Happy Christmas, mates!
You know, there's just something special about Christmas as a missionary. It's different than other Christmases. Maybe some of you RMs can explain this better than I can, but it's just different! If you came up to me a few years back and told me that I'd spend a Christmas in a small, remote village in the middle of England in the freezing cold, I probably would have told you how crazy you were because it sounds crazy! But despite that, and although I wasn't with my family, it felt right. It's not the location that matters, it's the purpose and the reason. So I think purpose is one of the reasons that Christmas is different here. Everyday kind of feels like Christmas as one of Christ's representatives!
We didn't get any snow here, but we were about waist-high in blessings this week! Here are a few:
-Exchange with Elder Brown from Arizona
-members made us feel like family
-we are teaching some people who are just downright ready
-we now have a 10-year supply of chocolate
-got to Skype my family
I had another really unique experience last week. I was stopped by a couple young men after stepping off the bus, so I stopped to talk to them. Usually when kids like that stop us they do something weird to impress their friends, but these kids did something really unexpected. The older one looked me in the eye for a few seconds, and then in all seriousness said "...are, um...are you Jesus?" I sensed that he was a bit disappointed when I responded no, but I quickly told him that I was one of his missionaries. He said he thought that was cool and then ran off with his mate. Elder Baum and I laughed about that all day, though! He must have been feeling the Christmas Spirit and my name badge must have confused him. Either that, or my Christlike attributes are starting to show :D
God has been teaching me a pretty profound lesson lately. As you know, we've been teaching a man from San Francisco who is WELL off. In a worldly sense, this guy has it all. However, he's been searching true happiness for a long time. Now that he's found it, he has been changing and the hole in his life is being filled. It's amazing to see God take a hold of somebody and mold them into something spectacular, and that's what's happening with this man. He has found what he's looking for and will get baptized on the 28th of next month. In contrast, we spent time with some members who don't have much as far as worldly possessions go. They live in very humble circumstances, but because of their faith their problems have been minimized and pure joy emanates from them. They have found "the Bread of Life" and "the well of everlasting water, springing up into everlasting life". They have turned their lives over to Christ, who has taken their yokes upon Him and has given them rest. These two circumstances have taught me what truly matters most and where lasting happiness is found. It can only be found in a testimony of Jesus Christ. Anything else is counterfeit and, frankly, short lived. Jesus Christ is the only source of peace. He is the best gift.
Thanks to all those who gave me those ornament-shaped letters for Christmas! They are all on my tree and it looks amazing. I'm so lucky to have such awesome people in my life! See if you can find your ornament in the picture.
Man, things are so good right now! Our trust is in the Lord and his blessings are upon us. These really are days never to be forgotten. I hope you all had a merry Christmas and I hope you have a happy New Year! And don't forget to set New Years resolutions!
Love, Elder Thomas