Merry Christmas everybody!(: Okay, anyone who knows me knows that Christmas time is pretty much my favorite time of the year. It's even better when it's Christmas time and you are a missionary! I love being out here during the holiday season. I love how people open their hearts and their doors more to hearing about our Savior. Also, thank you Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Donna, Grandma and Papa, and Nana and Mike for the Christmas packages. I am so blessed to have such loving people supporting me while I'm out here(:
This whole week has been amazing. During Mormon.org time on Tuesday, I received a lot of really great inspiration from some talks I read. Something that I know of a surety is that the Lord made us all who we are for a reason. We are all so individual and special, with different talents and gifts, because that is who He needs us to be. A quote that I really like is, "God didn't send us to earth just to blend in. We are here to share what makes us unique,". I hope we can all remember that, and share the gifts that Heavenly Father has given us with everyone we come in contact with(: It is one of the many ways we can share the light of Christ with others. A talk that I really love is called Lord, Is It I? by President Uchtdorf. It is all about judging other people less and looking inward at the things that we ourselves need to change. I would recommend that talk to anyone and everyone, and invite all of you to heed the counsel that he provides. It really is inspired. It has helped me see myself more clearly, and it has allowed me to receive blessings and progress in ways that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. We went to the Relief Society Christmas Party later on, and it was so much fun! Sister Engstrom (The Engstrom's are one of my favorite families here. They are so awesome, and their son Hunter is a really big Zelda fan, so we're pretty much best friends.) came up to us and said that her kids loved having us over for dinner and wanted to know when we could come back. She also said that she told all her family on Facebook that they need to start having their Sister Missionaries over for dinner because they are awesome. It made me feel so good to know that families really do love the Spirit and happiness that we strive to bring into their homes(: And we love the Spirit and happiness that we can feel when we are with members as well.
On Wednesday we had Zone Meeting. It was honestly one of the greatest meetings I've been to so far on my mission. It was all about developing Christ-like attributes. So many things that I needed to hear were said and I know that the Lord personally witnessed to me that He is watching out for me through many of the lessons that were taught. Something that was said that I really loved was, "Having faith means that you truly believe that Christ loves you,". Our relationship with our Savior, really understanding the plan He has for us and the love and grace that He gives to each and every one of us, is so important to our well being and overall happiness. It has been so amazing to feel that love and that unity between He and I growing as I have been diligently seeking Him. And I know that each of us can have that growth when we truly desire it(: Later that day, we got a car! Which is going to make our night appointments much easier. We are still planning on walking during the day on all the days where the weather is nice. It's really been beautiful here, especially for December. We went and visited a lady named J_______ in the evening. She is so sweet and has such strong faith. She is going through a lot of hard things right now, and has a crazy schedule, but we were able to give her some Mormon Messages to watch and we are hoping to see her again soon. She says that she just feels like crying all the time, and that really broke my heart because I remember what that feels like. I know that the knowledge of Christ's Atonement and love is something that can heal that though, and I'm excited to get to share that more fully with her.
Thursday was a beautiful day. We got to do service at the YMCA. I love when we get to do service in the community. It makes me feel so good(: Then we went and visited an older lady in the ward named Elisabeth Wright. She is so amazing! She is in her 90's and she is from Germany. She has so many amazing stories to tell (and a really impressive collection of Nutcrackers and Santa's). We were able to listen to her conversion story, how she met her husband (he passed away about 40 years ago), and some of her favorite Christmas traditions. We were able to share an uplifting scripture with her and talk about some of our favorite things about the Savior. Hearing about her life, her struggles, and how she is still so faithful and trusting of the Lord, was really such a great example to me. She could look at life and feel loneliness, but instead, she looks at life with excitement, knowing that her Savior is her constant companion and that her husband is waiting for her and right by her side each and every day. I want to be like that when I am older. We had a lesson with a new investigator named D_____ that night. His girlfriend decided to sit in on the lesson, and they both seemed very interested. They agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon together and to pray about it. It was wonderful seeing how certain aspects of the message, especially the fact that we can receive personal revelation, really stuck out to them and made them want to know more.
This is me, Sister Waite (in the middle, she is our STL and she's so awesome), and Hermana Ferrell. Who is one of my favorite people on this planet. We are such kindred spirits and she has been a huge blessing to me while I've been out here(: I really do think that we will be best friends long after our missions.
On Friday, I had an amazing time during personal study. Something that Elder Wirthlin said, "No matter our age, circumstance, or ability, each one of us can create something remarkable of this life,", really stuck out to me. It is so true. Through praying to be able to appreciate our lives, through seeking greater spiritual knowledge and growth, and through realizing our own potential as Children of a loving God, we can have the most amazing life. A life that is abundant and allows us to appreciate the now. We will still face the hard things, but we can get through them with His help and know that it is possible to still find joy and spiritual growth when things are difficult. This gospel is joy. It creates endless opportunities for us(: I got such a sweet package from my parents after studies. It had the cutest stocking and a really beautiful picture of the Savior. I love any picture where He is shown smiling, because that's how I picture Him! We had dinner with the Chirino's family. They are SO amazing. They are both converts to the church and return missionaries and they have five kids. The Spirit in their home was so strong, and it was like a breath of fresh air when we walked in. Sometimes, after a day where you have some disheartening experiences, the love and joy that is felt in a members home is all you need to get motivated again. We had a lesson with F______ after that, and we invited the Bartholomew's to come with us. The lesson went so wonderfully! F______ really is such an amazing man, with so much love for his son and for the gospel. It's been amazing to see his understanding growing and his conversion to the Lord deepen as time goes by. A member of the ward gave him a Gospel Principles book and he is already half way through it haha. I told him at the end of our lesson that he seemed happier and that he had a light about him. He said that he could feel that too, and that he has noticed that he has just felt so much better lately. He said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the best thing that has happened to him since coming to Longmont(: That brought tears to my eyes.
Saturday was really awesome. We got to go and have a lesson with the Paul's. Brother P____ is a member but his wife, P____, isn't. They aren't in our area anymore, but Sis. DeFord taught them when she served here 8 months ago, and so she got permission for us to go and have one lesson with them. It was really really special. I'm so thankful that I got to have that experience. P____ has so much faith. She knows in her head that the church is true, but she just needs that conviction in her heart. We know that it will happen as she diligently studies the word of God and strives to be closer to the Savior. Everything that is unfair about life is made better through Christ. We were able to testify that reading the scriptures and praying really do make a difference, and that we know that she will be able to receive that answer as she and B___ do those things together. We also invited them to meet with the Elder's that are serving in their ward and they said that they would(: I have only met them once, but the P____'s will always have a special place in my heart. I can see how close they are to the happiness that the gospel can bring, and I can't wait for them to experience it in it's fullness. We had dinner at the Prestwich's, and we invited F____ and A____ to come. It was really nice getting to talk with him and spend time with the Prestwich family.
Our Christmas program was yesterday! We are part of the Ward Choir, so we got to perform some songs for it. The happy spirit that was present during the entire sacrament meeting was so beautiful. It was a really amazing day, all about sharing the gift of the Savior with everyone. I love how music can truly touch the hearts of so many people, especially music about the sacrifice and the love that our Savior has for us. In Relief Society, we talked about having non-judgmental and unconditional love for everyone. I couldn't help but think of my own parents and my ward back home. I truly felt that pure love from so many people when I was making some big changes in my life. I receive emails and letters from people expressing that love even still. I feel so blessed to have that. I know that it has truly helped me become a more Christ-like person. Later, we had a Live Nativity outside. We (the choir) performed a few different songs as the story of Jesus's birth was told. It was a really amazing program. One song, Guard Him Joseph, makes me cry. Every. Time. It's so sweet and the lyrics are beautiful. It was a complete miracle too, because about ten minutes after everything was finished and put away, it started pouring rain! There was no way we could have had the Nativity in that kind of weather, but it held off long enough for us to finish(: Also, something really crazy happened. The Bailey's, a family in our ward, were traveling and they were at a hotel. They met the Redmond's there!(: They delivered me a hug from them (which made me cry). I just thought that was so cool haha.
Another great thing that happened this week: The Seyfi's oldest daughter (and one of my best friends) Suzanne got married! I will miss having her around the house, but I'm so happy for her!(: Also, we got to meet their other daughter Selina and her husband Mitch. They are such wonderful people.
So this week has been a great one. Really. I am so excited for the upcoming opportunities, so thankful for the Lord's hand in my life, and can't wait for Christmas!(: Seeing my family is definitely going to be a blessing. I know that the Lord has placed us in the families we are in for a reason. I'm so thankful that I have such amazing parents and siblings, who love me so much and who really do keep me going when things are difficult. I'm so thankful that I get to have eternity with them. I hope you all get to spend time with your family this Christmas, and I hope that no matter where you are and who you're with, you remember that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you dearly and a Savior gave his own life for you. That kind of love is something that can be felt so strongly, not only this time of year, but all the time(: I love you all! Merry Christmas everyone!
Love, Sister Allen