Being able to talk to my family at Christmas was a really bitter sweet moment. I wasn't feeling at all homesick until I saw hem all again and I realized how much I truly do miss my home. It is difficult to be away, especially for Christmas, because it is a time when our family makes memories together but I just have to remind myself that I am here on a mission for a purpose. That bringing souls unto Christ and sharing the gift of salvation with individuals is my focus. In D&C 6.13 it says "Thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all gifts of God for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvacion." I love this scripture because I know that I am helping people receive the greatest gift of God. This week L and I were baptized and although I was missing my family and home their baptism made all of the sacrifice worth it for me. I shared her testimony at the baptism and it was so powerful. She said how thankful she was for me and the other missionaries that helped her find the light of the gospel. She has always been religious, her family is very catholic but the answers and peace that she found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints were no comparison. She also shared that she knows the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. It was just such a joyful experience to be able to help I build and strengthen her testimony. I could not have been happier this Christmas.
Other things that we did to celebrate Christmas...
On the 24th we had our P day and the whole mission was invited to the district offices. We played dodge ball, had a talent show, ate hamburgers and hotdogs and then watched Remember the Titans. It was a lot of fun!! The whole mission was there and it was good to be able to see my friends from different zones. Everyone was in normal p day clothes including the president and his wife. It was a little bit strange to see the president in jeans and a polo but at the same time super cool I felt like our mission truly was a family.
The night of Christmas eve hermana Espinoza and I watched church movies until 12pm when the festivities begin. In Peru the traditions are much different. For example, not even the children go to bed early but everyone stays awake because at 12pm the celebration starts with fireworks in the streets. There are not any laws about fireworks here so literally it is a free for all. The whole sky was lit up by giant, giant Disney sized fireworks! Then, families eat Christmas dinner in the middle of the night. Its a fun tradition and Karina one of thee coolest members of the ward came and brought us a Peruvian dinner to eat at midnight. )Her aunt is the best cook in the ward. It was such a cool experience! I am going to say Christmas in Peru is much more exciting and fun than in the US.
On another note...
The past Sunday I was really frustrated because of the lack of faith the some people have. As a missionary the greatest joy we have is when some one can complete a commitment that we give because we know it will help and bless their lives. But also the biggest sorrow that we have is when people don't complete commitments because we know that they are limiting their testimonies as well as the blessings that God wants to pour down on them. Everyone was so busy with other aspects in their lives and with a million of other problems that they could not complete their commitments. This was hard and frustrating for me because I KNOW GOD BLESSES US WHEN WE OBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS! "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." We obtain blessings from God according to our obedience to his commandments. This is a law of God. He is literally bound to bless us when we are obedient. No exceptions. I have complete faith in this law that when we do what is right we receive blessings temporal as well as spiritual. In Mosiah 2:41 it says God will always do his part he will never fail us. Its is us who are disobedient and fail god. We bring pain and sorrow onto ourselves. We have to have faith that God will always come through for us that he will always fulfill his promise to bless us in our lives, and help us with our problems. "For he will fulfill all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers." Alma 37.17 . We need to continue in perfect faith and obey his commandments knowing that we will receive blessings for our obedience and know that everything will be okay if we obey. "And thus we see that the commandments of God Must be fulfilled, and if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the things which he has commanded them, wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness." If we do what God wants everything else will follow! We just need to have faith that God will provide for all of our needs. As we are obedient and faithful I know that he will provide for us.
At the beginning of the week we only had about 3 lessons. It was pretty awful. But finally we found a less active her name is K. She has had some many reasons and excuses for not coming to church. That she doesn't like the members or she has to work. One of the return missionaries in the ward stole her sons girlfriend. In the beginning of the lesson she had a lot of excuses. We taught her the Restoration of the Gospel. We explained that the church is perfect and God is perfect even if the members are not. The whole lesson was very spiritual. She began to cry and she shared her testimony with us that she knows that God has blessed her. When she was active she was a really strong member. And she was a true witness of how God provides for our needs. One week she was really struggling financially. She only made 50 soles and she knew that she had to pay her tithing. She was embarrassed and she didn't even put her name on the tithing slip because she didn't want anyone to know. But she paid a full tithe of 5 soles. She had no money to clothe her children or pay for anything else. But she paid her tithing with complete faith that God would help her somehow. The following Monday her husband brought home tons of clothing for their children. He was in the city and he helped a woman with some boxes and she ended up being someone who sold clothing for children. She gave him tons of clothes for his children for free!! K was thrilled and she knew that God had provided for her needs. As she shared this experience with us she was in complete tears! She knew that she had to come back to church. Hearing her testimony was such a great experience for me. It was refreshing to hear such a strong testimony. After being so frustrated about the lack of faith that some people have she just reminded me how great God is. And how powerful he is. It was a really good moment.
Hope you all had a wonderful merry Christmas!!!!
See you in the summer!