Wednesday, December 9, 2015

PAO Christmas Party

Today we had the Pacific Area Office Christmas Party.   There was a lovely buffet luncheon for the entire staff made up of both church employees and all the senior missionaries that work there.

For the entertainment, all the Missionaries and Church Employees had been assigned into groups for a skit / lip synching contest.  Family History was teamed up with Human Resources group.  They are pictured here as follows from
 Top stair to bottom:

Human Resources Department

Lorena Costa – HR Coordinator

Nilo Penales – HR Operations Business Partner, S&I

Ruth Hamon -  HR Generalist Business Partner

Vanessa Teio-Poleo – NZ Human Resources Manager

Albert Niuelua – Area Human Resources Manager

We did a dance to mash up of  Feliz Navidad and I Wish You a Merry Christmas.  Doesn't Larry look great with Blue Hair??  We only had a few times to get together to plan what we would do and practice it once or twice.  Having seen the video later, let's just say none of us should give up our day jobs to try to take this sort of thing on full time.  Still, it was a lot of fun working with these folks during our lunch hours to share some laughs as we put it together.  

Here are some of the other staff that work at the PAO:

Self Reliance Department

Elder Reed Spencer  & Sister Nada Spencer – Pacific Area Education Specialist Coordinating Couple

Renee Solomon – Pacific Area Self-Reliance Support Specialist

Paul Reid – Pacific Area Self-Reliance Manager

Dean Westerlund – Pacific Area Education Manager

Ariel Wetere – Pacific Area Self Reliance Operations Manager

(in front) Dallas Olsen – Senior Admin Assistant (Welfare)

Public Affairs Department

Missionaries:  Elder Barry Preator & Sister Susan Preator on left
Elder Jeffrey Camplin and Sister Linda Champlin on right.  

In center is Rich Hunter,  Public Affairs Manager for the Area.

Previous public affairs missionaries that we worked closely with were the Fugals and Wallaces:

Paula and Guy Fugal

AP Missionaries and Secretaries 
Carol and Keith Wallace

(These department photos were taken a few months AFTER the Christmas party and added later.  Back at that time The In-Field Rep was Elder Dirk Cotterell, assisted by his wife Sister Sally Ann Cotterell.  Elder Bruce Brereton was serving as Exec Secretary to the Area Presidency, assisted by his wife Sister Patsy Brereton.  Elder Allen Whidden with the Mental Health Rep assisted by his wife Sister Arendje Whidden.  The Area Medical Adviser when we first came was Elder Doyle Brown assisted by his wife Sister Jeanne Brown.   Part of mission life is getting used to the fact that we get close to people who cycle in and out of our lives as their terms of service come and go.)

Publishing Services Department    

Materials Manangment Derpartment

Physical Facilities Department

Finance Department

Legal Department

And of course, our own Family History Department:
Area FH Manager, Mike Higgins, Elder Bennett & Sister Bennett

We truly do work with a great group of folks.  Some we know better than others.  In truth, there are more than a few that I don't know at all, as shown by the fact that I couldn't put a name to every face in the photos.  Still, we appreciate the friendly way we are greeting in the lunch room or as we are going about our business.  We see a lot of these folks at Monday morning devotional and have visited with some about various things.  Others we've worked one-on-one with to help them with their own family history.  Being surrounded by such high caliber people is a great benefit of working in the Area Office.  So we enjoyed being with them all at the party today.

However, it did seem strange that this party was to celebrate Christmas.  We have been so incredibly busy between our preparations for our upcoming trip to the USA and our ongoing work assignment working hard to meet the My Family 15 in 15 goals  that we have not done any decorating or baking or other things to keep our usual holiday traditions.  Also, with the seasons reversed here in the Southern hemisphere, it's summer now which is a big switch from our experience in the state.  The other major difference is that very few houses are decorated here and most stores don't make a big deal about it at all.

In the US, Christmas is blasted from every store beginning as early as October.  Private homes become beacons as owners drape every window, gutter and tree with lights.  Here there is very little sign of the upcoming holiday, either commercially or in neighborhoods.  Every now and then we will see a decoration or two someone has put up, but it just isn't publicly promoted the way we are accustomed to.  In a way I like that it is not a commercial extravaganza here, but it is hard to get into any sort of festive mood without some of the sparkle we have come to associate with Christmas.  

Nevertheless, the PAO party went off well.  We enjoyed the company of those we work with and a good time was had by all.

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