My beautiful family!!
Now, we all know I have such a love for Christmas and that every Christmas is and has been wonderful for me ... but I have to say, up until this point in my life, this was my most special, heart felt & favorite Christmas. There are many reasons for this but the main reason is simple & explanatory. I was completely focused on my Savior, Jesus Christ. Every day this Christmas season, I have kept my thoughts focused on Christ. Every morning I have personally read about, studied & written in a journal about the Savior ... each day I have done a Christ-like challenge that was according to the advent calendar President & Sister Marston gave us and then I have written about my daily experience in my journal at night, and more specifically or what has impacted me the very most ... is every single day I have been wearing the Lord's name on my chest and been doing His work. I have been a full-time representative of Him and constantly been teaching about Him, His gospel, inviting others to come unto Him, etc. and alongside that, I have been trying my very very best to become more like Him. To obtain more of His characteristics & get to know Him better. Well, through all of this, I have never before in my life felt closer to my Savior or had Him more on my mind. Wow, what an affect that has had on me. I actually can't really put into words how great of an affect it has had on me. But in regards to Christmas Day. Well, first off ... we went caroling Christmas Eve which brought a great spirit into my heart, especially as we saw those we love smile & completely light up as we sang joyous hymns to them ... we then finished with hot cocoa at Elder & Sister Warmoth's alongside discussing many wonderful gospel topics, including the intervention of angels in our lives (it was an incredible discussion) and then when Hermana Cluff & I came back to our apartment, we read the Biblical accounts of Christ's birth which led me to falling asleep thinking about my dear Savior. Then came Christmas morning. We went on a lovely run (first time I have ever exercised on Christmas haha), had personal study (I studied the Savior more), we had companionship study which was amazing and to finish companionship study, we watched the Bible video "Nativity" and then bore our testimonies of the Savior to one another. To be honest, as a missionary I have learned to control my emotions quite nicely and while bearing my testimony I usually feel the spirit by simply being filled with happiness & peace, so I wasn't expecting my emotions to come as they did ... but as soon as I began talking, I truly began to weep. I have not done this in a very long time & this was the first time Hermana Cluff has actually seen me cry. I don't cry like that anymore. But bearing my deep testimony on Christmas morning, after my mind had already been soo consumed by Him, I couldn't help but weep as I truly reflected on the deep deep love, gratitude, adoration, admiration & appreciation I have for my Savior. I love Him. And what makes me even more sentimental is I know Him now ... & I am confident that He knows me. So that was so so so special to me and hearing Hermana Cluff's sweet & sincere testimony really touched me as well. We had our own beautiful little testimony. But after that we then opened our presents and I have never appreciated every little thing given to me more than I did then. Wow, everyone is far too nice & I appreciate all of your kindness soo much!! Also mom & dad, Hermana Cluff & I had such a fun time reading all of those scriptures attached to those millions of presents. We did very good at guessing what the gift was too!! If I may say so myself ... haha. But thank you thank you thank you for everything. I love you all SOOO much. And then after we opened all of our presents, we Skyped you, our lovely families!!!! Which was beyond beyond amazing and soo much fun for me. Haha it is also quite exhausting for us missionaries, emotionally, mentally, etc. but so so worth it. Thank you for making me so happy & feeling so loved!!! But then after our Skype sessions we got all cozy & watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas, along with some other classic church Christmas films, while writing thank you cards, etc. and it was wonderful!!! Haha I still had a lot of emotions inside of me though so something cute happened in Mr. Krueger's Christmas and I had tears. Ohh the emotions haha. But then after we did some things here at our home, we met the Elders at the church for something that was the cherry on top to my Christmas Day. At the beginning of December, President Marston told all of us missionaries to ponder over receiving a Priesthood blessing this Christmas season for Priesthood power is one of the greatest gifts God has given us, His children. So, we both decided that receiving a Priesthood blessing would be one of the best gifts we could be given for Christmas and we both felt Elder Nelson, our district leader, would be the best to receive one from. I have never received a blessing while being on my mission either so it kinda slipped my mind ... but both of us felt the desire for one on Christmas Day and it was so. I was a little nervous at first because I haven't gotten one in so long ... I had a lot of butterflies, but as soon as Elder Nelson laid his hands on my hands and began to speak, after he spoke only a few sentences, I knew God was speaking to me and the tears began to flow. Wow. That was one of the most beautiful blessings I have ever been given. Elder Nelson is soo spiritually in tune & it was all exactly what I needed to hear. Hermana Cluff is a sweetheart and wrote down a lot of my blessing too so I can always remember it but truly ... that was the greatest gift I was given. I am so so thankful for Priesthood power and for worthy men who hold it. We have God's power & authority on the earth today, could there be anything more exciting!? After the blessings we then went over to Elder & Sister Warmoth's and ate treats while playing bla anagrams. Haha we played with the two Senior missionary couples and it was a blast!! Then we went back home, made some pasta, listened to some more Christmas music & my heart was fuller than ever before. I had a beautiful Christmas.
In spite of it being the week of Christmas ... we ended up still getting quite a few lessons in and had a very successful week. For some highlights: We found one new investigator yesterday while tracting, Enrique, which we're pretty excited about ... we saw Marie Cruz & her husband (our new investigators) yesterday as well which was so so awesome. We started teaching them the Plan of Salvation & they ate it all up! They are soo nice to us and I love them so much! We had a lesson with Ismael & Israel and Israel prayed for us which was a huge deal!! And today we actually had a lesson with Eduardo!! I know, it's p-day, but it was the only time we could see him for sure and we haven't met with him since we found him tracting so we had to make it happen!! It was such a good lesson too! We taught him the Restoration and he was so receptive to everything. He understood it all too and had so many questions & comments. It was great!!! Again, we found Eduardo tracting & through the "He is the gift" initiative, he's 22 and just the nicest. We are so excited to teach him more! Also, Sister Warmoth came with us and was a great help. But okay, for the biggest update & most exciting news ... I have to talk about Marco!!!
So, earlier in the week we had a lesson with Marco at his house, his sister Amy, joined with us and it went super super well. But then,we had a lesson set but he texted us earlier and told us to meet him for lunch! He ended up taking & treating us to Chili's!!! It was soo nice of him! And then after we ate, we went to a nearby park and had a lesson with him there. It was awesome! We taught him the 10 commandments with an emphasis on #4, keeping the Sabbath Day holy and it was the best lesson!!!! He was soo sincere, respectful & receptive the entire lesson and as we left the lesson Hermana Cluff & I both immediately said how he has changed sooo much. There is something so different about him and he is sincerely changing & progressing!!! It is incredible! He is just so so nice to us and we both can tell he really trusts us now. Which makes a huge difference and he is sincerely wanting to learn & come to know of truths for him self. Again, it is incredible! And to make it all even more amazing ... we have been inviting him to come to church every time we see him but he has never come and yesterday, HE CAME TO CHURCH!! Marco came to church!!! This is a miracle!! And his parents were completely shocked as well. They are both more than thrilled at the fact that he is meeting with us and his dad, Oscar, said he was shocked when Marco said he wanted to come to church with them as they were heading out that morning. Ahhhhh!!!!!! We were both soooo exciting and I almost broke Marco's hand when I shook it when I saw him. He came to church!!! I still cannot get over it. This is such a big miracle I cannot even tell you. His parents & sister have been members for years now and never been able to get him to come. And he came! And now that he has come once it is going to be so much easier for him to come again. Wow, I am still so happy!!!!!!! Haha many of the member were so excited to see him there as well and even Hermana Jaime, from the branch presidency, & Elder Warmoth texted us before church telling us he was there!! Best day ever!!!
Well, those are some of my biggest updates for now. Didn't we have such a marvelous Christmas week!?! I truly could not have loved it more. The Savior truly blesses us soo so much as we have faith in Him. I have been thinking about faith a lot lately actually. Now, I know I will always be striving to have more faith and lack so so much ... but the other morning I was pondering over some things & discussing them with Hermana Cluff in companionship study and I all of the sudden had a thought come into my mind and I said to her, "I often wonder why I am someone who has such faith in Jesus Christ." When I said this I realized how truly blessed I am and I got watery eyes. Now again, I know I have soo much faith to gain, as we all do, but I all of the sudden was so humbled by the fact that I have as much faith as I do. Enough faith in my Savior to continually have a strong desire to follow His example, teachings & strive to obtain His characteristics. Enough faith to be serving a mission as a full-time representative and servant of Him for 18 months. Enough faith to teach people, complete strangers, of Him & His gospel every single day and invite them to come unto Him and be baptized. Enough faith to walk away from rejection or a door slammed in my face with a peaceful & grateful heart. Enough faith to get on my knees multiple times each day and pray in His name to my Father above. Enough faith to repent & continually seek forgiveness, improvement and change. I think sometimes it's easy to underestimate how much faith we truly do have. Of course, we must continually work towards increasing and expanding our faith but really ... when we look at it in a greater perspective, us members of the church truly have so much faith. And again, I often wonder, "Why me???" ... "Why do I have as much faith as I have?" ... "Why am I someone who doesn't have a hard time believing??" ... "Why am I so blessed??" Well, I can tell you it's nothing I have done to deserve it. I believe it is a beautiful gift from God to have such faith. Even if it truly be the size of a mustard seed. That's all it takes for our faith to be nourished, grow and lead us to obtaining eternal life. I have faith in Jesus Christ.
Have a wonderful week!!