I hope everyone had great Thanksgivings! We sure did. It was perfect. We love the Duke family! We wish we could come back for Christmas.
On Thanksgiving, the Square was closed from 12-6 so Sister Duke came and picked us up at12:15 and brought us back at 6:30, so we had all day spent with their family! They have 4 sons, and about 15 grandkids. 3 of the sons and about 12 grandkids were there for Thanksgiving. They were all just so nice and way funny, we just felt like part of the family! Sister Duke took our pictures and printed them out so we could have gratitude pages to share with the rest of the family. We wrote what we are thankful for and shared it with everyone. We got to help her prepare dinner and talk with them about their family and their missionary work. They are going to leave on a mission in June. She had so much food prepared! There was everything you could imagine on the table. We got so much food and somehow managed to eat it all (missionaries can't leave anything on their plates!) Then when it was time for dessert, they piled up our dessert plates and I thought I was going to be sick. Really though, I was contemplating making myself throw up I was so full haha but I couldn't do it because it tasted so good! After dinner, they drove us back with a bag full of leftovers! We've been eating them all week. It was such a great Thanksgiving!
The Christmas season has officially started on Temple Square! it's been a little dysfunctional so far haha it seems like no one was ready for Christmas this year or something....The nativity didn't work the first night, and all the crowds were super upset. Then the AV people didn't put a microphone by the Christus so the sisters had to run and get one in the mission office. Plus they have choirs this year on risers with microphones singing in the lobby of the North Visitor's Center with chairs set up for an audience so that combined with the He is the Gift (i will share more later!) things going on, and the line for the Christus, lost kids, and people coming in and out, it is super hard for us to do missionary work, no one can even hear us when we speak. But, Heavenly Father always provides a way! We got to have a shift at the Christus on Saturday, and I really just love that! For that shift, Sister Asay and I were at the bottom with the rope, cutting off the groups as they went up to the Christus. It was way fun to talk with everyone. People would be super upset because they waiting in line and then they would get cut off right before they went up, but then we would just talk with them and get to know them and they'd be happy when it was their time to go up! After all, people are about to go see Jesus, how can they be upset? That's why I love Christmas so much. Even though it's been a little crazy trying to work everything out, it's' all good because it's the season of Jesus Christ. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, especially in the visitor's centers! But it's been super cool to see all the things that the church has done with He is the Gift.
A guy from the Missionary Department came and gave a training about how we can best use He is the Gift.He told us all about what the church is doing to get the word out about it and whoa, it's crazy! The church bought about 6 HUGE billboards in times square in NYC and others in LA. They also bought the front page of YouTube. They fixed up 2 walls in the North Visitor's Center with the He is the Gift red color and nativity scene on the wall and hung a TV to play the video all day. They replaced the New Testament Paintings in the NVC with still shots from the Bible Christmas videos. They also redid a section in the South Visitor's center in the same reddish orange color and picture with he is the gift. Then there's mormon.org and the Ensign for December. We have boxes and boxes of the pass-along cards and he taught us how we should share it with everyone. It's a pretty huge campaign! The coolest thing is that it was all designed by Elder Bednar and Elder Nelson. So inspired!
To be honest, I wasn't super impressed with the video but I liked it the more I watched it. It has a really great message, but I was comparing it to Because of Him, the one that came out in Easter, and I liked that one more. But I really love the message of He is the Gift, and I think it's great for member missionary work and self improvement. It is really cool to show to members and ask them what gift they are going to give to the Savior this year. There are so many reasons why this church is just so cool. Haha.
Well Paul turned a little sour this week :( He texted us on Tuesday, sharing some things he learned on anti-websites and said that he understood why we told him to stay on lds websites because they made him sad. But he didn't stop. He kept going on anti websites and began to text us what he was "learning." He said some pretty bad things about the church and things that we won't go into detail about. But we sent him a really long text reminding him of what he had felt earlier in the week, how the Holy Ghost had testified to him of truth and how he had felt that light of knowledge and truth from God. We told him how God has been speaking to him through the Holy Ghost and how his life has changed since he started learning more from us and through the Book of Mormon. We reminded him that God really loves and knows him, and wouldn't give him that confirmation through the Holy Ghost just to rip it apart days later through new information that brought darkness and confusion into his life. God doesn't work like that. He wants us to be happy but He also wants us to trust him. We told him to pray and ask God for truth and to help him find the light. He didn't really respond but on Sunday he texted us and said that he went to Sacrament meeting with a question in his heart, and it was answered. He really liked the meeting because they talked about serving others, and his question was answered through a scripture I guess, and he was told that he needs to trust God, not man. Which is what he was doing. So he is looking up! I want to share with him sometime today or tomorrow something I've learned. Technology and the internet can crash, books can burn, people can die, but confirmations and feelings from the Holy Ghost are infinite and eternal. He's existed from the beginning of time and will exist for eternity. A true testimony from the Holy Ghost never fails. Sometimes, because we are imperfect beings, we can forget that confirmation, and that's okay. Heavenly Father understands. All He asks is that we ask for that confirmation again, and He is more than willing to give it to us! Just like is says in 3rd Nephi 27: "And verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you.Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened." As we put our lives in harmony with the truth, the Lord increases our light and understanding. It's like a math equation haha but Heavenly Father really loves us. He will always answer our prayers through the Holy Ghost. Just like it says in D&C: "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?" Those moments that we get to feel the Holy Ghost are so sacred and we should do all we can to not only act with real intent, but live in a way that we can gain more light and knowledge through the Holy Ghost. That's why this church is so awesome, because it's the only one where we can be baptized by water, AND fire through the Gift of the Holy Ghost!
I got to see Chenwei! I will attach pictures. He is doing so good. He came for Thanksgiving because he got time off of school, and because he is from China, he doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving and so coming to Salt Lake was a perfect vacation for him. He really enjoyed it and it was so good to see him!
A couple days ago when we were opening the square (we open all the buildings), we saw this guy with his huge dog walking on Temple Square. I stopped to tell him he can't have his dog there, but that he could go on the other side, and we all got to talking. His name is Ethan and he was here for a book tour, he write books about something to do with the number 4. Eventually it turned into a Gospel conversation and we were able to give him a Book of Mormon which he was way excited to read. We're gonna teach him more about it and why it is so important.
Later that day, we were stationed on a desk, and this Philipino family walked by. I started talking with them and turns out the dad met with missionaries in the 1980's and read the Book of Mormon but never got baptized. We talked about the Book of Mormon and the LDS church and beliefs, and I guess I was a little too bold for him because he became totally uninterested in the conversation and began to roll his eyes. But his wife became very interested in the conversation. She really wanted to know how she could go to the temple so her family could be together forever. She ended up taking a Book of Mormon back home to San Francisco and she wants us to call her to teach her more! Hopefully her husband;s heart will be softened so they can all learn together! It has been my dream to find a family to teach since the beginning of the mission; I have been thinking about it a lot recently, so it was so cool to have this opportunity!
Oh man I have to tell you about our last Preparation day...it was so crazy. We were dealing with a ton of things all day, phone calls back and forth, trying to arrange things, all while trying to email. Then we went to get some lunch, and I realized I left my missionary debit card in my coat back home. So Sister Asay paid for mine and I decided I would get the groceries after we stopped to pick up my card. Well we got it and I got back in the car and had it in my mouth while I was driving. I realized how gross that is because there must be so many germs on a debit card so I put it in the console in between the seats. I got out of the car when we got to Walmart and then remembered I needed my card so I went to grab it, and after looking for a little while realilzed it fell underneath the little drawer of the console, and fell back way underneath like where the AC is. We realized it was impossible to reach after trying for almost an hour. By this time, our time with the car was up so we only had time to go in and get the bare necessities with other funds. It was such a stressful day we were so bummed! I realized I'd probably have to get another card which would take weeks. Well, the next day, Elder Moore (he and his wife are the mission secretaries) came and helped us. He unscrewed some things, stuck his head in some crevices and used some weird tool and got it out of the abyss! Hallelujah haha we were so happy. Then that day just went super awesome and we had s many miracles. Long story short, sometimes we have to pass through storms to get to the rainbow!
Well I just can't believe this is the last week of the Transfer. It really is just going by so fast.
Today we had to wash the car so we were coming out of the COB garage and while we were stopped at the light, we looked over and Elder Perry was waiting to cross the street in front of us! So we rolled down our windows and said Hi Elder Perry! And as he crossed the street, he waved and said, wow a car full of ya, huh? Well, don't drive too fast! Haha and gave one of his big cheesy smiles. He is so cute!! Crossing the street all spry at 90 years old. Haha.
Okay now that I have written the biggest email ever, it's time to go. Sister Asay and I are going to get cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory for our last week together!
Thanks for all the support and prayers sent my way, I hope you have a great week!