Dear family and friends,
It was the best to hear from so many of you! And to see and talk to you my family the other day! An awesome Christmas, I do say! I hope the rest of the holiday was excellent and that everyone ate too much! We certainly ate too much here. Brazilians know how to eat—that is a fact.
This month was the awesome opportunity to celebrate Christmas as a missionary—which means really focusing on the life of Jesus Christ. That has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve been filling out an advent calendar (sent from home) with scriptures about of the life of Christ, one scripture for each day. That was a great part in keeping my thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas, and I was able to understand a little better the importance of why we celebrate the birth of the Savior. And able to serve a little better because of that gift.
The actual day's celebration here was a little different than the traditional Christmas at home: on Christmas Eve we missionaries went to a church member’s house here and had mission permission to stay at their house until midnight as is the custom here in Brazil.
We arrived at the member’s house at 9pm, when we usually are just getting ready to wrap up the day. While walking there, there were horns and fireworks going off, and people running in the streets, and it was like unto a war zone haha. Kinda crazy actually! We had a giant churrasco (barbeque) at Irmã Sandra’s house. There was linguiça (!), meats of assorted types including chicken as well. Mmmm, animal protein. We were all pretty wiped out, but we pushed through the tired and ate like champions. I was quite stuffed. When it was midnight, there were even more fireworks and all sorts of crazy noises that I don’t know what they were. It was awesome! We then went home and had the blessing of sleeping in a little—a mission gift. We normally wake up at 6:30 everyday. Woot! Christmas day we spent with members as well; 10am we went to the ward (congregation) Mission Leader’s house to have breakfast with lots of delicious things. Clayton (ward mission leader is preparing to go on a mission as well. Diogo was also there, and so was Jota Silva. They are all great people, and help us so much with missionary work in this area. We ate well. We then had lunch with a member, and later had more dinner ... and were completely filled.
Ha, and yes, I was ready to get back to work.
Christmas was also one of the two days per year that we can skype with our families! Elder Amâncio and I used the computers of the bishop here, Bishop Alan Cardoso. Skyping was awesome and it was the best to see and talk and laugh with family. Honest, it was hard to say goodbye after the allotted one hour, but Mother’s Day is coming soon.
Thank you to everyone who sent me letters over the holidays—that was awesome! Thank you so much for the time you put into sending me cards and notes and jokes and letters, stories, photos and a peanut Santa Clause, santa socks, a handmade Minion hat and Walker’s shortbread, socks and candy and ties. I’m so grateful for all of you! I felt the love.
My spiritual thought for the week is in D&C 76:22: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives.”
Christ lives! We celebrate His birth because through Him we can live too. And that is the gift of Christmas—true joy.
I love you! I wish you all a Happy New Year bringing joy to people around you,
|Elders Vasconcelos, Amâncio, Vera and me|
|Elder Amâncio, me, Diogo Jones at the Christmas Eve churrasco|
Christmas breakfast (photo courtesy Diogo Jones)