Whoo! I've sent an email for TWO consecutive weeks now. What is UP?????
Christmas was super exciting! Talking with the family was bueno, and we had breakfast at the Leonards house (family in the ward) and they gave us fancy french toast and stalkings -filled to the brim with toiletries (yess!!!) and we had dinner with the Weeches (another family in the ward). they let us cut the turkey and wear fun party hats. they also gave us a very cute gift. Brad Wilcox books and cactus necklaces... what else could an Arizona missionary want?! It was seriously so sweet, there has been an overwhelming amount of love that have come from the members here in Surprise. I definitely feel blessed.
I got this package on Christmas Eve from a couple in my first area. One of the recent converts that I taught also put in a very heartfelt note... I think that made my Christmas the most magical it's ever been. I will always treasure the feelings I had while being a missionary at christmas!
It's been super rainy these last couple of weeks, and it's been COLD! Well... at least it not 12 degrees like it is in Utah right now, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
I had my first exchange as an Sister Training Leader this week. I was with Hermana Lima! From Brazil. She is awesome and we had a miracle filled day! We were riding in the rain all day and we were drenched... we thought people would be more likely to open their doors - but nope! We rolled up to dinner looking like slushies and they gave us hot chocolate and socks. So kind! Anyway, we were talking about families in the ward and the subject of some kids we were teaching came up. It's been kind of difficult to help them progress as their past missionaries got their mom's permission to teach them.... but we haven't met her yet, and until last week we were the first ones to actually get in and have a conversation with her. She is way nice and a really cool lady - from Brazil!
The idea came to us that we could help her be interested in learning the gospel if we introduced a Brazillian missionary to her! We also remembered that we had a portuguese book of mormon at our apartment, so we got a ride back and was able to change our clothes and grab it. Our member took us to her house and she let us right in! She and Hermana Lima portuguese'd it out right away and we were able to learn so much about her! Turns out there was a time she had read the book of mormon almost every day. She is a super strong woman and has incredible faith! We introduced the portugese copy and her face lit up! She was so touched that we thought to give it to her. We explained that Hermana Lima wasn't going to stay, but that me and sister Fish would love to still come over and teach her. She was all for it! Now we can teach their family together.
I've been thinking a lot about the new year, and I'm so excited to be doing "come follow me" but with the Book of Mormon this time. I've also decided that this year I'm going to study the Atonement and try to actively apply it everyday. I also listened to this talk called "Be 100% Responsible", and what I took from it was forgiving completely is more essential to happiness than I thought, and that when we are 100% responsible you create your own outcomes and the outcomes don't create you. If you're looking for a good prespective change I recommend you listen to it!
I also gave a talk this sunday in church about testimonies. Preparing for it made me realize how important mine is in my life. A testimony is not just a simple statement as to what you believe and why. It can be more than that - it can be your foundation in a world where there really is none. That foundation can be built only when it is centered on Jesus Christ, and it's not built up right away. It takes time and patient observance of God's hand in your life. Even Alma the younger (if you haven't read it's Alma 5 & 36) had an angel come to him, and it still took the significantly smaller experiences of fasting and praying to recieve that confirmation of the Holy Ghost and truly become converted to Christ.