March 3, 2019 - The Massena Branch escaped the doldrums of winter and enjoyed a Winter Luau this last week...complete with Palm trees, a volcano, grass, the sun and the sea! Karen was at the top of her game working her magic and leading the way with decorations and food. The Branch members all helped - we had a great evening of food, fun, entertainment and games.

We made invitations for the members of the Branch to hand out to friends and family. Karen and I spent several hours hand delivering invitations to the less active members of the Branch - if no one was home, we scotch taped an invitation to the front door. And the Sister Missionaries invited everyone they knew and some they didn't!!! It was a great success with 16 non-members coming to the Party as well as several members that we don't see as much as we would like to. And that's with a total attendance of 50+.

One of the highlights was Sister White showing off her hula hooping prowess! (Sister Black hula hoops a lot like me - we finally found something she couldn't do - she is an incredible missionary - she acts like she's a very experienced missionary instead of one who has only been out 2 months.)

Sister White practicing for the BIG Hula Hoop Contest: "How many times do I have to tell you? I will destroy you!" (Sister Black - needs a little work!!!)
The BIG night - and yes Sister White crushed everyone!
Palm trees, a volcano, the sun and the sea!
Karen, Kicking back under the palm trees - with the sun shining on her back!
I finally found someplace warm!
Karen enjoying the entertainment.
Everyone got into the fun of the night with several wearing their Hawaiian shirts. We provided a few "loaners" so we could get into the spirit of the night.
More entertainment.
Carlena wrote the music and words for a song that she performed for the party! It was awesome. She is very, very talented.
Sister White and Carlena sang Lava (only Pixar can create an animated music video that can make you cry!!!) Everyone joined in on the chorus.
Luau Hockey: Using Paint Sticks and Coconuts
Gracie won the contest for best homemade lei!!! I tried to bribe the vote counters (everyone got to vote) and did everything I could do and I only got one vote for my lei. (No I didn't vote for myself!) And I'm not nearly as cute as Gracie - I had no chance. 
Bob the shoemaker and his service dog, Spike with Sisters Black & White. Bob has just started learning about the church and is very excited. He is retired from the navy and now for a hobby is making shoes (his father and grandfather were cobblers). He has an incredible shop - this is not just a passing thing - he is serious about his shoe making.
Relief Society and Branch Presidents - Mona & John Chapman
Sisters Black & White with Karen (just baptized in December) and her daughter Katie
Pam and MaryBeth enjoying a moments rest after helping set up for the Luau.
Janet & Dick Hann - Branch Stalwarts. The Branch and Full time missionaries were in charge of the Luau. Brother Hann has been the Branch Mission Leader for most of the last 20 years and his wife is a Branch Missionary. We had a lot of fun working with them and getting to know them better. Sister Hann has a great sense of humor AND she gets MY dry sense of humor - finally someone who appreciates me.
Nature Nuts - a program for young children at the Nicandri Nature Center where we volunteer.
Deer eating out of the bird feeder at the Nature Center.
Since there was no hitching post, they had to make do with a telephone pole!

Another great week in Paradise - even if our palm trees, volcanoes, grass, sun and sea were make believe, we enjoyed our little respite from the cold, snow, icy weather. Life is always better when you spend it with fellow saints and friends. Thanks to everyone for a FUN, FUN time.