I can’t keep up with how fast time is flying right now. You blink and suddenly it’s preparation day again. I can’t believe next week is Christmas, because I honestly feel like I just got here last week.
December is strange for missionaries because it is simultaneously busy and slow. It’s slow in the sense that we aren’t teaching a lot of investigators, but busy in that we are working with our members non-stop, doing service, attending what feels like dozens of meetings and proselyting non-stop. I love it.
We had zone conference on Tuesday with the English/Korean/ASL half of the mission over in North Hollywood (affectionately referred to as “NoHo”), which I really enjoyed despite being miserable with a cold. Things are changing in the Great California San Fernando mission, and it is a real blessing to be a part of it. Our mission is a baptzing mission, so we are working to increase our baptisms. It is quite the task to keep 100+ missionaries on task, in their seats for eight hours, but President and Sister Hall manage to do it time and time again.
At the end of October, President and Sister Hall attended a mission president’s seminar for the west and northwest regions (California, Hawaii, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and part of Canada) where Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve presided. President Hall based his teaching at zone conference on teh training they received there, which focused primarily on establishing a culture of higher expectations within The Great California San Fernando Mission. What it really boils down to is working harder and more creatively to achieve the goals we set to find people in order to be able to baptize monthly in each companionship and touch more people’s lives.
We talked a lot about Doctrine and Covenants 88:72-73, “Behold, and lo, I will take care of your flocks, and will raise up elders [and sisters!] and send unto them. Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” We also talked a lot about Jared Carter’s mission call in Doctrine & Covenants 79: he was called to go forth “proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel” and God promised to send him “the Comforter, which shall teach him the truth.”
What better way to word what we do at Christmas than that? Missionaries bring “good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people” (Luke 2:10). Although I miss my family and friends back east, there is no place I would rather be than sharing not only the news of the birth of Jesus Christ, but what it means for each of us personally. One of my favorite musicians, George Donaldson, put it this way, “That man might live forever more, because of Christmas day!”
Sister Hall focused her part of zone conference entirely on Christmas and how it relates to us as missionaries, even going so far as to teach the lot of us all the different vocal parts of the hymn, “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” by John Menzies Macfarlane. The elders found out that several sisters with a cold can in fact sing the baritone parts, yours truly included. Priceless faces from our elders. :)
I’ve honestly been thinking about the story of Christ’s birth as it relates to us missionaries for a few months. In a way, we fulfill 3 roles in the story: that of Joseph, the angels, and the shepherds.
We are like Joseph because we take the faith we have and try to put it into action – we go door to door to see if those within have room for Jesus Christ in their homes (Luke 2:7).
We are as shepherds, once we receive the news, we gather the flocks in to share and guide them to the stable where the baby lays in a manger, watched by Mary and Joseph, and probably a donkey or two (Luke 2:8-20).
I hadn’t thought about it, but Sister Hall reminded us that as missionaries, we are angels because we bring the news of Jesus Christ to all that will hear it (Luke 2:9-14).
It’s hard to summarize eight hours of zone conference in one email without putting you to sleep, but needless to say, spending that time with President and Sister Hall really got us into the Christmas spirit of missionary work. And there is nothing more powerful than 100+ missionaries in a little freezing cold chapel cheerfully singing Christmas carols. We’ll be auditioning soon for MoTab, I’m sure of it!!
Also, Sister Hall sent us a link to their blog (‘their’ meaning President and Sister Hall) with pictures of all our zones. Can you find me? Hint: I’m in the Canoga Park Zone. :) http://www.kenanddi.blogspot.com/
On Wednesday we went to help one of the sisters in the ward make rolls for a Relief Society dinner. 150 rolls later, Sister Lind and I arepro roll makers. Emily had us set aside the scraps to make scones, and I just sat there looking at the dough wondering how in the world she was going to do it. All of a sudden she swept in and was patting them into rounds and tossing them into a skillet of hot oil to fry when I realized she wasn’t making British scones like I’m used to, but the Utah version, which was more like frybread. Either way, they were delicious slathered in butter and honey. My momentary confusion was wonderfully rewarded.
Sister Lind has been sick most of the week, so we’ve been stuck inside. Actually, half the district has been sick since zone conference. Even President Hall has been sick. Basically, everyone in our zone got blessings of healing this week. I am fairly certain the Church’s missionary department department would make a ton of money if they invested in the company that makes Emergen-C because we are all downing it like it’s water.
So funny story of the week – Sister Lind is dying on our couch and I’m at the table writing a letter minding my own business when there’s a knock on the door. It’s the mail lady with four boxes. I was stunned. Then she asked us to come out and get the rest – six more boxes. Somehow the Harry & David’s orders for dad’s clients got rerouted to my apartment. That’s 20 apples, 80 cookies, 10 boxes of truffles, 10 bags of chocolate covered cherries, 10 packages of moose munch popcorn, and 60 pears. All in our itty-bitty living room. Long story short, Sister Lind and I got to be missionary elves and deliver a box to every companionship in our district, our zone leaders, and our sister training leaders. There are some seriously spoiled missionaries in the Canoga Park zone. And now when Sister Lind randomly starts laughing her head off, I know exactly what she’s thinking about: 10 gift boxes. All in our living room.
After our elivish adventures, Sister Lind came home and died again, and is still partially dead, so I’ve been making blends of essential oils right and left. Lemon, clove, and melaleuca for the flu. Geranium, lavender, clove, and vanilla for sleep. they have proven to be worth their weight in gold. And the faces Sister Lind makes are priceless too.
So in the mission, every new elder gets a ‘mom’ – a sister missionary who is older. I found out that Elder Sharp had claimed me as his mom. Then Sister Wood (who is in her first transfer in the field) told me I was a momma badger. I didn’t know what to think. Then I embraced it. Especially since Elder Sharp accidentally called me mom the other day, and various forms of mom three or four times since then. It’s probably fine.
Sister Lind wrote a rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that had me dying, which I will leave you to get stuck in your head:
On the twelth day of Christmas,
President Hall gave to us…
12 priesthood blessings,
11 pumpkin muffins,
10 gift boxes,
8 awesome sisters,
7 Books of Mormon (per missionary, per month),
6 stolen bikes! (wait… that was Van Nuys)
5 crazy wards,
4 Reseda elders,
2 zone leaders,
and 1 crazy district leader!!!!!
I love you all!!
Picture 1 – 10 boxes. 1 couch.
Picture 2 – No idea what just happened. It’s fine.
Picture 3 – Tarzana Sisters and their box (flu got them as well).
Picture 4 – Elder Bertoch and Elder Magele.