Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Balmy weather before the storms!
Hello!

This week was a different week because of Christmas and I didn't have time to write anything for this email during the week. So, here are the highlights:
The two in black are named Elder Moore and they are companions, the one on left
is the district leader. Then left in gray is Elder Crowther and then Elder
Hughes. Notice the thing of cookies and scarves!! Haha good day.

Tuesday we had our district meeting! Elder Moore is our District Leader and he is great! I was amazed at how the Spirit works, once again. I had been praying to not only receive some kind of inspiration during the meeting, but also I had been praying for more patience and in general how to be a better missionary, and  that's exactly what our meeting was about!

Because of the new focus from Elder Oaks, (teach repentance, baptize converts) we focused on personal purification so that we will be worthy to teach repentance and then baptize converts. My favorite part (aside from the Christmas scarves and chocolate chip cookies of course) was that we went through the attributes of Christ and did a self evaluation in Preach my Gospel (I highly recommend this activity). With the Spirit we rated ourselves on the list, and then chose the lowest phrase from each attribute, wrote it on a card, and stuck it on the mirror to recite each day. We were promised by an Area 70 (not sure who) that if we did this and read the nine sentences everyday we would improve in those attributes! It has really been awesome to have these short sentences running through my mind, especially because they are simple and clear ways to become a little bit more like Christ in every moment. If you were to ask any professional on overcoming debt, they all would say to pay off the little ones first. It is the same as we are trying to come unto Christ and be more like Him. It is not possible nor is it productive to gather all of the things you are bad at and try to "pay off" that "debt." Line upon line, poco a poco, "Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6.) The Lord will take you where you are! No need to tackle it all in one sitting. Start with one attribute at a time or a few small sentences, and great things will come to pass! It's amazing, really.

Our iPads and our phones need recharging every night, we too need to be recharged and we can do that through studying. Everyday we need to gain a little bit more insight, or we will run dry! Studies are what keep the gospel fresh in our minds, and Christ especially in the forefront. :) D&C 11:21 "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men."

There is JOY in repenting daily! If we repent, things will improve. Being more obedient brings us more in harmony with the Savior.

Apparently this is an "el nino" year ... which I think I heard of before but now I hear it like everyday. It has been really warm and muggy! Christmas was a balmy 73 degrees! But starting on Tuesday we have had off and on storms with tornado and flood warnings. How did we know this? Well, that's because our storm warning radio thing went off  Tuesday morning at 4:30, 4:45, 5:15, and 5:45, when finally Sister Moore jumped up and unplugged it! :) It's so hilarious because the alarm is SO LOUD and then the radio guy comes on and in the most mono-tone voice he reads through a list of the warned areas. My favorite warning is the weather ones that say "85% chance of rain in 15 minutes" when it's already dumping buckets!! I am suddenly grateful for the ditches on either side of the road, and like, everywhere.
Loving Bike Week

MY FIRST BIKE WEEK!! It was too hard to ride bikes in Danville because there were only like three sidewalks and no shoulders on the roads, so we always walked instead of biking. But here there are lots of sidewalks and everyone lives a little farther away, so we biked! I LOVE IT. I think maybe just because it was really good weather so biking was not too hot or too cold. (Also we had a lot of members take us teaching and the Elders let us use their car on Christmas and the day after, so yeah that rocked.)

D&C 118 "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith." (read the scriptures. They are the best books.)

Pinata

First Fiesta!
FIRST FIESTA CON LA RAMA ESPANOL!! They are so so much fun, the Spanish branch. We got all set up the night before Christmas Eve with tables and tons of decorations. On Christmas Eve, we went over at about 5:00 and we had to leave for curfew, but apparently they were partying quite a bit later into the night. I love them all so much! We had great food and activities. They asked us to share a spiritual thought so we read through the Living Christ (with a little piano in the background from yours truly) and it was great to focus on that amazing testimony about Christ. I loved Christmas as a missionary. We don't have time or money to buy gifts, and we still have to study and teach and be missionaries even on the holidays! So we focused on Christ so much. The mission gave us a little advent calendar with scriptures, activities, and songs for each day. I know that Christ is the greatest gift from God. Heavenly Father loves us so so much and He sent His perfect son for us. I can't imagine how hard that must have been but also how joyous because through Christ we can ALL return to Heavenly Father and live in happiness there. The simplicity of His birth was so amazing.

We were at a dinner appointment with someone in the ward, and after sharing a little thought from the Christmas devotional about focusing on the baby, the daughter of the family said "I think it was very quiet there. Very peaceful." I think so too. There were heavenly angels there singing praises, but I imagine it was somewhat like the temple. There are hymns of praise and supplication, and maybe a little bit of whispering, but overall it is reverent. I imagine there were whispers around His cradle and cries of joy as the shepherds saw the baby. Somehow that thought brings me so much peace. I think because as I am learning to make Christ more and more part of my life, I feel glimpses of that peace and reverence. It makes me want to stand and sing praises with the angels but also sit quietly and calmly and reflect on the Savior and His love for me.
Our Christmas! The fireplace was made by Sisters Ponce and Lewis.

Christmas Eve Morning French Toast

Christmas Eve Pajamas from home!

Skyping with familiy was certainly a highlight. I am so grateful for those four at home that are so loving and supportive of me, as well as the rest of my family and friends!! Love you a lot a lot a lot. I was reading this morning the story of the 2000 stripling warriors. The favorite and famous verses, Alma 56:47-48 "Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it." There are so many amazing lessons that can be learned and applied from this story. The faith of the fathers and mothers, the faith of the boys, the faith of Helaman, the hand of God in all their doings, etc. But the thing that made me smile this morning was when it says "they rehearsed unto me ...." To rehearse means to "repeat aloud." I just imagine all of these young boys in unison "repeating aloud" "WE DO NOT DOUBT OUR MOTHERS KNEW IT!" haha It's such a fun story. I am so grateful for my amazing parents. Their example has helped me be here. They are faithful and undoubting. I find strength in their diligence!

Christmas Morning Sunshine

Bike Week
On Sunday we were able to teach the young women. We had a little lesson about missionary work. It was so cool to see the potential in these girls! We are often working with adults or less-active families, but these girls are really something special. They are smart and love the Lord, and really want to share the gospel with their friends! One of the leaders talked about an analogy that I think President Monson or Elder Oaks or someone gave. Let's say you have invited your friend over for breakfast. There is a large display of food and a cold glass of orange juice. Would you just happily drink your orange juice in front of your friend? Probably not! We talked about different ways that we can "share our orange juice" and how it's not a scary thing, it is a happy thing! :) -Also Sister Moore and I sang together in the Spanish branch.
video

Happy New Year!
video

Hermana Macfarlane

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