to lingered and spoke some with one of the missionaries.

The other kids (except Ruby, she held down the caroling fort with Woo, I and several sister missionaries) also wanted to help. I told Linus he should try to talk to someone about the Book of Mormon and give them one. He was excited about the idea and ran off, but it looked like the missionaries wouldn't let him have a Book of Mormon. He stuck with cards.

Herbie is older and less appealing to strangers, but he also gave out many cards and was not fazed by rejection. In fact, I'm reminded that earlier in the week we had a family council where we discussed how we're better since we've moved here or good things that have happened. One thing Herbie said is that we've learned how to be rejected.

Linus brought up that we've helped a lot of people know about the church and that he's given out lots of Books of Mormon. There was no trace of feeling like we'd failed as all have ultimately rejected our efforts. He felt he was successful because the people here had never heard our beliefs or met a member or seen a Book of Mormon, and now they have. And he was right.

Moses said that living in a small branch had helped him to think more about helping and working in the church, which is something he'd never thought of before. He also said that he felt like he was growing up.

Last night, on our way home from Lisbon, the power steering went out, and several warning lights went on. It was okay because there aren't a lot of sharp turns on the freeway, but shortly before I got to the roundabouts leading into our town, the brake light also came on. I had to push really hard on the brake pedal and the steering wheel to get us around three of them. About a block from home, all the electrical mechanisms on the car seemed to die completely, but we were able to coast to the parking lot near our house.

The stress of that was not a fun end of the evening for Woo, but he got a break from picking up Pedro this morning, and didn't have to give a talk today either because of a surprise visit from the new councilor in the district presidency. On the other hand, he was asked to teach Sunday School immediately before it started. He might have preferred to give the talk.

Here he is as King Herod. Costume by Linus.

Anyway, that's our week. I hope yours has been great!