Happy Christmas (as they would say in England)! This is a wonderful time of year! Christmas has definitely taken on a new meaning for me this year. I think in the past I might have really tried to focus on Christ but eventually got distracted with presents, parties, etc. But this year I've discovered something new. Every single day on this mission I desperately need the Savior with my every step of the way. I simply cannot accomplish the tasks of the day without His divine help. This has brought me to love Him and want to serve Him even more. And that is the true meaning of Christmas. In reality, we should be remembering the Savior throughout the entire year. But I think it is realistic to expect that after a long hard year, we may have forgotten Him. The purpose of Christmas is to remind us of Christ's Atonement and realign our desires with his, swallow up our will in His will. It's been an amazing experience to see the heavy depression that hit me when I first arrived in England slowly lessen as I put one foot in front of the other with the help of Jesus Christ. My prayers for relief were not immediately answered. But gradually, imperceptibly at times, my burden has been lightened over the past three weeks. I still feel depressed at times, but mostly, with the help of my wonderful trainer Sister Lau, the ward members, the people who are prepared to hear the gospel, and most importantly the Savior, I feel peaceful and happy. It's been an amazing change that I will cherish forever.
This week has been a little light on finding people to teach because Lancaster University is a ghost town due to the Christmas holiday! But the Lord has been so gracious in leading our footsteps down the paths that hold the children of God prepared to hear the gospel. Luckily, due to the expense of the trip back to China, some Chinese students have stayed here in England over the holiday. One of those students is Ken Ho! Ken is amazing. He was already Sister Lau and Sun's investigator when I arrived in England, but it has been so wonderful to keep teaching him with them and get to know him better. Last Saturday was a beautiful day because he was BAPTIZED! I'm so happy for Ken because of the blessings that will come into his life because of the covenant he made with Heavenly Father.
This week I also had my very first exchange! Sister Lau left to work in Wigan for two days and a sister from Wigan came to work with me. Her name is Sister Wolfe. She is an absolutely fantastic missionary and it was so fun to work with her! She had served in Lancaster previously so she helped me so much with the area and in getting to know some less actives here. We had a great time and learned a lot from each other.
In the past week I also had my first tracting experience! In my particular area and University assignment we don't tract very much because street contacting is just more effective. But tracting was actually pretty fun. We met some interesting people to say the least and also met some people who could potentially be really interested in the gospel. :) Sister Lau said it was necessary to document my first time tracting so here is a picture she took in front of the lovely Hala Street.
I'm also really falling in love with the ward here in Lancaster! The members here are so wonderful and have helped me feel more at home. Here are some ladies who came to Ken's baptism. Left to right: Sister Evans, Sister Bolton, me, Sister Kureczko. They are all amazing women!
Sister Kureczko is very musical and has definitely put me to work since arriving in the ward. Two Sundays ago she had me sing in relief society, I sang at the baptism, and last Sunday I sang in Sacrament meeting. It's been wonderful to sing so much! All the numbers have been really last minute and so I probably didn't "perform" as well as I would have liked. But I'm learning that the purpose of a musical number is simply to prepare the hearts of those listening to receive spiritual truths. And if that is accomplished then it was successful. So I've really had to let go of some pride and just be a vessel of the Spirit and not a "performer" necessarily. As I've learned this I feel like the Lord has given me more peace and less nerves before a spur of the moment musical number. :)
I'm so excited for this next week! We have tea (dinner) appointments every single night. At the end of the week I get to go on an exchange to South Ribble with one of the sister training leaders. Also, CHRISTMAS, which means sleeping until(woot woot! Best Christmas present EVA) and spending time with members. And then on Boxing Day (the 26th) I get to skype my family. YAY! This week is gonna fly and I'm so excited. :)
I love and miss you all! I hope all is well back home. God bless you and Merry Christmas!