Happy Holidays everyone!
Hope y'all survived Christmas. I must admit, I had a BLAST! There is something truly special about Christmas in the mission field.
Christmas Eve, we (Sister Dansie and I, and Elders Jones and Jamsa) were at the Butlers, where we opened a special present from Sister Dansie's mom. The present was the symbols of Christmas, and we each read a little blurb about what each symbol meant. There was a star, representing the star which proclaimed His birth. There was a candy cane---shaped in a J for His name, red and white symbolizing His blood and the purity we get from that sacrifice. There were bells, representing the ringing joy and hope we all should feel this time of year. There was an orange; the story that went with that was about a group of orphans who got a Christmas orange, and one boy got his taken away as punishment for a wrong-doing. Each other boy gave him one section of their orange so he could have one. It was a cute story. And the last gift was a small ornament in the shape of a present. For that gift, we read Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 2:1-11. Elder Jamsa then finished off the night with a special Christmas Eve song in Finnish. When he finished, we all were quiet for a moment; there was a very special spirit in the Butler home that night.
Christmas morning came bright and early---well, early at the very least. It was pretty foggy, so there wasn't so much 'bright,' but that was okay. The fog was grayish-white, so Sister Dansie and I decided that was as close to a white Christmas as we were going to get. (It was 80 degrees outside Christmas Eve, and was supposed to be about the same on Christmas.) We spent Christmas morning with the McIlwain family. We had fruit soup for breakfast, and it was AMAZING! Brother McIlwain's family is German, and he had fruit soup every Christmas growing up. It was really yummy! We got to open presents with their family, which was fun. It reminded me of how excited I got every Christmas morning when I was younger too. Then it was off to the Butlers for Christmas supper and more presents, and best of all, phonecalls home. :)
I really had fun talking to my family. I had to laugh; the first thing Sister Butler said to me when we walked in the door was that my mom had been texting her all morning, asking if I was there yet. Good ole Mom----I sure do love her! I got to talk to them for about an hour, and then I had to go because we were getting ready to eat. But it was fun to hear everyone's voices. And thank heavens, my package got up to Oregon in time, so they all had their homemade Christmas presents from me to open. :)
We had ham and deer roast and rolls and sugar-snap peas and mashed potatoes and corn and all sorts of stuff for lunch. The Butlers really outdid themselves; it was so good! And then we got to hang out with their family the rest of the day, which was so much fun. We went outside and threw the football around. I even had a few nice spirals in there, and was complimented on my arm twice! But just in case I was getting a big head, the Lord reminded me that I couldn't catch worth beans---and everyone saw that. :) It's all good. I got to call my family again, and finish up our conversations before saying good night. We thanked the Butlers over and over, and gave them big hugs. They sent us off with leftovers, and wished us a Merry Christmas.
We finished off the night by stopping by to see Elder and Sister Bruening, the office couple. Sister Bruening had us try these very...interesting chocolate covered caramels. They were interesting because they had sea salt on them. They weren't bad...I just don't think I'd try them again. Elder Bruening told us about a lecture he'd read that was written by a Jewish lady who converted to Christianity. The lecture explained her theory on the events that occured the night of the Savior's birth: how Mary would have been dressed, what the swaddling clothes would have looked like, etc. It really made you think, and it made a lot of sense too. Elder Bruening was really getting into it, and you could tell Sister Bruening was worried he was enjoying his "captive" audience too much; she kept trying to hurry him along. It made me smile.In the end, we headed home, very tired and very grateful. I took a moment in my nightly prayer to really thank my Father in Heaven for my Savior. Truly, this was one Christmas I'll never forget.
Other than that, this week has been good. A little crazy, but altogether not too shabby. It's been difficult trying to get in touch with our investigators because of the holidays, but we did get to talk to Shawn again, which was good. And the rest of them we're planning on seeing this week.
Sister Dansie is slowly starting to pack up her stuff. She's not trunky; she's just realistic. I'm really going to miss her! But she's headed off into her next big adventure, and she's promised to write, so I guess I'll survive. ;)
Well, that's all for now! Love y'all!
Your Friend in the Faith,
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.