A busy busy day. Jonathan worked a full day. I worked half the day. The kids attended school the whole day. After a Christmas party hosted by Jonathan's school we all began our travels to the European side. We walked in the almost snowy rain. It was so great. The kids were hyped that there was a possibility for snow that evening. I'm sure my excitement for it helped. So we hurried along on the wet streets hoping to catch the ferry boat to Besiktas in time. So here we all are in the ferry boat. Even though no one else in the boat had the excitement for Christmas like we did, it was great to be all snuggly with everyone in an Istanbul ferryboat. All had scarfed necks and gloved hands, most people were quiet as they looked out the dark windows at the nearing lights of the Golden Horn.
We were on our way to our church branch for a Christmas Eve fireside. President Piper, who is the area authority over the Eastern Europe missions, was visiting the area with his family and was nice enough to give us a fireside. The attendance was probably half of our Sunday attendance but it was nice because we actually got to speak with him and his family. He got to spend a lot of time talking with our children, which really meant a lot to me because my little Atticus was sure acting up that night. President Piper tried to talk to Atticus but most of you know that he doesn't always respond when he is spoken to, even though he probably wants to. That didn't stop President Piper. He just picked Atticus up and flipped him around. I don't know why that is the only way for strangers to get through to Atticus right now but I'm sure glad he figured it out. I really appreciate the love other people give my kids, because I know that not all my kids are easy to love at this time in their lives. It was a wonderful fireside (which basically means a meeting where someone speaks about something having to do with our beliefs, but it is a slightly less formal meeting than a Sunday church meeting). Sister Loosli, the current senior missionary, baked tons of delicious cookies for afterwards. The Christmas tree was all lit up. My friend Susan's husband finally arrived earlier that day and they were all there together. It was probably so wonderful for them to be together again. What a wonderful gift for her! Before we left the branch we were able to give something special to someone who really needed it. After we left the church we spoke to our children about it. They complained a little about it but I hope that someday they will remember that our little sacrifice that night made someone else's life bright for that moment. I'm so glad that was part of our Christmas this year. On our walk to the bus stop we got to see the pretty Christmas lights in Taksim square. We were thankful for those too. To sum it all up, I think this will be my favorite Christmas Eve ever. As I look back all I can remember of Christmas Eves in the past are rushing, hurrying, and worrying, oh and seeing how cute my nieces and nephews are when they think they see elves (really their uncle Clayton) running around outside my grandma's house. OK, so I can remember some fun things, but I just want to say that putting Jesus at the center of Christmas feels so much better, and this is the first year I've really been able to feel like I did just that.