Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Got the package!

December 19, 2009 (Hurray for Christmas!)

Thank you so much for the box that you sent! I loved it! It got here this week, and I felt so loved! It was awesome to open it up and put all the presents under our little Christmas tree. It really feels like Christmas now! Thank you so much for all the love and sugar you packed into the box – I’ll wait until Christmas to open the gifts, but I gave into the temptation and started eating the sweets early! I hope you don’t mind!

Can you believe that Christmas is already here? It didn’t really sink in until we were talking with some people in the street and we made an appointment to visit a family on Christmas day – less than a week! I remember waiting for this day anxiously every year, and now it seems like we were talking on Christmas day just yesterday. It’s crazy how fast time flies, doesn’t it? It is especially strange here in South America because it’s starting to get really hot, and the typical Christmas gift exchange includes water guns and swimming pool accessories. How strange, huh?

This week has been really awesome and filled with lots of miracles. Today is the baptism of Paola Vega, our awesome investigator who has been progressing like crazy since we met her 4 weeks ago. And I’ll be baptizing her! I’ll send some pictures next week. This mission is just great, always filled this miracles and the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for the many blessings that we have received as members and as we strive to follow Christ. It’s true that our Heavenly Father only wants us to be happy!

This week, we had an awesome Zone Conference (and gift exchange) where we were introduced to a new teaching model as taught by Elder Bednar at a recent Mission President Seminar (it’s really just a clarification of what Preach My Gospel already says). As missionaries, we are a little bit too focused on giving commitments and not in teaching the doctrine. That is, if we give a commitment that someone doesn’t understand, it doesn’t make any sense to the person to keep the commitment. We learned that doctrine is a group of principles that answers the question “Why?” Why should I listen to the missionaries? Why do I need Christ in my life? The principles are points of truth that act as a guide to help the person keep a commitment, which is usually the question “How?” We’ve been studying this teaching model and have seen lots of success. For example, the other day we had a lesson with a member who had many questions. One of his questions was: How can I better feel, recognize, and understand answers that God gives me? As we haven’t taught all the commandments yet to this investigator, I thought it would be neat to give this new teaching model a try. To answer his question, we taught the Word of Wisdom. We taught that the spirit can dwell inside of us, which is what gives us answers. Then we taught that our bodies are sometimes referred to as Temples because the spirit can reside in us. But, the spirit can’t reside in impure temples. That is why God reveals many things that we can do to maintain a pure temple where the spirit of the Lord can reside. We then taught why it is so important that we take care of the bodies that we have. At the end of the lesson, we testified that if this investigator wanted to better understand the spirit of God, all he needed to do was start living some of the commandments, like the word of wisdom. And, there is a specific promise that we can receive treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. That sounds like a clearer answer to me! He accepted our invitation without hesitation and told his wife: “I don’t know if you want to do this with me. But if you offer me something like a drink or coffee, I’m not going to do it. It’s not because I can’t; it's just that I don’t WANT to now.” It was really neat to see how this teaching model can help in lots of different situations.

We’ve been really busy and working hard here in the office as well. We’ve closed out 10 apartments and opened up a lot of new ones. I think Elder Mortensen is getting a hang of his responsibilities, but it has been hard for him because there is always TONS of work to do in the office – even with 2 people instead of 1! But I do enjoy training a new financer. It’s been lots of work, but it’s awesome to see how much I have learned in the past 6 months and pass all of that knowledge on to someone else.

Well, I have to get going now, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I love you all and am thinking of you lots this week. Thank you for writing and thinking of me as well. I have the best family and the most amazing friends ever – it’s true!

With all my love this Christmas week.

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