I would just like to start off by wishing you all a late Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful day and were able to spend it with your family. Most importantly, I hope you were all able to take the special opportunity of having Christmas on a Sunday to put a little extra emphasis on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and the wonderful gift he was to all mankind.
We have had an eventful last few weeks here in the Utah Orem Mission. Transfers were a week and a half ago, and Elder Fairbanks and I had to part ways. I stayed in the area, and my new companion Elder Hemstreet joined me here. He's from Michigan and he's been out for almost a year now. We hit the ground running and have been making tons of visits since the transfer started. We haven't seen a whole lot of progress from those visits yet, but we know that as the Christmas season passes, people's hearts will be softened and they will be more open to hearing a message about the Restored Gospel. We are confident that the lord is currently preparing many people in this area who are his elect, we just have to have enough faith to find them.
On Christmas Eve, we got to spend some time with one of the Bishops in our area and his family. They had a lot of the same traditions as my family did back home, including acting out the Nativity with narration from Luke 2, as well as everybody getting a new set of pajamas on Christmas Eve. They also had another tradition, which they called the Christmas Chocolate roll. It was pretty much just ice cream wrapped in chocolate cake and served with caramel syrup. There was way to much sugar then there needed to be, but it was still really good.
As you all know, yesterday was Christmas! It was about 50 degrees outside on Christmas Eve, so we weren't expecting a white Christmas. Luckily, it cooled down a lot and snowed overnight, so it was a white Christmas after all! We had the opportunity to go to three separate sacrament meeting Christmas programs, each of which was amazing in its own way. After that, we spent most of the day visiting families and spending time with them. The highlight of the day was when we got to Skype home for an hour. We only get to do it twice a year, on Christmas Day and on Mother's Day, so this was a pretty special event. Since I've been out for about 5 months now, there wasn't too much different with my family, but there was enough to take up the whole hour. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to see them and speak with them. I'm especially looking forward to when we get to do it again on Mother's Day.
Well, that's about all I have for this week. I hope you all continue to have a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all a happy new year! When I write again, it will be 2017! That's so weird to think about. Have a great week!
Thursday, December 15, 2016
It's been a great last two weeks, and I have plenty to share! I'll make sure and hit on the highlights so that I don't write a book!
As many of you probably know, Thursday, December 1st, marked the start of the church's Christmas initiative this year, called "Light the World". This is a great program that promotes serving one another and trying to become more like Christ. Through serving others in small ways, our goal is, as the title says, to light the world with the Light of Christ. The 1st was an international day of service, where church members around the world committed to participate in service activities both big and small. As a mission, we all committed to each do 4 hours of service that day. We decided to serve in our district and started by helping an elderly couple move some furniture and carpet. From there, we helped a member take apart a sink and counter set. After that, we spent some time helping a sister with her dishes. I think that we probably spent more than 4 hours in service, but I am completely okay with that! It was great to be able to see the joy that was brought to peoples lives through the service that we provided. It was also amazing being able to perform another form of missionary work, and bring the restored gospel to peoples lives through service and example.
Throughout this last weekend and the weekend before that, we've had the opportunity to attend countless ward Christmas activities. We cover 21 wards, so there is no shortage of parties to attend! There were some days when we went to three in the same night! There are still plenty left too. I love being able to attend so many activities because it provides a great opportunity to meet the many members and interact with as many of the fantastic people that live here as we can. The worst part is having to turn people down when they ask if we want anything to eat. I'm sure the food is great, but I can only eat so much!
One of the more special events of my mission so far happened a week ago last Saturday. Our mission had the privilege of being visited by Elder M. Russell Ballard. He wasn't able to stay long because of his busy schedule, but the time he was able to spend with us was outstanding. One of the biggest things I took away from the message he shared was to not over complicate things. I like this because I have a tendency to do that very thing, and an apostolic message to keep things simple is very helpful.
This last Thursday was a very busy day. It started bright and early with Zone Conference at in the morning. We had to make sure that our car was nice and clean because we had inspections this transfer. I guess we were able to impress whoever inspected ours, because we got a clean car award! Zone conference lasted until about , with a break for brunch sometime in there. Right after Zone Conference, we had to set up for the mission Christmas activity at . As I've said before, I love having activities that include the entire mission because I love being able to see the other wonderful missionaries that I get to serve with. We had dinner for about an hour, and then President Killpack told us all that we would get to go see "A Christmas Carol" at the nearby Hale Center Theater. This was awesome because it was completely unexpected, and I love being able to go to fun things like musicals. That lasted until about . After that, we had proselyting time for the rest of the night.
The last major event was the baptism that we had this last Saturday. We've been teaching this guy for the last 4 weeks, and he was super anxious to get baptized. He passed his interview last week, which meant it was a go. He's been around the church for so many years, and he's a super friendly guy. The service was huge. There were at least a hundred people in attendance. We had to hold the program in the chapel to fit all of the people, and even then the chapel was full. It was an awesome experience overall that I am sure blessed many people's lives.
Those have been the highlights of the last two weeks. As you can see, they have been pretty busy. Hopefully this kind of activity keeps up, because it makes it feel like time flies by! I'm so grateful for the love that I feel from everyone, and I hope you all have a fantastic week!
The baptism we had last week.
At the Hale Center Theater to see "A Christmas Carol".
Our group getting together for some service.