Florida is my jam. It’s hard to say whether or not I will ever leave here, I think I’m in love.
We have a lot of meetings and so much studying in the morning, we usually don’t leave the house until about noon. That surprised me. Like I said in the last e-mail, we’re living in Ponte Vedra and are about a five minute drive to the beach….which we still haven’t seen. Hoping to finish up this e-mail quickly so we can go before our appointment at 6. A lot of the work that we do here is Less Active (LA) work. We have a giant map in our apt of our area with green dots for active (A) members and yellow dots for LA’s. the LA’s number the A’s at least by 60% It is so sad. So we are just visiting people all day every day trying to get them to come back to church. & sometimes it works!
This week’s miracle happened last night. We had been walking around sharing the He Is the Gift video with everybody and anybody who would listen (which weren’t a lot of people), Sister Pasko has the flu and although she’s stubborn and goes out every single day anyway, she usually starts losing her momentum around 7:30. It was about 7:45, we had just stopped by another person’s house that didn’t want to talk about Christmas with us and we were about to go home so she could get some extra sleep, when a dog ran out of nowhere and started running around us! Her owner (a young woman in 20’s) came from behind a a car and said she was so sorry and that she never runs away like that. She struck up a conversation with us & she was totally 100% genuine and interested in what we were doing. (As a preface, young, white, affluent, normal people rarely want to talk to us so this was all really exciting) We talked about her job with non profit organizations and were about to share the video with her when her fiance pulled into the driveway. It turns out he is a local musician and just got done playing a show. He invited us inside so we could watch the video on the big screen. We started talking and I had never felt more comfortable in a stranger’s house in my entire life. They are both people that I would totally hang out with in real life. They wanted to hear all about what we were doing. We bore our testimony’s about God’s love for us (as he lit up a cigarette) and told them why we’re doing what we’re doing and why the sacrifice’s we’re making for the next 18 months are worth it. When we talked about being away from our families for so long she started tearing up & it was a really incredible moment where four people that just met were sharing love and energy and testimony and feelings and everything. She REALLY wanted to read the Book of Mormon, so we left one with her. They were sad when we had to go and force fed us the most delicious chili & she didn’t let me leave without taking her spaghetti sauce from Trader Joe’s. Ashley & Charlie are both leaving this week for a trip until the start of the new year, but they were both really excited when we told them that we would still be here in the area when we get back. We talked about how grateful she was that her dog ran into the middle of the street and we talked about how grateful we were that we didn’t go home early. We were able to help her recognize God’s hand in that. Whether they decide to accept the gospel into their lives or not, it was a huge reminder to me of how special we all are to God. For the first time since I’ve been out, I really felt like there is maybe a reason that I specifically am out here. There are people here that I really connect with and sometimes they are going to want to listen to me like Charlie & Ashley did. They learned from us & I was able to learn from them as well. It was a truly incredible experience.
Now. A few people have been asking me what I want for Christmas and I am here to tell you the answer to that question. This is for every single person that ever reads this & it’s really important to me, so I hope you do it.
Please invite a family, or couple, or single person over to your home the next week or two. They need to be someone who doesn’t have the light of Christ in their life and that probably won’t have a spiritual experience this Christmas without your help. Invite them over for a Christmas themed night where you pray and read the Christmas stories and play games and eat cookies and sing Christmas songs around the piano. Take some time to pull up the He Is The Gift video and share that with them. Share your testimony in a not so formal way about what Christmas means to you. Help them feel the Christmas spirit.
All I want for Christmas is for you to spend quality time with the ones you love. Listen to inspiring Christmas music & really pray together. Do service together & share the gospel of Christ together. Love each other for me since I can’t be there to do it myself. After you’ve done this, spend a few minutes writing down your experiences and please share them with me. For Christmas, I want to hear about those experiences.
And for bonus points, you can invite the missionaries over for an evening to share a message with you and decorate Christmas cookies with you. Because I bet they really miss their families & I bet they really wish that someone would invite them over to do stuff like that. Maybe even invite them over for Christmas or Christmas Eve because I can guarantee that they’d rather be with a family that they don’t know than by themselves.
I’m grateful to be here at such a special time of year when people’s hearts are a little softer & when there is such an incredible message to share with everyone.