Man can you believe that Christmas 2011 has already come and gone? My first and last Christmas in the mission field. It was a pretty legit one at that. SO GOOD talking to you guys on the phone. So nice to hear your voices and to talk about some lighthearted stuff. The time went by waaaay too fast, but I don't regret sticking to the time limit. I talked to some elders today that said they spoke with their families for 31/2hours. Not obedient!! Exact obedience brings miracles. My mission is too short to rob myself and my companion of that.
So this email might be a repeat for you, family, but to all those that I didn't talk to on the phone yesterday, this is how it went down. President Weaver said that for our Christmas gift, the missionaries could sleep in. Wait, what??!! Sweeet. Of course, I woke up at 5 am and couldn't go back to sleep. So I laid awake in my bed/half-dozed off until my comp woke up at 7:45. Then we opened gifts on the floor around our 3 ft Christmas tree. After it was all said and done I thought to myself, "...well, that was weird..." Just didn't feel like Christmas morning. No family. No old familiar feelings. So I was a little Scroogey in the morning. More like trunky I guess.
We got dressed and headed over to our WML's house at 9:30 for waffles. We ate and hung out there for a while and then headed to round people up for Christmas church. Despite the holiday and everyone being out of town or having double the excuses why they wouldn't be at church, we managed to get 2 of our investigators to church. One of which, Karen, was baptized right after Sacrament meeting. Soooo special. We have come on such a far journey with her in such a short amount of time. She is a 64 yr old former member of the Reorganized LDS church. Highly intelligent. Kind of stubborn. Very blunt. But! She was baptized. MIRACLE. She bawled like a baby in the font. Elder Njord, one of our ZL's baptized her. A family that has been her fellowship during the lessons came to her baptism and invited her over for Christmas dinner. Score! Member missionaries at work.
It was at church and especially at the baptism that I truly felt like this what Christmas is all about. Not the gifts or the trees or even having my family not be there. Feeling the spirit helped remind me that it is all about our Savior Jesus Christ and all that his Atoning sacrifice has done for us. There was thiq quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley that I copied down out of the program:
"For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself--these are the true essence of Christmas."
We had the opportunity as a zone on the Monday before Christmas to go caroling during our 5-7. The entire mission got together in zones and caroled to people, hoping to bring them the Spirit and a little joy in their lives. It was so fun and so successful the first time we did it, we decided to do it again on Christmas eve. Combined with both times we handed out about 40 copies of the Book of Mormon! So great. So many people commented that they haven't had carolers in sooo long. That it was a tradition that they assumed had just died, so it brought them a lot of nostalgic joy to see and hear carolers singing songs that reminded them of Christmas in their youth.
Tracting miracle! I felt prompted to drive down this one road and then my comp felt prompted to tract this one little off shoot street. We knock on this rickety old trailer home and this lady lets us in. We start talking to her and quickly determine that she is not interested. There was a girl maybe about 28 yrs old sitting next to the lady with her back to us and we get to talking and just asking her questions. Turns out her grandpa who she was really close with had just passed away and that she had just found out earlier that day. We shared with her some scriptures in the Book of Mormon out of Alma 40:20-21 about what happens to us after we die. She started crying and thanked us for coming. That she felt so sad and that she needed to hear something like what we had told her. We plan on following up with her later this week.
I got pretty sick this last week. Aches, chills, loss of appetite, fatigue. Just really felt like junk. I thought I could shrug it off with some powerade and saltines. By the third day, I asked for a Priesthood blessing from my District leader and his comp. I almost immediately felt better. I have a testimony in the healing power of the priesthood. May those of you that hold the priesthood always be worthy of it. You never know when someone needs your service!!
Well my time on the comp is coming to a close. So much to say but always not enough time. We have another baptism this week. Hopefully. We are needing our investigator to kick the habit of chewing tobacco. Nasty stuff.