Isn't the Christmas Season just wonderful? I feel so blessed to have felt the Spirt of Christmas, or the Spirit of Christ especially this year. I won't be home for Christmas this year, but I have lost myself in this work and I don't want to come home. I love being on the Lord's errand and doing HIS work 24/7. It feels so much more rewarding and satisfying than the day-to-day grind of everyday life...But I sincerely believe that's why the call for member missionary work is being emphasized, because this all around joyful, full, satisfied feeling isn't just for set apart missionaries. It's available to all who will heed a prophet's call to go "To the Rescue" of our brothers and sisters lost in the darkness and confusion in this world.
We spent more time with members this week which was fun and felt productive. For instance, on Thursday we went out to Millington, MD and decided to knock and contact because MD hasn't really been touched by missionaries in this area for several years, so we feel there's a lot of soul harvesting to do. And there is we found a humble, pure Spanish speaking woman named Rosalia who lives in the thriving metropolis of downtown Millington (population 20, nah it's several thousand I'm sure). She invited us in, but in our terrible broken Spanglish, Elder Allred and I mumbled that we could not enter without an adult male present, so we set up an appt with her. Yesterday, Sunday, we visited her with a Spanish Speaking member. The husband, Raul, sat in and spoke spanglish to us. We introduced the Book of Mormon, he expressed a respectful disinterest, but she was captivated. We offered un El Libro de Mormon and she grasped hold of it and treated it like valuable treasure. It was heartwarming tto see a humble heart grasp and be so willing to feast upon the Word of God. In the car on the way home, we discussed how she just had a pure Spirit and desire to learn about God. He showed an interest in us coming over to help her learn english, so this could be a good opportunity to help them both feel the light of the gospel. Our God is a God of miracles.
I got several packages and christmas cards, thanks to all the families and friends for sending those out, love to hear how everyone's doing. On Wednesday we showed up at Abe's house (the less-active man who found us in the Acme grocery store) and he came outside his door and we talked for about 20 minutes. He explained how his wife is an "elder" in the Methodist church and as such would not even let us into their home. He felt so bad because he wanted to be hospitable as I'm sure most Filippinos are. But, after sharing a scripture with him, the thought came to my mind that I should invite him to lunch with us. So I did and he jumped on the idea and immediately invited us to a dinner party with him and his wife and another Methodist couple at a fancy Italiano Ristorante called Trevi. So come Saturday, after we had dinner with a member couple, we met Abe at Trevi (not so well planned, dinner right after dinner). He greeted us and introduced us to his friends and wife. They were pleasant and inquisitive. As we were sitting in the booth adjacent to theirs, we overheard them asking questions like "They believe in that John Smith guy right? Are they Jehovah's Witnesses?" And several people were glancing at us and then they'd talk amongst themselves. I was tempted to stand on the water fountain in the middle of the Restaurant and start preaching...but, on a scale of 1 to classy, didn't think that'd be very classy. So I refrained of course.
Abe told us to get whatever we wanted, so I got a $17 plate of salmon, etc. and boy was it good. We are well treated by our members. That is not mission wide though. Elder Allred just came from a branch in Philadelphia with 19 active members and 6 missionaries meeting in a store front...so, there's a bit of diversity out here.
In terms of investigators: We have to transfer Josh to the Dover Elders because he lives in their area, which stinks because he is just golden. But he will still come to the Smyrna ward. Jackie, had a rough lesson with her on thursday with Bro. Keeley. I didn't know where to go with it, she repeated an event from earlier in the day 3 times in 5 minutes and we just walked away feeling shot. It's sad that her dementia is getting worse, but Bishop advised us to keep going towards baptism because she wants it and feels that it's God's path for her. It will be tough because she will need a ride to church from members every week, but she is a beloved daughter of God and deserves the same love and concern as anyone else. So it's been a struggle with her because although we've gone over the Restoration with her 3-4 times, she hasn't a clue who Joseph Smith is other than "a minister"...
Brother Keeley and I had a powerful lesson with Cardin where we talked about the Doctrine of Christ and Cardin was teaching us half the time. He is so prepared and spiritually in tune. He said," It seems like in many churches the philosophy is to 'Come as you are' and many people do. But we're not supposed to come as we are and stay as we are. Church is meant to help us change, I think." Well Cardin, you ready to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting next week? Cause it sure does sound like it. The Spirit was there, Bro Keeley was in tears and it was just great. And yeah I may not see him get baptized, but I helped plant the seed.
We had our Christmas Devotional in Dover this week, oh ps. the weather last week was straight up CA, HI weather. It was nuts. The 21st of Dec, aka the first day of winter, got up to 71 degrees and sunshiney. It was mind boggling, but hey I won't complain. Such beautiful weather. Just a litttle rainy today. Anyways, we watched (Yes, missionaries watched a movie!!) the new pioneer film Ephraim's Rescue. The Spirit was strong as we discussed it and testimonies were born. They handed out the hundreds of boxes, and then we were taken out to our new car in the parking lot.
Why do we celebrate Christmas? Presents? Shopping? Gifts? Food? Money? Trees? Decorations? But why? Just to be nice? The world just doesn't get it.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and...his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
I've done the nativity what, 18 times, but never before has it meant so much to me. Never before have I felt the supreme, gentle love of our Savior Jesus Christ. President Anderson pointed out that "it requires a great discipline to focus on Christ during the holiday that celebrates His birth, because almost everything we see as we celebrate pulls our attention in another direction." But He isn't called the Prince of Peace for nothing. (sorry for being preachy) He is the very source of peace. No not a nice date night or a break from work. But true, lasting, eternal peace.
Ponder on that babe in Bethlehem. What does HE mean to you? What we must have been doing watching that moment in heaven, rejoicing in the fact that yes, we would have a chance to make it through. We would have a chance to become something. We would have a chance to come home.
I love Jesus Christ and know that He does indeed live. I know He is the only way. I love you all and wish you a very Merry Christ-centered Christmas.
Elder Jacob Robins