Monday, December 23, 2013

Here is another video of the program

Christmas part 3

Here is the link to another video of the concert.  We are working on a couple more.

Christmas Part II

A few more pictures from our Christmas Missionary Devotional
The Riggs, serving in Madrid mission with us, helping decorate and get ready for concert and they also helped us tons with the rehearsal and being in charge of all the ushers.  We couldn't have done it without them.  Note to our family and ward--their son is married to Marlene Fairclough!

3 of our MTC teachers helping to decorate, Carla, Marina and Dmitri. Marina designed the invitations and the programs.  Again we couldn't have done it without help from everyone.

A bad picture of 2 great people and the piano players for the evening; Vivienne and Sister Endicott.  Hermana Endicott saved my life on the piano!!  She is such a sweetheart.

Our percussion section: Elder Ward (of train wreck fame), Elder Day and Elder Dampt.  Also Elder Ward played the keyboard on two of the numbers and not pictured but very important is Elder Good who played the chimes, violin, and bass all on the organ!

My rendition of O Holy Night. It actually sounded pretty good with piano and organ accompaniment.

President Jackson giving his Christmas message at the end, just before the final number: Silent Night

Our hundreds of homemade cookies disappeared in about 2 minutes.  Sister Jones, one of our Temple missionaries, smiling and bringing cheer.

By the time I made it to the back of the hall these were all gone, but Sister Pliha (Russian teacher from Latvia) took the picture for me, so I would know what it looked like.

President and Sister Jackson, who are just AWESOME!

The Belen, or manger scene, just outside the building, on the lawn facing the Temple.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Season 2013 Part I

If luck holds out, this will be the first of several postings of the Christmas activities we have been, or will be, a part of.  Part I is our Missionary Fireside/Christmas Devotional.  Six weeks ago President Jackson approached us about doing a special Missionary Fireside for all the missionaries in the Madrid area (about 140) and invite all their investigators and recent converts.  We also extended the invitation to members and their non-member friends, since we wanted to make sure every seat was full.  We scheduled the Stake Center for Monday, December 16 (the only night available).  Hence we called it a Missionary Family Home Evening Christmas Devotional, but since our guests wouldn't understand FHE (Noche de Hogar in Spanish), the printed announcement read "Devocional especial de Navidad".

They turned out beautifully.  One of our Russian teachers in the MTC helped design these.  We printed 2000 on high quality photo stock with a map to the Stake Center on the back.  The missionaries were diligent in handing them out.  They were a popular item.
Some that said we would not be able to fill the hall on a Monday evening, or that at best, there would only be a few, and to be honest, we were quite worried that all our hard work would be for naught.  Sister Sullivan and I debated over how many chairs to set up that night.  I was firm that 300 was more than adequate.  She insisted on 500, stating, "If you pray for rain, bring an umbrella.  SET UP MORE CHAIRS!"  She won, as usual.
The Devotional was to begin at 7:45, and again, some said, "You'll never be able to start on time; the Spanish are notoriously late; at best they'll be 1/2 hour late."  We planned a "processional" to begin the program, with all 133 missionaries striding in from the back of the hall, clapping in rhythm while a small percussion ensemble and piano played.  When they assembled in their choir positions we broke into an upbeat traditional Spanish Christmas carol that every child in Spain knows by heart, called "Los Peces en el Rio".  And the concert was off and running.....on time.  Processional - Los Peces en el Rio.
Right from the first downbeat the missionaries captured the full attention of the audience and they were honestly spell-bound for the next 55 minutes.  It should be mentioned that this was not a hand picked choir of singers, but rather the entire group of missionaries from the 5 zones around Madrid, so obviously there are quite a few voices a little off pitch, and we only had one rehearsal before the day of the performance.  In spite of those shortcomings it was a smashing success.  The building was packed to the walls with people standing in the back.  I don't know exactly how many were there, but obviously more than 500.  Our Temple missionaries served as hosts/ushers and also provided hundreds of baked cookies as a post-concert treat, so our crowd control was excellent.
Here's a picture of the missionaries just before the concert began.  Including the MTC missionaries there were 148 plus President and Sister Jackson, President and Sister Sitterud, and 3 senior missionary couples; the Buhlers, the Riggs and the Sullivans.  It was an impressive sight AND an impressive sound.

Madrid area & MTC missionaries - December 16, 2013
A shot of the back of the hall after the concert.  

I'm uploading this video under some protest.  It sounded much better live.  One sister recorded it on a little hand-held camera.  Maybe someone can let Mom hear this sometime for her Christmas present.

Here's a couple of shots of some of our missionaries.  Not all of them followed directions to keep their eye on the conductor, but they look so darn good I can't be upset with them.

It was an unforgettable night, one that makes us feel real purpose in our call to Madrid, Spain