First of all, I hope you had a fantastic Christmas! It was so so so great to Skype you, family! I can't believe how quickly Christmas has come and gone. It's still July in my brain! Except for the whole freezing arctic winter weather. Haha But it was a great Christmas! It's been an insanely busy week for us! We've been running here, there, and everywhere!
I got to go on exchanges with Sister W this week! She's only been about for about 2 weeks and talk about Greenie Fire! She is so excited to be a missionary. We really focused on street contacting and bold conversations. She taught me so much! She just loves being a missionary so much! We had so really cool conversations with a lot of people. One that stood out to both of us was with a guy from Mexico. We were talking about the Book of Mormon with him, and then he asked me a very unique question, "why is Jesus Christ so important?" I was slightly taken aback. I hadn't really ever thought about that question before, He's always just been so important in my mind. After I gave it some thought, the conclusion I came to was He is the whole reason why we are here. If we didn't have the hope that His Atonement brings, there would be zero purpose to our lives. There would be no hope, there would be no joy. We would just exist. It sparked a really great conversation, and although he didn't agree to meet, we both felt that we had truly testified of the purpose of our message, to bring others closer to Christ.
Thursday morning was such an crazy experience! We had a lesson with a Recent Convert, P, and her friend, K. P's boyfriend, J, was there, and we all read the introduction of the Book of Mormon together. After reading the first paragraph, we asked J what is was saying. Without hesitation, he said, "this is the word of God!" We about fell out of chairs! He just knew it so quickly! It was amazing! The more we read in the intro, the more he loved it! We asked him at the end of the lesson, we asked him if he came to know that this was the true church if we would be baptized, and he said yes! Another almost fall out of your chair moment! He's agreed to meet with the Elders that cover his area, and we're so excited for him!
We had quite a humbling experience on Christmas Day. We had planned to visit a less active woman from the Connor's Hill ward that we had been working with. We had the elders give her a blessing last week, and we had discussed in that visit that the Elders would be taking it from here. We felt like we had tried all we could to help her, and so we figured maybe a change would help her move forward. We had planned this Christmas visit to be our last and then the elders would take over. SO we came over, had our nice visit. Christmas is pretty hard for her because she's really struggling financially. At the end of our visit, we casually mentioned again that we've enjoyed our time with her and the elders will be in touch. She was so shocked!! It was like we had dropped a bomb on her. You could just see the hurt and emotion flood to her face. So we try to backtrack a bit, but there was no saving it. She was devastated and so upset. We left feeling like the biggest Scrooges in the world. We had dumped her on Christmas! We had to go back to our apartment to Skype our families, but after that, we knew we needed to go back. So we drove back and apologized for being so insensitive. We hadn't even considered how this would make her feel, and we hadn't really put much thought and prayer into this switch. We just assumed it would be the best thing for her. When we went back, she kept expressing how we don't realize the impact that we have on every person we come in contact with. We lift them in a way that's not tangible, it can't be measured or proven. That hit me pretty hard. I've been looking for tangible results my whole mission, and time and time again I feel that I fall short because you can't measure my success on a piece of paper. But she's right! More often than not, we will not see the fruits of our labors. Seeds take a long time to grow, and it takes continuous nurturing and care for that seed to grow. Some seeds grow faster than others, but it takes that consistency to help it flourish. I learned a very important lesson that day. I am truly humbled and penitent because of that experience.
Some other things that happened on Christmas included a TON of caroling! I lost count of how many times we sang Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! haha but it was a blast. One house we stopped at was near some potential investigators that the Spanish elders had found. We saw that their lights were on so we went and knocked. As soon as this woman opened the door, her whole face lit up! She immediately let us in and started grabbing cookies for us! Haha she kept saying, "it's just like in the movies!" haha definitely a highlight of the night!
Besides all of the calls and caroling and temporary Scrooge moments, the best part of Christmas was being able to attend Sacrament meeting. It just felt different, especially when the sacrament was being passed. It really hit me that this is what it's all about. This is why Christmas exists! Without his Atoning sacrifice and love, December 25 would be just another day. But because of Him, we get to celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given. I am in complete awe of the joy and love that I feel from Him as I share His gospel with every person we meet. As you have read from this email, I am so so far from perfect. But I know that this work will be accomplished because it's His work, not mine.
Thank you a thousand times again for your love and support! I wouldn't be where I am without it. And Happy 2017 to all of you!!!
Sister Bethany Christensen