It does not feel like Christmas. How sad is that? It is still really hot. I haven't heard Christmas music in a good two days. No one says "Merry Christmas." There are maybe three houses with Christmas lights (and a bonus house that had a glowing Santa Claus on a stick). Despite the sad state of the Yucatan this season, I hold a lot of gratitude in my heart for many things: We are now in a trio with Hermana Corporan — she got here from Campeche last Monday and has ever since been gracing us with her bright, Dominican Republic disposition. She is tiny — literally tiny — with crazy hair and a voice that should be in one of those really good, dramatic movies. We love her a lot and have been grateful to have her with us, even if it is only for the last two weeks of exchanges. We feel the Spirit more in our lessons, and have decided that it is because there are now three witnesses of Christ in one room. I am grateful for her. I also had exchanges for TWO DAYS with Hermana Ellgen #Christmascameearlythisyear. I went to Vicente Solis to work in her area. We bought way too much Mexican bread that I love with Philadelphia cheese, but I justified it with the fact that I will not have this same luxury in three months (WHAT). We sat outside of their apartment building every night because their cell phone doesn't get service in their house and because we had to practice singing over the phone with an elder that was going to play the ukulele with us for the Christmas talent show (more on that later). I am grateful for her friendship that has become a great and eternal one. Other things that made me happy this week:
— seeing a less active from the ward praying along in a Catholic church. We really thought that she was going to come back to church with us. (note: this didn't make me happy, but it was really funny).
— running after a moving bus for literally one calle because I was so determined to have it stop for us. It never did.
— lesson with a recent convert from Vicente Solis that said he didn't believe in life after death because no one had ever come back to life, but then we were like, "um, Christ?" And then we all just started laughing.
— Hermanita Rebeca now wants to be baptized. THIS IS A MIRACLE. She wanted to get baptized in the Catholic church the whollllllllle time we had been teaching her. Then she received a priesthood blessing and everything changed. I am grateful for the power of the priesthood.
— celebrating Christmas with the mission yesterday. It was lovely, seeing all of the people that are now some of my dearest friends, listening to President Garcia and his wife bear their testimonies for the last time with all the missionaries gathered, watching all of the talents (and yes, Hermana Ellgen convinced me to sing with her. We sang "be Still My Soul" with the help of Elder Wasden on the ukulele. Wish I could send the vid, but nothing goes through here). I loved it, celebrating the Christmas season and feeling so whole and well-loved. It was so nice just being there. It reminded me of a quote from an archbishop (don't remember who...) that talked about prayer,
"I think I am trying to grow in just being there. Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter, you are just there in front of the fire, and you don't have to be smart or anything. The fire just warms you."
I have tried to apply that more in my prayers. Instead of talking and talking and saying the same things, I have tried being still, focusing on just being there with God. It has changed my relationship with Him. I feel His presence, His warmth, His love, His very Being. I think that is what He wants that for us — that we can feel of His reality and His desire to be with His children, to really be with Him as if we were there in His heavenly home, if only for a minute.
So, maybe that is my Christmas message to each of you: to focus on just being there, on being still.
Love you mucho mucho mucho and can't wait to talk to you kind of soon!
p.s. I was going to send a lot of photos, but something is happening to the computer and I am too technologically challenged to try to figure it out. Next week!