December 22, 2014
Well, another week bites the dust!
I am still adjusting to the area here in Paradise. I think it's really starting to sink in that this is my new area - I'm not going back to Havasu! When I talked to one of the head Sister Training Leaders, Sister Luke (who filled Sister Arnold's shoes when she went home last transfer), on Thursday at our Christmas Conference, she asked how my new area is and then said, "Well I think you'll probably be there for a while!" So I'm anticipating being here for a few transfers, haha. There are a few major differences here:
1. Missionaries are everywhere! It feels like we have so much more interaction with other Elders and Sisters.
2. The ward feels like a totally different dynamic than I'm used to.
3. Our area is busy and crazy and there are people everywhere, all the time! I know there are prepared people out there - we just have to find them.
On Saturday, Sister Cook and I got to go to the temple with a young couple in our ward, the Euteneiers. They're 25 and have only been married for a couple of years. They're also ward missionaries! Going to the temple with them was perfect. I love being there. I feel so much peace walking through those halls and sitting in those rooms. I'm reminded of Toni's words to me as we sat in the Phoenix Temple Dedication a few months ago: "It's like everything there is good. Everything is as it should be." How grateful I am for my membership in this church and my opportunity to attend the Lord's holy house. Afterwards, we went to Café Rio for lunch of course! It was a heavenly day. As we left Café Rio, we got caught in horrendous Christmas traffic. We were stuck in the parking lot for 30 minutes! But I enjoyed every minute laughing and visiting with them. I think Heavenly Father knows how much I need those families who wholeheartedly love and support us as missionaries, so he gives me people like the Mundys and the Euteneiers. I am so blessed!
That night we also got to go to President's house again. It was the same special kind of experience as last week... I love being there. I feel the Spirit very strongly just sitting in their living room. We sat around the fire and talked for a while. I asked President Snow how old the house was and he said its been through 4 mission presidents now, so about 10 years old. He named off the other presidents who have lived here. Working backwards, he said: him, President Neider, President Christianson, and President Callister. I had no idea that Tad R. Callister had been president of my mission! I felt a wave of gratitude to be serving here. President has also told us in the past that, from the mouth of L. Tom Perry, our mission is the highest performing mission in the Southwest region of North America. He has impressed upon us the privilege it is to serve here, now. I've felt a confirming witness that this really is where I need to be, and that I need to savor every minute here. As Sister Cook and President met, I sat in the living room, sipping hot chocolate and relaxing by the fire. I read through the January Ensign. I could have stayed there forever. I began receiving all kinds of revelation for myself as I sat there - revelation about what I want my life to be like, who I want to be, a vision for the rest of my mission and for the family I want someday. If I am gaining anything from being a missionary, it is a sacred, special vision for my life. I catch glimpses of my life ahead as I serve, as I work with members, as I teach investigators, as I study and pray and learn. It is so special being here.
This week at our Christmas Conference I also got to see my Sister Emily Cook!!! I hadn't seen her since the middle of September! I was so excited that I (unintentionally) made a big scene running up and embracing her. I was just overjoyed. She looks so good! I told her all about Havasu and we reminisced on our time there together. I just love her. I'm so lucky to serve with both Sister Cooks in the mission. Obviously I had to get a picture with both of them :)
I can't wait to see you on Christmas! It will be the best gift.
I really enjoyed this quote from the Christmas Ensign:
"President Benson said that one of the greatest things about Christmastime is that it increases our sensitivity to things of God:
'It causes us to contemplate our relationship with our Father and the degree of devotion we have for God.
'It prompts us to be more tolerant and giving, more conscious of others, more generous and genuine, more filled withhope and charity and love—all Christlike attributes. No wonder the spirit of Christmas touches the hearts of people the worldover. … For at least a time, increased attention and devotion are turned toward our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.'2
This Christmas, as the spirit of the season permeates our hearts, let us do something that expresses our feelings in an outward way,showing that we understand that the babe born in Bethlehem is the real Redeemer. President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) gave some practical advice that helps us do that:
'This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a softanswer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Tryto understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express yourgratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your loveand then speak it again.'3
Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. Without Christ, there can be no fullness of joy. Without His birth and HisAtonement, we would have no Intercessor, no Advocate with the Father, and no Mediator who makes it possible for us to return tothe presence of our loving Heavenly Father and live together as eternal families."
And also this quote from President Uchtdorf:
“Sometimes the most precious and sacred things are right in front of us, in plain sight, but we cannot or will not see them. …
“I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts,we will see Him, we will find Him—on Christmas and throughout the year.”
The Savior is the most important gift, the ultimate gift. As we make our relationship with Him our highest priority, everything else falls into place. Stress is relieved, burdens are made lighter, our capacities to love are increased, our hearts are touched, and our natures changed. I am so thankful for Him.
Talk to you soon, :)