Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad Familia!!

This past week was crazy, and this next week is going to be crazier!  We have had so many fun activities!

Christmas in the mission isn't as sad and depressing as I thought it was going to be :)

Let's start with Friday.  Friday was a really good day :)  First we had a tri-zone luncheon in Mesa with President and Sister Sweeney.  What did I eat?  Ham and rolls :)  After lunch, the Sisters from my zone, and one other zone did a musical number which turned out to be really pretty!  We sang "O Come all Ye Faithful" and I played the piano.  Then one of the cute Senior Missionaries told us she didn't want anyone to go without presents on Christmas so she had made 250 pillowcases!  1 for each missionary and leader.  It was so nice!  Then we all gathered on the steps of the temple for a picture, and finally we went inside the temple!  I love the Mesa temple :)  This was the first time that President and Sister Sweeney have gone with us, and we had a special chapel meeting beforehand and listened to their testimonies.  One of the memories I will always cherish from my mission is sitting in the temple with a room full of missionaries, and then feeling the Spirit so strong as they say a prayer in behalf of the missionaries.  So neat!  In the celestial room, President Sweeney approached me and asked how I was holding up.  I said "good!"  He said it's a lot of work isn't it?" (Referring to combining areas and becoming a leader)  I couldn't even say anything, I just nodded my head....I have never felt so continuously stressed out in my life!  

Mesa Temple lights

Despite the stress, I still seem to have a grand old time here in Phoenix :)  Friday after the temple, Sister Clark
Ernie & Jairo
and I raced the mini-van to the nearest Taco Bell, scarfed down food, then raced back to the temple to work the Christmas lights shift.  We didn't have any crazy neat experiences this time, but Jairo and Ernie came which was exciting!  We gave them a tour of the grounds and they loved it :)  The picture I sent of you is them, Jairo is the dark one.  We told them to pose, and they totally put their arms each other awkwardly like they were in a relationship and me and Sister Clark cracked up laughing.  Jairo is from Venezuela so he didn't get it.  Then they did the awkward pose you see in the picture....peace signs change everything I guess :)  When we took them to watch the Christus statue, Jairo saw a little boy with popcorn and in Spanish said "OK when the lights go off, I run over there and take his popcorn!"  To his dismay the lights never went off, and the boy got to keep his popcorn :)  We had a good lesson with them on Wednesday this week where we talked about praying with specific questions.  They both pray, but they need to ask if the church is true and then act on it....so that's what they are working on now.  They are such good investigators, they just need to act!

Saturday was a day full of service and fun!  First thing that morning (after studies of course) we went to help Hermana Portugal make tamales!  2 missionaries would spread the dough in the corn husk, 2 would put the meat inside and fold the husk, then I was in charge of wrapping them in wax paper to cook :)  It was really fun!  It was hilarious when Hermana Portugal started paying attention to what we were doing and realized the husk folders were doing them too small!  In Spanish she would yell "What is this?!"  "If we were selling these we would make no money!"  "Poor homeless people....these won't even stop their hunger!"  It wasn't my fault so I just cracked up laughing :)  We are going to try to help her hand them out to the homeless on Christmas.  After we eat some for Christmas dinner with her family :)  

After tamale making, we went to our church building to set up for our branch Christmas party.   And boy was that a party!  I got some delicious pozole and corn bread!  I think more investigators came than members which was awesome!  And a good number of less-actives!  Hermano Tejada shared a couple really neat Christmas videos and a message after dinner, and then the fun started.  The Lopez's dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and everybody loved it!  Imagine Sofia Vergara being Mrs. Claus because that's exactly how it was!  Hermana Lopez is from Columbia and her Spanish is so fast, and she doesn't like anything slow.  The kids would sit on her lap, take a picture, and she was practically shoving them off.  Her husband would try to take longer, but she'd prod them off.  So funny....she never had kids so I guess she's not used to dealing with them :)  After Santa the missionaries had to race home for curfew, but the rest of the branch stayed and had a pinata and dance.  I wish I could have stayed to watch :p  

Spanish Branch Missionaries

Lorenzo & Granddaughters

Familia Guerra (Best Branch Cooks), Hermana Toledo (blind),
Hno y Hna Lopez (Santa and Mrs)

Hermana Curiel

Hermana Curay (Peru)

Hermana Orozco (RS President)

Sunday was our branch Christmas program, and I want to type this entire paragraph in capital letters, because you will not believe the Christmas miracle that happened this week.  Daniel, his two little brothers, AND BOTH HIS PARENTS, came to Sacrament meeting!  His dad!  The one that leaves the room when we come, the one that told Xochitl he'd never listen to us, so don't ask!  He sat right there in the middle pew next to his wife, with his boys.  I seriously think I almost dropped dead from my seat on the piano!  Xochitl looked up at me with a giant grin and slyly pointed her finger at her husband excitedly.  My mission is complete, heck, my life is complete!! I talked to her afterwards and she said he was trying to get her not to go to church, but she put her foot down and said she was going.  Then he started changing his clothes and she said "Are you going?"  He said "si."  And she didn't even question it :)  Their little boys got rowdy so he spent most of the meeting in the foyer, but Xochitl stayed in the chapel and was crying at one point.  Oh how I ADORE that family. And I think it all came from a tiny invitation....

Hermanas with Branch President Alvorado

On Wednesday Sister Martinez and I went to teach Xochitl and she gave us some nice chismes (gossip).  Her husband is a stinkin' member!!!  He was baptized when he was 14 and then got upset because a member turned out to be a really bad guy.  So Eduardo left the church and never went back.  Xochitl told us that he told her if she gets baptized they'd have to separate because that's church rule, but she had all ready talked to us so she told him that wasn't true.  Then she said that when she gets her answer, no matter what he says, she will act on it.  Just then Eduardo walks into the house and sits down at the table.  I can tell he's trying to listen discreetly and so I asked him about work and such.  Then I invited him to the Christmas party and he tried to give excuses so I invited him to church for 1 hour...and that we were going to sing.  He told me "We'll see."  Then he went into the back bedroom :p  Well we decided to watch "He is The Gift" with them and it was taking forever to load, but every time I thought about saying "Never mind, maybe another time," I decided to keep my mouth shut.  Finally it loaded and I asked Daniel to invite his dad to watch.  Daniel comes back and says, "He's coming."  Next thing I know, out comes Daniel's older brother, and his dad!  I wanted to cry when I saw their entire family sitting in the family room of this tiny trailer, watching a video about Christ together.  Eduardo was really quiet afterwards.  We talked a bit about remembering the true meaning of Christmas, and then we left.  I had no idea that would have an impact, I still don't know if it did, but Eduardo came to church, and that.  Is a Christmas miracle.  Xochitl said to me that he told her not to expect it again, but secretly she hopes this becomes a regular thing.  We all do :)  We have been promising her for so long that she would see him come to church if she would make changes.  She has been, and he came.  I love this gospel!!!!

Swanson, Tenney, Martinez, Short, Clark, Tellez

After church on Sunday we went with some sisters in the branch to sing carols, and deliver scarves they had made to an old folks home.  Obviously they can't speak English very well, but they got so excited every time they handed out a scarf, and would speak the best English they could :)  The recipients were so grateful, and one lady just cried she was so happy.  I love Christmas!!

We got home in time for two lessons.  One with Jesus, who is so sad and stressed about his family.  Poor guy :(  We showed him the scripture in 3 Nephi about putting God first, and promised him that everything else would fall into place.  I also felt prompted to encourage him to pray for miracles.  Everyone deserves a Christmas miracle.  The next lesson was Octavio and Nereyda....they got in a marriage dispute and wanted us to pick who was to blame.  Ay ay ay, we told them to quit blaming each other and start complimenting and do CPR.  Church, pray, read.  Those 3 things as a family -could save a family....of that I am a firm believer!  

We showed Selene, "He is the Gift" this week.  They are not progressing in the least bit :/  We are going to give them a break for a bit, and then maybe they'll be more prepared as a family later.  

Rudolfo is someone from Sister Clark's area and he comes to all the activities, but doesn't want to get baptized because his family is in Mexico and he wants them to be there.  We're going to focus on getting answers and acting on them.  That seems to be a recurring theme in our area....

My first exchanges went pretty well this week.  Knowing and dealing with every one's problems and giving advice and correction is already kind of exhausting.  Those two were pretty easy exchanges though...Sister Faw is awesome and is almost done, and Sister Martinez is a great missionary.  It's just hard being with a new companion 2 days a week.  

Alright you're eyes are probably exhausted from staring at a screen so long!  But our plans for this week are, a Christmas party with the sisters in our zone today at 4,tomorrow Xochitl said she'd let us help her paint her house, and then we work the temple lights, Wednesday we have a District meeting and then we either have to have appointments, or do service.  We want to go caroling :)   The Guerrero's are feeding us that night, we love them :)  Christmas Day we have a zone activity (sports, lunch, Secret Santa) then Talking to families!!!!!!! And then probably more caroling as a zone :)  

It's bound to be a great Christmas!  I have gotten so many letters and packages, and I am SO grateful!!!  Thank you so much for all of the support, I love you so much.  

Merry Christmas family, I miss you so much!  I can't wait to hear your voices on Thursday :)  

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short
Hermana Elsa & Hermana Ana

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