First things first. S. got baptized! Oh, the joy. It was super cool and really special and I'm so grateful I got to be there! I remember when we found her on the stairs of an apartment complex and when she first came for conference and talked the whole time and wouldn't pay attention and when she was more concerned about if we would all come back as zombies and when she was an atheist and how she finally started progressing and it took 3 months or thereabouts but by golly she was sitting there dressed in white super excited when the bishop gave her a quad. And by the way let's hear it for our church bishops, men who will get to church in the wee hours of the morning to boil water on the stove so the water isn't too cold for the girl getting baptized. Stud. Now that's commitment. What a change and what a gospel. The church is true.So I think that was the highlight of the week! Much of the situation is the same, with the 3 people set to be baptized out of town and much of the work being with less-active members. We had a whole bunch of people we are working with come to church this week for the first time, so that was exciting. Thursday was pretty crazy, too. We ended up teaching 9 lessons on Thursday by weird turns of events. Yea for new Brazilian investigators! All in the same apartment. We also went to the Mesa Temple lights for the 3rd or 4th time, taking a group of less-actives we are working with. The temple is so gorgeous. GO TO THE TEMPLE. I know I've said it before but I'm so jealous that all of you get to go to the temple. Go, go, go and drink it in. It's God's gift to His children.
Other highlights of the week: We stopped by bishop's house to offer him some service and he wasn't home so we went across the street to talk to their neighbors, who were chilling outside. So we went and started talking and they said "Hey, sit down!" So we did and it turned out that he was super prepared. I mean he lives in Glendale but hey, who doesn't?! Hahaha! That's just how it goes. We also found some more less- actives to teach and had a zone conference.
A word on less-active members. You have to understand that everyone you see is less-active. We can always be further converted, can always develop more faith, can always come closer to the Savior. And many of the things that cause people to fall away are petty and small and they just need love to come back. Imagine if we all just picked one person in our wards and decided to love them and do everything that we could to make sure their testimonies grow and that they feel secure in the arms of the Savior. Now imagine that God, through our church leaders, picked those people for us and made it an actual thing in the church! OH WAIT! THEY TOTALLY DID AND IT'S CALLED HOME TEACHING - SO DO IT! Seriously do it though, you have no idea what a difference it makes.
Another thing to consider. I have met so many people both active and not, people who are either super knowledgeable about the gospel and overall just happy, and people for which the opposite is true. Oftentimes people in both categories went on missions. The difference is the attention they gave to the scriptures when they came home.
The scriptures teach us how we are to live and who we are to serve, instill in us the sides of moral absolutes that define our existence. They teach us how to be happy. 2 Nephi(in the Book of Mormon) tells us that they lived after the manner of happiness.
Some observations for around Christmas time:
Christ came into the world and was born into a manger, a feeder of sheep, prefiguring the mission of His life and the mission of ours, if we claim to follow His example.
The annunciations both took place in temples: Zacharias received an angelic ministration announcing the birth of John, while Mary likely received the annunciation in her home. Which, as I have cited before, is the only place which can compare with the temple in sacredness.
As Christmas comes this year, I am reminded of all the songs, the stories, the lights, the marshmallows, the hot chocolate, the fire, the trips, the trees, the cookies, the ornaments, the pajamas, the laughs, and the love. You are the best family anyone could ask for and I am more and more grateful for you each and every day.
And remember Christ. Make His sacrifice mean something.