Craciun Fericit! Penru ca avem Darul Cel Mai Bun! (Merry Christmas! We have the best gift!)
Buna, draga familia si prietene! (Hello, dear familly and friends!) Craciun Fericit! (Merry Christmas!) Nu pot sa cred ca Craciun este in patru zile si transfer va fi terminat! (I can't believe that Christmas is in four days and that the transfer will be over! But I'm so happy I'll get to spend Christmas here in Iasi, I love this city so much! It's so beautiful and there are so many good people here.
This has been a wonderful week! Sora Cutler is amazing, I don't what I did to deserve such an amazing companion, but her courage and optimism is such a gift to me and to the mission! We have been leaving gifts anonymously at members' doorsteps; it's so great to bring even a little Christmas joy to the people that I've come to care about so deeply. We've been able to share the "A Savior is born" with so many people, it's so wonderful being able to share with people that our Father in Heaven loved us so much He gave us the first gift of Christmas: Jesus Christ. We were able to share it with a less-active member named Silvia, a wonderfully kind family given to us as a referral from the wife's brother ( a young man adopted and living in America), and even with a group of young kids who live near the church. We also met with Elena and Alexandra, they read the Book of Mormon chapter we asked! We read the Bible and Book of Mormon Christmas stories with them, they enjoyed it and we invited them to read another chapter.
I loved Zone Conference, getting to Zone Conference was quite an adventure, we usually take a maxi taxi (a kind of van/taxi), but this time the Browns drove us. We thought it was at the church, and we were finally able to find it, only to find out it was somewhere else and we had no cell phone or Internet access and no map. We said a prayer and then Sora Cutler and I borrowed a dentist office secretary's phone to call one of the senior couples, who helped guide us to the Church's resource center. I'm so thankful that we were helped to find it, because it was wonderful! I loved what President Ivory said about having a long-term vision but making short and medium-term goals, looking ahead but also improving one step at a time. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and what Elder Dyches said about how inviting our investigators will help them become agents, not objects. I've also been thinking about gifts. Christmas is whithout a doubt a time for gifts- gifts to our family, friends, and most importantly, to our Heavenly Father and Savior. A short, simple poem I have loved reading with my family ever since I was little talks about gifts a child who wishes they had more they could give to the Savior, but then ends with: "What can I give Him? I'll give Him my heart." But why, when the Savior has given us every thing, all He asks for is our heart? It seems so small, so confusing, until you look at it in another way. President Monson once said, "He who gives of Himself gives all." I think about what Sora Ivory said about us becoming like the Wise Men who followed the star to Christ. They wanted to worship Him, because they loved Him and wanted to give their best to Him. In 3 Nephi 9:20, the Savior asks that we give Him our broken hearts as a sacrifice. And I am learning that we are giving our best to Christ when we give Him our Hearts: a broken, open, selfless, loving heart. And when we do, we become agents because we are choosing to follow Him and in return, He gives us the greatest gift of all: Himself. His peace, His healing, His loving Atonement which guides us back to Heavenly Father, to home.
I am thankful for Christmas, and although I am far from perfect, I will do all I can to give my heart to Him and to all around me. I am learning that giving our hearts to Christ is giving a new, wonderful gift every time, because love never runs out and we are changing all the time. He can help us become better. I want to invite you all to think of one thing (a characteristic you want to work on, a habit you want to develop, or a goal you want His help to reach) that you will give Christ this Christmas. Even if it's something as simple as Elder Christofferson suggested: " taking time... to sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior’s Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, of your offering, of your life." No matter what you decide to give to Him, when you give it with all your heart, it's the best gift we can give to Christ and to others. He had given us the best gift, I'm going to work hard and give it to Him through serving others. Sper ca aveti o Craciun Fericit pentru ca avem Darul cel mai bun! (I hope you all have a Merry Christmas because we have the best gift!)
O ce veste minunata! (a Romanian Christmas hymn!) :)