Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat!

Well if this week didn't put me in the Christmas spirit, I can't tell you what else would. I feel like I'm bleeding red and green glitter out of both of my ears and passing out from, sugar cookie and egg nog intake. It has been an insanely festive week. 
I'll go ahead and lead off with all of the Chriatmas festivities, in order.
1 - first was the Relief Society Christmas celebration on Tuesday. We had a great dinner with the Relief Society president and talked about the needs of the sisters and got to know her better as well, and then we headed over together to the activity. It was a wonderful program. We got to spend time with all of the sisters learning about Christmas. One sister gave a talk on the wise men, another gave a talk about the wise men, and then the last sister spoke on the holy family. It was so great, I really felt like I learned a lot of new amazing things that I hadn't really thought about or realized concerning that first Christmas. The spirit was strong. We sang lots of hymns and ate good food... We were stuffed. 😷 haha. Then, at the end, we did this super cute craft. I'm not very crafty, but the sisters stepped up to help out and we were all laughing and having a good time. It was great. 
2 - the next activity was the following day and probably my favorite day of this week - Zone Conference!!! Guys, I absolutely love Zone Conferences. I love spending time with the wonderful other missionaries in this mission. They lift my spirit so much. And, especially now since every single one of them is younger than I am (except for the few elect elders that are left) it brings me back to the beginning of my mission and helps me feel young again, haha. 
But really the whole day was just absolutely perfect and fun!! I curled both mine and Sister Wadsworth's hair, and we put on our ugly Christmas sweaters and our little Christmas hats. We got to spend time with President and Sister Johnson. I love being around the Johnson's. They are probably my favorite people on this planet. The food at lunch was amazing, seriously the members out here take the best care of their missionaries, we are so spoiled. I gave my departing testimony - which was absolutely insane. I went right after Elder Glick and I remember sitting on that stand, listening to his testimony and then all the sudden it hit me... Like, "Wait, what in the world am I doing? Is this really happening?" I felt like I was stepping out of a dream. I don't really remember what was said, I just know that I made fun of President at the beginning and everyone was laughing, and then my nerves went away and I think the Spirit hopefully took over. I just kept praying that what I said helped at least one person there. 
I also sang "Mary's Lullaby", since it was Christmas zone conference (which is my favorite one!) and since it was my last zone conference, I really wanted to sing a song, even though I was SUPER nervous. Sister Wadsworth learned how to play it on the piano for me, and we practiced SO much to get it down perfect. There was just one high note that i was super scared of because I thought I wasn't gonna be able to hit it, but Elder Perry helped me do some warm ups so I would see that I could definitely hit the note. Before I got up to sing I gave Sister Johnson a huge hug and she told me to take a deep breath and not be nervous, and all my nerves just went away! I took a huge deep breath right before I got up to sing, and everything went really well, I even hit the high note without cracking!! I was so happy!! And everyone came up to me after the conference was over and was like, "Wow Sister Bills, I didn't know you could sing!" And, "Wow Hermana, you've got some serious pipes." And, "You have the prettiest voice, sister!" It made me all giddy and happy inside! People are so nice! 
We also got to watch the new mission video that Elder Haskins made. He did a super good job, I was crying and laughing and clapping. It was a wonderous film. 
When everything was over, we all went out to dinner and then went caroling as a zone!! It was super fun, we just walked around Cranberry in the rain and sang to people. We even found one family that was interested in learning more about the church and wanted the missionaries to come back! I love it when people want to learn about the gospel! It's the best. 
Anyway. But it was just seriously the best day of the entire week. I love spending time with missionaries, and I love learning about the gospel and getting pumped to share it. I love being a missionary, it is the best time of year to spread the news about the Savior and his church. 
But yeah, moving on.
3 - Christmas festivity number three was our ward Christmas party. It was great, there was an ugly sweater contest that Sister Wadsworth and I participated in, and we got honorable mention so we felt pretty legit. The food was great, we colored Christmas pictures and sang songs as a ward, we read scriptures, we frosted cookies. It was a great night walking around and saying hello to people and meeting new faces of people who haven't come out for a while. Christmas is a miracle.
4 - The last Christmas festivity of the week was our stake Christmas devotional. Sister Gibson roped us into singing a song for the devotional as a district, so we did a little mashup of "Away in a Manger" and "More Holiness Give Me" that Elder Whitmire put together. I think it went well, nobody boo'd us off the stage, at least. But the program in and of itself was spectacular. There were so many incredibly beautiful pieces of music performed, and our stake president gave an incredible testimony of the power of the Savior's love. He's a great guy. (who? The Savior, or the stake president?) Both. 
We also had the priviledge of seeing both President and Sister Johnson again, which was wonderful. He decided he would come to the program because I, along with three or four of the elders who go home with me, were going to be there, and he wanted to give us our departing temple recommend interviews. So I got to have my little interview with President Johnson and it was so amazing. There was nothing different or special about the interview, but the questions on the interview hit me in such a powerful way, because I have seen my testimony grown and change over the course of my mission. The two that especially got me was when he asked if I had faith in my Savior, and if I had a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, because my testimony of those two things has just exploded in the past 17 months. I am so blessed. I love this gospel. I love being a missionary.
But anyway. 
We were also able to do tons of service this week. As always, we volunteered at Katies kitchen which is always a highlight. I met some great new friends and I'm gonna follow them on instagram when I get home in a few weeks ;) We also got to go to do therapeutic riding and that was amazing. They just moved locations to a new indoor arena so they don't have to cancel when it gets cold, but it's been like 70 flippin degrees so I don't know what everyone is worried about!! Haha
So I'd say we've gotten ourselves into the right frame of mind for this, the last full week before Christmas. We have tons of service lined up for the week ahead, and many amazing people that we are going to see. I am so stoked. Time is definitely just flying right by!! 
If you guys haven't checked out christmas.mormon.org yet, do it! it's amazing!! 

I can't wait to just get out and share the message of Christmas this week, I will talk to you all next Monday. Love you tons!! 

Love, 
Hermana Bills