This week was great. It seems like a million years since I got to talk to you, fam, even though it was just a few days ago…. I am so so grateful for each one of you. I have the best family in the whole world. Among the highlights are the ward Christmas party/karaoke, eating a thousand tamales throughout the whole week, three dinners on Christmas Eve and three lunches on Christmas Day, fireworks waking us up at midnight on Christmas, making Christmas cookies, singing carols with all the missionaries in Huehue in central park, and Susy and Juan Luis´ wedding and Juan´s baptism!!
On the 23rd we sang Christmas hymns in central park with 40 or so missionaries from Huehue. President told us if we were going to do it, it had better sound GOOD, so we had been practicing parts and everything for the past few weeks. It turned out WAY better than we thought, and a bunch of people formed a crowd to listen.
The 24th for everyone here is Christmas, so we made Christmas cookies with the Hermanas that share our chapel, Hna. Neild y Hna. Erikson, and went around giving gifts to a lot of members and recent converts. THEN WE ATE THREE CHRISTMAS DINNERS. All I can say is Tamal, Meat-stuffed Chicken, and PONCHE. Ponche is lo mejor. After the first two, we crawled on all fours to our last dinner. Just kidding, we walked but with PAIN, hahah! We actually said prayers that all of the food would fit in our stomachs. And it worked! 🙂 It was special to be with each family. I love Cerrito del Maíz. The people here, as in my other areas, are very quick to love, and the members here are HILARIOUS. We went to bed and then woke up at 11:55 pm to see all of the fireworks everyone sets off here. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I had never seen anythingggg like it. There were huge fireworks shows above alllll of the town, and everyone setting off bomb things in the streets, for a good 15 minutes, hahah. I love it. I would totally start that tradition in the states if all the fireworks they sell here on the street weren’t illegal over in the states….
On Christmas, we studied and I studied in the Book of Mormon and then in Jesus the Christ. (I learned that Joseph and Mary were both descendants of King David and that Joseph would have been king of Israel if the country hadn’t been governed by a foreign monarch at that time, making Christ LITERALLY A PRINCE. I can’t believe I never actually knew that.) We spent Christmas day giving out more gifts and visiting some less actives and recent converts! We also taught a lesson to Brayan, an investigator that had a baptismal date but wasn’t ready to keep the Sabbath day holy that we had to drop for a time. 😦 He showed up at church randomly last Sunday and told our second counselor in the bishopric that he wants to be baptized. We met his sister, who is now reading the Book of Mormon! We challenged both of them to a baptismal date at the end of January and Astrid accepted but Brayan told us he would have to really think and pray about it. He called us today and told us he wants to be baptized on FRIDAY. We are going to do everything possible to prepare for Friday and I will let you know how everything goes. 🙂
CALLING MY FAMILY WAS THE BEST 40 MINUTES OF MY LIFE. Hahaha, I am SO SO happy that the whole 40 minutes we were just LAUGHING and joking around. I LOVE you guys and the spirit that you have!!!! I MISS you all but I want to enjoy this short time I have left here. 🙂 Thank you for lifting me with your happiness and good spirits and love! You are amazing. And Emily — I MISS YOU AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR VIDEO. I think that was the only moment that I actually really cried. You are the best. You go girl.
Saturday we had Susy and Juan Luis´ wedding!!! We made their invitations earlier in the week and the wedding was VERY simple and beautiful. Juan Luis has received mission lessons for a few years now, always wanting to be baptized, and FINALLY could as his Susy´s divorce finally came through. We love them and their kids SO MUCH. He is one of the most genuine and sensitive people I have met, even though maybe His appearance leads to other first impressions. We were so so SO happy for them both, and THEY were so so so happy as well.
I have had some of the most incredible studies this week! I love the scriptures SO MUCH! I just continue to learn every day from scriptures that I have read a good 100 times before. I started the Book of Mormon again a few weeks ago, and I love something I read this week in 1 Nephi 8:24-28. I am so interested by the group of people that, after MUCH struggling and persevering, REACHED the tree of life and even ate its fruit! But turned away, being embarrassed, and fell into unknown paths and were l o s t. I just want to cry reading it. But how perfectly does it apply to so many who have tasted of the Savior’s redeeming love? How closely does it fit situations in our own lives when we have cared more about the glory of the world than the blessings of the love and redemption of God? This idea is also illustrated in Juan 12:42-43, Marcos 8:38, Mateo 10:32-33…. In Mormon 8:38, Moroni asks us WHY we are embarrassed to take the name of Christ upon us – is it for the praise of the world? I LOVE Romans 1:16 and 2 Tim 1:8, 11-12:
“8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
“11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
“12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
I am not ashamed of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I am not ashamed of following Him, in EVERYTHING. For I know WHOM I have believed. I understand many of the blessings that are promised us in return for repentance, humility, and coming unto Him. I feel honored to testify of Jesus Christ and represent Him each day. I feel humbled by my many weaknesses and excited as I work to change myself. I know that the Lord keeps His promises and I KNOW that keeping His commandments is the only way we can receive true joy and all of the blessings He is preparing for us; ¨for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.¨ (1 Ne 21:23)
I love you all!