I just want you to know that I had an awesome christmas!! Christmas eve was really hard but the next day was so so so good. We didnt have class so that was good, and it was literally the most beautiful day. The sun was shining and I got to spend time outside and with my old district, and we are all super close and a lot of us felt the same homesickness so it helped a lot to spend time with them. I just kept noticing how beautiful it was outside and we got to play volleyball and enjoy it. I also got to spend time reading scriptures and really reflect on the life of the savior. Although I wished I was home with you guys, it was honestly one of the best christmases I´ve had and I felt so close to my heavenly father and it just made me so happy and put me in such a good mood. I think the main thing I was sad about was that I didnt get to call home, especially when im only a few days from being in the field where I could have called home. But it´s okay because I really wasnt sad at all on christmas, so dont feel bad I was actually really really happy. I read about the saviors life and his atonement and I just felt such and immense overpowering sense of love and gratitude, more than I´ve ever felt on christmas, and I think that being away from all the tinsel and materialism that normally clouds my vision during the christmas season is the only thing that truly allowed me to feel the TRUE spirit of CHRISTmas. I´m so grateful for this Christmas, and I don´t think I´ll forget it and I know I won´t look at Christmas the same again.
We also had an AMAZING christmas day devotional from Elder Bednar from the quorum of the twelve apostles. It was the best christmas present ever. He dad something a little different and it was really great. He handed out a bunch of cell phones to all the missionaries at the MTC and had the missionaries at foreign mtc´s email in questions that we had for him. Anything we wanted to ask, and he spent the hour answering them. It was amazing hearing him speak so frankly and unscripted, but everything he said was so spiritually powerful which strengthened my testimony that he truly is called of God.
One question he answered was "What is the most important thing you learned on your mission?" He said that he learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has two prominent parts: The cleansing power and the strengthening power. We all know of the cleansing power of the atonement and we teach that we can all be cleansed from our sins, but oftentimes we overlook the strengthening power of the atonement. This means that even if we are not directly sinning, our efforts will always be insufficient and short of perfection. Entonces we need to understand that we can ALWAYS rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ to strengthen us and become better. Yes the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made is for sinners who need to be cleansed, but also for disciples who are trying to become saints. Another cool thing he said was that a lot of people fall in to the trap of thinking that it´s okay to sin because you ccan just repent and be cleansed again. This is false because thinking this way has completely disregarded the strengthening power of the atonement. If you are always spending time in the cleaners working to become cleansed, that is precious time that you are losing which could have been used refining yourself and slowly progressing toward our eternal and great potential. Pretend there is a jar full of black sand that has a hole at the top and the bottom that is large enough to fit exactly one grain of sand. If you push one grain of white sand in the jar and one grain of black sand pops out the other end, what happens? Is the jar going to look significantly different? No. But is the physical makeup of the sand in the jar going to be different? well Yes. Praying or repenting one time is not going to make us any different. However, if we continue dilligently to push in white sand one grain at a time, through daily prayer, scripture study, serving and loving others, keeping the commandments, and thinking good thoughts, slowly but surely that jar is going to be nothing but pure white sand. Becoming saints is not going to happen all in one day. It is a lifelong process and something that can only be done with the strengthening power of the atonement.
One other question someone asked is "is it more important to serve my companion or the investigators that I´m teaching?" Elder Bednar stated that they are both equally important. I think of the way the savior treated his disciples and it all makes sense to me. My companions deserve to have a good companion. They deserve to be loved, cared for, and served. He said that the best quality that a missionary can possibly have is to forget themselves. When you are not always thinking about "me me me" you´re going to forget that you´re away from homé, that you´re sweating buckets in the jungle, that your companion gets on your nerves, and that you´re eating weird food. This is not my mission, this is the Lord´s mission and I am a vessel carrying the spirit to help the people of Peru. Being a missionary is SO sweet. It´s LO MAXIMO!!! (Slang I learned from the latino missionaries)
Anyway, In the end I had a really great Christmas and I´m really happy.
Latino district is awesome and challenging. I get SOOOO much more out of my lessons and the teachers are so so good. I leave for Iquitos on Tuesday. ((CANT WAIT!!!!))
Peace and Love,