Merry Christmas Adam! (Because Adam came before Eve.) Can you believe Christmas is in 2 days??!!! I justcannotexperesshowexcitedIam. #timetoskype #arehashtagsstillinthesedays? Ok...
|Christmas Temple Trip|
Last week started off on Tuesday with being able to go to the temple again. :) We woke up bright and early to attend a session, and although I was very tired, I loved being able to enjoy the experience. The feeling of absolute peace and stillness at the temple is incomparable. I loved every minute. :)
After the temple, we headed to the Burlington Mall because they have one of the only Chick-Fil-A's in all of New England. Isn't that nearly impossible to believe? But oh man...the temple than this? It couldn't get better. Oh wait...it did!
|with Sister Packard|
After lunch we headed to the chapel across from the temple for our Christmas Conference. It took a little while for everyone to set up, but we enjoyed an awesome musical fireside, as testimonies and numbers were focused around the descriptions we hear for our Savior, such as Redeemer, Deliverer, King,Teacher, and Lamb of God. The spirit flooded the chapel as the true spirit of Christmas was felt. We even heard our very own
President Packard sing "Oh Night Divine" while we must have all been thinking, "Oh shoots! All the Packards are talented, and even our own mission president sings!"
The rest of the night took a different turn. We all met in the gym of the church for dinner. We watched the zones' skits and musical numbers. President Packard showed us all how to "hand ball" as we all cheered. Some skits were a little weird but others were downright funny and creative. Sister Bringhurst, Sister Wagner, Sister Patterson, and I also sang our put-together-at-the-last-minute missionary version of "Sisters" (from White Christmas) as many missionaries wore blank stares since they didn't even know where the song came from ha.
At the end of the skits, we all enjoyed hot chocolate while watching a slide show of pics over the year. The Zone Leaders brought out all the packages from our families. It was a very nice surprise!
Speaking of surprises...New England loves to throw out surprises...like a whomping foot of snow at a time. Once the party ended we went outside to discover it snowed another foot, so we all shoveled our cars out. Many missionaries from further areas had to stay with other missionaries in the area for the time being as it continued to snow hard. Luckily everyone was okay.
The rest of the week had some very good surprises!
Dad, one surprise was when I opened the package you sent that said, "Open immediately!" I was doing my treatment, so when I opened the presents that read "open immediately!" I may have let out some shrill, Chubaka-like squeals. ;) I'll tell you, having a camera stolen, especially on a mission when all the pictures were on the SD card, is not a fun experience. I was glad I could use Sister Patterson's for a few months, and it is such a relief to have one once again. Thank you so much!
|camera to replace one lost|
Regarding to the work, we are still struggling to see a few of our investigators. Samuel, for instance, is still having a hard time recognizing the spirit/wanting to read the Book of Mormon. We decided to try "the Girlfriend theory" which is practically playing hard to get and waiting for them to make the move by adding some distance. (Josh, you can take note of that for your mission--sometimes it works well. :) ) Even though there are people we are teaching who are struggling to show true interest/keep commitments, I know that there are seeds being planted and some work here is only beginning. We both decided it would be nice to find more people who wanted to see us, instead of feeling pushed while pulling back.
Guess what? We got a new investigator family!! After visiting a couple of members on Saturday, we were driving down a street while I was texting someone. Sister Patterson brought up, "Do you think we should visit that family?" She had what she describes as the slightest feeling to stop by and share a Christmas message with a family who was on their porch. I remembered Sister Patterson's prompting to go tracting when we found the other family, so I agreed without hesitation. We parked and prepared a quick message, and once we knocked on the door and asked if we could share it, they invited us in! They are a very sweet family from Guatemala. We shared a few verses from Luke 2 and they shared what Christmas means to them, as they had humble traditions to focus on Christ. We then shared about true gifts we can give to Christ, and then offered our gift--the fullness of Christ's teachings since it has brought us joy. They agreed for us to come on Sunday and share more!
At Church on Sunday, another miracle happened! Sister Tardiff approached us, asking if we met the new investigator in Gospel Principles, which we hadn't since we were teaching the deacons in their Sunday School class. My first thought was that it was one of the Elders' investigators, but she wasn't. She is Catholic and came by herself, as she was looking for another church that resembles a community. We had ward members who jumped on the opportunity to help her feel included as soon as they saw her. Once they introduced us to her, we discovered how sweet she is, and she was actually excited to meet us! We planned her lesson to take place at the Tardiff's on Saturday! She felt so welcomed and is looking forward to the first lesson. :)
After church, Sister Patterson and I used the short time we had to study for the family we met on Saturday night, then we headed over to their home. We met up with a couple of members from our ward who are from Venezuela, went over our lesson plan, then headed inside. We thanked the family and asked what sparked their interest for us to come again, and they said they've been looking into different churches. We opened with a prayer, and began the first lesson. It flowed so well and the couple from our ward were able to create a connection with them. When it came time, we introduced Joseph Smith, and then started the Restoration DVD in Spanish. The spirit grew stronger as the movie played. Once the part came when Joseph Smith decided to ask himself which church was true, as he went into the Sacred Grove, I noticed the mom and daughter on the edge of the couch, with their eyes completely fixed on the screen to see what would happen next.
The spirit was incredibly strong at this point. While all this took place, I couldn't help but sit there in awe, trying to absorb all that was happening. I was overwhelmed with this opportunity to share the joy that comes from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in its absolute fullness. With the lit Christmas tree in the corner, with Sister Patterson and the couple of members next to us, while all watching the family's reaction as they felt the assurance that what they were learning was true, I couldn't help but think, Now this, right here, is Christmas. What better way was there to spend this time of season, to be immersed in this moment?
The rest of the lesson went very well. The family felt the spirit, and wanted to learn more. They agreed to come to church, to read the Book of Mormon, and to pray if what we taught is true. They know that the Lord will answer their prayers, and are familiar from experience with how the spirit speaks through feelings, impressions, and confirmations. That lesson is one I will never forget. They want to come to church and want to learn more. I have no choice but to accept that this is real life. :)
Sister Patterson and I topped of Sunday by caroling with the Elders and a few members to less actives' homes. We had a great time spreading more Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear. :)
It has been such an awesome week, and the true feeling of Christmas has been felt.
When President Packard spoke at the end of the Christmas fireside, he tied in what we can take at this time of year as missionaries. He shared with us how the wise men sought after their king, and provided gifts fit for a king. President gave ideas on what we can give Christ, as one of the greatest is a broken heart and contrite spirit, as we submit our will to His. He mentioned that we always hear of the gifts we can give to Christ that may be easier, including small acts of service. We shouldn't disregard serving at all, as it is most definitely something we should give. However, we can take it a step further and offer what may be challenging for us personally--something we may be struggling with, a way we can improve, a way that we can align our will with His, while working towards the fullest peace and joy that He has to offer. I thought it was a great invitation to think about at this Christmas season.
I cannot wait to talk to you on Christmas!!! It's going to be the best day ever!! :D
Love you all!