For as long as I can remember, I have woken up at 5AM Christmas morning with the anticipation of the day's planned festivities!! Sadly, I had to break that tradition this year, and I woke up at 6:30AM. The morning and afternoon were a normal 'missionary day' filled with studies and teaching (yes, surprisingly there were people who let us come teach them on Christmas day! Mostly investigators that we had already taught a few times and were preparing to be baptized). All day long, Sister East and I were counting down the hours until our phone call home to talk to our families. I was way excited because this was going to be my first phone call home after 8 months! At 5:00 we called it a day, 'took off the badge' (figuratively speaking), and booked it to Elder and Sister Petrie's house to make the phone call home! I would just like to take this opportunity right now and give a shout out to modern technology!!! SKYPE!!! What a miracle! GOOGLE HANGOUT!!! What a blessed people we are to have such technology!!! Talking to my family was by far the BEST part about my Christmas in Brazil, but the festivities continued! Elder and Sister Petrie had made a ham, funeral potatoes, and a great fruit salad! I provided the dessert, a real apple crisp with American brown sugar! It was food fit for the gods! After our Christmas dinner, we opened our 'secret santa' gifts to each other. I had Elder Williams, and had bought him a cactus. When I passed by the little cactus on the street the spines reminded me so much of Elder Williams' hair that I couldn't resist the urge to buy it for him! It was interesting to watch him open it - 'Ow!...what the?...ow!... what is in here?!' hehehehe! I think he liked it!
This past week, we have been teaching a young girl named Joyce. Our first lesson with her was AMAZING!! She understood what the apostasy was and why we needed a restoration. However, when we returned to follow up, she replied that she had read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, but had not received an answer yet. I had her open up to the part we had left for her to read in the Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21-28, and said, "Let's suppose that the very first time we talked to you, we planted a 'seed' within your heart. Now, in order to know whether this 'seed' is a good seed, this verse here tells us that it should grow within us. From the first time that we taught you until now, do you feel like this 'seed' has grown within you, or died?" Joyce thought for awhile, and then replied, "I think it has grown." I then explained to her that this was an answer to her prayer that what we were teaching her was true! As I thought about my response, I began to think about the 'gospel seed' within me and within each of us. Our testimonies of the Gospel is not a one time deal. Our testimonies are very much like seeds. We need to continue to nourish our testimonies, or they will die. One of the major themes of the Book of Mormon is to 'remember'! King Benjamin pleads with his people, "I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance the greatness of God...and now o man, remember, and perish not!" (Mosiah 4:11,30) Alma also exhorts his people, "and if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" Alma's words, "can ye feel so now," are powerful. Our testimonies should be growing and strengthening everyday. We should be remembering and applying the principles of the Gospel in our lives everyday! The word 'remember' is essential in our lives. We need to always remember the importance of the scriptures, the necessity of daily prayer, the power of the atonement, etc. When we 'remember' and continue to 'feel so now' our testimonies will never die!