Where to even start...these have been two of my very favorite weeks of my mission. Christmas as a missionary is one of my very favorite things! There is nothing like it and it will always be a December I will never forget.
First of all, on Saturday we got the greatest Christmas gift of all when we saw Ninoy Sulla baptized. It was an amazing day, one he has been waiting for for so long and he was beaming the whole time. His twin brother Toni who is a recent convert and the one who referred us to him was his baptizer and got to exercise his priesthood for the first time. Everything was just so special. We asked Ninoy on Sunday how he felt and all he could say was, "Masaya!" or "Happy!" and he just said it over and over again. We are so excited for him and all he will add to the ward and the difference this will make in his life.
For the past 12 weeks Sister Sia and I have been praying to find a family to teach and it just hasn't seemed to happen but this week we found them...the Dionisho family. They are former investigators that we have taught on and off but they have just never been able to make any changes or really progress. Then this past week Sister Sia and I both felt that it was time to visit them again so we did and this time was different... they are ready! We invited them again to church, texted them Saturday night and they came!! There is nothing like seeing the people you have been waiting, hoping and praying for walk through the chapel doors. We are so excited for them and all the progress they are now making towards baptism. On a funny note, their little kids always run around yelling, "Mormons!" when we come and they happened to see us in the chapel and began doing that during the Sacrament. If that doesn't make everyone aware that they are investigators I don't know what else would :)
Yesterday for Christmas Eve us four kabahay or roommates had a whole celebration. Our Bishop gave us take-out with a Christmas ham and everything...have I told you yet how amazing he is? So we set up our whole feast and then after that played some Christmas games (including the cereal one Mom-they loved it!) and then opened presents that different members had given us. We read the first Christmas story from Luke, had a sleep over in the other sister's room and fell asleep to Sister Jenkins telling us stories. Then I woke up early on Christmas morning (today) and put the little things you had sent Mom in some socks we had taped up then went back up to bed. We woke up said our prayers and they came down and saw their stockings (ankle socks) and were so excited. We opened those and then had our Secret Santa gift exchange with each other. We relaxed and just enjoyed Christmas. It was perfect! Seriously. I love being a missionary at Christmas.
This past week we had Christmas Conference and it was honestly amazing. I loved every minute of it. By far my favorite part was when they surprised us and said we would be watching a movie and guess what it was...Ephriam's Rescue. I freaked out. For those of you who don't know it is about my great great great grandpa and so as his ancestors my family got to be involved in some of the filming. I totally saw you Dad like 4 times and Grandpa your hands and beard DEFINITELY made an appearance. I loved every minute of it and have pondered quite about about it since. There is so much I loved from it but I think my very favorite thing was when Ephriam was asked to participate in the rescue and he replied, "I am ready now." That phrase had a special impact on me because being ready always to the Lord's call has been something I have been trying to focus on in my mission. 1 Peter 3:15 which reads, "...be ready always..." has become I guess a motto for me. When I feel overwhelmed by approaching the person in the jeepney or apprehensive about a lesson I think about that and am always filled with the courage to act. I am so grateful for the reason for this season. The knowledge that we have our Savior who lived and died for each of us, who set the perfect example of submitting to the Father's will in all things and ready in every way to run his Father's errands. I hope to serve my Father in such a way that he can trust me to "be ready always" as the calls comes.
I love you all so much!! Merry Christmas!!
Filipino Fun Fact:
Here in the Philippines, December 24th is actually the big day, when all the celebrating happens. They prepare mounds and mounds of food. All the families come together drink haha, sing karaoke and just plain celebrate. Then at midnight they open all their gifts. People do sort of believe in Santa here but not a whole lot especially because there really isn't a lot of money for gifts to be given. Yesterday the one lesson we were able to teach because so many were busy was in a dark little shack with no electricity. We taught a less-active sister named, Delilah. She told us that she had told her children how lucky they were that they just had time to relax on Christmas and think about the reason for the holiday instead of being busy with all the cooking and presents because they don't have enough money. She is such a humble women! I really do love Christmas in the Philippines!