I LOVE Christmas time!! AAHH!! It's the best. Last night for the ward activity we went to the San Diego Temple and saw all the lights and listened to the choir concert and drank hot chocolate... and two of our investigators came!! :) We were so glad. Most of the investigators we're teaching right now aren't ones that we've found through members' friends... they were just street contacts. Hence, they don't have solid fellowshippers (people that they've grown up with/are solid friends with that are mormon). So it was huge that they were both at the activity so they could start making friends in the branch. :) And it was just so fun being in the Christmas-y atmosphere! Ha ha. I loved it.
We've had a couple amazing lessons with Joshua this week. It is SO COOL to see the spirit working in him... that's the best way I can describe it! People just change. We talked about the commandments, and there were a lot of things that hit him pretty hard because he doesn't exactly live very many of them. But he can feel that it's what he needs to do. At the end of one of the lessons, he said the closing prayer, and he thanked Heavenly Father for the gift of the Spirit (what investigator uses those words?) and for His Son Jesus Christ. If you had heard his prayers the first time we met him, you wouldn't have believed it was the same person saying this prayer! He's still got a way to go, but he truly recognizes how this can help him change into the person he wants to become. And it was CRITICAL that our member Devin was there to teach him with us... we met at his house, and there were a few things that he said/added to the lesson that were KEY. I have gained such a testimony of member-present lessons.
In fact, that's the area that we're really trying to improve right now. Like I said, all of the investigators we're teaching currently are ones we found ourselves, and it's just not NEARLY as effective as when branch members are the ones bringing their friends into the gospel. The mindset needs to change from "members assisting the missionaries in the work" to "missionaries are here to assist the members in their missionary work." The dynamics of missionary work are changing!! I can't wait to be a member missionary when I come home... I think I never want to live in Utah again. I just want to live somewhere that I can make a whole bunch of non-member friends and bring them unto Christ. (Okay, not really... I love Utah. And there's work to be done there too!! Pray for missionary opporutnities, everyone! Your missionaries will LOVE you!)
Something really funny happened on Wednesday. We were on our way home from the area at like 8:45 pm and we were stopped at a red light when the guy in the truck next to us started waving at us... it was dark, so I couldn't tell if I knew him (we were pretty close to the church and I figured it might have been someone that had just left from there), so I waved back. :) Well, then he rolled down the window and started talking to us. Turns out we didn't know him. "What are you girls up to tonight?" he said. Ha ha. We told him we were missionaries. He said he was on his way to a bar. :P But we made him curious, so he kept asking us questions as we were sitting at this light... we kind of explained what we do and stuff, and then the light turned green... but he wanted to keep talking to us about it, so he yelled to us, "I'll pull over!" Turns out he was a young single adult who lives on the same street as our chapel! We got his name and number and invited him to church on Sunday. :) Ha ha, probably my favorite form of contacting that I've used on my mission so far!!
On Thursday we went to find Cody again (our investigator that doesn't have a phone, so we just show up at his house most of the time), and we found him! He is SUCH a good kid... he's just mixed up in the wrong stuff. His "brother" Devin was there, too, so he joined in... though he wouldn't admit to wanting to be there. It was such a neat moment--we just sat there in their driveway, leaned over the hood of this kid's car, reading scriptures together. It sounds funny, but it was cool--they feel like my little brothers!! And Cody just gets it. I decided that both he and Devin have such strong spirits that the only way Heavenly Father could try them in this life was by throwing them into terrible family situations. I really hope that while they're still young and "swayable," we can pull them out of there.
Then we went to dinner--Vinod treated us to authentic Indian food! He is so funny. He was so excited to show us how HE eats... he was absolutely disgusted at break the fast last week. Ha ha. He bought us SO MUCH FOOD! We were looking at the strange assortment of treats they had displayed in a case, and when we asked him to explain what they were, he went up to the lady and asked her for one of EACH! We kept telling him he didn't have to (AKA we didn't want all that!) but he just kept saying "it's fine guys, it's fine." (It's much funnier if you listen to it in your head in a thick Indian accent. :) ) Also, on Sunday, we went to dinner at a member's home and invited Vinod last minute. He texted us back and said "I am really excitetid!" :) So we were sitting at the table waiting for him to show up when the door bell rang, and walks in with this huge bouquet of flowers! He gave them to Paul (our member)'s mom, because his mother had taught him never to show up at someone's home without something to offer. SO sweet! At the end he asked if we could take a "snap" (haha--a picture); we found it afterward that it was his first time since coming to America that he had been invited to a family dinner, and he was just so happy about it! Even though he hated the food they had there cause he's a vegetarian!! Ha ha, it was so great.
I did have a couple hard days this week too though. I decided that there is probably nothing that upsets me more than watching people back-track in their amazing progress. One of our less actives that's been doing so well texted us on Friday morning and said he didn't plan on going to church anymore, completely out of the blue. It hit me pretty hard... I cried right on the spot. (It ended up working out, but in the moment, it hurt.) Then Saturday night we found out that one of our recent converts had reverted to his old habits again. :( I just think, COME ON, children of God, how can you turn your back so quickly on the happiness that you JUST found?? It makes me SO unbelievably sad. Sometimes I just dont get how Heavenly Father can take it... how can He be perfectly happy when there's so much suffering like this? Because if this is how His heart breaks, too, and He has infinitely more children that He loves the way I have come to love them... if He weeps when we suffer, how can He ever be happy? BUT. He knows the ending. And He knows that in the end, His children will be okay. It will be fascinating when we get to the point that we can understand how Heavenly Father truly feels... I wish I could explain it better. Anyway.
We also got to go to the cliffs last Tuesday! I'll send pictures. It was BEAUTIFUL... and so much fun!
Merry Christmas everybody! In case you were wondering, we watch the DVD of David Archuleta's Christmas concert with the Tabernacle Choir multiple times every day at the Battalion, and we love every second of it every time!! Ha ha. We just let it play and play. :) Best season ever!! INVITE PEOPLE TO HEAR GOSPEL! This is the best time of the year to do it!
I love you!