Wednesday, January 15, 2014

12/22/13 Merry Christmas

MerrChristmas! I don't know that it will ever truly feel like Christmas here in the Philippines, but I am trying my best to feel the Christmas spirit! I can hardly wait for the phone call home and to open that package from home! Hopefully it will feel like Christmas then! This week I have really been trying to focus all of my studies and thoughts toward the true meaning of Christmas and why we really celebrate this holiday. Thus I have been focusing on Christ. For our Christmas mission conference this past week we had to prepare 2 talks and then were randomly chosen (thankfully I wasn't chosen, but I actually enjoyed the preparation). The topics were: 1. What is a missionaries gift to Christ and 2. What is Christ's gift to missionaries. I am thankful for all the gifts Christ has given me, but something I have been so thankful for lately is his example. I know how to live my life and I have goals of who I want to be because of Christ's example for me. My life has purpose and direction because I have a perfect example to follow and someone to pattern my life after. I am eternally grateful for that. I thought about what I could ever give to Christ as a missionary that would be enough compared to what he has done for me. There really is nothing that could ever compare, but I think we can all just give him our hearts. We can try our best to align our will with his and do the things he would do if he were here. We can serve other people. I am so thankful for this time of year to reflect upon Christ and especially here on the mission when just about every aspect of Christmas that I have ever known is taken away. It has really given me the opportunity to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. 

The other day we taught one of our investigators. Let's call her scrooge. We go up to her house and the first thing we say is "Maligayang Pasko" (Merry Christmas) and she immediately starts going on about how she has no money so it won't be Christmas because there won't be gifts- so of course we changed our lesson plan and talked about the true meaning of Christmas. It was amazing to see the change in her face. At the end of the lesson she was smiling and said that we were right- she has many reasons to celebrate and be happy this Christmas! When we left she said "Maligayang Pasko" with a big giant smile on her face. 

So backing up...this week we went to the Legazpi Mission Christmas Conference. All of the missionaries in the entire mission were there and it was craziness! SO many missionaries, but SO much fun! It was so good to see everyone! All the zones did Christmas performances. It was halarious. We remixed Joy to the World. haha it was a disaster. It was at the Legazpi chapel (my old ward) and all the youth were there getting ready to go on a temple trip. There were 3 of them from less active families that I helped to reactivate and I was almost crying seeing them now getting ready to go to the temple! It really was amazing to see! 

So work this week was alright. It was limited because of traveling to the mainland for the Christmas conference, but we were still able to teach a little bit. Not the best week for work though, we got ripped 30 times in one day...probably a record. People are busy spending time with family or just not home this time of year. We had an awesome lesson with our investigator Marilyn though. She is cruising right through the Book or Mormon and said her New Year's goal is to go to Church every week! Then there is Roeal...I don't really want to talk about it. He made me cry, and not in a good way. I am hoping our next lesson will be better though.
This week we also had our branch Christmas Party. I love Filipinos. Just give them some music and some simple games and they go NUTS. Kids and adults. I literally just sat and watched them and laughed for a good 2 hours. I love how they can just have fun and enjoy being with each other no matter what they are doing. So funny. 
Earlier today we had our district activity, which was awesome! We went to this beach resort and it was beautiful! We played some game like dodgeball, did kartwheels, and attempted to climb coconut trees.
I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas! Know that I am so happy here and I really feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to have so many cool experiences here in the Philippines! I can't imagine not being where I am right now and I am so thankful for what my mission is doing for my life! I love you all!

-Sister Gardner

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