Thank you SO much for the many emails and letters. They always bring me such comfort knowing that I am in your prayers and that I have so much support back at home. Even if I don't respond to you right away, just know that I do read your emails and I appreciate your time and effort to write me. It means so much! And I am always touched by your uplifting words and they are always exactly what I need to hear. So thank you!
Not every day is good, but there is definitely good in every day. This week was rough for us but we made it! If being on a mission didn't challenge me, then it wouldn't change me. I feel like I am changing and becoming a better missionary each and every day. The hard times are what teach me the most, so I am grateful for them, as weird as that sounds! Trials give me the chance to grow closer to my Father in Heaven and truly learn to accept His will and timing.
No one wants to read an email about all my complaints so I will focus on the good things of this week!
We helped a less-active lady named Gail paint on Saturday as she was getting ready to move. She is from Mongolia and actually served a mission here in California just a year after being baptized. We were able to talk to her about her mission and she told us some great stories. I know she felt the Spirit as she relived those memories of what she described as "the best time in her life". And guess what... she came to church yesterday! Yay!
We visited another less-active lady named Donna and helped set up her Christmas tree. We were talking to her about our investigator Lorraine and asked her for advice in helping her get to church (secretly hoping it would spark Donna's interest to come too). She told us Lorraine needed a friend and that she would be happy to give her rides to church- perfect! Donna even came to the next lesson we had with Lorraine so she could get to know her. Unfortunately, Lorraine didn't make it to church again yesterday. We're hoping it'll work out with Donna picking her up next week.
We had a very powerful lesson with Larry this week about the scripture study. We read a few verses out of 1 Nephi 17 in the Book of Mormon and we really focused on understanding them. Watching Larry pause as we read and take the time to think about each phrase was really great! It was the first time I truly felt like the Spirit was teaching Larry more than we were. I know the Spirit was so strong because it testifies of truth, and there is no doubt that what we were reading is true. When we open our hearts to ponder the scriptures and seek to apply them to our lives, the Holy Ghost enlightens our minds. We're trying hard to keep Larry reading the scriptures on his own so he can experience those feelings even when we aren't there. I am grateful for the peace that comes from reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. It's so cool to see it work in action!
We are starting to do Family Home Evenings with different families in the ward each Monday night. A few weeks ago we taught a simple lesson about the Priesthood, the authority to act in God's name, and came up with a fun matching game to play at the end. Last week we taught the Plan of Salvation using a bridge analogy, that our Savior Jesus Christ is the bridge to help us conquer sin and death. I really have enjoyed doing these Family Home Evening lessons because it helps us practice our teaching skills and gives us the chance to be creative! Sitting down together as a family and learning about the gospel is so important and truly unites families. I am grateful that I grew up in a home that was very diligent about having Family Home Evening and I know it has been such a blessing for our family.
Tomorrow we are having a Zone Christmas Program and I am going to be an angel in the Nativity! Not quite sure what that all entails but I am excited. After the program we will be going to the Sacramento Temple to do a session together. I am really looking forward to attending the temple and feeling of the special, very strong Spirit that is there. It truly is the closest place to Heaven on Earth.
We've been singing a lot of Christmas songs lately and I found a new favorite! I love "Away in a Manger", especially the 3rd verse:
"Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children, with thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there".
This verse has brought me so much comfort throughout this past week and all the hardships I have been feeling. The Lord truly is close by us and He loves us so much. I know that I can always feel immediate peace when I pray to Him because He is there, and He is listening to me. He cares about everything that goes on throughout my day, and He understands better than anyone.
Hope you have a wonderful week! I love you and miss you all!