This is absolutely the "most wonderful time of the year!" I love the Christmas Spirit, or Christ Spirit, in the air. I largely attribute my fond feelings for this time of year to Mom, knowing how special this season is to her and being brought up with that. There are so many great memories, mostly family traditions, that come racing back into my mind around this time of year. Speaking of which, it was great to see Jackson's picture in front of the TV watching the irreplaceable Wee Sing Christmas, hahaha. He's going to keep the tradition strong - hopefully his father (Dermey) is okay with that ;) ha. It's great to hear from you all. How exciting that Rachel is having a girl! That sounded very right. I'm incredibly happy for the Jennings family. Did you mention when your due date is? It's hard to believe that Ste is turning 12 this week! I had forgotten about the Faith in God award, but I'm very pleased to hear that he got it. We had heard that there was some crazy wind in Utah this week but it was definitely new and more personal news to hear of trees falling down like that. That's a great outlook, especially at these times, to count our many blessings. By the sounds of things a lot of you feel that I am going to be transferred; ha, I suppose we will see. You haven't been too far off in times past with your transfer thoughts. I hope Elder Stratton and Elder Papa have a great time at the Lewis' tomorrow night. I don't have anything to mention that you should tease Elder Stratton about (yeah right), but perhaps if you have the ability to do so you should make no bake cookies for dessert - they're his absolute favorite. The First Presidency Christmas Devotional is definitely one of my favorite church meetings. We watched it last night at the same members' home where I watched General Conference. Lois came, too, which was very nice; she loves the choir and always wants me to point out "Uncle Mark". I received the advent calendar(s). Thanks a lot - I'm up to date on them, no worries. I was trained well in my advent calendar skills. Does Ste do all of them each day back home? Lucky, haha. With that package I got the pictures with Kevin visiting the house - I gave the copies to Lois at church yesterday and she loved them. She wants to give Ste a hug real bad, ha. She may go to Mesa to visit sometime this winter season, that'd be interesting - I'll keep you posted.
What are we going to do today? Elder Bowles was up in Lake Placid last winter and has really hard core winter gear (too warm for here), so we are planning right after this to go to Marshall's and possibly JC Penny to look for a coat for him. It's been so nice and warm here though, I feel so blessed. We've really only been in our suits, no coats yet really. I've found that I've acclimated to the climate a bit, thank goodness, but I'm definitely still an Arizona boy at heart. Elder Bowles and I are having a really enjoyable time together.
I've certainly felt the blessings from Heaven this week. It's been filled with its up's and down's, just like any other, but looking back the up's undoubtedly outweigh the down's. The 10 year old boy who has been preparing to be baptized this weekend has sort of fallen off; we haven't been able to teach them these past 2 weeks (due to cancellations and difficulty in getting in contact with them). They're on our radar still but obviously their reactivations and the boy's baptism are a little ways out. Zone Conference was this Wednesday and it was such a Spiritual feast. All of the training was centered on The Book of Mormon. My favorite, without question, was President's closing training. After making it clear that a testimony of The Book of Mormon only comes through the Spirit and because of our faith, he walked us through some of the more 'academic' evidences that reveal the divine origin of The Book of Mormon, which confirm the Spiritual witness we already have. We discussed complex Hebrew language parallelism structures (ie. chiasmus, etc) as well as simple Semetic writing patterns that are saturated throughout the book (reference Elder Holland's Safety for the Soul talk where he mentions some of these things). There was a lot more that we discussed that really was edifying. We're not to go and pronounce these things to investigators trying to initially come to know the Book of Mormon is God's word but, again, for one with a witness from the Holy Ghost already they confirm them. The similar principle taught in D&C 63:9, Mark 16:17, Ether 12:6, etc. Anyway, things are going well as we found 4 new investigators this week! One of which is a total miracle. She is a lady in her 70's (I'm telling you, I have had more success with elderly women than any other demographic - what's with that) with great faith and she loved the message of the Restoration! We have an appointment with her on Thursday and Lois is coming with us too. It's going to be great. Oh, and I worked with Elder Shurtz this week on exchange. That sure was fun, especially with the timing of it at our 18 month mark. With that in mind, can someone look into what is entailed for me to take a class or two this summer before going back to the Y at MCC? Also, is there anything for BYU that we'll need to do before I get back? And, working at the MTC, is there any information you can find out about that?
Thanks for all that you do for me. I love you all so much.