Tuesday, March 10, 2015


My baby Christmas tree with my presents underneath.

Homemade fudge.  Cinnamon roll.  Family traditions.
The two sisters I entered the MTC with.

Who knew there were so many types of rice?

When we moved out of our old house.
Before we moved all our stuff in.  But it's a really nice apartment!

 My former companion/trainer Sister Surio after mission leadership conference
Maligayang PASKO! (She says as sweat dribbles down her face...)
The day they've all been waiting for since September 1st! It's sure been a different experience this year. Lots of vide-oke, fireworks, spaghetti, weird lantern lights and homeless kids singing for money. But more importantly I've been really touched by the emphasis on Jesus Christ in Christmas here in the Philippines. Much unlike home people are NOT quick to forget their Savior. I've seen such an outreach of kindness, love and generosity, especially from those who have nothing to give. I've seen a tremendous amount of gratitude for such simple things - sincere gratitude. I thought I would be homesick but the opposite has happened as I have gone around sharing my testimony of the Savior, that HE IS the gift! I think He has been the gift to me this year in more than one way. I've never felt so close to Him before or been able to so readily recognize his hand. Multiple times this month I have been attacked by members of other faiths for my belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God, divinely born to save us from sin. Once I was even told that I don't know that and that I cannot know for myself that that is true. But rather than this making me cry or get angry, all it has done is strengthen my testimony that if there IS anything I know, it's that. If that were not true, how would I still be here doing what I am doing? The fact that I've made it this far is evidence to me that He is very active and involved in all of our lives.
Other than the scant number of appointments we've been able to get, it's been dinner and parties. Christmas is a really, really, really.... really big deal. Mission Christmas conference though was my favorite part. The morning half was spiritual and I got to see the MoTabs Christmas concert with Alfie Boe again so that was the highlight for me. We had a really nice lunch and then we had a talent show. It was the most bizarre thing to watch the other missionaries step away from being "Elder" or "Sister" for a moment and be themselves. There was dancing, hymns of Babylon, stand up comedy and so on. Our zone did a Filipino dance to "Pinoy Ako" which means "I'm Filipino" and for the last verse, only the foreigners danced to be ironic. It was very against my will but I ended up having fun. We had a gift exchange, caroling and games. President and Sister Bertin also gave us gifts. After the conference, we went directly to our ward Christmas party. They've been planning it for months. Our less-actives made a short return to church just long enough to know when the party was and then duck out. So disappointing. Oh well. They can enjoy the Terrestrial kingdom. The party was pretty different from what I'm used to. Tons of food... tons... but it wasn't formal at all. No decorations or even tables set up. No, all the time and energy was spent on... dance presentations. Each auxiliary prepared like a 10 minute dance presentation and they went all out! From the nursery to the bishopric. I was definitely not expecting it.
Basta, Merry Christmas! Drink some eggnog for me... Because I don't like it anyway. Thank you to everyone who sent me mail and wrote me emails! I deeply appreciate everyone who thought of me. And to those who didn't... I still love you but pull yourself together. ;)

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