Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas Ya'll

Me with my gifts. We are so spoiled!
Thank you so much Torgesens for the beautiful live tree!!!


Our Christmas Nook - a final look

Our Christmas Eve dinner. Yummy!


Sister Missionaries

USS New York    It's construction included metal from Twin Towers.

On the USS New York
Coming on board
How do you steer?
Looking below on the USS New York

A Memorial piece 

In Memory.....So Many Names!

This is Elder Draper, goodness we love this man!  He drove the van I was in from the airport to the mission home on my first day here, and he set up our beautiful apartments!  Then he and the zone leaders came over to dedicate our apartment which was a very powerful experience.  He does so much for us!  He and his wife are the military relations missionaries.  We're looking forward to finding military YSA's so we can bring them to the Draper home for dinner!

Dec 29, 2013   10:05 AM
I hope ya'll had the merriest Christmas!  I sure did!  What spoiled and blessed missionaries we are!  This was definitely a Christmas to remember.  

First I need to backtrack to last P-day.  I'm not sure how much I wrote, but we were able to get a tour of the USS New York.  The style of ship is the second largest in the navy.  It was a new experience for me, and it was incredible.  The most meaningful part however is that the ship is really a memorial in itself.  A majority of the metal is made from scraps from the twin towers.  There are reminders of 9/11 all throughout the ship, including a poster with the name of every person killed in the attack.  Signs from New York and murals are all throughout the ship it was a beautiful reminder of the people who lost their lives that day and the people who are, at the very moment, dedicating their lives to protect our country.  I am so grateful for their efforts!

Christmas Eve was wonderful!  (After spending the day lost in Dunn Ave.  We had a district meeting and planned to visit YSA's in the area after, but our gps couldn't register the addresses.  We borrowed the senior missionaries' gps only to find that it couldn't pick up where we were.  Long story short, we spent the whole afternoon driving the backroads of Dunn. Ave without finding one single person.  It was an adventure to say the least.)  Sister Hale and I managed to make a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.  We had mashed potatoes (with coconut milk since Sister Hale is lactose intolerant. . . it brought a new meaning to "sweet" potatoes and was actually really good), rice, broccoli, ham, which had been in our freezer from Christmas parties, sparkling cider, and Sangria (a Hale family tradition--and we promise it was non alcoholic!!!  Haha, we didn't know that it ever had alcohol in it, until she tried to order it at a Mexican restaurant one day.  You should have seen her face when they asked to see her ID.  We even had matching pajama pants to wear!  (We bought them on p-day at Target!)  After dinner our zone got together to go caroling.  We were able to bring the group to one of our investigator's homes.  Our singing wasn't always pretty, but it was wonderful to see the joy we were able to bring to so many people (and we got a good laugh at the people who walked away from the door or awkwardly hid behind the door because they didn't know what to do with a whole group of us singing to them). 

We started out the morning by picking up the Ft. Caroline sisters during exercise time to secretly deliver a 3 ft Christmas tree one of them had and a variety of treats from the rest of us, to a family who wasn't getting much for Christmas.  We knew they didn't have a tree and we wanted to do what we could to make it a special day for them too.  It was probably the best exercise time I've had yet!  After that Sister Hale and I opened all of our presents.  We had presents from different wards in the area (everything from toothpaste and floss to lotion and gift cards).  The gifts we had looked forward to most were the ones from our families and loved ones back home.  Thank you all for gifts and love you've sent our way whether in packages, cards, or prayers!  Did I mention that we had a live Christmas tree?  I'm pretty sure we must be the only missionaries with a live tree thanks to the Torgesens!  I thought this would be my first Christmas without a live tree so it meant a lot!!!  Thank you!   Hopefully the pictures will tell the rest of our Christmas morning story.  I've really enjoyed the recordings of everyone wishing me a Merry Christmas.  I didn't know there was anything recorded onto the SD card already that's why I didn't know about it when I talked to you!!!  

We had the other Arlington sisters and the Ft. Caroline sisters over for a lunch of whatever we could find before going to the Williams for visiting and snack food.  We show up and realize we were confused on the time and the whole family is leaving.  But it all turned out alright.  We didn't feel like we were intruding on the family and we had a lovely dinner with Sister Williams as she read a touching story she wrote for a short story competition.  It takes place in Winter Quarters and her family told her she'd never win because it was about Mormons.  Well she turned it in and she won! Now she reads it to her family every year.  It was truly touching, and we all asked for a copy of it.  I definitely plan on reading it to my own family some day.  

After that it was time for some more caroling with the sisters and elders in our area.  Then that night we got to call our families!  After some technical difficulties, we had a wonderful video call through facebook messaging.  It was so good to hear your voices.  And I didn't even cry this time!  Aren't you proud of me?  haha.  

Yesterday in the Arlington ward Sister Williams gave her traditional end of the year talk.  At the end of every year Sister Williams gives a talk for the entire sacrament meeting where she sums up major events of the year in the ward (missionaries, baptisms, some callings, deaths), and events in the world.  She talked about how we all must learn to weather the storms.  It was really powerful.

In the YSA ward Sister Hale and I were asked to speak on a hymn of our choice.  Sister Hale chose "Nearer my God to Thee," and I chose "How Firm a Foundation."  As different as they sound our topics were nearly the same, and we didn't even compare notes before hand.  We both testified that through Christ's atonement we can find strength in our trials.  I know that we are not give trials beyond what we can handle.  Heavenly Father knows what will help us become the sons and daughters he sees us becoming.  We recorded our talks and hopefully I'll be able to send them home soon.  It's a little hard to hear though  because we couldn't hold the recorder up while we spoke.

I want to leave with a thought we've been giving to most of the people we've met with lately.  In D&C 50:24 we read that, "That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."  I know that as we live righteously we will continue to come closer to our Savior who is the source of light in our lives.  Here's the challenge:  What are three things you can do this upcoming year that will bring you closer to your Savior?  Write them down and look back on them throughout the year to see how you're doing.  We have had many amazing answers!  If any of you want to share with me your resolutions for the year I'd love to hear them.  Yesterday it hit me that while I had been asking others this question I had yet to ask myself.  So far I have two, which I will share with you. 
1. Have more sincere, and specific prayers
2. Pray for the attribute of charity and work for it by serving with my whole heart and striving to see others as Christ does.
3.  (I'm still pondering on this one!)

I love ya'll so much!!!  

As we say in the south,
Have a blessed day!
God is good!!!