It’s almost 2015!!! That is so crazy and I am so glad to be a missionary at this point in time! This past week has been so awesome because of Christmas and all of the wonderful things we’ve done surrounding Christmas. On Tuesday of this last week (Christmas Eve), we were able to go to an awesome family’s home for Christmas Eve dinner. They are a family investigating the church, but they are basically like members because of how awesome they are and how much they are already a part of the branch. For Christmas Eve, they invited 10 missionaries in the surrounding area to come and have dinner with them. And we were all stuffed full of delicious soup and wonderful desserts by the end of the night. They are so nice and loving and should be getting baptized here in just a little bit, so we are all very excited for them.
After spending Christmas Eve with them, the four of us Altadena elders returned home and got all ready for bed and for Santa to come bring us presents. However, this year we decided to celebrate an Hispanic Christmas! This means that rather than going to bed real early in anticipation of Santa dropping off presents to be opened in the morning, Santa comes before midnight so everybody stays up until midnight on Christmas Eve to open all of their presents. Then after everybody opens their presents, they hug and go to bed. So we decided to do this, but rather than staying up until midnight (against mission rules) we stayed up until 10:30 (our bedtime) and opened one of our presents and then hugged and went to bed. It was pretty funny.
Then the following morning we woke up and opened one other present (if we had one) that we had received. It was awesome. So that made Christmas day a lot of fun. But the highlight of Christmas was when I was able to Skype my family and talk to them. I’m so grateful that I have that opportunity and it was so wonderful to see my family.
Alabama has just been awesome during the Christmas season. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve some of the great people here during this Christmas season. I have really learned more about what it means to have charity and love for other people. I have really begun to understand how important it is to have the best motives in mind behind everything I do – to really think about why am I offering service. Is it for my gain or for the uplifting and edification of others? It has really helped me to grow and develop in loving others. Something really interesting I learned this last week is that if you don’t love someone or you feel you can’t love someone then you should show love toward them until your feelings of love develop. This didn’t make very much sense to me at first but I understand the concept much better now. In other words, if you don’t love somebody then do everything you possibly can to show love for him or her and eventually you will start loving him or her. To paraphrase President Utchdorf: “Love is really spelled t-i-m-e. So give those you love your time!”
I love each and every one of you and miss you all very much. Thank you for all your love and support this Christmas season.
P.S. Here are some funny “southern sayings” I have learned this past week: you don’t put away your dishes, you “put your dishes up” and you don’t turn off the lights, you “cut the lights.”