Merry Christmas this week, to everyone. It's going to be a crazy week! I'm so excited to Skype home this week. It's been a long almost 6 months. But also short in so many ways.
We have had so much work this last week. Something that Hermana Landa and I have struggled a lot with is being bold. We're both so new to the mission that boldness is really scary, and so our teachings really haven't been all that effective. But this last week we had an incredible district meeting and we were feeling really determined to change some people's lives. Because we were willing to step up our game and be bold but loving, the Lord was able to bless us so much!
Here are some highlights:
The Hernandez Family: We were able to teach the Hernandez family this week. They've been less active since I got to Lebanon and we didn't really know how to help them. Then Hermana Landa came and she's been able to relate to them so well! It was awesome. This last week we got in with them and we helped them to set a goal to get to the temple to be sealed as kind of a "bigger picture" type thing. We also committed them to read the Book of Mormon as a family each night. It came out that Brother Hernandez has a desire to get active so that he is worthy to baptize his son when he turns 8. That will be an awesome motivator for them! The ward was so excited to hear about their progress.
Elizabeth: Elizabeth has been in the past somewhat of what missionaries describe as "an eternal investigator". She has a really hard time with a specific commitment and hasn't been able to fully live it yet. She's such a cute lady and we love her. But, as missionaries, we really haven't been as effective as we should have been at inviting her to come unto Christ. Regardless of someone's history, they can alwayschange. So we were able to set her with a baptismal date this week and it was awesome!
We also picked up two new investigators, Arnaldo (who is our awesome miracle investigator who found that random pass along card and wanted to come to church) and Xiomara (who is the mother of one of our recent converts and the daughter of another one of our investigators).
We were also able to help Joe bump up his baptismal date. He'll be getting baptized now in January, rather than February. He's so excited.
We had so many people come to church on Sunday. I was also able to see my old investigator Hector! He disappeared for a long time. Someone told us that he had been in jail or something. My heart was just broken. But it turns out he wasn't in jail! He was in the hospital. He'd had a stroke and was in for about 15 days. He's living outside of our area now, so we can't visit him and that's a major bummer. But I was so happy to see him. It made my whole day. He's not doing too hot, but he was happy to come to church again.
This week, we were also able to go caroling at a hospital here in Lebanon. It was such a blessing in my life to do that. So many people were smiling and so grateful. It was such a tender experience. We had this cute old lady that just followed us around the hospital on her walker and would try to sing the hymns with us and then when we were done she'd cry, "Glory be to God!" It was so incredible. People are so cool.
This week has been awesome. Hard. But awesome. I love the Savior so much and I'm so grateful for this Christmas season where my thoughts are able to be turned to Him more powerfully. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful for my incredible ward here who has been so kind and generous and reached out to us, inviting us into their homes, giving us gifts, helping us find people to teach, helping us teach those people. I'm so grateful for my family and friends who have been an incredible support to me. I am so grateful for all of you wonderful people who keep me and the other missionaries in this world in your hearts and in your prayers. You are wonderful.
I pray that you are all able to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Thursday as we celebrate the gift that he is in each of our lives.
I wrote a poem this week. I just want to end this email with it.
When Christmas comes again to town
When lights are lit and snow falls down
When children play and parents grin
and visit neighbors, friends and kin
With all the joy that Christmas brings
The songs and toys and treats and things
Somewhere behind the pretty lights
The Christmas trees, the smells, the sights
Somewhere beyond the mistletoe
Some time so very long ago
There's something greater we must see
A child was born - for you and me.
I was not there that Christmas night
When to the world came life and light
I did not hear the angels sing
Their praises to the Heavenly King
What was it like for those who saw
The Christ child on His bed of straw?
What was it like to stand and hear
The angels tides of peace and cheer?
I wonder how the wise men felt
When they before the Savior knelt
I was not there, how can I know?
I did not see the star aglow
I did not see the night as day
I was not there to watch and pray
I did not see His holy face
I was not in that sacred place
But still I know my Savior lives
I relish in the gift He gives
Salvation - free to all mankind
Life to the dead, sight to the blind
I know Christ lives and He lives still
Although He died upon the hill
He rose again. Because of Him
(Although at times the way looks grim)
If we to Him our hearts will turn
He'll teach us truth. we'll grow, we'll learn
Because the Christ child came that night
Our darkest days are filled with light
And like the angels we can sing
Hosanna to our Heavenly King.
Merry Christmas, everyone.