Christmas is, without a doubt, the MOST wonderful time of the year!
This week was incredible!
Honestly, I don’t remember what happened at the beginning of the week. Every Tuesday we do service at a senior center. This week they discovered I play the piano and had me play for their Christmas luncheon. All of the seniors loved it and the volunteer supervisor made me keep playing even after the luncheon ended. The five missionaries in our ward sang at our Ward Christmas Party. Honestly, it was probably pretty awful. I’ll just say that some of the missionaries in our ward sing better than others… some of them sing in the “monotone” range. I also played Christmas music on the piano while everyone ate dinner, played at three baptisms this week, might be singing or playing at a funeral this week, and played the organ at church on Sunday. So don’t be worried at all. I’ve definitely been taking President Larson’s advice and have been sharing the talents I’ve been given.
Tyler- Go to the temple again and again and again. It is such a faith-building experience. As Dad shared, each time you feel even more the sacred and eternal nature of the atonement and plan of salvation.
Also, we met a family here, the Winders, who were great friends with the Condons when Brother Condon joined the church 30-ish years ago. Tell The Condons Hello from the Winders!
Thank you so much for the package I am definitely looking forward to it. It will be such a blessing to have new scriptures. Also, if anyone has found effective ways for marking scriptures (especially effective for missionary work), let me know. I’ve heard a few different opinions, but before I begin marking my new scriptures I would like a plan of attack. Because I’ve really discovered on my mission, almost every single verse can be good enough that I want to mark it at some point.
On Christmas, I will be calling sometime after ten or eleven. I’m honestly not sure what time yet. Our schedule on Christmas shows that we will be doing a zone activity from 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM, and during that time we will call home. That’s a pretty broad spectrum of time, so hopefully this week at district meeting we get a LITTLE more information. My guess is between 1:00-4:00PM. I will let you know next week for sure.
Now for the miracles of the week.
In Long Beach, we taught a sweet husband and wife, whose names are Kyle and Nicci. I think I shared before, Kyle needed approval from the first presidency to get baptized. We waited… and waited… and waited to here back from Salt Lake, but we expected it may take a month or so based on the character of his past. Simultaneously, his wife, Nicci, was was meeting with the Bishop in hopes of being rebaptized because she had been excommunicated in her similarly murky past. Nicci’s son, who she has been afraid will follow the same broken path as so many of the people she knows, came to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Monday of this week, Nicci received approval (after more than a year) to be rebaptized. On Thursday, Kyle received permission from the First Presidency to be baptized. So, with no delay. Kyle was baptized on Saturday. He received the priesthood on Sunday and baptized his wife Sunday night. This family showed through their patience and through their faith that they truly were willing to leave every sin which easily doth beset them for something better… for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After Kyle and Nicci were baptized, Kyle told me, “I finally have a reason to celebrate Christmas”. Nicci was in tears during her whole baptism. She said, “I always knew the day would come when I would be rebaptized. I always knew that Kyle would be here to support me. He always has been. He is my very best friend. But I never thought that he would be the one to baptize me”. Even better, the whole family was able to experience this miracle together. This truly will be the best Christmas this family has ever experienced. And it is simply because they turned their lives to Christ. Every part of their life has been blessed, and they will freely admit it. Kyle said he could no longer deny the truthfulness of Christianity when he saw the blessing and eternal potential it provided for his family. In his words, believing in other Gods just stopped making sense.
To add to this miracle, I also taught another man in Long Beach named Ernest. I believe I may have talked about him before. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, gave him the pamphlet and came back the next day. He had read the whole pamphlet, answered all the questions, and was searching for even more. We taught more. He studied more. We taught the Word of Wisdom and asked him to stop smoking after 30+ years. After reading and studying the pamphlet and hearing the testimony of a recent convert, he set down cigarettes for good… cold turkey. He didn’t even believe he could do it. He was baptized at the same time as Nicci.
Also, when I was at the baptisms, my companion, Elder Miller and Elder Garcia were still hard at work. They went by a less active part member family who we have been by most likely 1000 times this transfer, and were never home. Finally, they opened the door while I was at the baptism and invited Elder Miller and Elder Garcia in. The husband, who is the member, told them that Saturday night was the only night in three months he had off from work, that it was a miracle that they were home. His wife told my companions that her husband was holding her back from learning more about Mormons because he’s always gone and doens’t have time to talk from the missionaries. Her 13-year old daughter told my companions that both her and her Mom want to be baptized and they don’t care if her Dad is home, they still want to learn.
This is a family the ward has been trying to activate/fellowship for years and years.
Everything I have seen this week is truly a testament that diligence and patience when it is hard to be diligent and patient brings huge blessings. Kyle and Nicci were able to be baptized the same weekend, with their son there to see it, after waiting months and months. This part member family wants to learn after years and years of the ward reaching out unsuccessfully to them. On Sunday, one of our ward members said to look for no’s in missionary work. That way, if we make a goal to have five people decline our invitations each week, we can successfully reach our goal. However, along the way, someone is bound to say yes.
On another note, an Elder in our zone went home for Christmas, so I actually got transferred to another ward in our zone. My new companion is Elder Rasmussen. We aren’t really sure how permanent this is. I could be back with Elder Miller and Garcia in two weeks when the transfer ends.
This picture is from Brenden’s baptism.
This is a boa constrictor (I think) that a less active family in our ward had. It is super calm. Don’t worry, Mom!
This is our “Christmas Tree” and a snowman we made out of grapefruit we picked from a widow’s yard. We trimmed all of her fruit trees and had more fruit than we could eat without killing ourselves, so we decided to put it to good use.