Original article posted by Greg:

Actually, I want to give you an ‘invite.’

It is this: If you read this posting on my website, you are hereafter required to log in, write an entry about something funny or meaningful that has happened to you in the past 473 years, and submit it.

And the related promise is this: Within 30 minutes after submiting your writing, no matter how pathetic you may think it is, 1000 Christmas calories and 108 grams of fat will magically be removed from your body.

That’s pretty much equal to pulling a ‘get out of jail free’ card out of the community chest.

And it works too. How do you think I maintain my slim figure?

Notes of interest from the past week included and were not limited to a 4 year old girl who wandered around in a santa mask yelling “SANTA IS HUNGRY. WHAT IS SANTA GOING TO EAT?” over and over again.

I define it as a high point.

And I passed the 200 mark in the number of chinese characters I can read. Only 2,800 to go before I can read the newspaper.

Other items of news were the mission conference and the tidal wave.

First the conference.

It was great. I got my last christmas gifts from home, and they were the best. We had mongolian barbeque and more ice cream than 150 missionaries could overcome. Then there was a talent show, which I was asked to participate in 5 minutes before it started. It was a great show. Then president shared a spiritual message. It was also great. Then we went to the airport and flew back down to hualien just in time to go to bed.

The tidal wave didn’t get up to taiwan. Don’t worry.

I don’t see news often here, but here’s what I’ve heard: An earthquake occurred somewhere on the ocean floor. Several hours and thousands of miles later, tens of thousands of people die as the ocean lifts up and drops on them.

Does this make you think? What are the end results of your thoughts?

As a civilization, we are not put into the ‘humble” category. Really, as individuals we rarely get to the point where we are willing to say “Yes, he is smarter than me.” or “I don’t know what to do, so I need help.” More often it’s like “I have no interest in your opinion.” Or “you have nothing that could help me.” Or “I’m happy enough already.” or “What I have is all there is.”

I remember a few years back when Logan, Utah had an inversion for a few days and people were asked to not leave their homes because the air was toxic.

We offer aid to the afflicted. And the wise, the humble, learn from it.

To me, this is a reminder that we are not in charge of the show here. We are all trying to learn our part in this big play of life. We are all able to define our character according to our own thoughts and perspective on how the show ought to go. We can even shape other people’s characters to some extent. But we need to remember we never call the lights. We didn’t raise the curtain, nor will we close it. Our entrances and exits are also not of our own choosing.

But we can still make great people of ourselves.

Really, what else can we control in this world but who we are? I think that’s about it, personally. For those who wonder why I decided to serve a mission, this may answer a portion of the question.

New years comes soon. It’s the big one for China. People are putting up lanterns and special tents and buildings over a month in advance.

I have a habit of writing a new years message. This year’s message is see previous years message. Get it? Looking back, looking forward. Janus had something figured out there.

Final note:

In DLZLTM, which is a meeting, Sister Perkins spoke to the leaders about how to deal with sister missionaries you might have responsibility for, and what kind of problems to expect.

Elder Lucas, raised his hand and said, “Um, sometimes sisters get really emotional because of a problem. Maybe they’re crying or something. You know? So, my question is…. um when we’re talking to them… Are we allowed to use logic?”

I thought it was funny.

Also, sister perkins said no.

Seasons greetings, despite what you may have heard,
-Elder Hamblin