Monday, December 15, 2014

Tis' the Season

Well hello again family!  

Did you know this is like your 27th weekly letter home?  That's a lot of weeks!  Sometimes I can't believe it's almost Christmas, other times I wonder what I'm doing here because for goodness sake it's Christmas!  I realized yesterday though that I love being on a mission during this time of year.  I'm so unfocused on myself and everything material and commercial.  Just like any other month for a missionary, we work all day, blink our eyes (some people call it sleeping), open them again and it's a new day, so we get dressed and go to work again.  The only difference is that we utilize the spirit of the season to contact people.  We do have some fun activities planned though for the upcoming week so maybe it will feel more like Christmas.

I have been quite the spoiled missionary this week!  An 11 month package, a 12 days of Christmas package, lots of letters, and a package from the Relief Society!  I can't even tell you how happy all of this made me.  Thank you so much for all the love and support, it takes away homesickness and worry every single time!

12 Days of Christmas!!
Day 1: Pink milk & Caramel popcorn

These past four days can best be described with two words: stressful and entertaining.  Combining two areas was a lot harder than I was expecting.  Balancing all of our investigators and recent converts, and making sure no one slips through the cracks is proving quite difficult!  Not to mention we have Christmas lights twice a week, long meetings twice a week, this week we have two exchanges, weekly planning on Thursday, and an all day temple trip on Friday.  AGH.  We decided we are going to focus on seeing everybody once this week, then if we have time to start round two with them.  I feel really bad every time I think about who we haven't seen, and everything we haven't done, but I have to remind myself to stop dwelling on the past and plan for the future.  The thing I'm most worried about right now is exchanges.  I don't know how to do exchanges!  Tonight is my first one with Sister Faw. I'm not too worried because I love Sister Faw and she's leaving in 4 weeks.   It will be a good practice and I can learn plenty more than she can learn from me.  Wednesday is with Sister Martinez who came out the same day as me.  It feels weird to have to evaluate my mission friends and especially the ones who have more time in the mission than me!  I should be learning from them!  Oh well...I guess I'll just do my best and hopefully be able to make a few people laugh!

Sister Clark and I are getting along surprisingly well!  We both like to work and we are teaching in perfect unity.  I have actually loved it so far!  Not as much as Sister Ferre, but having a companion who understands everything is one nice change :)  I feel like I've made a tense apartment into one that laughs all the time which is a proud accomplishment.   We live with Sisters Martinez and Tenney.  They did not like Sister xxxx and xxxx!  The 4 of them had all sorts of issues together....but now we laugh all the time and I love having so many people to talk to.  It's just fun! The other day during studies this bird was squawking outside super loud.  All of a sudden I hear Sister Martinez yell at me from the other room, "Sister Short! Be quiet!!."  How rude!  I sound nothing like that!  So the next day we are reading out of the white handbook about not having pets.  I yell from my desk, "Sister Martinez you need to leave!"  She yells back "Why?"  I say "I am not allowed to have pets of any kind!"  All of a sudden she's in our room tackling me.  Hahaha good times :)  

A hawk we found in our parking lot.  Sister Clark got out to take a picture
and it yelled at was kind of scary. 

Thanks to all these packages and our dear sweet members...I've been eating a ton of sugar lately!!  One night I was so hyper I was doing somersaults and running in circles in our apartment.  Later, Sister Clark and I were laughing about it and she tells me "You need to come with a warning sign."  I laughed so hard, I know I'm a nut sometimes, but seeing people laugh and smile is really why I do it.  It helps all of us relieve stress!

We handed Lorenzo off to the Elders this week.  They came with us to a lesson to talk about the Priesthood, and he loved listening to them and connected well.  They also gave him a blessing which helped him gain trust.  He came to church on Sunday, but without the girls for the first time :/  I'm going to tackle Yazury one of these days.  We are still going to try to visit their family once a week for FHE's,but focus on Yazury now.  I feel relieved about our decision :)

We taught Rocio this week and now I'm praying for something odd.  You see... her supposedly ex-boyfriend is in jail, and depending on his trial this week could be released, or sentenced to 25 years.  We are praying for the latter.  Rocio needs to move on and find a better life.  And she told us she knows that, but she just falls so easily.  At the beginning of the lesson we had with her she refused to start praying again and said she didn't need it.  She also said she didn't want to come to church anymore.  We talked to her about what she wants for her future and we were very blunt in telling her that this "better life" and "change" won't come if she doesn't stop taking the steps that she knows she needs to take!  By the end of the lesson she said she was coming to church, and would start praying daily again.  Sometimes it just takes a good shaking :)  Oh man she is a blunt woman though!  She told me my hair was a hot mess, my jacket and skirt didn't match, my shoes were scuffed, and I was wearing a granny shirt.  I laughed so hard!  We all know if missionaries were to dress like her, we'd get severely chastised!  Granted, my hair was a mess, but hey it was the end of the day!  And mom, you know how I love to match ;)  I love Rocio so much!  Even when she's rude...I just want to hug her because I have so much hope for her....I just wish she could see the same things I see!

Ernie and Jairo came to sports night this week again and played basketball with us and some members.  It's a great fellow shipping activity for them, and now it will be comfortable for them when we bring those same members to lessons with us.  They haven't been answering their phones since Friday though...they might have gone to Texas for Christmas.  I never know :p

Me eating a salad so Jairo wouldn't drink coffee!

We had a neat experience with a family from Sister Clark's part of the area.  They are the Lopez family and Sisters Wheelwright and Penalba got the grandpa and kids active again after a lot of work, however the grandma was still working Sundays.  Before we went into that lesson I prayed that Sister Lopez would have a miracle and be able to come to church on Sunday for the first time in a long time.  The first thing that gets yelled at us as we walk in the door was "My grandma's coming to churchon Sunday!"  whoa.  Sure enough she walked in looking dressed up and exuberant Sunday morning.  Seeing their whole family sit together in Sacrament meeting was so great!  The Grandma and Grandpa are working towards getting sealed in the temple, and coming to church together is a huge first step!

We also had another family miracle this week.  Usually when I've gone to the Ramos home in the past, they are polite and listen to us, but don't have a whole lot of motivation to do anything.  Well this week we watched "He is the Gift" with them and afterwards we talked about how they could better embrace the Gift of Christ this season.  My mouth almost dropped when Hermano Ramos said he wanted to start doing family scripture study on Monday nights. His daughter immediately protested and told him about her Monday plans.  He said "Well it doesn't have to be Monday, but we need to do it!"  Yay Hermano!!!  Miracles do happen!

At the Mesa Temple Lights this week, my favorite contact comes from a 24 year old named Josh.  We had just gotten onto the grounds and so it was still light outside and hardly anyone was there.  Sister Clark and I noticed a guy laying on one of the benches next to an Energy drink and a motorcycle helmet.  We passed by and I said "Hi" but he pretended to be sleeping.  We went a little farther and then turned around and watched him.  He pulled out his phone to text someone so we returned to the bench and stubbornly stood there trying to talk to him.  We found out he had been having a hard month, his mom died the year before, he was a member who'd fallen way off the path, and he was feeling really down in the dumps.  I asked him why he came to the temple.  His response was almost inaudible and yet incredible "To feel the spirit again, because it's been a long time."  We let him talk to us and then asked what we could do.  He told us he would love a scripture. We told the story of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail and then read the words of comfort that the Lord gave to Joseph.  Josh sat up and thanked us for talking.  We told him he was doing the right thing and that Christ was waiting for him with open arms.  After walking away we watched him sit there a moment longer and then leave.  I don't know what was going through his head, who he was, or where he'd been, let alone what he was going to do.  All I know is that he was guided to the temple that day, and we were guided to him.  

We also taught Jesus this week and he is progressing!  He did his reading and this week we taught him the principles of the gospel.  Well mainly faith and repentance.  I know the Spirit was helping us that night because I had words coming out of my mouth in Spanish that I usually have to think about, but not that night.  Also Sister Clark and I taught in such unity that it was obvious we were being led.  He didn't come to church again, so our focus now is bringing members so he can get an invite from someone other than us.

Last night we went to our Stake Christmas concert and I had very small expectations, but I was blown away!  If nothing else happens this December, that alone made Christmas here great.  Some members shared some neat Christmas stories, the choir was phenomenal, and when some kids from our branch sang a song in Spanish, ahh it was fantastic!  I love the Spirit of Christmas so much!  There was a song sang that I'd never heard before, but one of the lines stuck out to me.  It said "A still small voice, to one day cry for me."  I've always known we celebrate Christmas because of Christ's birth, and I know the nativity story, but I didn't realize how significant that event was.  That was the moment that we all had hope, that little baby had to be perfect so we could one day be perfect.  That one baby would cry tears for every person who has, is, or will ever live.  How grateful I am this Christmas, for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Sister Jackson made fun of my leggings so she required that I take a picture.
 I was cold!  It was a fair trade though because she gave us a ride home :)

Today we are working the temple lights, tomorrow I have exchanges in Paradise Valley, Wednesday we have a 3 hour zone meeting, Thursday is weekly planning,Friday we have an all day temple trip, and then we are working the lights that night, Saturday is our branch Christmas party, and Sunday I am playing the piano for all the musical numbers in sacrament meeting.  It should be quite the eventful week!  I love the excitement around Christmas.  And the people here are so humble...Christmas is all about family.  

I miss you family!  I hope you have a great week this week and get some snow!  If you go to temple square say hi to Sisters Heuea, Penalba, and Gariki for me.  Thank you for the letters and packages...I hope your crow tastes good mom, because I love it! :) 

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Short


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