Christmas has indeed proved a time of being Christ centered for me. For the first time ever, I honestly didn't care what I did or did not get but what I could give, regardless of the size of my offering. Elder Marsh and I have done a small little Christmas shopping for our investigators, to show that we appreciate them. We made some cookies as well. The cookies didn't turn out as great as I may have wanted, but they were all right. We anticipate people might appreciate the thought more than the cookies themselves.
Christmas, in a whole, was wonderful. I enjoyed every little bit of it, and we all had a lot of fun and opportunity to get to know some of our investigators on a different level end they us. There were also so many wonderful members that also made Christmas a wonderful experience for us by getting some small Christmas stuff that they they thought we could use. We had Christmas dinner, SEVERAL TIMES and I was asked to carve the turkey. I thought "They spent hours preparing this wonderful meal that they enjoy only once a year and they ask ME to carve it??? I took a long look at the turkey. I really didn't want the responsibility and I didn't want to ruin their Christmas meal with the next chance a whole year away. The turkey both looked and smelled as perfect as possible for a turkey at Christmas and I finally thought: This will taste great no matter how I cut it. I still don't know the right way to carve a turkey, but every last bite of it tasted fabulous.
The weather here has been perfect weather for Christmas. It finally got down to -10° Celsius (14° Fahrenheit) again today while it was averaging in between -2° and +1° Celsius before, which isn't cold at all! I finally had a WHITE Christmas again, it probably snowed every day all through Christmas! This meant of course that there were plenty of opportunities to serve by shoveling driveways. Needless to say, my body is sore now.
Something that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to see the movie "Joy to the World." I have lost count of how many times we've seen it but the message has sunk in by now, I hope. I am grateful for Christmas and more importantly the spirit of Christmas, which essentially is the spirit of Christ. Remembering Christ should never be necessary, if we never forgot Him in the first place. So many things in our lives are impacted by the degree that we manage to retain, nourish and nurture that spirit so that it stays with us all year round. The world would be full of better and more unified families and packed with tightly knit caring friends.
You can't be much of a missionary without Christ-like love (charity) and I have so much to learn about just that. As missionaries we are in a very privileged situation, allowing us to focus all of our available time and attention on serving God, remembering Him in all we do to always keep His Spirit with us. It's the only way to truly represent the Lord and it leaves you with an absolutely GREAT feeling. That is why we are here and that is what we do. It is our calling as missionaries to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. But everywhere around us are people struggling with everyday lives, problems and obstacles that can be not only difficult, but sometimes overwhelming. How different people handle different problems in life varies from person to person; I am not in their shoes and I don't think I would last long if I was. Yet it is so easy to judge things from afar, although I know I have no right to judge. I am to love unconditionally, share my testimony and teach the gospel, then the Lord in time will judge me and those around me. The gospel holds the directions for accessing God's help and mercy and I know that we have all been promised that if we stay close to the Lord, He will stay close to us. With God by our side, we will never have to face bigger challenges in life than we can handle, WITH HIS HELP. Life can take your breath away, but is anything too hard for the Lord?
Happy New Year, love y'all.
Elder Lee Jepsen