Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Letter

Dixon Christmas Letter 2012
New Jersey Morristown Mission, 12/2012 
(hint: we're in the 2nd row, on the left.)

Christmas Greetings from New Jersey!  We are still serving here as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We are assigned to the New Jersey Morristown Mission.  Our current task is to teach the New Testament to young single adults (YSA) who are members of our Church.  (Last year we taught the Old Testament.)  We love our work and love and admire so very much the young people with whom we work and the efforts that they are making to live truly Christian lives. Roger also serves as a counselor in the East Brunswick YSA Branch presidency.
        We teach four classes each week and all of them are taught in Spanish.  For three of these classes we travel about an hour each way.  The fourth class is merely 20 minutes away from our apartment.  We always take refreshments to encourage the young people to linger after class and socialize.  We also play some games after the class; Uno seems to be the most popular.  Twice monthly we meet for our own study sessions with David Bean, a very gifted gospel teacher and with other missionaries who are teaching classes as well.  We dearly love the other senior missionaries with whom we serve.
We teach students who have come to the United States from many countries and who are working hard to improve their possibilities for a happy future.  We love and admire them for their dedication. Many of them are preparing to serve missions for the LDS Church.  A number of our students have already left for the mission field and others have their calls in hand and will leave for the four corners of the earth in the near future.  Several others will be going as soon as they save enough money to take care of their expenses while serving.  

June 30, 2012, we took a bus with our Union City Institute students and  friends to visit the DC Temple.  Unfortunately a  Derecho (damaging tornado-like storm) had hit the night before and the electricity was out for the whole metro area.  Fortunately the Temple workers, who were just getting ready to go home, stayed and ran the Temple by a generator so that our group could enjoy doing service in there for a couple of hours.  

Hurricane Sandy
        Recently, a good deal of our time has been spent in helping to coordinate the efforts of a thousand or so volunteers giving service to help clean up homes after Hurricane Sandy hit.  The church members who  have worked so hard wear the bright Mormon Helping Hands shirts to help distinguish them as a group.  In a number of areas of damage the police were only allowing organized volunteers in and restricting access to people who were just curious.
     We have been working in the Communications Center that was established in Eatontown, New Jersey, near the Jersey shore where Hurricane Sandy did so much damage.  This is one of several centers that were set-up in the New Jersey and New York to coordinate assistance to the storm victims.  We were able to receive requests from victims who needed help and send work teams to them using a brilliantly designed software package based on Google earth.  The s/w allowed us to send Mormon Helping Hands teams to respond to the requests and also allowed teams from other churches and volunteer organizations to claim requests for their teams to work on.  Our missionaries and other Church members along with people of many faiths and other types of organizations invested tens of thousands of hours “mucking” out homes that were damaged by flood waters and falling trees and providing other much needed assistance.   So many people were left with nothing after the storm.  People who had comfortable middle-class lives were suddenly homeless.  The appreciation they expressed for the assistance received was both humbling and heartwarming. 
       It reflects well on our country that so many, many volunteers came to the aid of the storm victims.  These efforts continue and will be needed for months to come (maybe years?) before some semblance of order can be restored to the lives and communities of many of the storm victims.  We've observed that throughout NJ, even hours away from the beach, there are thousands of trees have been uprooted, splintered and crashed to the ground (or nearby building).  Many of these trees are more than four feet in diameter and could easily be more than 100 years old. If you need wood chips or mulch, this is the place to come.

We gathered with other missionaries from the NJMM to help with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath.

A little about our Family
For those of you who know our children, we include the brief summary below.  Our 3 sons live near to us in Utah and Jen and Debi live on the west coast in Oregon and California.

Eric and Liz live in Lehi, Utah with their children: Grant, 16; Claire 13; and Taylor 9.  Eric works as a software consultant for Microsoft and Liz teaches in the BYU Marriot School of Management.
Jen and Andrew Schafer live in Sherwood, Oregon with their children: Sierra, 15, Brennon, 13; and Milo, 6. Jen works as a free-lance editor and Andrew as an architectural LEED specialist for PGE.
Jeff and Kate live in Highland, Utah with their children: Carter, 9; Cassidy, 6; Ella 4; and McKay, 2. Jeff works as an agent for Sentry Insurance and Kate as a notary public.
Dan and Holly live in Lehi, Utah with their children: Sienna, 4; and Lucas, 1. Dan is a real estate broker for Prudential and Holly is a social worker for people needing hospice care.
Debi and Jared Lee live in Santa Paula, California with their children: Bethany 3; and Isaac, 3. Debi and Jared are totally immersed in setting up an orthodontics practice in Santa Paula.
We want to add our testimony to others you receive at this time:  Heavenly Father does live and He knows and loves each of us.  Jesus Christ is our Savior who teaches us principles for living and provides the means to eventually obtain eternal life.  We love being members of the Church of Jesus Christ and find that it gives purpose to all phases of our lives, especially this one.  One of the joys we have discovered as members is the invitation to do family history.  It’s a work of love and intellectual challenge and is an activity we look forward to renewing when we return from our mission in April 2013.

We wish the Lord’s tender mercies on you and your family at this time and for the New Year!
Love, Elder and Sister Dixon
(Roger & Deanne)

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