Happy P-Day! and more importantly... MERRY CHRISTMAS! We had our big Christmas conference this past week, so I got my Christmas present from you guys and it's sitting under our little tree, just begging me to open it. I also got a package in the mail from Grandma Tingey that I am also waiting anxiously to open, so when you see her you can tell her it got safely to me and thank you so much! It was fun to be at the Christmas Conference because the whole mission was there so we were all together. Our whole conference was focused on the theme "miracles." So as you all know and diligently remember, we had the mission goal of doubling our baptisms from last year. We fell short by about a hundred and fifty baptisms, but we had the highest baptisms this mission has seen in eleven years! so that was a miracle for us. One sweet sister even pointed out that if you add the number of missionaries serving in our mission to the number of baptisms, you get our goal, and WE have been converted during this year. haha. but that's actually a pretty good point. We had Gifford Nielsen and his wife there to speak to us and in case you haven't heard him speak, he was a BYU quarterback and then went on to play pro. Did I mention he played football for BYU? I think he was the quarterback for Brigham Young University. and when he played pro here in Texas, well... you just learn so much about the gospel playing football, it's hard to separate the two topics in your head. ;) Let's just say, I had a couple different spirits fighting for my attention while he spoke. and to top it all off, yours truly was involved in three musical numbers so it was kindof a crazy day. they had me and hermana cannon play an organ/piano duet...joy to the world. it was intense. haha dusting off those old organ skills. It was a really good meeting though, even if it did last from nine until three. haha no seriously. And someone's mom sewed these little texas boot stockings for all of us and stuffed it with stuff like gum and candy canes and toothpaste which was really sweet. she sent a letter to the mission and signed it love mom so nobody knows who sent it (although i'm sure her son does). For a minute I thought it might be my mom becuase she's really mom-mom like that but then I realized she said she felt honored to have her "son serving in THE mission." ouch. oh well. it's the thought that counts, right? hahah jk mom i love you. and I would have been mad if you had done something like that - spending all that time on other missionaries when it should be focused on ME! haha jk jk!
Well, this week was (can I say this?) a little boring. At least as far as emailing the family. We didn't have too many crazy contacts, just a lot of people who weren't interested. But we had some pretty cool lessons. One woman we taught let us in and was all smiles and really cute to us becuase we reminded her of her daughters who are in honduras...we started teaching her a first lesson but as we talked, we started noticing things. (like, she told us she and her "husband" weren't really married) so we started kinda directing the lesson towards that and finally we asked her a question and she just put her head down on her arms and broke down sobbing. She told us that she doesn't go to any church but she feels like she's letting God down because she's living with a man without being married. they've been together five years and she said she's never felt right about it. How crazy is that? She said she's to the point where she doesn't care if they break up or stay together, she just wants things to change. I think she might be one of the few people I've met that actually understands the seriousness of breaking the law of chastity. and she doesn't even have a religion! Talk about the light of christ being inside you. I'm just glad I'll never be in her position. That law of chastity is a doozey, but i've come to love it!
We had another similar situation yesterday. A man who we've been working with named Sylvestre didn't come to church so we stopped by to see why. He was bbqing and so we got talking to him and he started opening up and telling us how he gets afraid when he's inside churches and he just wants to get out. We kept asking questions until he finally told us that nineteen years ago, he had a little three year old girl that died of cancer and ever since then, he hasnt' gone back to church until a couple weeks ago, when we invited him. It was a much longer, sadder story than I have time to type out but we were able to teach him the plan of salvation and he was in tears. When we talked about the celestial kindom he said he wanted to be there. with his nina. It made me think of you dad and the time we spent together in the hospital when I was about that age. It made me think about you, mom, and how you are literally my very closest friend. It made me so grateful for my siblings and how close we are, and more than anything, I thought about the promises we've made and will someday make in the temple, that bind us together so tight that nothing but our own disobedience can separate us. It has been a bit of a goober week, as you can probably tell. But i want you all to know that this is the last Christmas I'm ever spending without you guys. haha. I hope. And I think that being on a mission is the only place I could be and still enjoy Christmas without my family there.
It has been a really neat experience this year to experience Christmas without any of the fluff. Does that make sense? Like, Only the Christ stuff about Christmas. The rest is really fun, and it is good, and I'm not saying we should do away with it, but it's a pretty rare experience to be able to step out of all that and just celebrate the birth of the Savior. (don't get me wrong, the only way I can do it is on a mission, because i HAVE to. it's a lot harder to have commercialism when you can't watch commercials) But I'm glad my mission timeline fell such that I have two Christmases in the field. (the first one was similar, but I was so green it was hard to enjoy it. haha) I love it too because it's so easy to see the good in people during christmas time. Everyone is thinking about others. lots of people we meet are bitter and say that christmas has lost its true meaning but i think it just depends where you look. Thanks so much for sending me stuff for the holidays! i think the best gift will just be getting to talk on the phone! I love you all and I'm sorry I can't really send everyone a present but I'll be thinking about you.