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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Jamaica, but on Thursday, we had the opportunity to attend a very inspirational Zone Conference with about 30 young elders and sisters serving around the Kingston area, another senior missionary couple, and our Mission President and his wife. Our turkey sandwiches for the luncheon weren't quite what we were used to on Thanksgiving, and we missed being with family, but sharing this special time with others who love their Father in Heaven and are here to serve our brothers and sisters in this part of the world was very memorable. Buddy and I took every chance we could throughout the day to express our eternal gratitude to our Father in Heaven for our family and for so many dear friends.

Now to recap the past couple of weeks:

With special permission from our Mission President and the Area Authorities, we were able to fly ourselves back to the U.S. for a very short visit. The purpose for our trip was indeed an eternal one. We went so Buddy could join with his brother and sisters to be sealed in the Dallas Temple for time and all eternity to their mother and father. 

In Buddy's words:

November 19, 2016 will forever be a special day for my mother, father, sisters, brother, and me. It has been a forty year wait to be sealed to my parents and siblings. My dad passed away on November 16, 2015. Now that a year has passed, we were able to do his temple work by proxy. My brother and I served as proxy for Dad for all the ordinance work prior to and preparing for the sealing. First my dad and my mother, who is still living, were sealed as husband and wife. For this sacred ordinance, I had the honor of acting as proxy for Dad. The joy that was felt when we were subsequently sealed together as a family cannot be adequately expressed in either written or spoken word. I am so very grateful that the sealing power and priesthood authority have been restored to the earth in these last days so families can be together forever and not just for the duration of this mortal life.

We were absolutely overcome with joy that Jeff, Heather and all her family, Collin, Carly and all her family, Emily and all her family, and Blake were able to share this special time with Grandmother and other loved ones in Texas. Being able to be in the temple together was an extra special blessing.

Dallas Temple
Susanne Sharp Stewart surrounded by her children and grandchildren.

Susanne Sharp Stewart with Richard "Buddy" Stewart, Allen Stewart, 
Barbara Stewart Crandall, and Laura Stewart Shortridge

L to R - Emily Stewart Cohoon, Carly Stewart Price, Heather Stewart Wheeler,
Debbie and Buddy Stewart, Jeff Stewart, Collin Stewart, and Blake Stewart

This was the first trip to Texas for many of our grandchildren, so Friday evening we just HAD to take them to one of our favorite steakhouses with a live country western band and all.  Everyone down to the youngest – Carly’s little 1-year-old – had so much fun out on the dance floor. That’s all some of them could talk about for the rest of the weekend. “Grandma, I loved that cowboy dancin' place!” 

After the amazing temple experience on Saturday, we all gathered for dinner at good ol’ Golden Corral (something for even the pickiest eaters) and then gathered out at Ryan (our nephew) and Laura’s ranch for a fun birthday party in their new barn. How much more Texan can you get?  We celebrated the 4th birthday of Heather’s twins, Lilly and Ethan, and the 1st birthday of Carly’s
little Boston. We loved watching the 2nd cousins playing together and developing what will hopefully be lifelong friendships. Our six certainly have fond memories of the time they spent with their cousins, and now many from this next generation had the chance to make new memories.  Even though we are all so spread out over the U.S., families are forever and distance cannot break those bonds.

Sunday was another extraordinary day. We attended Sacrament Meeting at Buddy’s mother’s ward taking up almost three full rows. What a glorious sight; Grandmother beamed as she was surrounded by three generations of loved ones! We always love attending church in Denton because we see so many people who are dear to our hearts because of their continued friendship and support starting forty years ago when we first joined the Church in Denton. 

Before we knew it, the weekend was over. It was of course hard to say good-by, but we did surprisingly well. We are committed to the mission and realize more than ever the potential for helping those in need in Jamaica. Once again, it wasn’t good-bye, but ‘til we meet again.

Fortunately, our flights back to Jamaica went smoothly. As we arrived back at our apartment, I actually felt like we were home. We are back to "work" as we continue with our responsibilities which we take very seriously. We know there are great opportunities ahead to do as we've been called to do - relief suffering and seek out the poor and needy. We already feel the time flying by, so we don't want to waste any of this time we have dedicated to the Lord to serve His children who are in need here in Jamaica.

Okay, so here it is - the most wonderful time of the year! We want to begin this Christmas season by sending our love and best wishes and by sharing with you a very special Christmas message and opportunity for service. 

We invite you to go to mormon.org.

There you will be able to watch the inspirational #LighttheWorld video and learn how you can Follow Our Savior Jesus Christ. In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days. 

This is actually an interactive media advent calendar.

From the website:

Since a new star first appeared above Bethlehem, Christmas has been a season of light, reminding us that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Together, we can celebrate His birth by making the world a brighter place. All we have to do is follow Him—His life, His example, and His teachings. In doing so, we can help #LIGHTtheWORLD.

This Christmas, the Church is inviting people of all ages and religious backgrounds to not only share the good news of Christ’s birth but to actively follow His example of service throughout the month of December.

Every day leading up to Christmas is a chance to look at the things Jesus Christ did and resolve to do the same. To help, we'll be providing daily inspiration, suggestions, and encouragement on how we can follow the example of Jesus Christ and #LIGHTtheWORLD.

We hope you'll join us in this extraordinary worldwide Christmas event in honoring our Savior by following His example of sharing love and light.