Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Jammies

Ever since I was little, it has been a Christmas tradition to open one present on Christmas Eve. However, the gift was always the same; pajamas. As we grew older, it was anticipated, and we even tried to get my mother to allow us to open a different present, but to no avail. The tradition continued each year, and I have to say I really looked forward to opening that gift.

We never had the same jammies twice. Sometimes they were purchased, but more often than not, my mother lovingly made them. This year was no exception. Even after undergoing shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, she set about making pajamas for everyone in the family. 10 grandchildren, Zach's missionary companion, Mark and Heather and Ivan and I. Even Grandma and Grandpa had a set. This is our yearly picture of the grandkids, minus one. Zach will have to send us a photo of he and his companion in their "jammies."

When speaking to the family on Christmas, Zach asked Grandma why she made such "ghetto" jammie bottoms. He said, "I know I'm serving in the hood, but I don't need to dress like it." Too funny. Needless to say, I hope this is a tradition that our children will continue when they start their families, because if they don't, I'll be providing the jammies myself. It's wonderful how traditions like this bring us so much joy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Zach's first Christmas in Jersey & NYC

Time Square

Manhattan Temple

Nice hat Elder Roque!

Once there was a snowman, small, small, small. Only an Arizona boy would save a poor little snowman in the freezer for safe keeping.

Elder Clark shoveling snow. Brrrrrr

Baptism Day

Friends from the Branch

More friends from the branch

A Very Merry Christmas

We were able to speak to Zach on Christmas night, and it was really wonderful. He sounded so happy and really is loving his time in New Jersey. Grandma and Grandpa got to say a few words, as well as his siblings. Mark, Heather and the kids said hello as well. We called Grandma Roque on the cell phone and put it on speaker so he could say a few words to her. We also did the same for Grandma GG (Great Grandma). He was pleased to speak to all.

Last week Zach was able to attend the Manhattan temple, and spend some time in the city. He really enjoyed it. He the noise of the city is deafening, but as he walked through the doors of the temple, the quiet reverence was awesome. He was thankful to have the opportunity to attend the temple so close to Christmas. He also enjoyed the food, and sounds that the city had to offer.
Unfortunately, upon returning to their apartment in Newark, NJ they found that they had been robbed. One Elder on his way home lost his camera, memory card and a scrapbook from his mission. Hopefully the thieves will at least give the memories back.

Zach said that Christmas was spent with a couple of member families, and they were well fed. The first dinner was traditional, with ham, potatoes and fixings. The second, was Puerto Rican food. Mmm, mmm, good. If there is one thing that can be said for Zach, he is a world class eater. I fully expect that at some point there will be a Nathan's hot dog competition in his future.

It is cold and miserable weather, but Zach and his missionary companion are teaching 9 people currently. They are really enjoying the branch, and love the people. Apparently soccer, or futbol is the sport of choice in the neighborhood. So, the elders play on P-Day with the kids and men young and old from the neighborhood. Zach says he's getting pretty good. A member gave he and Elder Clark soccer jerseys for Christmas.

The people the branch are so friendly, and love to help the missionary effort. I have posted a few photos. Some from his visit to the city and the temple, and others of friends from the branch. Zach wanted to relay how thankful he is to be serving, and how blessed he feels to have this time to do so. Christmas is the perfect opportunity for all of us to serve one another and do as the Savior would have us do. Because just as President Monson says, "The true spirit of Christmas is achieved when we drop the last syllable in Christmas, and it becomes the spirit of Christ."

I have posted his remarks about the Christmas spirit in the form of a you tube video at the bottom of the blog.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First snowfall; frightening experience

Things are going really well; it snowed this past Saturday! This Arizona boy is freezing his butt off. Despite the cold weather, we are working really hard and seeing success. We are preparing two families for baptism.

We received a call from our branch president this week that one of our members was severely depressed and called to have the relief society president help plan her funeral. We were asked if we would check on her. Upon arriving at her home, she had chained the gate so no one could gain entry. I hopped the fence and knocked on the door for over 15 minutes. She finally came to the door in tears, and thanked us for coming. We gave her a priesthood blessing and she later said at church that our coming and the blessing were a miracle, a true answer to prayer. The whole experience was frightening yet uplifting.

The missionaries will get to attend the Manhattan temple this month, and see a few sights in New York City. It should be a great experience. I love and miss you all, but am enjoying the experiences that serving a mission brings.

Elder Roque

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Transfer

Hello all,

I was transferred this week, and my new area is VERY different than my last area. I am in North Newark "walking". Yes, no car and no bicycle. It's wintertime and cold and snowy and we walk and walk and walk. (Sounds like a primary song...) The area is rough, many call it the "ghetto" of the mission. I was a little nerve racking the first night, but I find I like it here.

I guess I shouldn't worry, because I'm part of the "GOD SQUAD". At least that is what the local gang members call us. Not only did they give us a name of which I quite like, they have offered us protection. Go figure. Needless to say, with the protection of the spirit, and the gang members, no worries.

My new companion Elder Warner is great! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with (2) dinner appointments, and lots of left overs. I do miss Dad's ribs though. Mom wrote that he smoked 50 pounds of ribs for their meal in Las Vegas!

Elder Warner and I probably walked over 20 miles this week. Immediately after coming into the area, the branch president asked me to speak in sacrament meeting; I think it went well.

We also committed 6 people to baptismal dates. We are working hard and really feel blessed. Although the area is rough, I am adjusting an love it. I am so thankful for the blessings in my life and for all that I have. It's easy to take the comforts of life for granted until you see others living without them.

Here's hoping everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and is truly thankful for the blessings they receive.

Elder Roque

Zach & Devynne

Zach & Devynne
The Princess Ball