YAY! I was so happy to see the Christmas decorations at the house!! And the pretzel-bread house! Haha looks……delicious! But really, it’s perfect!
Here’s the sad thing though! I left my camera at our apartment 😦 so no pictures this week… but I took some good ones! Including a video of our song!! Oh well…next week…!
So this is the most difficult time of the year for us YSA missionaries! All the YSAs are now gone home, and will be gone till the middle of next transfer. That means we’ll be doing a lot of finding: tracting, street contacting, and whatever else we can to find new people to teach! But something that I love that my companion says is that this is the time to find the people who need the gospel the most! The YSAs who can’t go home to family, or don’t have friends, or who are feeling alone. The gospel will be the most important Christmas gift we can give!
One of the Hermanas we live with is a visa waiter– she was called to Argentina, but hasn’t had her visa, until now! She has been here for 22 weeks, and we are so sad to see her go. Especially me! She has been like a big sister to me (even though she’s younger!) and I’ve learned so much from her example. I even spent a day as a ‘hermana’ and they still call me Hermana Hollberg. Hermana Olsen is leaving tomorrow (right after she accompanies me for a solo and a small group of missionaries that I am conducting in ‘Candlelight Carol’) for the mission home, and from there, she will go to Argentina, for her actual mission call! We are so excited for her.
I told the sisters in our apartment about our ‘Bethlehem Dinner’ tradition, and asked them if they would like to have one, just the four of us, one night. For those of you who don’t know what this is, here’s a little explanation: During this dinner, we eat the kinds of foods they might have eaten at the time of the savior’s birth– pita bread, pomegranates, dates, pears, cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, turkey and/or ham, hummus, or other foods like that. Also, we have sparkling cider. We eat this dinner only by candlelight, and we do it in quiet reverence– no talking really, just a time to ponder the true meaning of Christmas. All this is done while beautiful reverent music is playing in the background. They agreed, and we decided to have it on the 22nd, but since Hermana Olsen is leaving tomorrow, we did it last night. It was such a spiritual experience! Half-way through, Hermana Heibert leaned over to me and asked if we could all share our testimonies. When everyone was finished eating, we each shared our testimony. I shared the last verse of one of my favorite Christmas poems and carols, “In the Bleak Midwinter”. It says:
“What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wiseman, I would do my part.
Yet, what can I give him?
Give to him my heart”
There really is nothing we can do to repay the Savior Jesus Christ for His sacrifice, but do what He asks us to, with humility, and thankfulness– come unto Him. When we give our hearts, we are consecrating ourselves. I talked about how this dinner tradition is kind of like a ‘consecrated’ dinner. We sacrifice the light conversation, and loudness that usually accompanies dinner and the whole Christmas season, for a quiet reflective one where we ponder the Savior’s sacrifice and the miracle of His birth. I talked about how our missions are times for us to consecrate ourselves to be servants of the Lord, and how special that opportunity is. It was so touching to hear what the other sisters were thinking about, and their testimonies. Before we knew it, it was time for bed! All too soon, we were so wrapped up in the spirit that was there.
I love you all!
P.S. Also, have you ever heard of “Mindy Gledhill”? She has a CD called “The Sum of all Grace” that I really love. I know you would love it too! We are borrowing it from some other sisters, and will be so sad when we have to give it back! You should look it up and listen to some of the songs. My favorite is called ‘A little More Like Thee’, but I also really like ‘I Will Rest In You’, ‘Small Enough’, ‘River God’, and ‘Garden Wall’. Please listen to them! 😀