sorry i didn't put an email out last week (for those of you who were looking for one). i had to use my computer time for other things! but i hope you all had a FANTASTIC christmas. i sure did. :) it seems to be a stereotype that most missionaries struggle a lot around christmas time with homesickness, etc. however, though i did miss my family, this was probably the best christmas i've ever had. :) we got to do tons of fun christmas stuff... we had a mission christmas party with all the missionaries in the whole mission where we did a gift exchange and sang christmas songs together and watched a slide show of everyone who was baptized this year. we had a ward christmas party that TWO of our investigators came to last minute!! so great. and i LOVE MY BRANCH. we had a "back to bethlehem" night at the battalion on christmas eve, where we were officially called to be taxed (our taxes were chocolate coins and we weren't permitted to enter without them)--period clothing was required and we re-enacted the story of christ's birth, just like we used to do at home every year. on christmas morning, we had a hayday opening christmas presents (thanks for all the amazing gifts!!) and then we went to another battalion "service project" (basically a quilt-tying party) with lots of yummy food and christmas music and gifts, and one of the senior sisters who's a massage therapist was even giving us massages on her real massage chair. (i had to miss out on that because i was giving tours, but just to give you a taste of how spoiled we are. :P) later that day we went to a member of our branch presidency's house for christmas dinner. it felt just like home being around the table with all of them--oh, and their son is in culinary school. yeah. it was fantastic. then we went christmas caroling to our favorite peoples houses!! :) :) the whole season was just so much fun.
but all those things are only a small part of the reason why my christmas was so incredible. the biggest reason is because i was sharing the news of christ's birth as his chosen representative. i know that sounds cliche, but it's TRUE. the times that i felt the very happiest this season weren't the times that i was sitting and eating good food, or opening my wonderful packages. it was the times that i was giving myself to those that needed the good news of the gospel... our lessons with our less actives and investigators when the spirit was so strong that it was almost tangible. and i started to notice a STARK contrast between the times that i felt temporary happiness because of the "glee" of the season--which was still so happy and wonderful :)--and the sincere happiness that comes because of the JOY of the season... of His season. it's not something i can put into words very well without sounding ridiculously cheesy. but i really felt it. :) i love christmas on a mission! i'll never have a christmas quite the same.
one of the biggest miracles was joshua. last week we had an amazing lesson with him... but the next day he sent us a huge text saying he was done. :( he was just so terrified of leaving behind the "fun" things of the world, even though he KNEW it was true. he freely admitted that. well... he never texted back when we responded, so i thought he was for sure out of the picture. but leave it to sister miller... gosh. i don't know what i'd do without her. i'm not sure i'm going to know how to be a missionary any more when i'm not her companion! anyway, she called him on saturday, the 22nd, four days later, and left a simple voicemail saying we just wanted to see him and share a quick christmas message with him. and he responded!! he said we could come over that very night! so we went over... and it was so obvious that something was weighing him down. we got talking and he explained how he'd just slept most of the day and played video games... and he was just feeling unsatisfied with the way he had been spending his time... it just wasn't uplifting or fulfilling. so he decided to read the book of mormon. ?!?!? we were shocked. and then we just kept talking, and we read alma 7 with him and talking about christ, and the spirit was so strong,... and then... i don't know, all the sudden, he was saying he wanted to be baptized!! it was crazy. :) best miracle ever. and THATS what christmas is really about. :) :) I LOVE THE GOSPEL!!
so even though christmas is over, KEEP SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS!! :) we can celebrate christ all year round.
i love you all so much. thank you for your happy prayers and thoughts my way. :)