Merry Christmas everybody! I hope it was as exciting for you all as it was for me!
Getting to call and talk to my family was a lot of fun. Some people said it made them more homesick, but not me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Even when I got to see Jessie and Eric on Thanksgiving I didn't feel homesick! It just made me more pumped to do the work! There's nothing quite like the feeling of waking up every morning knowing you are exactly where you should be, doing exactly what you should be doing. Well there's always room for improvement in that area, but you know what I mean.
You're probably wondering why the subject is "A White Christmas", well, allow me to explain: President Morby had us set this goal to have 1 baptism per companionship for this Month (December), for Christmas, the white is referring to the baptismal clothes, don't get all worked up hahaha, there was no snow here... So, guess what? I mentioned last week that our one baptism fell through, so I was a bit sad that I didn't think I was going to meet the goal, but, this past Saturday (12/28/13) two of our investigators were baptized. It was so awesome! Nolan, who we have been teaching for just a few weeks and Jeanne, who has been taught for a little (months) longer. We had one of the Priests who knows Nolan the best to baptize him. Nolan is a pretty stocky guy, shorter than me, but pretty beefy. Dylan, the priest who baptized him is taller than me, but super skinny. It was Dylan's first baptism, and I don't know what was going through the bishops head, but the Bishop said because of Nolan's size, Dylan would have to throw him down into the water. Well, Nolan didn't bend his knees, and as a result, both of them almost ended up being baptized haha, it was pretty funny, but despite all the comedic value to it, I got to ask Nolan how he felt, and he responded that he felt interesting. I think it was one of his first times feeling the spirit, and that's a very good word for it. He's not the type of guy to just get all sappy and describe the happy, peaceful feeling, because that would probably be unusual for him. So, Dylan baptized Nolan, and I baptized Jeanne, but because of Jeanne's frail state, Elder Peterson was in the font too, and helped lower and raise her in an orderly fashion. Elder Peterson and his previous companion had done that when they baptized her 88 year old husband back in September, and we didn't want to take any chances. When Jeanne came into the water, she really didn't know much about what was going to happen. She didn't have any questions before hand, because she watched her husbands, but she was pretty scared, she said she "felt like she was going to fall over" Which is what we were there for lol. It was pretty interesting. But it went well! All in all it was a great day. Even Nolan's dad is was there! And that was a miracle! I'll get more into as I go through the week though, but it was such a special experience, and on Sunday, when they were coming to be confirmed in Sacrament meeting, neither showed up... Lol, we almost panicked, because they weren't there before the sacrament, but of course haha, right after they finished that, they both walk in from opposite sides of the chapel. So, Bishop just carried on like that was what was supposed to happen. He confirmed Jeanne, and then Nolan came up, and guess who was asked last minute (ish, maybe last hour) to confirm Nolan? Yup, yours truly :) I had never done it before, save what is done in the Temple for those who have passed on, and sure, that's easy, but I was stressing for some reason, but you know what? If your heart is in the right place, the Lord really does guide the blessing! I just go until I stop "receiving" things when my mind goes blank essentially. It was really cool! The only unfortunate thing was though, is I'm not sure if you are familiar with my prayer voice... There just seems to be something that when I bow my head and take that first breath to pray, my voice shoots down. It was kinda embarrassing actually, because of how low it went, but I think it hopefully added to the feeling in the room. Oh well, it went smoothly, and he was fine! :)
Alright, now, to travel back in time!! In my phone call I mentioned the talent show, and how we sang "You're a mean one, Elder Grinch" and it went OK.... it was a bit disappointing though, because I was going to do the first line down and octave to show off a bit, stop singing, and turn to my companion and say "Whoops, too low" and I had it too! While I was sitting down and walking around I could do it. But as we prepare to get on stage, i realized the number we were going after was Joseph Smith's First prayer... Oh man.... we were going to kill the emotion in the air, so of course we both freak out, and this cough of mine becomes very apparent -- doesn't matter, either way, I lost my range, and almost everything. Somebody filmed it though, and I have a copy of the footage. It works well on the camera, but our test on the Carstens computer was not so good, so I will send it, and you will have to tell me if it works or not. I don't have the lyrics with me, but it was a miracle I could even sing it hahaha, oh well, hopefully you enjoy it!
Christmas Eve was truly great! We got to play basketball with some people who haven't been to church in a long time, and we went to the Hopper's for Dinner! And they gave us presents!!! Not just any presents either! We had made a joke a couple months back about a guy who had these sick lights on his spokes on his bike. And said how cool it was and that that was "what missionaries want" lol, and they got us some! No way! It turns out the Carstens heard that too, and so Christmas morning we got even more. Poor Elder Peterson though, as fate would have it, all of his lights are different colors, mine are all blue, so I look like I'm on a tron light cycle when I'm going fast at night. Booyah Grandma! Anyways, two of the kids shared these stories, and one of them just got back from his mission in Brazil, so that was cool to hear about that, and they read their son's Christmas email (their other son comes back in a few months). It was great! We took pictures! But, I didn't have my camera, so I will have to steal Elder Peterson's lol. I haven't emailed pictures in a long time, so sorry for the flood that will come haha.
We also went to "Dinner" that same night at the house of one of our Investigators who celebrates Christmas the day before (It's a Mexican thing), but, he is Muslim, so he doesn't even celebrate Christmas? Idk, it was weird, but it was really fun to be with them, they insisted we try some of this food his wife prepared, it was really good, strange, but good.
But best of all on that day, was I got to Open Santa Mouse and the Ratdeer, and yes, I got to read it to the Carsten's, Elder Peterson, and PJ! I'll email that too! It was pretty great :) Not as funny as Dad's, and my voice is a little congested, but it has it's moments :)
Alright, Christmas Day! Woop woop! It was the first time I had EVER opened presents that early. My goodness, it was barely 7 a.m. sheesh! I'm never doing that with my kids, I think Mom and Dad did it right, the "cage em up til we say so" hahahaha, those were the good ole days :)
Well, I was very pleasantly surprised with what I got. I didn't see any of them coming. Like really, I had different Ideas for everything, it was all so unexpected, so my IQ must have dropped significantly since I came out here. I got a lot of super cool things! I now must get good at juggling, and I got this paddle ball thing too, but I have never used one of this nature, and it is hard, so when I find myself laying awake at night ;) I also got a tee-shirt which is a super cool color! Reminds me of Braden actually :) I have a picture of most everything too. But I got a Tie the next day, and some other things that didn't make it into the picture, but oh boy, what a good day! I hadn't expected to get anything! :) I even got Christmas ornaments that had Ties and nametags on them AAHHH!!!! And some super sweet pillow cases, one that I had made myself, but left back home, and I was super stoked to get it yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss, and President Morby gave me another one that has the mission name on it, but then I got this super cool one that I put on my pillow almost immediately after I got it. It's white, and requires another pillow case to complete the picture. Cool huh? Well, by far my favorite pillow case, ask Rebekah if you want more details on it ;) Did not expect any of the pillow cases, but how practical?? Getting gifts as a missionary is weird, everything has a use! Well, you'll hopefully see the rest in the picture, but thank you Mom, Rebekah, Cutler and Sister Johnson, and Sister Johnson, thanks for putting "do not open until Dec 25th" on everything, because I didn't see it on the package, but figured I should at least read your letter, which said it again, but the envelope to your letter said it again.... so, 3 times is the charm, and I didn't open any of it til later :) What great gifts though! Oh man, Made me super happy! Peterson also loves the scarf mom sent him, and laughed at my purple one, but who cares, I like purple, I'm even wearing my purple tie right now! I also got these super cool socks too! AAAND, a new CD to listen too! The Men of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! It's a sick CD, already listened to it like 3 times through haha. As you'll see in the picture, I also got a ton of snowflakes, and I have actually hung them up around the room. ALL OF THEM. I'll send a picture of my favorite one though. It was hard to decide, especially because my mind exploded at all of them, especially the small ones, so I had to decide that the small ones don't count in my decision, because they are waaaaaaaay too cool. You'll also see some khacki pants my mom sent me. Wow, they fit great and looked pretty snazzy too ;) lol, I was definitely very very very spoiled as a missionary, but don't worry, I'm trying not to let it go to my head....
Juggling is definitely going to be the most frustrating thing.... I spent forever trying to learn that day.... nothing.... but, I have not, and will not give up! :)
Well, of course, I also called home, and that was fun! I got to hear just about everybody's voice that I was missing :) Well, out of my family that is..... Well anyways, that was a lot of fun :) And the rest of the day was pretty chill, cept Christmas Dinner was at 3.... oh well! I took a couple of pictures of the family we ate with too while they were all around the table, but my camera was spazzing. They are the Hoffmans, nope, not related to the Hoffman's we know :P
We also had another "dinner" that day at the Bishops, good Gandhi lol.... it was delicious too though, and we got more presents! And a lot of pictures! The bishop gave us nerf guns, which he now realizes was a poor choice on his end hahaha, and a leatherman, that is really big. And told us to carry that around, and we have already been able to pull them out to help people. We have pictures with those too. Pretty Grand experience!
Thursday we went to talk to Nolan's dad, to see if he wanted to be the one to baptize him (Nolan's dad hasn't been to church in years, and has his own doubts and stuff). Well we were able to connect real well. He's a programmer, but loves baseball and coached a LOT, so Peterson AND I were both able to keep the conversation alive. But, it didn't go how we wanted, and it ended up going pretty downhill. It was a little irritating what was said to us, and the majority of it was contradictory, but oh well, but at the end of it all, I was still calm and as we were preparing to leave I said: "Well, there is at least one thing we can agree on, and that is that God is our Heavenly Father and he loves us, so can we leave your house with a word of prayer?" He agreed, and after I prayed, the feelings of contention and all those other things were washed away! And it was a series of apologies next, but Nolan's dad was not ready to come back. His dad said he would come to the baptism, but he wouldn't support it... Idk, it was confusing. The poor guy has been through so much, and seen so many bad examples! Two bishops were excommunicated back to back while he was active, and there was all sorts of other crazy stuff happen to him. All we can do is pray for him. And support and encourage him! He has much potential, and he is a good man! Hopefully Nolan can stand as that beacon of hope that brings him back into the fold.
Friday was pretty usual, but we went to Jeanne's house for a lesson, talked about prayer, and reminded them of some things that they had been forgetting to do (family prayer and the like) and I think that that was what they needed to start doing again before she was baptized, because we ended up feeling that we needed to tell her about the baptism the next day! And she agreed to come (Peterson and others were skeptical about her actually coming, but I knew she would, and when I saw her step out of the car Saturday my heart soared!) The interesting thing is though, her husband is 20 years older than her, and she doesn't like her hair/doing her hair, so in order to look older and prevent herself from having to do her hair, she wears a wig. I was expecting Hook's hair from Hook after Peter Pan pulls his wig off, but nope! She has beautiful blonde hair! So we encouraged her to use her own hair more often. I don't know how she managed to hide her hair in that wig, but she was almost unrecognizable. It was super cool!
besides the baptism on Saturday, the rest of the day was, as Vanessa Carlton would say: "just a day, just an, ordinary day!"
Sunday was odd. The sisters had scheduled a lesson with a guy who they had brought to church the week previous, but they told us to go instead, and they didn't show up for the pass-off, so it was really odd. We brought a priest named Eli with us, and Eli apparently had the feeling that he needed to teach most of the lesson (we told him to speak up if he felt it) and he most certainly did. it was really cool too! He made a few mistakes, but I think that was his first time ever trying to teach the Restoration. Sure, it was out of order, but powerful! But the guy we were teaching is a little crazy, and it didn't really have much effect on him, but, all 3 of us learned that we weren't there to teach him, but his friend that walked in about half way from upstairs. he was cool, he was the guy to ask questions and such. that was cool! He agreed to go visit mormon.org, and may even go to the Visitor's center, but the man is terrified of confrontation, well, not scared, but he hates it, he is the peacemaker, so he seemed to like that he can turn to God for his answers. Even though he is not religious. I don't know, the whole experience was very odd to say the least. We also had to perform in the Choir thing that was Christmas themed, even though it was after Christmas, oh well, I guess that's how the ball rolls!
Well, that's my week in a nut-shell! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and hopefully a Happy New Year! Play lot's of Tetrisphere and stay up late for me ;) Have a great year all!