Glaedilig Jul, familie!
Just a heads up, I've been sending my e-mails to my lovelyladyluck013 address too. I guess I got your address wrong on the last one, but I'm sending them to your kcstar23 now, as per your request. Please make sure you forward these to Dad, as well as any other letters to the family I send. I want to be sure he's in the loop without having to send duplicates of everything. If possible. Oh, and will you send my letters to the O'Very's so that Katie can get them? Thank you for sending me all those addresses. It might be a little late for Christmas cards, but I'm excited to write them. We gave cards to our teachers and Elders though, so they all came in handy.
Christmas at the MTC has been one to remember. We had a full on surprise Christmas Nativity Pageant last night, and guess who was Mary? Uh huh. Guess when they told me? The night before. They called me out of class and my companions were teasing me about being in trouble. Serves them right. They were assigned to be angels. They'd been scouring the MTC for Mary's and someone had walked past me that morning and seen my name tag. I didn't have to say anything, just move around the stage, sit there looking serene. People around here (people I've never seen in my life) keep calling me Mary. It's kind of become a thing. I can't wait for it to die down with New Years. We also got to watch A Christmas Carol (the George C Scott version) and I've never appreciated or missed the relative maturity of my friends and family so much. Yes, Ignorance and Want are under the robe of Christmas Present. It's a metaphor! Deal with it! I did, however, appreciate when Christmas Future came on screen and half the audience yelled "Expecto Patronum!" Seriously. Half the audience of two thousand missionaries. It was beautiful.
This morning we brought all the Christmas food we'd received and all the chocolate milk and donuts we'd been hording from breakfasts into the common room and had a huge Christmas Breakfast Junkfood Feast Extravaganza with the whole floor - Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, German, Phillipines. Everyone but the Swedes, who decided they'd rather have cereal in the cafeteria. Psh. Swedes. We sat around our tiny little Christmas trees and open all our presents. You'll be pleased to hear that I was well represented under that tree. Thank you for everything! This has been one of my favorite Christmases ever. I could wish for only three things right now - my family, music, and snow.
After Music and the Spoken Word (a Sunday tradition I want to keep up), a surprise apostle came to speak. There was much anticipation and speculation, but as soon as Elder Bednar's name appeared on the screen, the audience broke into cheers. It was one of the best talks I've ever heard. He talked about developing Christlike Character. "The Character of Christ is to turn out in love and compassion when the natural man would turn in." The scriptures are full of examples, like in Matthew 4, the temptation of Christ. See the footnote in verse 11. After all that, he sent the angels to John. After suffering in Gethsemane and all he went through, he still took the effort to heal the guard's ear - his enemy's superficial wound. I would've told him to grow up. Clearly I've got a long way to go. He also taught the difference between having a testimony and becoming conterted to Christ. A testimony isn't enough for anyone. You can still fall witha testimony. But if you have faith in Christ himself, nothing anyone or anything can throw at you will be enough to make you fall away. He sealed an apostolic blessing upon all of us that "According to our desire and diligence, we will learn the character of Christ unto the developing of any gift for which we ask and that in so doing, we will never fall away from the church." Best Christmas present EVER!! It's true of anyone though, I feel.
Ha ha! An elder behind me just wrote something poetic and proclaimed himself a modern day Cassanova. His companion asked, "Uh ... Elder? Do you know who that was?" "Yeah," he said, "some poet dude." Not here, Elder. Not here. Everyone cheered when Bob Cratchet kissed his wife in the movie. Oh dear.
I love you all and can't wait to see you!
O'Very's - Thank you for the fudge and the socks! I'm so excited to wear them! The socks, that is. Not the fudge too.
Katie - Thank you for the unbelievable socks! I've been wearing them all morning and getting lots of compliments. Your long letters and gifts arrived just in time for Christmas (Dec. 23. How lucky is that?). My whole district (even the Elders) have listen to that card a million times. That's only mild hyperbole. Thank you for the music, for giving it to me.
Mom - How was playing the flute? How was Christmas? Can I see any good pictures you took? Did you get snow? Thanks for sending me all those bags! The Mission President's wife here has taken to given motherly hugs to all the sisters whenever she sees us. They're good, but not yours. Oh, and one of my good friends here, Sister Campbell (Norway-bound) is in Grandma and Grandpa's stake! She played with the Pridy (no idea how to spell that) girls too. I've also met the Nally's, who used to be the stake president there. I don't know if you know them, but they know G&G very well.
Greg - Did you get to do the turkey rotisserie this year or did you deep fry it with the ... uh ... I forget whose. I miss real meat!
Katie - I'm so sorry you were that sick! And I wasn't even there to read you Secret Garden. Expect a belated get-well card as soon as they open the mail here. I could only find one without cats. How was the Psych mid-season finale?
William - SatW, please! And maybe an appropriate failblog or two. Or XKCD? I miss real-world humor that isn't based on something the Elders did (though those are always funny. I'll share some in my next e-mail on Wednesday) or the cafeteria food. We did learn some fun Danish ones though. I'll have to teach you when I get back. They're really only funny in person. I wish you could see how perfectly all the districs have already fallen into the cultural stereotypes.
Dad - I'm still dying a little over those last two Dr Who episodes I missed. Quick question - Has George C Scott done any Sherlock Holmes anything? The Swedish elder sitting by me swore he recognized him from something along those lines.
Cheryl - Thank you so much for the photo book. I look being able to see some of my family whenever I want! Thank you for your letter too. That was a fantastic quote. I had to share the cookies and Tiger Butter with the Elders in my district and they greatly appreciated it. It must've taken forever to make all those. Can you send some photos from Christmas?