Yes, it's true what they say.... If you have a missionary son, the best thing about Christmas is that phone call. Do you know how we arrange that?
Steph is here until Christmas morning, at which point we will bring her to the airport where she will fly to Las Vegas to be with Tyler for Christmas Day. He couldn't come because of his work schedule. (Booooo.) Then one hour church from 10-11. We'll be home no later than 12:30 depending on how long we visit with people, which is 11:30 a.m. your time. So anytime after that. Let us know what we need to do.
We just finished a two week long cold snap. The car died and everything froze. It ended today and it's only 0C, so we took advantage and went for a walk this morning and explored that abandoned house on the other side of our property. Sam saw us trudging through the field and put on some hot water for us, so the girls had a tea party.
We returned home with rosy cheeks and a cheerful view of life. Funny how fresh air does that.
Sam has discovered a new recipe of Turtle Cookies, which he is slowly becoming locally famous for... kind of like what happened with his Oreo cheesecakes.
He got laid off Dec 1 and is enjoying free time. He drives to seminary, bakes, does service (he spent two days at the de Vries' helping Monika dejunk her basement. Btw, Alex is engaged to be married in March to Brooke Scully.) We love having Sam around again. Starting in Jan, it will be crunch time with ACT/SAT/GED study.
Ben is sick, sick, sick. I think his body just broke down with his crazy schedule. Most days he is at the school from 7-7. He is in choir, made the Junior Varsity Basketball team and so far is getting straight A's. But then he crashed and ended up missing a basketball tournament. He also opted out of the Christmas Piano Concert this year. Ack! I don't want him to get too busy for piano, but he IS playing for the church choir on Christmas Day. We're singing a beautiful song by Sally deFord called As Shepherds Kept Their Lonely Vigil.
The girls are the same as always, but when they were doing the gingerbread village this year, I heard Abby say, "Mine is the daycare." What? Where do they get these things? There was also a church, a sugar shop, an A-frame cabin, a naturalpathic clinic, a kooky old man's house and a house where I lived. Steph said it was a complex community. Lol!
We're finally semi settled and trying to keep up Christmas traditions in a new house. We have a care package for you but I am sad to say it will have to be a New Year's Package. I don't feel too terrible about it though because I know of at least two packages that are coming your way and should be there by Christmas. I really love this time of year though. We had a big dinner party here last night with three missionaries, Ebony, Chance and his girlfriend and kids, Kenneth and Karlton McKenney. Par-Tay! But the real reason for the invite is because it's the four year anniversary of Wendy Frank's passing. It's a hard time for them. Also, Kenny needed a good visit with Steph. I hope they all walked away feeling lighter and happier.
The older I get the more the Gospel fills me up and gives meaning and purpose to my life. People need it and are unconsciously looking for it, so I am glad my boy is out there trying to share and invite. I heard a missionary quote that says, "You cannot force someone to comprehend a message they are not ready to receive. Still, you must not underestimate the power of planting a seed." So, based on your last few emails, I can see that you are reaping where others have sown and sowing where others will reap. It is a good work and a blessed work and it will be counted to you for righteousness. Keep on, my son.
I am VERY excited to see you and talk to you in a week. I love you forever.
Oh boy this week... its been quite a trip, I have officially been out for a year now and I feel I have already changes so much, things are going well, at the beginning of the month I wan not smart and spent a lot of my Missionary support fund on crazy food, and now I am carefully budgeting my money to make it through the month... It is funny looking back at my previous mentality, when I first came out I looked upon those who had been out a year and thought I could never make it to that point, that it was forever away and that it would take so long, now that I am here I realize it flashes by, I also would look upon other missionaries apparel and think how much of it was in disrepair, I look upon myself in the mirror and realize that my shoes are old and worn, my shirts are fraying, my socks are getting holes, my pants are falling apart, with all that I see I realize that what we have in this life is so temporary, people put so much value on clothes and cars and money but the clothes will get old, cars will break down, and money will lose its value. what matters most in this life is the love we share, the patience we develop, the relationships we create, this isn't about you or me but about us and who we can and will be as long as we live righteously.
This week we also got to go to work at a place called Operations Gratitude, I worked there a lot when I was in Chatsworth but now don't get much opportunity to do it now I am in another zone we packed and prepared packages for soldiers fighting wars in support of their sacrifice for their country. I love service, it is truly along the path of finding happiness in this life and the life to come. Nowhere is it found that we can obtain full happiness consistently in this life, but we can definitely pursue it, and I have found that true happiness comes from service, family and a firm belief in God and a hope in mankind, as long as we put our trust in God, he will Guide us to those things that will make us happy and I believe that as we serve God he is waiting to send packages of his love and blessings to us. Christmas is a perfect time to do that, looking for opportunities to serve and help others in any way that we can.
So many times on my mission I have been saddened by people who have a strong belief in God but are unwilling to live up to their potential, the other day someone told me that they weren't allowed to have the Book of Mormon in their home because they were Christian... and that was kind of wierd to me since it is another testament of Jesus Christ, why wouldn't anyone want to learn more? in some religions people set restrictions on people so that they are limited in their views and knowledge, but I love this church and I love how we are allowed to ask questions we are allowed to pursue knowledge in every aspect, we are allowed to learn of other religions and build our sights higher, this is a rich and lovely amazing Gospel, i love it with all my heart and I am grateful for a father in heaven who answers my prayers. I went through such a hard time at the beginning of my mission that toppled my testimony but because of that I was able to grow and build it much stronger, Sam and Ben, you will face extremely hard Trials on your mission, and it is different for all who serve, but as long as you put faith in the promise of James, and "Ask God" He truly gives to all men liberally and abundantly as long as we ask with a pure intent. listen to the Whispering of the Spirit, delve into the Scriptures, pray with all the energy of your soul, ask for advice from those who have life experience, never stop seeking for knowledge and trust in God, he will Provide.
I love you all, remain strong in the testimony that you do have in Christ and my we all move forward together.
P.S I will have access to a computer at 1 california time, so 2 your time, and depending on the shifts we have with other missionaries, it may be pushed back to 2 California, and 3 your time... you have access to skype? if so what should I look up to get to you?