This week was one of the most spiritually rewarding weeks that I've had in a while. We had the opportunity to have the Mission Christmas Devotional and I got to go on exchanges this week too.
The Christmas Devotional was absolutely amazing! The flute duet went really well and the spirit was definitely there with us. All of the other performances went really well too. There is some serious talent in this mission and even in just my zone as well. One of our zone leaders and my district leader sang "Mary Did You Know" to the guitar and it was absolutely amazing. They are sooo good. (It figures since my district leader studied dance and music performance at Julliard before coming on the mission!) President Castro knows exactly what to say to bring the spirit and helps all of us have a bigger vision of what's really important especially during this Christmas season. He talked a lot about what it means to have Christ be more present in our life and ways that we can show the Lord that we love Him. I'm so excited to be able to serve more and have people be more willing to listen to our message. I love the Christmas season and the happiness that everyone has regardless of what religion or race they are or beliefs they have or just type of person they are. It definitely helps lift my spirits and my determination to work even harder. After the more spiritual part of the devotional, we ate lunch (pizza) and got to play some fun (but still spiritual) games, with the other two zones that were there (Simi Valley and Newbury Park) focused around Christmas. One included "bidding" a number of notes that you could get to guess what song they were trying to play on the piano. No big deal, but my group guessed "Silent Night" correctly with one note! :) Overall, it was so much fun, but still spiritually rewarding.
I'm so eternally grateful for the loving sacrifice that Christ made for us so that we could get back to where we came from and live in happiness forever with our families. I've been able to see the Atonement at work so much throughout my mission so far and especially during this Christmas season. I hope all of you can look for ways that the Atonement has blessed your lives as well.
I love being able to see our investigators progress and become closer to Christ. I'm so grateful for all of them and love seeing them learn and have that stronger desire as well.
Sandra is still doing great, even though we haven't really had the chance to teach her this week. We've stopped by and shared a few scriptures with her, but her husband was never home, so we didn't want to teach the Plan of Salvation until both of them were there together so we could share how they could be together as a family forever. She's so sweet and loves it when we come over in contrast to some of our other investigators. She has such a genuine desire to keep learning.
We don't have a lot of investigators right now that want to keep learning, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to still be here in Moorpark and continue finding people to teach. I was looking at our area book the other day (well I look at it everyday, but I realized this a few days ago). I realized that every single teaching record for our investigators that we have in that book has my name on it. It crazy that I've been here so long and built it up so much, but I still don't ever want to leave Moorpark. Hermana Shepherd thinks I'm crazy because it's so small here. She's even starting to get antsy even though she's only been here for three weeks.
Pablo is still doing absolutely amazing. He is still focused on going to the temple in May. He told us that he gets lonely sometimes, but he loves it when we come over and share a gospel message with him. We finally got home teachers for him and we know they'll actually do it because they're both so great. I'm so blessed to be able to work with him and see his faith. He truly inspires me every time we visit him. This time, I found out that he doesn't like brown people (irony), he loves Shania Twain, and he calls a brother in our branch "flacito" because he's really tall and super skinny. I LOVE PABLO SO MUCH!!
Exchanges were so wonderful! I got to work with Hermana Bartschi this time. After five transfers, I finally got to work with her. She's one of the most Christ-like people I know and she's such a hard worker. We saw so many miracles and were able to just find a ton of people. We were covering an area that wasn't as built because there aren't as many Hispanics there, but we found them and were able to be guided by the spirit. For this exchange, I was working on inviting people to be baptized within the first meeting. We didn't actually get to physically ask anyone to be baptized, but we talked a lot about our purpose with them. The spirit of the goal was accomplished, but not the actually physical goal. I felt really satisfied overall though.
On Saturday, we got to go to the branch's Christmas party. It was dinner and a dance (obviously we didn't dance). After we left, I felt like I wanted to be a full-fledged Mexican. They dance so well and have such good rhythm. AND, of course, the food was delicious. I am totally coming back and visiting. We even got Pablo to come AND he danced!!! It was so adorable. President Parra told us that we better come back and visit and that we all owe him a dance. Leo, Nancy's boyfriend, came too! It was pretty funny because we went and saw him earlier that day and then saw him at the party. :)
I freaking love being here in Moorpark and I'm even more grateful that I get to be here for Christmas. The people here are absolutely wonderful and will do anything to help us. I couldn't ask to be in a better place.
I can't believe that it's already practically the end of the year. So much has happened and I feel like I've grown so much. If anyone is trying to decide whether they should serve a mission, DO IT!! It is the most rewarding decision that I've ever made in my life.
Thanks so much for everything you all do!! Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!!
Me with Hermana Smith
Me with Hermana Shepherd
Me with Elder James
All the Sisters at the Christmas Devotional (3 Zones)
Me with Hermana Bartschi
The Setup for the Branch Christmas Party