An eventful last week of the transfer it was! We had our all-mission Christmas conference last Wednesday – super fun! I got to see my old companions and zone/district-mates, participated in a good white elephant gift exchange (I am now the proud owner of a lovely ceramic quail – photo pending), and saw and participated in some crazy skits. I was pretty impressed with the missionaries’ inventiveness – surprisingly there are many inside jokes that the entire mission shares (and probably many missions around the world too) about demon-outcasting, awkward baptismal interview questions, and driving in Miami with the ‘Cuban finger-point’ (no turn signals, just fingers out the window – whether there’s space in a lane or not, somehow you find a way to fit). It was great. We also had out ward Christmas party last weekend, which was fun to be a part of! There they did a good 12 Days of Christmas rendition (almost as good as Rolla’s) and an auction to raise funds for Girl’s Camp for the Young Women. One of the YSA stepped up as auctioneer and brought some real-live, Missouri-style fast-talking skills to get people more excited and involved (our older bishop was skruggling a bit). It was a taste of home! I enjoyed myself by pointing and calling “Yuuuuuuuup!” when people raised their hands to bid. It was unfamiliar terrain for the majority of the Miamians, but after a few weird looks and shrugged shoulders, everyone got into it! Mom, you would’ve been proud of me. And I resisted the temptation to bid too. 🙂 We also had the Creche, an awesome display of nativity scenes, that evening. It was lit only by candles and had lovely harp music playing softly in the background, so the Spirit there was pretty beautiful. They even had a couple of the tall nativities that spin when you light the candles (like the one you got from Prague or Germany or wherever, Mom!). It was an excellent reminder of the humility and quietude of the Savior’s birth. He truly was and continues to be the greatest gift of Christmas to the whole world that forever will be free and is offered to all mankind. All we have to do is want it enough to act, and God promises more happiness than we can get from any other source as we live the commandments. I know it, I experience it every day, and I want you to, too.
We found a cool cat named Julian this week while knocking doors. We had a pretty amazing lesson with him last night during which he opened up and told us about the many battles he has fought with drugs and alcohol. He’s pretty lucky to be alive, and he shared with us a pretty amazing, near death experience that had caused him to reflect on his life and where it was going. He is so ready to accept the gospel and change. It was a huge testimony builder of how hearts truly are being prepared every day to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, he’s a YSA (young single adult), so we’ll have to pass him on to the other elders soon, but we’re dragging our feet because he is so cool. He even committed himself to come to church this Sunday, without us even inviting him, and committed us to round him up on Saturday so he’ll “feel too guilty to not show up”!
We also had a good lesson with Nori, the woman we found several weeks ago who saw a spirit-nurse after her mother died who apparently looked just like Sis. Monsuy does (don’t worry, that’s a good thing). She truly is prepared as well, we’re just trying to help her recognize that and instill within her some urgency. We hit a big landmark with her though! After numerous lessons on her doorstep during which she stood behind her locked gate inside her house, she finally opened the gate and hugged us! It was pretty metaphorically beautiful. Tears rolled down her cheeks as we told her “We love you!” and waved as we were walking away. Expressing love to our investigators, members of our wards, fellow missionaries, and basically everyone has been something that has affected and changed me quite a lot. Especially in a place like Miami, where people are so hardened by the world, just a simple verbal expression of love breaks barriers, shifts hearts, and makes you really feel it. Sure, it also freaks a lot of people out, but that’s kind of rewarding in a weird way too. 🙂
One of our amazing recent converts, Monica, surprised us with lovely Christmas gifts – Playboy tote bags! Something I am learning on my mission is how not to laugh out loud when people say and do things in all sincerity that completely catch you off guard. She was so excited to give them to us (she’s lived in Guatemala for the majority of her life, and I’m pretty sure she just thought they were ‘cute bunnies’) so we graciously accepted them and now just chuckle whenever we see them sitting on the couch. It was a really nice action, but they aren’t exactly “missionary appropriate” (heh heh). Among the totes, we have also received a huge Costco-sized box of chocolates (harlequin chocolate biscuit cookies!!) and many lovely notes from ward members. It is so nice to be feeling the love, and I’m grateful to be staying in a ward that I know for Christmas. Which reminds me! Transfer calls were last night!
I guess that I’ve already spilled the beans on myself – I’ll be staying in Flagler! But I also got another big surprise: I’m going to be training a new missionary! What in the world! I feel pretty inadequate because I still have so much work to do with the language and my teaching skills, but I think this will begin some more rapid progression as I strive to be an example of diligence, obedience, and being bold for my greenie. It’s intimidating though. I just finished my own training five weeks ago! But I couldn’t be more excited! So, in mission lingo, I’m pregnant! I will meet my baby tomorrow!
I have learned and grown so much from Sis. Monsuy’s example. She is truly a remarkable individual who has taught me a lot from the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants, “Where much is given, much is required”. I wish that I had more time to write about how significantly she has changed my life, but someday I’ll tell you the story – maybe for next Christmas!
I got to speak in church on Sunday, which was pretty radical. My topic was service, so I chose to talk all about Jesus Christ and Ammon, the Book of Mormon prophet (see Alma 17 – Nay, but I will be thy servant). Awesome quote in the Ensign from Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Jesus the Christ, who knew perfectly how to give, set for us the pattern of giving. To those whose hearts are heavy with loneliness and sorrow, He brings compassion and comfort. To those whose bodies and minds are afflicted with illness and suffering, He brings love and healing. To those who are burdened with sin, He offers hope forgiveness, and redemption. If the Savior were among us today, we would find Him where He always was – ministering to the meek, the downcast, the humble, the distressed, and the poor in spirit. During this Christmas season and always, may we give to Him by loving as He loves. May we remember the humble dignity of His birth, gifts, and life. And may we, through simple acts of kindness, charity, and compassion, fill the world with the light of His love and healing power.” An apology to every English teacher I’ve ever had for quote-bombing, but how can I say anything better than an apostle of Jesus Christ? I found a great deal of inspiration in The Living Christ, the testimony of the twelve apostles, and am currently striving to memorize it in Spanish. I closed with Matthew 25:21, the words that I hope to hear in my heart not only at the end of my life but at the end of my mission as well. I hope that I will be worthy to have been called His servant.
I love all of you! Tell someone that you love them! Go have the best day of your life!
Sister Heacock and I! We will both be training this transfer!