Hey there. How is everything going? By the sounds of it all you guys had a pretty fun and exciting week. It's great to hear that Ste's birthday and all of the surrounding events went well! I'm glad, Ste, that you gave me the clarification of the "kisses" you received for your birthday: the candy, not the other kind. Haha. That's awesome. So this week, as you have mentioned, we did have some chilly days. In fact yesterday I had my first encounter with "freezing rain." It was pretty but the roads were nasty in certain places. Fortunately we don't have to drive in it - although, yeah, we will become limited in our bike use as the weather isn't too permitting. Elder Stratton took a spill on his bike I think on Friday as there was snow on the ground; it was completely not a big deal but showed us we're going to have to slow down a bit and just be smart. With that, we busted out some hand warmers this week. I don't know how long they had been in the apartment; there were different kinds and some worked better than others. I could probably use some at some point; for now I guess I'll just use the ones we already have in the apartment as needed. I wouldn't want you to send some and me not be able to fit them in my suitcase if it's a box/etc not knowing when I'll be transferred next. I'll keep you posted on it though and I appreciate your concern. So I got the envelope from the Activity Day girls. Tell them thanks a lot and I really appreciate it. It's hung up by my desk. I also got the "Open December 14" package and look forward to opening it on December 14! On that note, I don't know, Mom, if you sent a letter last week or with the weird Pday-Tuesday it just maybe hasn't arrived yet. Just fyi on that. Anyway, as a whole this week flew by, just like every week, and it was really good. We were fortunate to find 3 new investigators this week; it's funny, Dad, your discussions on the importance of maintaining all aspects of the work to then never have to feel like you are starting again from square one. That's been our focus and desire entirely, appreciate your thoughts. So having evaluated and making necessary adjustments Elder Stratton and I finally saw some results, by way of finding new people to teach. 2 were found on Monday (who I believe I mentioned, therefore, in my email last week). The final one was an older man who we found tracting who invited us right in. His name is Jack and he is really prepared and had questions of the soul that the restoration of the gospel answers. We went back last night to teach him again and make sure the invitation inside while tracting wasn't just a fluke. It went well; we have a retired couple in the ward we're close with that we plan on getting heavily involved in the teaching process there. The update on the 9 year-old baptism planned for this Saturday. Unfortunately, it needs to be postponed because he/the family wasn't able to make it to church (the dang ice on the roads and stuff, they live a little ways out). So that is a bummer but with that bad news, good news follows. They were able to come to the baptismal service on Friday night of the 8 year-old child of record and had a good time and were excited. Also, we went and taught them last night and were able to reschedule the baptism for 1/1! Pretty cool date all things considered. There's much more to all of this but that is the background. The ward party on Saturday night was awesome. Holy moly it was decked out intense with decorations and food and everything. Anyway, what made it really awesome was Andrew and Lauren (Paige, soccer) showed up! We invited them and they expressed interest but said they weren't able to come but part-way through it all there they were. In fact, they brought another friend. Ha! How sweet is that? They seemed to enjoy themselves and Lauren really was impressed by it all. They're awesome.
So about the call for Christmas. If morning works best with you then that is certainly possible. Basically I can call anytime during the day. We will still follow our normal schedule for the day in the morning at least, though, so busy exercising and studying until 10:00AM my time. After that, is fine. I have no idea when I'll open presents, I kind of forgot to find out how that whole aspect works. But my thought about that is, it's likely if I call in the morning (for example shortly after 10:00AM) that I won't have opened my presents yet. (Which is perfectly fine; just if anything needed to be explained or talked about or to offer thanks it would then be done through our normal means of communication). Furthermore, we're going to be on the line no longer than 60 minutes; essentially what I've heard is shoot for 45 minutes of talking and 15 to wrap it up. This was heard from other than the source but if we are on the phone more than an hour President Bulloch will give us a call and "ruffle our feathers." Haha, so that is the plan with regards to length. I assume I'll either call the house phone or Mom or Dad's cell phone. How do you want to do it? Also, could you please let me know who is planning on talking/etc and everything? Thanks! If I'm forgetting something or need further clarification let me know. We'll have next email to solidify plans.
So I want to share with you portions of the email President Bulloch sent this week (it's been cut and paraphrased in parts). It really meant a lot to me and I hope it means a lot to you.
"The tradition of giving gifts to those celebrating a birthday is something we all have become accustomed to. Yet as we celebrate the Savior’s birth we seldom think of gifts for Him. I invite each of you to consider giving the Savior a special gift for Christmas. He has recorded in scripture the gift that would make Him the most happy. I invite you to carefully re-examine DC 18:10-16, especially the wording in verse 13. It says, “how great is his [that is the Savior’s] joy in the soul that repenteth!” Nothing will bring the Savior more joy than appreciating and taking advantage of the wonderful gift He has offered to each of us—the gift of repentance. For example, in my reading the Book of Mormon recently, it was impressed upon my mind the need to apply a phrase used by the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s to our own individual efforts to come unto Christ. The scripture records that these humble people did “lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more” (Alma 23:7, 13). I am sure that it would bring the Savior great joy if each of us would “lay down the weapons of [our] rebellion,” no matter what they are, and not “fight against God any more.” Wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas for the Savior if each of us were to follow His counsel in DC 88:123-124 to “love one another; cease to be covetous… cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than [6:30 a.m.]…“ or “lay aside [any other] sin, which easily doth beset you” (Alma 7:15). I invite each of us, as a gift to the Savior this Christmas, to respond to the Spirit that has been telling us to give up those “weapons of rebellion” that we are hanging on to, and “submit cheerfully… to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15). I promise you if you will do so, it will be a Christmas to be remembered. A Christmas filled with joy—both for you and the Savior. Remember, He is the reason for the season."
I really liked that a lot. I've, sadly, never really thought of giving the Savior a gift for Christmas or in celebration of his birth. I've reflected on it and expressed thanks, but never showed true gratitude in this more meaningful way. I hope we all can reflect on this.
I love you all and hope you have a great week! Thanks so much for all of your concern and love and support you offer me.
PS. So is everyone going to be at the Mesa house on Christmas morning? Everyone meaning: Tyler, Rachel, Jackson, Ben, and Paige? Or what is their plan exactly? Ithaca people come on Thursday? What about Florida? Thanks!
I love you!