Saturday, December 24, 2011

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

   The Dixon's, December 2011

Greetings from New Jersey, where we (Roger & Deanne) are assigned as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the New Jersey Morristown Mission.  We are here for 18 months serving as Church Education System (CES) Institute instructors in the East Brunswick area.  We spent several months this year preparing for our mission.  We were very fortunate to find a young couple (Calvin & Ashley Skinner) to stay in our home and a very reliable gardener to take care of Roger's hobby while we are away. 
A little about our calling:  We teach four Institute classes on the Old Testament to Young Single Adults (ages 18-30) during the week.  We travel about 8 hours a week to go to our classes.  We learned fast that one cannot get along without a GPS here.  The roads are complicated.  (See our blog post comparing UT and NJ.)  The classes are taught in Spanish and held in East Brunswick, Eatontown, Plainfield and Union City.   Roger speaks Spanish fluently and Deanne is learning.  Some students have been in the USA most of their lives and speak English quite well, others have been here as little as a year.  Likewise, their time in the LDS Church varies from life-time members to joining as recently as a month ago.   

Our Students:  So far, we have students from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Some have served LDS missions, mostly within the United States; others are preparing to go out soon.  For the most part, they are in their twenties and single so the class also serves as an opportunity for them to socialize and we always provide food of some kind for the social period after the class. 

Other CES missionaries joined us after this photo.  This is the Cloisters, a great place to see medieval religious art in NYC.
Cultural Events:  We also have time each month for “cultural” events.  So far, we have been to the Cloisters (a grand building and art museum made from ornate materials and art shipped from Europe) and Radio City Music Hall (famous for their precision dancing and Christmas Spectacular) in New York City. 

We also toured the Washington winter headquarters in Morristown and Jockey Hollow where the troops were bivouacked during part of the Revolutionary War.  We have a similar outing each month and each missionary couple is responsible to plan an event.  In January we are going to see the Lion King on Broadway and in February the art museum in Philadelphia.  We are situated about halfway between New York City and Philadelphia.   We are pleased that our CES leader, David Bean, likes activities. 

About a month ago a new LDS East Brunswick Young Single Adult Branch was formed in our stake and Roger was called as first counselor in the unit.  He seems to take it all in stride.  We are enjoying the young people we meet.   We're also enjoying the young missionaries and senior missionaries we are meeting.  We enjoy and admire our mission leader, President and Sister Jeppson from Cottonwood, UT.  Yesterday we enjoyed an All-Mission Conference with all the 140 or so missionaries here.  It was a special treat to have Alex Boye perform for us.

Sister Sierer, (a fellow CES missionary whose husband is the 2nd counselor in the branch) made this Composite of the Branch members we have photos of, to date.  It looks like Branch President Eck is on the bottom right.

We miss our kids, grandkids, friends and ward a lot, but feel that this is important enough to be away for a while.  Ironically, every Wednesday we look across the Hudson and see the approximate area where our daughter Debi and family lived until 3 months before we arrived.

 We are grateful that we can keep in touch with our families by phone and email.  All the families are doing well and the grandkids are growing in skills as well as physically.  In the spirit of “Numbers” in the Old Testament:  Eric & Liz begat Grant, Claire & Taylor; Jen & Andrew begat Sierra, Brennon & Milo; Jeff & Kate begat Carter, Cassy, Ella & McKay; Dan & Holly begat Sienna & Luke; and Debi & Jared begat Bethany & Isaac.  We apologize to everybody else, but we have the cutest and smartest grandkids ever!   

This mission experience has been a great adventure for us.  We are increasing our circles of people we love.  The Hispanic kids we have been called to serve are bright, beautiful and full of devotion and testimony.  We learn from them.  We are trying to serve Jesus Christ by reinforcing and clarifying the teachings of His Gospel to Young Single Adults in this area.  This has been an enriching experience for us as we also learn more about the plan of salvation and Christ's key role for everyone.  We are enjoying this sweet time together.  
We pray the Lord's watchful care and blessings on each of you who have been and remain so important in our lives.  We've received Christmas cards, photos and letters from many of you and thank you for them.  This will be our card this year.

You are invited to join/become a Follower of this blog, which we will occasionally update.  It's a report on some highlights of our activities and some of our thoughts as we go along. 

God is good.

With Love, 
Roger and Deanne 
(Elder & Sister Dixon)

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