When I think about this week and what has happened, I think on all the small, special, but very significant moments I had to remember Christ this Christmas. We taught a few really great lessons this week, and I can't deny how much it made me realize how much I actually do enjoy doing what missionaries do. It has its stressful, physical and spiritual demands, but those real moments of true joy make it well worth it. Teaching and listening to investigators this week helped me remember how much I love caring for each one of them individually, and how much the message of the restored gospel means to me. I think everyone has a rough patch here and there, but this Christmas season was a simple time of reflection for me, and what I get to do as a missionary, put a smile on my face and gave me a new reason to be even more cheerful. We can each experience that, too, in our lives. The gospel is meant not only to be discovered once. After all, coming unto Christ is no "happening." It is a process; it requires Godly attributes to achieve and will make the difference in our lives after all. So I thank Heavenly Father for helping me remember to see the great good in everything I do, because there is a lot of it.
It was weird going home after Christmas eve dinner, lying down and then thinking, "Wow, Christmas is tomorrow" and "2015 is shortly coming to a close." We all woke up like normal, Christmas morning, except for Elder Cook. I woke up to the sound of him laying on the couch in the other room, and after listening in silence for a little longer I realized he was definitely feeling "under the weather." Turns out he got a little food poisoning or something in him, so we spent the morning attending to him. At 11 a.m. we departed for the Christmas service. It went well; it was great to just sing lots - the Christmas hymns are great. I also translated, and it was quite an adventure trying to scripture chase my way through Luke and Helaman to follow along with the service. Afterwords, we went to a members' home, ate a wonderful meal, Skyped, and played card games for a little while before going home. Great day!
We had another crazy experience this week talking with an Asian guy, but that will have to wait.
Thank you for everyone who sent me "hands," Christmas cards, and even a Christmas package. It was all well received. Thank you for your loving and kind words. It is great to know I have a fan base back in the States.
The Leiden crew with our appropriate "Star Wars" wrapped presents from wonderful members in Haarlem (Christmas eve).
Minions in Leiden and the office Elders, Cook, Evans and Andrew