Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Week 12 - Merry Christmas

This week was Christmas and that means...Christmas Zone Conference! It definitely was the best zone conference yet. Awkward/missionary appropriate games and skits followed by some spiritual enlightenment and Filipino catering. (The elders always love the food part.)

San Jose Sisters
This week I got to pick up my NEW companion, Sister Ricketts from Dayton, Nevada. Straight from the MTC! It's always the first few moments of awkwardness when you get a new companion, but we got over that quickly. My first week as a trainer is definitely the most exhausting. I have a feeling I will just be tired pretty much every day for the next 12 weeks. Not that I haven't already been exhausted every day. Every day as a missionary you constantly evaluate yourself and ask what you could do better. (Usually that list is longer than the list of good things you did that day.) Becoming a trainer, especially when I still feel like a new missionary, I've found that I multiply that list of things I need to do better by 10, and then you factor in no sleep, no eating, just STRESS. Constant stress. Because you realize you don't know what the heck you're doing every day and every hour of the day. I've really realized how real the Atonement is for us. The only way we can get through these trials is if we rely on the Savior's atonement.  I think sometimes in life we just want to run away from hard things because we don't believe in ourselves. But Christ reminds us of who He thinks we are what we can become. Even though it takes some refinement and hard experiences, The Lord knows that these will make us better. The road to discipleship is never easy and never will be but it's worth it. And I only have 12 weeks to help this sister feel of Heavenly Father's love for her.

Branch Christmas Party!
At zone conference we watched The Nativity and it made me think about how Christ really was the epitome of humility, even when he was born. He was born in humble circumstances, to a humble mother, and lived a humble selfless life. Everything about his life was humble and meek. This Christmas, President Peterson reminded us that the only thing we have to really give to Christ is our hearts. I was reminded of the song Consider the Lily's that says, "He will heal those who trust him, and make their hearts as gold." The process by which our hearts become gold is not easy. In fact, it's sometimes even painful. Refining our lives to become more like him is painful. But after all that, Christ promises us to make our hearts as gold. And who wouldn't want a heart of gold, crafted by our Savior? I think that's the most precious kind of gold there is.

CHRISTMAS EVE ROCKED. We ate mac and cheese and some other Filipino dishes that I don't remember the name of or the ingredients in. (I think I've finally gotten over that and just decided not to ask since most of their dishes have either pork or chicken.) Christmas day we skyped our families which was hectic. Actually, everything was just hectic. Cleaning, laundry, etc.---All the normal activities of Preparation Day. But then add running around to all the internet shops trying to find enough cameras to skype. Everyone and their dog is out and about on this day, all trying to go to the same place, LIPA! After we finally were able to skype our families, we went and ate a BOMB dinner with the senior couple missionaries, the one and only Elder and Sister Smith. Potatoes, ham, and veggies! LOVE AMERICAN FOOD. With three American sisters now living together in one house with one Filipina, we were pretty excited to see some of our country's good food.

Even though my Christmas was spent differently this year, I'm more grateful than ever to be
here. I know that through these trials I will be able to become more like Christ, even though it's hard and painful at times I hope that my heart can be crafted into Gold by the Master who knows all things. He knows how to change us if we let him. But we have to let him do what He needs to so we can change. This year I'm giving my heart to Christ and becoming the person He needs me to be in this ever changing world.

Maligayang Pasko Y'ALL and a Happy New Year!

Sister Seastrand

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