Joy to the World! We had a great visit with Dallas on Christmas Day via FaceTime. He looks and sounds even better than we'd hoped: happy, handsome, and immersed in his mission.
In general, he wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and sends his love. Plus... he provided these answers to your pressing questions:
- To answer Aunt Nic's question: I politely swallow down the food I'm given, even though I don't like it. I don't mind broccoli, so it's not really something that's hard for me to eat. The two foods that I've really had to choke down out here are catfish (I pretty much drowned it in lemon juice so that I wouldn't have to taste it) and mushrooms that were stuffed with cheese.
- To answer Aunt Angie's question: I don't really know the song, but I believe I've heard it once or twice. However, I do know that it alludes to the Great Chicago Fire, and that the story goes that the cow (I think the cow's name is Mrs. O'Leary) kicked over a lantern, which caught the barn on fire, and the fire spread and caused a lot of destruction.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We don't think the cow's names was Mrs. O'Leary...
- Elder Dallas lives in a house that has been converted into four apartments. His neighbors are all very friendly, although he knows more about all of them than he would like as the walls are very thin. He says regular movie nights over one neighbor's awesome sound system are somewhat detrimental to companion planning.
- The missionaries had a big Christmas fireside with 60-70 missionaries in attendance. One of the zone leaders dressed as Santa and passed out gifts -- which the missionaries then opened at their apartments Christmas morning. He sends his thanks for so many cards and presents!
- At every mission meeting, the opening song is "Called to Serve" and the closing is "The Time Is Far Spent" -- one of his new favorite hymns.
- Elder Dallas' area consists of three cities that kind of blend together (sort of like Murray/Midvale/Cottonwood). The Spanish sisters are in the newer area, Bourbonnais, and they share a car with the elders. Elder D and his companion are in the Kankakee section, where as white boys, they really stand out. Kankakee has consistently been on the country's top 10 of areas least able to bounce back from the recession.
- Although his family has sent him a couple of gift cards to McDonalds and Subway (because they're everywhere, right?), there are no McDonalds or Subways in Kankakee. The sisters have all the restaurants in their area. (Don't worry, he's keeping his stockpile of gift cards to eat really well after a transfer or two.)
- The members are taking good care of the missionaries. Brother Anderson has taken Elder Anderson under his wing; it was from his home that the elders called home on Christmas.
If you didn't get your Christmas Wish of an answer about the Chicago West mission, please let us know! And from Elder Anderson, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!