Wow, I am just so excited to talk to you tomorrow. SO much to talk about. But I`m still going to write you a solid email because I have time, and also because I love writing to you, even if you are all very busy and absorbed in the holiday and don`t read all I have to say. Writing to you is almost more for my sanity than to just follow mission rules and keep in touch.
WHAT a week. Instead of having a (baptismal) white Christmas, we had the biggest baptismal catastrophe yet. Really hard on me. Rodolfo had a great interview with the elders on Friday and everything was planned for his baptism at 5. He and his whole family were so excited. At 3 they called and said his motorcycle broke, and they had no way to get to the church, and could we find someone to give them a ride? I called everyone in the branch who has a car (three people) and in the end only the non-member husband in a member family was able to. He called Rodolfo to get directions to the house, and apparently wanted them to walk a little of the ways, and Rodolfo didn`t want to walk...and the man said some really strong things apparently (this is all just how I heard it, who knows what happened) and the next thing I know, I`m in the middle of a great lesson about the restoration at 4:30 p.m. and Rodolfo calls and says, "I`m not getting baptized and I`m not ever going to church again. If there are members like that in this church, I`m not going." and hung up and turned off his phone. Long story, but the thesis is Satan knew this young man has so much potential in the church as a priesthood holder...and was successful in postponing his baptism. More to come, but please pray for Rodolfo that he will have a change of heart.
At least I had cake for the primary kids the next day, since there was no baptism. :) I was single-handedly in charge of all the primary kids yesterday because the teacher wasn`t there. Two hours in a little sweaty classroom with 12 very irreverent children. But how I love them. We practiced Jesus en Pesebre (away in a manger) and sang in Sacrament meeting. I was playing the piano and couldn`t lead at the same time, and so it was Sedona Primary-Stlye: can`t really understand the words they`re singing but they sure look cute up there trying.
We had two great investigators in church. Sonya came for the first time, and by herself, because her husband (well, entire family) is pretty catholic. She is a true seeker of the truth who believes the catholic church can`t be true because the Bible says to not worship anyone but God. Anyway, I really love her. People like her are why I don`t want to leave Piribebuy. There is a strong chance I do at changes on January 2.
On Wednesday we had a mission Christmas meeting. We sang to patients in a hospital, had a great lunch, I embarrased myself in my Silent Night solo, we had a Secret Santa exchange, and listened to David Archuleta`s Christmas concert from last year. I got the package from home and a letter from mom with photos (thank you mom!!! You the sweetest!) and the conference issue of the Liahona! I was absolutely 100% content coming home. What more could a girl ask for? Being a missionary, the conference issue in hand, letter from home, investigators to teach, a world to save and the gospel which has the power to save it! This is the life!
A year ago on Saturday I went to the temple for the first time. I was thinking about all that I have learned since then and how very greatful I am. Really, (knock on wood), my life has gone exactly as I ever planned. I don`t deserve it. Now if only I`m married within two Christmases from now, my life will really be on track as I mapped it out years ago.
Everyone here celebrates Christmas late at night Christmas eve by having a big dinner (and drinking and lighting off explosivos...er fireworks! That`s the word!) and if there are presents they open them Christmas eve night, too. I thought only the Jernigans open all their presents Christmas eve, but turns out all of Latin America does. We are going to be busy tonight (dinner with the Velazquez family and revealing ourselves as the 12 days of Christmas-givers and caroling to our investigators!) so we opened our packages today. THANK YOU for everything, mom and family! The shoes fit so perfect and I love them! (The wrapping paper had glitter all over everything and at first I thought you had sent me glittery shoes, and thought, "wow, I`m 6 years old again getting glitter shoes?" haha) and it was so fun to open the things you sent to Hna. Quito, too. It was all just what I asked for. Especially the Haz lo Justo rings and stickers, they`re like gold to a sister missionary. And the clothes Sister Oakason sent were perfect, I`m already wearing the skirt. I sent her an email already. And the package from Aunt Terri was awesome, too! I love the EFY CD!!! Last night in our 12 days of Christmas gift, I wanted to do something special but it was Sunday and we had no food in the house and couldn`t buy anything. I slipped a 20 dollar bill in with the nativity peice of Maria. And the next day, I get 20 bucks from grandma. I swear, I can never be out of debt to God.
I have so much to write still, such as a miracle with Marian and Jorge, and a sweet story about a menos activo Eduarda, but no time. But never fear! I will talk to you (virtually) face to face tomorrow!!!!
Merry Christmas, dearest family. How I wish I could sit on the couch with you tonight and sing the Nativity Story song and read Luke 2 with the Christmas tree lighted, and listen to Manheim Steamroller`s Silent Night, and watch the grandkids wake up tomorrow, and talk with Hope and Carrie and Mom and dad, and visit with Neal and hang out with him. But thankfully we will be together for eternity, and so it`s ok that I`m in Paraguay with the wonderful children of God here for one Christmas. I know with all my heart God wants me to be here, and for that reason you couldn`t pay me to be home for Christmas this year. I miss you so much but am also sooooo deeply grateful to be a missionary.
Striving for peace on earth and good will towards men,