Hola hola hola
Natalie and PJ–CONGRATULATIONS!!! I love your little baby girl. I love her. I love you. I’m so grateful that everything went well and all are well and safe and healthy. Families are forever, and so so beautiful. I send my warmest welcome and love to that little girl. She will be well loved and looked after in her mortal adventure.
Happy Thanksgiving! Last week I hardly realized that it was the following day. Life is such a blur recently….a good blur. I find myself trying to slow down the clock so I can step back and enjoy the magic of it all, but, alas, time speeds on and here we are left to watch the wonder it leaves behind. So with that, I send my Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We had a wonderful one. It was with an English family, so that was weird. Ha! It was so fancy and traditional and delicious and…patriotic, even. As I sat there enjoying the Caffaro family and their DELICIOUS food, I realized that it was my third year of missing Thanksgiving at home. And I thought of you all and missed you for a minute, and then realized how grateful I should be that I have a family and a home to miss.
Before dinner, they have a tradition of singing the Thanksgiving Hymn and reading a short story about the pilgrims–who celebrated the five kernels of corn they had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner their first year or so (or more?) after arriving in the Americas. And with those five kernels of corn, they truly lived in thanksgiving daily. “Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.”
We had a total miracle, too, with Oscar and Cristina and Yesica and Hugo this week. We saw Oscar and Cristina on Wednesday night and, after asking about Thanksgiving, realized that they had no plans to do anything. With that in mind, we shot a text to a family in our ward–Brother Ashworth (who Cristina and particularly Oscar have gotten to know and love)–and just gave him Oscar’s phone number and asked to invite them over for Thanksgiving. It was such short notice, we didn’t know if anything would end up happening. We didn’t hear anything and were a little bummed thinking that nothing played out.
On Sunday, Brother Ashworth saw us in the hall and quickly said, “Thanks for the text,” before rushing to class. What did that mean…? Later, we found out that he had called Oscar and invited them over. And on top of that, Yesica and Hugo came, and the two couples brought their kids, and they had an AMAZING time at the Ashworth’s and played Pictionary and games and talked and laughed. When I heard that, my eyes welled up with tears at seeing the quiet kindness of the Ashworths. They hadn’t texted back and explained everything or worn that invitation of their sleeve or anything. It was just casual and simple and so so much fun. So so effective and kind and, more than anything, powerful to me. As a missionary looking at it, I feel overwhelming gratitude for them and that invitation. And looking ahead, I will for SURE be inviting people over for holidays and Sunday dinners and anything, really. Have an open door…that really is such a simple thing and means so much and goes so far. That is what I admire most about our dear cousins the Saunders. Neighbors and friends and family and ward members and so forth are all coming over all the time. The door is open, and there is usually a cookie or two offered to everyone that walks through that door. Talk about warmth and missionary work. Building and edifying where you stand.
My heart is full as I reflect all the doors that have been opened to me both on and off my mission. It’s been my leaders and friends and friends’ parents and families and teachers that have had that open door that’s made the biggest impact on my life. I’m so grateful for them, and I am excited to pay it forward everyday of my life.
Have I told you about Isabel? She is a 93 year old Jamaican woman with whom we meet and teach, and who is getting ready for baptism. WOW. NINETY THREE YEARS OLD. She has been coming to church for the past three weeks and is a star! So sharp and funny…so kind. We are excited for her baptism, though I’ll admit that I am also a little terrified because she is so small (4 ft. some 8 or 9 inches, must be…) and old and fragile. She sure is a go-getter, though. She has to read the large print Book of Mormon, and it is several pounds. It warms my soul to come over and see her sitting there with that giant book on her lap reading. Trying to understand and find her Jesus. I love dear Isabel. On Saturday we taught about the word of wisdom and law of chastity. On Monday, after talking about baptism and clearing up some questions, she got quiet and looked at us, and then asked, “OK, so about this black tea and coffee. What is so bad about it that I can’t drink it?” I love her thick Jamaican accent. We talked about it and before we knew it, she went to the kitchen and gave us her little bottle of coffee grounds. She said it would be hard, but she wants to obey God. “And I know He will help me if I pray, cause He always does…..yes, ma’am.”
We saw her the next day and she said she missed it. But she would be ok and keep going.
Excited for December. So excited for this month and Christmas. The “A Savior is Born” video came out this week and it is beautiful. Did you see that it is kids that are teaching and talking and bringing the spirit? Kids who know and love their savior. KIDS. You kids–can I still say us, kids?–really have power. We have the Spirit! And we can share it better than anyone.
So let’s do it.
Love love love. Oh, so much. Especially the new arrival. Welcome.