I love Christmas time!! I truly love the excuse to more fully focus myself on my Savior and Redeemer. I love the excuse it gives us to talk more about Him and always remember him. We had a Mission "Christmas Devotional" and in it I especially loved the message Sister Alba gave that we need to think about what gift we can give our Savior at this time of year, and it goes along with what Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker, said to me last week. They told me, "Especially at this time of year find joy in your service. Our missions can truly be our gift to Christ at Christmas. Even when sometimes we want to think about ourselves and what we are missing by not being with our families. If we were all at home we would be wondering what we could do for Christ this Christmas to show our love and gratitude to Him. Now we know." I love that I can give the gift of spreading His Gospel to Him. There are few opportunities that we have in this life to be giving this gift so fully and completely, and I want to make the most of it, especially at this time of year!
As far as how the work has been going this week, it's been pretty good. We were able to teach one of our less-actives, Hortencia, this week, as well as Lupe, who's a recent convert. It's so enjoyable to teach a recent convert like Lupe because she has such a strong testimony, and really has a strong gospel knowledge for being only a convert for about 6 months or so. Hortencia is also great to teach, I'm not really sure why she hasn't been coming to church, I suppose it's because she has felt guilty for not living the Law of Chastity, because she has such a strong testimony of the Church and the Restoration. Good news though (in a way) her boyfriend apparently got taken to jail and is supposedly getting deported, so she will be free of that roadblock. Not that it's a good thing he's getting deported, but I guess answers to prayers sometimes come in really unexpected ways...
We also were able to teach Salvador, who I feel is our goldmine here. He's the husband of a fairly recent convert who is less-active right now. We haven't had the chance to teach the wife, but we are striving to have lessons with the whole family because the children aren't baptized and he's not either and it would be awesome to get them all to the point that they are coming to church, and living the Gospel as a family. Salvador can't get baptized in the near future, he's on probation, but our goal is to get him and his family living the Gospel together (and the kids baptized) so that it's all just a matter of waiting for him. We also were able to teach a contact on the street named Ruben this week. He had some really good questions that led right to teaching a few principles of the Restoration right there. We have a phone number and are trying to set up a return appointment.
I'm going to share a few videos with y'all today because I found them to be really touching, most of them are Christmas themed, but some of them aren't.
http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/topics/christmas?lang=eng (this is the first video, then below you can find the other videos I talk about)
The first one is great, I love both the song and the video.
And to go along with it I really liked the one called "The Reason Behind Christmas" I thought this one was well done and pretty cute, but with a great message to it as well.
And the one called "They Gave Up Their Christmas" hit home to me, because, well, these are the people I work with, these are the kinds of things they do, the kinds of sacrifices they make.
(The link doesn't work... so go to lds.org, go to resources, then media library, then on the side, Mormon Messages, then Mormon Messages 2013 and then the first one is Daily Bread: Pattern)
This is the link to the first of a three part mormon message called "Daily Bread" that I watched yesterday and they really helped me realize some things. Elder Christofferson shared (in the second part I think) about how in some difficult financial times he had to turn to the Lord and just focus on the things like prayer and scripture study that he did everyday and that through these things he, little by little, began to feel the comfort and confidence that everything would be ok. It wasn't that his circumstances changed, but that he turned to the Lord, and as he says in the videos, he took it day by day. He focused on the day by day things that he needed to do to turn to the Lord, he got his "daily spiritual bread" and then he changed little by little. I think we can all draw some parralels with this. We need to focus more sometimes on what we need to do today to turn to the Lord and to follow him. Focus on prayer, scripture study, going to church to take the Sacrament and slowly, line upon line, we make progress. We don't change overnight, things don't get better overnight, but through consistently following Christ things get better and work out for the best. I don't know if I really expressed well what exactly I learned, but that's part of why I included the link so that y'all can watch it and learn for yourselves :)
I love y'all and wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!