Merry Merry Christmas! This really is such a good time of year to be
alive! It's a joy seeing the world around us come together to remember
one person, or at least come together for some sort of common. My new
comp, Elder Eldredge got an email from his dad where he said "I hope
you have a very good non-denominational holiday season this week."
Sounds about right. But why not rejoice in the Love and peace and hope
that ONLY the Savior of all mankind could bring. He who is love and
peace and hope personified came in the most humble of circumstances
perhaps to know what it is like to be me or you or anyone who has ever
I thought leaving Philadelphia would be really difficult, and don't
get me wrong it was so hard to say goodbye to the people and city I
had come to love. Last Monday night Elder Parker and I took the Subway
to Center City where we met probably 40 other missionaries and a bunch
of members and a few non-members at the Philly Temple Site. There was
hot chocolate and cookies and a short devotional by the Stake
President, and we went out caroling in center city. It was soo much
fun. I don't know what it was, there was just an excitement in the
city that night that was contagious and wearing His name and sharing
His joy in song just felt so good! We went to LOVE park where that
famous love sign is and sang there. People stopped to listen to us and
we handed out He is the Gift pass along cards. It was just powerful to
see the simple smiles that came to their faces as we shared our
message of a Savior.
That night I barely slept, as I rarely do when I'm getting
transferred...maybe I'm just nuts. I'll miss Elder Parker, but when we
got to transfers, we soon enough found out that I would not be going
far. Valley Forge West Zone with Elder Eldredge! His comp Elder Cottle
went with Elder Parker, so we literally just did a companion swap.
We'll see each other at stake meetings and Zone Conference tomorrow. I
was really worried about going from city to rural, because the last
few times have been hard for me to transition from the go go go
mentality, to driving and a bit slower. We are in a driving area for
sure and it's far stretched out, but such was not the case. I was
welcomed by the members and President's reassurance that I would love
my new area was fulfilled quickly. We had meal appts. frequently last
week, and some days we had 3+ members feed us in the same day. So the
member support is great out here. And we saw some crazy miracles with
member missionary work.
I'm in the Valley Forge 1st Ward btw, and I am about 5 minutes away
from Valley Forge National Park where that well known picture of
George Washington and the Prayer at Valley Forge took place. I love
the zone and the missionaries here. We had a fast week and we're on
our way to a members home for a Christmas get together with a few
families, but here are a few highlights.
Yesterday after church, a sister from the 2nd Ward came up to me and
told me she felt like I should talk to this young Chinese sister who
just returned home from her mission last week. We got talking and I
soon found out that she had served in the California Oakland/San
Francisco Mission. I told her I'm from Danville, and she was like "No
way! I served in Alamo for 6 months and loved it!" She talked about
President Stone and Bishop Greg Smyth and how much she loved them.
Then right before parting, I thought to ask her about Shirlee Clyde.
So I did and she got a huge smile on her face and said "Oh my, she is
just the sweetest little lady. We visited her almost every week." I
informed her of Grandma Clyde's passing and she just had this sad face
about her, but there is hope in the life to come. So that was neat,
small world. Oh and our Elder's Quorum President grew up in Danville
til he was 16.
We are teaching a lady named Anastasia who was referred by her friend
in NY. She is sweet and really wants the truth and she reads her Book
of Mormon and loves the member family who has since fellowshipped her.
It's a good Ward and I've enjoyed it here so far. We are also working
with a young medical student named Varsha. Both her parents are Indian
and she comes from a fairly devout Hindu background, but in our lesson
she felt an incredible peace as we explained with Brother Rothey, the
need for a Savior and Redeemer. It made sense to her, and she seems to
believe it. But giving up or rather, adding on to an entire tradition
and way of life is understandably not easy in the least. So we are
patient, and rely heavily on the Spirit.
This Christmas season has been special as I've felt a Spirit of peace
and the Spirit of Christ like I've never felt before. It's simple, but
beautiful. I love the account in 3 Nephi of the Nephites praying to
the Lord for fear of being put to death because of their belief in the
coming of Christ. The Lord comforts them and says "Lift up your head
and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this
night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the
world" 3 Nephi 1:13. I think the greatest joy we can experience comes
from following the example He set though. In Luke 10 he tells the
parable of the Good Samaritan and in doing so, I'd say He expected us
to live and apply it just as much as the the people in those days.
This year and always may we learn of Christ and His example and "Go
and do thou likewise" in that sense, we can celebrate Christmas all
year round. Love you all, have a blessed Christmas.