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Thank you for visiting our Christmas Service Blog. We welcome comments from visitors.
We would love to hear if you decide to implement this idea in your family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

To Mitzi, Love Amy

Enjoy a night off!

This year my family is doing service projects instead of gift giving.

We are all assigned a sibling and with them in mind, we are to do a service in their name.

I have been assigned my sister Mitzi. She had 3 kids under the age of 3.
She barely gets time to breath let alone date night.
In my sisters, honor, I would like to take your kids for an evening:
Thursday, December 17th
4:00-9:00 pm
Dinner, games, crafts, and movies for the kids

All ages welcome (even babies)

For those of you who don’t know me, we are new to the ward (about 6 months now). We moved from Las Vegas. I have 4 kids, Darcy age 12, Dixie age 10, Dillon age 7, and Denim age 5. I work for Alaska Airlines and unfortunately I work often on Sundays. My husband is the Ward Mission leader and I served in the Primary Presidency for a few months before I got my Sunday work assignment.

Please RSVP so I can make sure I have enough food and activities for your child(ren). Make sure you give me your child’s name and age. I will have my 2 daughters there to help.

Please make sure to pick up your child by 9:00 pm as it is a school night.

What can you do? Temple, Christmas Shopping, Date Night, read the Ensign without being interrupted, take a bubble bath, scrapbook, UFO (Un-Finished Objects), basically anything that is hard to get done with little hands and eyes about.

I sent this out as an email to all the ladies in my ward and handed out flyers one Sunday. I ended up with 13 kids (NOT counting my 4). I had 1 – 7 year old, 1 – 6 year old, 2 – 5 year olds, and 9 – under 5 years old! It was crazy! I was so tired after that night. Now keeping Mitzi in mind, I didn’t want to just watch TV with the kids. I made play dough (from the Bodell Bistro, also thinking of Mit) and the kids played with play dough and they decorated sugar cookies. I made signs that each had a letter of Merry Christmas Mitzi, but you can’t see it too well and it was too hard to get all 13 + my 4 together so we did it in groups. I am so thankful I don’t have 13 kids...Mit you are a great Mom! Love, Amy

To Chuck From Wayne....

As I contemplated what I would give Chuck as a service project, I recalled that he was in to saving our environment, I thought of that old commercial where the Indian is crying while he looks over the land of pollution and thought of Chuck crying right along the side of the old Indian.

I wanted to make a difference and took upon cleaning up our water systems and saving my nieces Leland, Lucy and Charlotte from playing with “not meant for kids” balloons.

Here I am cleaning up America, one condom at a time.

I cleaned up the water duct from Yale to Jamboree just north of Irvine High. There was a lot more trash than what the photo looks like. I picked up almost 2 bags by the time I got to Culver. I enjoyed doing the project because it gave me time to think about Chuck for a couple of hours and I don’t normally think about him for hours at a time. Love you Brother! PS – Throw your “not meant for kids” balloons in the trash and not our water systems.

Let's Play Ball!!!

I have Hock and I am so excited about my project!!!
What do I know about Hock???
Well, he love's basketball, he is terrific with kids and he has amazing patience!

I immediately knew what I wanted to do for Hock. Team X is a program that does sports for kids of all ages that have special needs. They are usually paid by the government programs, called respite care. In February of this year, the state of California drastically cut the respite care program. Team X knew that we were struggling, so they privatly told us that our boys would be getting a scholarship from them for the year.

Upon hearing that I had Hock, I called the director of Team X, and found out that they were closing for the month of December. Grrrrr! But they would be thrilled to have me volunteer in January. So next month I will be "cheerleading" the special needs kids as they play basketball. I will be baking them team treats. I will make each of them a personalized poster with their name on it!

But I really wanted to do something this month, so I found a family in my ward with a dad in Grad school. I took this mom's daughter in my Kids Camp at no charge and had her be my special helper elf. This was a little thing, but it made me so happy to hope that someday someone does this same kind of a thing for my little Hootie!

I love you Michael Hock, and I am so incredibly thankful that you are my little brother!

Merry Christmas Ryan!

I have loved this new Christmas tradition. It has made for a very Christ-centered season where I have been focused on showing my love for y'all through serving others rather than fighting crowds at the mall.

Ashley and I were really anxious to see who we would get. We had developed some great lists of service ideas for many of you. But, I must admit, Ryan was not one of them. Unfortunately, Ryan's list was only somewhat helpful at first, but then once I got in the spirit we did great!

His first suggestion wasn't going to work out here. Stake Dances are very rare here (none coming soon) and the YM don't go camping in December, so those two were out.

But, I began to realize I had already been helping him in a way that was related to his job-finding request. I had just recently tried to help Ryan get a job doing IT for a law group in Raleigh by e-mailing my contact with them who is a senior partner. Then when he got the offer from his new job, I called and helped coach him on how to negotiate a good offer. Even though those were great, it was clearly not enough. Sadly, I was too involved with my own job and didn't know of any jobs right off to tell my ward employment specialist.

Ryan's third suggestion to volunteer to help somebody with their home needs was right up my alley. I got an e-mail one day from a lady in the ward saying I was her home teacher (note: I had not been given a home teaching assignment from our Elder's Quorum yet) and wondering if I could help her move a fridge a few hours later. I quickly replied that I would love to and planned to finish up at work early enough to stop there on my way home.

Then, a few weeks later, one of our close friends in the ward (and our hometeacher) called to see if I could help him move his new treadmill into his house. This may sound small, but it was probably the most difficult of anything I did for Ryan's gift of service. It had been raining all day (wettest November in Richmond history) and the family had to tear up their yard to fix their septic tank. Sure enough, the treadmill would only fit through the lower door that required walking through 25 feet of mud partially covered by a few pieces of plywood while it was raining. The company was supposed to deliver it inside the house, but it was quite clear why the delivery man told the wife it would be an easy move with 2 people. It was a hefty job lifting a 500-pound box off a pallet, through the mud, and into the house. At one point, I slipped and fell with the box on top of my legs. As I laid in a huge puddle with a 500-pound box pushing my legs into the mud, I looked up at the clouds, smiled, and thought "Merry Christmas Ryan." Even so, it was a fun one to do because I was helping the man who had helped me move two huge pianos for an entire afternoon just a month earlier.

I still felt like I had not done enough for Ryan. When I sat and thought, "What would Ryan want?" I knew that part of what makes Ryan such a wonderful addition to our family is how much he has always put others before himself. Even when he was a teenager, we knew that about Ryan. Char may love "Ashley woo-hoo!", but Ryan is my woo-hoo in-law simply for the wonderful man (even when he was a 15 year old) he has always been to my baby sister. So, I decided Ryan would probably appreciate me helping out by doing some of the things requested by the rest of you.

This made sense to both Ashley and I, since we were already trying to help each other out with their person. So, during this Christmas of service, we found ourselves saying, "This one's for _______" every time we went out of my way to do something nice.

In the spirit of Bill: Every time I went through a busy door way, I was sure to stay there an extra moment and try to help two more people than I normally would have. A few times, Ashley seemed to realize what I was doing and smiled in support.

In the spirit of Wayne and Hock: We made an extra effort to offer on three different occasions to feed the missionaries or go to appointments with them in the name of Wayne and Hock. (At first, I thought this was one of Ryan's suggestions too.) Although they haven't taken us up on our three different offers yet, they say they will very soon. I also went out of my way to be more bold in sharing our beliefs. My boss, who is a wonderful example of Christian living, and I had some great discussions about our beliefs. I invited him to join our family at the Miracle of Christmas (an awesome live nativity) at the Metro Richmond Zoo (owned by an LDS family in our stake). My boss and his wife have annual passes to the Zoo and planned to go anyway, but it was fun to do it together and share our common beliefs in the Lord.

In the spirit of Char (actually Savvy): I found myself going out of my way to be extra kind and helpful to every African-American mother I saw. When they clearly had their hands full with difficult young kids, I was especially proud to help cheer their kids up or help them in any way.

In the spirit of Dad, Mom, and Amy: We made sure that we were the last ones to leave the Ward Christmas Party after helping put away tables and chairs, then mop and vacuum the floors. (This is a cheating one because we already do this since we have had activities callings before.)

In the spirit of Mitzi and Tiffany: I went to Disneyland! Just kidding. The mother of one of our close couple friends is really stressed with the Christmas season combined with some difficult financial circumstances. When Mit and Tiffany wrote that they wanted us to offer to watch a mother's kids so she could do something by herself, I thought of this woman who has been so kind to help us. Ashley and I talked about it and made it a priority to watch her kids so she could have alone time. Ashley ended up doing the work, but I kept pushing her to offer to help in any way possible.

In the spirit of Lani and Amy: Last week, when we were out in the historic snow storm, we came upon a woman stuck in a car spinning her tires. Without thinking, I stopped the car, told Ashley to follow me, and set out to push the woman's car up the hill to the next exit. As I pushed her nearly 1/2 mile up a snowy hill, I smiled thinking that hopefully somebody would do the same for my sisters if they were stuck in the snow (Ashley accidentally jumped the gun and blogged about this one already).

I am sure that all of you had similar experiences during this season of service. We all had ideas for each other and went ahead and did them even though Carrie didn't draw that particular name out for you. So Ryan, even though we only did a couple things directly in your name, we actually did it all with you in mind, because you do so much for our family.

The season of service has made this Christmas a very spiritual time in our family. After Thanksgiving, we began reading the New Testament to the girls to get prepared for Christmas. We have acted out the story of the birth of Christ too many times to count, with Ashley's five nativity sets, then in person with Nana's costumes, and then watched it live at the Metro Richmond Zoo. This season of service has made this Christmas so focused on Christ, that when we went to see Santa on Christmas Eve day, we realized we had never discussed with Lucy who Santa is and what he does. That was when I knew this season of service was the best Christmas gift ever!

Merry Christmas Amy

What pressure to have Amy, the one who came up with this whole idea! Can I just say how wonderful and stress free that this "gift-giving" was. It was wonderful to focus on what service for others that I could do, instead of material things, waiting in lines, fighting crowds, and spending money. I feel truly blessed to be a member of this family.

Before we decided to do this service gift exchange, I began looking for winter coats for my girls. I also wanted to get coats for Amy's kids, knowing that this was the first year back in real winter weather. I started by asking my sisters if they had any had-me-down coats. Then I mentioned it to my mom whose ward Relief Society was having a clothing swap enrichment night. I also asked a few friends around here if they had coats they had grown out of. In the midst of this, we decided to do the service exchange and I was assigned Amy. It was perfect!

Rather than just send Amy the coats we found, Chuck and I decided to work together to exercise some faith. I called my Relief Society President and asked if there was somebody in the ward who had young kids, whose family had a difficult economic year, and who needed some warm coats. She told me about a family with 2 young boys and only one coat between the 2 of them. They would take turns wearing the coat to school. We began praying that if we helped this family, somebody would help the Dittbrenners in Colorado. I was able to find a coat for the younger son to have his own. We never met the family; just simply asking the RS President to pass the coat on to them for me.

I just kept feeling that this was not enough, I wanted to do something for AMY. So I decided to send a box of warm clothes for her and her girls. I went through my boxes and found heavy coats, light jackets, sweaters, hats and scarves to send to her family. Colorado is much, much colder than Virginia and I hope that they can use some of what I sent.

I realized that I have collected a lot of things I do not need and I hope that you all enjoy them. Before we shipped them, we took this picture of me wearing some of the items I sent to them.

another reason

(Note: this will post on the blog next to my original post)
I forgot to tell a story I remember about Amy and why the coats service was what I wanted to do for her. I can't remember who might remember or even know this story.

Back when Chuck and I were sealed in the Washington, DC Temple in Feb of 2005, the Gates sisters (except Tiff) and parents came to the East Coast to share in this special time for us. We did some sightseeing in DC and Annapolis, MD over the weekend.

Amy had mentioned that she had purposely brought old sweaters on the trip, so that she could give them to any homeless people that may need them. I remember driving around downtown DC one very cold winter evening with Amy in our car. She suddenly asked Chuck to pull over the car as she rolled down the window and motioned for a homeless man to approach the car. She took off her sweater (she did have a shirt on under it) and handed it to him, then asked if we had any food in the car that we could also give. We also gave him a box of granola bars.

I remember being overwhelmed with the selfless love that Amy had for this stranger that was in need and she literally gave him the shirt off her back. She is a wonderful example of showing service and I am extremely thankful for that example. I know that her family is being blessed by others' selfless love during this trial in their lives because of her Christlike example.

Praying for the Gift of Fingers

As we all know, mom always wanted a piano player. She was proud of us and each of our unique talents, but was DETERMINED to have a piano player. By the time I rolled around she was getting pretty nervous that it might not ever happen. So year after year, I went to piano lessons. I hated it... yes... I remember mom and Charise saying "We don't say 'hate'- that means that you want its GUTS squished all over the ground!" I remember thinking, "oh my goodness! I don't hate anything!" but than later that week when practicing scales on the piano I thought, "I hate piano... i really DO! I would not mind if its guts were squished all over the floor!". Whenever I would practice I would think, "this sounds TERRIBLE!" and about that time mom would walk through straightening up the house saying, "You're sounding WONderful!" or sometimes "I promise, someday you will thank me!" although I highly doubted that deep inside at that time.

Since mom did not respond with any hints or suggestions for her service I was left to wander in thought on my own. I thought and I thought and I thought and could not come up with anything. There were little things here and there but none of them felt right.

A few weeks ago I was giving my Sunday lesson to my group of Laurels. The lesson was on developing your talents. I was explaining to the girls how important it was for the girls to discover new talents AND continue polishing the talents they did have. I told them the story of my loathe for piano playing but how grateful I was when I got called 3 times on my mission to be the pianist that I knew how to play. I had not played for 4 years during college thus my skills had weakened quite a bit. So every night as a pianist/missionary, I would pray for what I called "the gift of fingers". Sure enough, although they weren't always perfect, the music came out beautifully! As I completed the story to my Laurels it hit me what I needed to do.

In the couple weeks leading up to this, our law buddy that is the ward music chairman had expressed that he enjoyed his calling but is finding it difficult to keep finding people in our small rural ward that are willing/able to share a musical number. Also within the past couple weeks, my good friend and walking buddy who is pregnant with her second and just quit her job was worried about feeling useless and bored with her time. I remembered that she had told me she used to be a violinist but now it just sits in the closet. All at once I realized what my gift to mom was, once again I would have to resort to Praying for the Gift of Fingers.

I'm sorry to say my gift is not yet complete. Instead it is the gift that will keep on giving this year. I will be accompanying 2 musical numbers during 2010- helping our ward music chairman have a couple more options (instead of the same faces each week), encouraging my friend to remember individual worth through revitalizing her talents, and giving our mother a chance to say she has a pianist (Tiff- two is better than one right :).

This might sound like a simple one to some, but for me, I can promise it will be hours of practice leading up to it.

It might start out like this...

But hopefully it ends up like this...

I love you Mom! Merry Christmas! Love, Lani

Merry Missionary Christmas to Wayne!

Merry Christmas Wayne-ers! When I found out that I got Wayne I was a little scared, but then excited. Ryan and I have had Amy and Wayne a few years ago to give a gift for and we gave Wayne a big, beautiful gift basket filled with nuts and things that he loved. I was excited to have him so I could bring that same joy to him again. So, with that, Wayne… Merry Christmas to you! I’m so glad that you are in our family and that you decided to marry my sister so long ago. You are such an inspiration to me with your faith and love of the gospel. I love you big brother!

On Saturday, December 12th, I had the missionaries over for dinner. I know some of you might think this wasn’t a huge service, but it isn’t something I was planning on doing anytime in the near future. When we moved in with my In-laws, my first Sunday in our new ward they passed around the sign-up calendar for the missionary dinners. I saw it and just passed it along and said to myself, “Oh that’s a plus living with my in-laws… I don’t ever have to feed the missionaries for dinner because my mother in law will do that. Score!” But I was SO wrong! When Wayne had the suggestion to have the missionaries over for dinner I knew that was the one for me because of those thoughts I had had. And I am so grateful that I did!

On Sunday, December 6th, I saw the missionary calendar being passed around. The family had just sent the email about doing our service by Christmas and so I was hoping that there was an available spot before then. Then I looked at the calendar… there was a PERFECT opening for THAT Saturday! I thought, “I’ll take it!” We had grilled pork chops, twice baked potatoes, salad, rolls, and jello. Ryan helped me out a little with the grilling of the pork chops. Thanks, babe, for helping out! We had great conversations over dinner with the 2 sweet Elders, and then they gave us a wonderful Christmas message. It was such an added spirit to our home that we have been missing and I am so grateful that we had the chance to have them over.

Ssshhhhhhhhhhh..........I'm reading.

O.K. So after thinking about what my pick loves to do, I came up with a few choices. Then I chose the one that best describes this persons hobby (in my opinion). I went down to the library to volunteer for anything that they had going on. I talked to a few people, and the way that they have it set up, I had to fill out a form and they would call me when they needed help. So I didn't quite do the service yet, however, I am standing in line to help with what I can. It is always fun to sit down in a comfy chair with a good book and read for a few hours. The person that I had was .................. Baby "B."

The other idea I had was to give some books to someone that needed then, but didn't necessarily have a means to get them. Charise and I discussed this and how we were going to execute this idea. After a few conversations, we came up with a subject and a plan. I have picked out 10 of our families kids books to give to Brooklyn. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as we have.

This project was great. It really makes you step back and notice that the world can revolve around a spiritual value and not a monetary value.


Merry Christmas to All of You!

For another service project, Mike and I bought a DVD Recorder. I have recorded all of the family videos that I have to DVD. Now I need to find a good editing software. I used a trial version of one to show you a few clips. Sorry that there is a water mark in the middle of the picture for a bit. I have spent WAY too many hours trying to find a program that was as user friendly that didn't have a watermark. So for now, know that the whole DVD doesn't have this watermark. This was only b/c I tried to clip pieces to show here on the blog. Enjoy! I love you all! (Tiff...sorry! The video that I spent hours converting for web, was from before you were born. I have some from After you were born that we can watch when I come.)I am glad I am doing this now. You will see that some of the videos are starting to deteriorate pretty bad. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Bill!

In honor of Bill and his many many hours of service he has given to Cole, I decided to make baby quilts for the neo-natal intensive care unit. They use these quilts to put under the premature babies to give them a piece of warmth and "home" while they are in the hospital for many months. When the babies are finally released from the hospital, they give the quilts for the babies to take home w/ them as a memento.

Merry Christmas Bill! I am so glad you are a part of our family. You are an inspiration to many of us. I love you so much and I am so glad that you are married to my sister. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Ed

The most interesting man in the world. International man of mystery. Traveller to exotic lands. More airline miles logged than most pilots. Panama, China, Alaska, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, France...shall I go on? This guy is a world traveller. His service needs to be international. His service needs to be intriguing.

When he is not travelling, he is golfing. He carries some expensive clubs. How does he protect those clubs? With club covers. Anyone know what covers the driver? Anyone, Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

And so I give to Ed Gates, with all of my heart, with warmest wishes....

wait for it...wait for it...

A cow's butt.

That is right, Heifer international is an organization that sends farm animals to the poor in underdeveloped nations. A whole cow is quite expensive, therefore, I purchased a share of a cow in Ed Gates name. The portion I chose for Ed was the cow's butt. To be honest, I don't know where this cow's butt will end up. It could end up in any number of countries in this coming year, just like ED. Thank you Ed, international man of mystery for giving a cow's butt to a needy family. Please see the link below.


'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house...

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (thank goodness- because we have all heard the legends);

The stockings (all two of them-- which btw are both empty!) were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Sugar Plums danced in their heads;

When I thought of this legendary poem tonight I thought "how funny how your definitions of these things change!".

I don't know about the writers from locations other than 8 Alondra, but have we had a night! We thought since we had less than 5 (yes FIVE) gifts to wrap, it would be a nice early Christmas Eve. BOY were WE wrong!

It has been a beautiful evening! After enjoying a yummy prime rib dinner (thanks Tiff and Lan and helpers),
(Pics to come)

caroling to the neighbors,

the nativity narrated by Brighton,
Opening our PJs,
and of course finishing the dishes, we all started our posts. Who knew it would take so long? We are now down to the final two. Tiff and I are wrapping up. Dad just finished (it is 2 am). At about 10 he said he would just do it tomorrow because his wasn't done yet. After many tears and laughs- dad finished typing and posting all by himself (with a little help from Spell check and Lani).
I can honestly say I have never been more excited to wake up Christmas morning as I am tonight. We love you and are SO grateful we were sent to each other to live!

Merry Christmas to all... and to all a good night!

Merry Dancing Toes Christmas to Lani!

Lani had mentioned that she often times would visit the senior center across from the church on Lake Dr. to dance with the elderly. Tiffany accompanied me as I went to the Senior Center to serve in a several ways, a few of which were unknown to us before we got there.

As soon as we showed up they flocked to us to see our adorable baby. She was really cute with them and every face brightened up when they saw her. Even people who couldn't speak English very good or at all wanted to come see her and talk to us.

The live senior band was playing and the dance floor was hoppin. I was so far out of my comfort zone that it took me a little while to ask someone to dance. I started talking to a lady next to me and she was very nice so I asked her to dance. She said that her husband that had passed away didn't really like to dance so she didn't really know how. I told her that I didn't really know how either so let's just go have some fun shuffling our feet around. I finally convinced her so we headed out to the middle of the dance floor. While we were dancing I asked her if she came out to those dances often. She responded in the affirmative but also mentioned that she had never actually danced and that this was her first time. I continued to ask those that were left on the side when most of the men had already chosen a partner. It ended up being very fun and I even got a little rumba lesson.

Through out the dance one lady came over to us several times to see our little girl and talk to us. she also gave us some delicious wafers. After talking to her for a little while she mentioned that she was from Brazil! I started to talk to her in Portuguese (of course) and she was blown away. She was so excited to talk to me. We talked about my time in Brazil, Brazilian music and Brazilian food. This led us to exchanging phone numbers so that she can invite us over for a Brazilian meal. She was such a nice lady and this was a wonderful encounter.

I am so excited that we were able to do these acts of service not only to serve each other but it really brought out the true meaning of Christmas. Merry Christmas Lani!!!

They just couldn't resist this cute little face. (I am talking about Brooklyn's just in case you were wondering.)

And she said she couldn't dance.

Merry Christmas Charise

Merry Christmas, our darling Char... Note the angel wings (above) that I was given in appreciation for my volunteer work. Your life has turned into one big service project, so I want to give these wings to you.
Remember the saying "I never said it would be easy... only that it would be worth it." This could never be more true than with our Cole.
I had the opportunity to volunteer at Project Cuddle. This is the organization that takes care of California's abandoned babies. One of their employees, who was LDS, heard about Cole and the fact that he was going to be sent to an institution for severely disabled babies. The doctor said that he wouldn't survive such a place, and the only thing that could save him was being part of a loving family.
Project Cuddle was thrilled to have my help. Their storage room was a disaster and they asked if I would mind helping with part of it.
There had been over 1000 pairs of Pajamas donated to Project Cuddle. The sizes were all mixed up, and the PJs were squished into bags. There were other toys that had been donated tossed into the big pile... and noone had time to organize it.
I folded all of the pajamas, sizes 6 to 14, and put them in boxes or hung them on racks.
They were amazed when they came to check on me, and I had organized all of them. There were twice as many boxes as you see here, when I was finished. It was an honor to work with them.
Thank you Char for teaching us to have the Christmas spirit year round... You are truly an angel! I love you so much! Mom

The Miracle on 8 Alondra

When many of you were much younger and maybe to young to realise that a true miracle happened at our home. It wouldn't be till many yrs. later just how much of a miracle it was.

I was given our youngest daughter Tiffany Sunshine as the one that I would do service for.

Tiffany was 2 yrs. old at the time, Lani (6) Mitzi (10) Chuck (12) Amy (15) Char (17). now maybe these ages are close but not exactly, but for this purpose they will have to do.

I am sure that some of you will have a different version and I guess that is what is so great about this blog thing is, that you can and I hope any of you that have any thing to add will do so.

It was a Sunday afternoon and Mom and I were in our room taking a nap, well maybe more mom than me. All of a sudden I heard a frantic distress call for Dad and mom.Mom was way more into the nap than I was so I responded as quickly as Long John Silver.At the top of the stairs I looked down and I do not recall who was holding our Little girl in there arms, but at this point I am sure some one out there in blog land will fill us in.I think I took two steps down the stairs to get to her to see just what was wrong. there was some silly story that she had just bounced out the window and really no one really saw her go.The window that she went out of just happened to be on the 2nd floor.

As I recall I was having a hard time getting her to stay awake and look at me. I kept calling to her to stay awake. I don't remember just when Mom came in but I recall that as what normally happens with mom is these kind of thing is she seems to fry, freeze,or just plane lose control. I yelled to some one to call 911.all of this was going on as I am carrying her around ton see I can find out just what happened. With tiff in my arms I went out the front door , walk a short few steps down the walk and I see the screen laying on the ground. I still did not fathom the she had knocked it out and fell to ground from the window above, till I saw the blood in the flower bed and realised that in fact she had.

Now once I REALISED THAT,YES we had problem it seemed that the ambulance was taking for ever to get to us.Now this seems as I write this that this was a long time but it really wasn't. I told some one to run over to Br. Bollards and ask him come quick to help me give her a blessing,because , ........... pause........ I have not told this in this manner except at the time,but I was told by someone not of our sphere to do it and do it quickly.Bill came,and quickly he anointed her and together we gave her a blessing.It was not a long sermon type,but very to the point. I asked my Father in Heaven not to take our Sunshine away from us.

The ambulance came almost as we said amen. They asked what had happened and as I told them that she had fallen out of that window up there, (we were sitting at the spot she had landed).The para medic immediately took out his little light and looked in her eyes and that is when it really hit me. It was in the Lords hands as he turned to the next guy just coming up the walk and said in so many words we need to go now !!and it will be code red.

We went with full sirens blowing even went down Irvine blvd south on the wrong side of the street becuase they did not want to take any extra time to go out and around. From the time we got in the ambulance they were on the radio to find the nearest trauma room that was not full as time would be very crucial.This is where I believe the miracle started to unfold before our very eyes.The doctors that was on duty at this particular hospital was one of the very best.We had Kaiser insurance and should have gone to a kaiser facility but they decided not to take the extra time that it would take to get there so we went to Mission Viejo.

For the next 4, 5 hrs we were on pins and needles and stress to the max. we had to wait for the cat scan to be read and then wait more for the bleeding to stop as you see, she had bleeding into the brain.When that young man looked into her eyes he saw that he knew that was very very bad.

Tiffany only spent a little over a week in the hospital. The doctors had a hard time believing us that she really had fallen out of the 2nd floor window.

I was in the bishopbric at the time and I had to write the message for our wards news letter that month. I recall how I wrote how miracles happen so fast,that if we don't take a moment to ponder and realise what just happened we miss it.

Ten yrs. or so later we had a Kaiser doctor in our ward who confided with us that she had looked at Tiffany's file and she told us that Tiff should have died that day because of the fall.

We also found out more things that the fall had changed in Tiff .Things at the time we could not figure out.With the help of medicine it could help her control some of these things that the bump on her head done .

I want you all to know that We had a miracle on 8 Alondra that day. I am so humbled by how close we are to our Father in Heaven. I am so thankful that I did not have to wait that day to call someone else to give Tiffany Sunshine Gates A blessing. For some reason I was blessed to be worthy to call upon our father in Heaven and ask Please Please don't take her!

Each night that Mom and I pray together one of the things that we are very very thankful for is that all of our Children and our Son's and Daughter in laws are close to our father In Heaven.

Brethern please be prepared to be able to do as I did and be WORTHY to excercise your priesthood,

I testify to you that Tiff is with us today because God granted us "A MIRACLE."
PS. I love you Tiff and I am soooothankful Father In Heaven gave us you and I know that you are going to be a great Mother. Merry Christmas.

For this reason I have chosen High Hopes Head Injury Program as a place to give my service in behalf of Tiffany. I'm sorry I have not completed my service as you will see they are closed for Christmas. I have made an appointment, a good friend of Charise and Bill, to come in and view the program and see how I can serve on the behalf of Tiffany. Picture and story to follow soon. Please check out the website.

This is the same foundation that helped Corbin who lived down the street from us when he had his head injury. One of the programs that they offer is a golf tournament that is hosted by Pat Boone.

Merry Christmas Ashley!

I was excited to find out that I got Ashley. Even though I have probably seen her the least out of all the family, I have always had a special place for Ashley in my heart. When Lani and I were dating, I came out for Ryan and Tiff's wedding, and as most of you know when I was dating Lani I hadn't really reached the same level of progression that Lani had. She was working on her masters degree, and I wasn't close to finishing my undergraduate degree, not only that I was only going to school part time, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

When I came out for the wedding I was really self conscientious because I didn't feel worthy of Lani at all. I remember thinking "these people have got to be just waiting for her to dump me and so she can find someone more worthy of her". I felt this stress around the whole family, but when I met Ashley she made me feel really comfortable. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I remember feeling so relieved because she seemed to almost understand how I felt (I never told her anything that would make her know how I felt). I'll always love Ashley for that, and she will always hold a special place in my heart for how she put me at ease when we first met.

Upon finding out my assignment, I went back to look at what Ashley suggested for service. First, donate your hair. I sat back and imagined growing my hair out 10 inches. I thought back to a couple years ago when I grew my hair out a bit...I then thought how in the world am I going to look like professional MBA student with long hair? I sat back and remembered....Upon recollection, I recalled I didn't think the Pat Riley meets Larry Bird rat tail was very becoming on me. After about 2 minutes of these pictures running through my head I decided that growing out my hair would not be my best option.

I then moved to the next thing on Ashley's list...Make blankets for the Children's Hospital. This seemed to have more potential. I did some research on the Childrens hospitals in Spokane to find out what they might need.
I looked at several different places that offer help to kids like the Boys and Girls Club, and a couple of different children's hospitals. I was a little frustrated because most of the places I looked at only gave the option of a cash donation. I finally found one I liked, Holy Cross Children's Hospital in Spokane, and called to find out if I could offer a non-cash donation.
They had a wish list of items requested by kids at the hospital. So off we went.

Lani and Houston and I headed off to our friendly neighborhood dollar store to load up on presents that the children had requested. We stocked up on play dough, crayons, flash cards, and coloring books. They even had a 3-D Pirates coloring book!

As I was walking through the hospital with Lani, and Houston, I reflected a bit on how cool it is that all of us are doing something to make the world better at Christmas this year. I thought about how neat it is that one day I will be able to show Houston this picture of us at the hospital and tell him about what we were doing and how it helped other kids not much older than him. I decided that I want my own little branch of the Gates family to do something like this every year and let our kids help choose a way to serve and then do it.

I'm really glad we decided to do this this year instead of presents. I'm a guy who has always loved opening presents on Christmas morning but I can honestly say that I am anticipating seeing what everyone did for their service much more than I would be to open gifts. I know that the gift I gave is a little thing, but I could tell it meant a lot to the people we did it for. I'm grateful that we did this this year.

So Merry Christmas Ashley!