Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Dad.....DAAAAADDDD....DAAAAAADDDDD" Buddy the Elf

Hey all,

It is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas dinners. 9 zones. 7 dinners. Assistants need to attend them all to be the servers. What does that dinner include? Turkey. Sweet potato casserole. Mashed potatoes. Salad. Stuffing. Homemade rolls. Gravy. Dessert? Tres leches cake. Games, caroling, prizes, and lots of great, spiritual moments where we are able to focus on Christ. The sacrifices that we make in the misison. I feel so spoiled, but I won't complain. We do, however, have to wake up early to run for a long time so that we don't feel guilty about eating all that three times a week.

I really love Christmas. Tomorrow is the devotional, and we should be able to see it here at 8, remember when we went to that a few years back? It's a great way to start off the season. It kind of stinks living in an eternal spring, since it never snows or changes, but we are seeing lots of decorations here which is really fun. Christmas ins't huge here because the President of the country is kind of dumb, but the members all get excited to celebrate. The Christmas dinners really help out, too. We sing lots of songs in the house, plus when we're in the offices we always have Christmas music playing.

This week was good. We had our leaders' council, and it was my first one as an assistant. Getting all of the reports ready kind of stunk, but in the end everything went well. I really like analyzing and training, so it was fun to be able to do it. We had it in a special place to get everyone excited to work hard in December and to not get trunky, called Pululagua. I think I talked about us visiting there a few weeks back, and we had the budget to go there and do it, and it was great. It is a beautiful volcanic crater with a beautiful view. It's one of three in the world where people actually live in it, so that's pretty cool. They have llamas, and one of them spit on an Elder, so that was pretty funny. The food was unreal good, the main plate was sea bass, so smooth, so good. We had a killer dessert, passion fruit mousse. Why do I always talk about the food? I think that the spirit of Christmas is perfect for missionary work. We focused a lot on Christmas, but inspiring missionaries to work harder than ever to preach about Christ's life. It was a very spiritual meeting. President gave a great training on the doctrine of Christ, it was awesome. We had lots of other great messages, all focusing on Christ. I loved, loved, loved it. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it was a good burst of spirituality to get everyone pumped for December. We'll see how the month goes, we've had two dud months, so this would be a great time to improve.

We went to a zone conference, just Elder Ospina and I, to see how a few missionaries are doing. We have a big challenge in our mission with missionaries with experience. We have 160 missionaries right now, and I think 42% have less than three changes. By March, we're supposed to have 225 missionaries. So, we have a lack of leaders right now, and we want to get traveling around more and doing divisions to help people get going. It's a challenge for us. For example, we have 3 zone leaders going home this change, and we have no idea who else we could call. Disobedient missionaries sometimes have to train since there is no one else, so we have problems with disobedience with new missionaries, too. We just need to get involved more and do brief check ups every now and again to see how the missionaries are. The conference went well, then we finally had some time to work in our sector for a little bit.

We now have investigators and people progressing! One lady is named Nidya, she's the mom of some recent converts. She couldn't get baptized because her husband is a dud and wouldn't marry her, but recently she kicked him out, so she's good to go! We're visiting her later tonight, all looks good with her progress. We also have the mom and the brother of recent converts, they're great too, and when we invited them, they accepted! Hopefully everyone can come to Church tomorrow to keep progressing. We're really excited about their progress, and so is President Richardson. He does all that he can to get us out and working, and wants us to set good examples of maintaining a good sector. We have about 3 hours a day to work, but if we use it wisely, we have plenty of time to get things going. We want every companionship to help someone come unto Christ in December, and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to do that, but it looks like we will be able to do that and set examples to the mission. We really should have a good sector so that we aren't hypocrites when we tell other missionaries that they have to work harder, haha. But, work wise, we had a great week, I feel good about it.

Today, we went and played tennis, it was really fun. It's weird, playing tennis on Wii is a lot easier. On Wii, you can just shake the controller and you win. I tried that in real tennis, and it doesn't apply very well. We went to a huge parque, Parque Carolina, I'd heard about it, but I'd never been there before. It is huge and super pretty. Really huge. You can do pretty much everything there. We want to go back next week to keep exploring. The tennis courts were nice, I had like 2 good hits. The Richardsons really like to play tennis, they want to play next Saturday with us. They're traveling this weekend, so we figured we'd practice to not look like fools when we play with them. I think that we'll still look like fools. I'm really good at hitting the ball really hard, if the court was about twice as long, I'd be really good at tennis.

We've been planning the year 2014 with all of the arrivals and departures of the new missionaries, plus all of the big meetings that we'll have. It's kind of scary how close I am to the end. I'll have to keep working really hard to get all that I can out of the time that I have left and to serve the Lord and do all that He intended me to do when He sent me here. I basically have six months left, time to get going and work harder than I ever have before. The Dark Knight Rises is waiting for me in six months, but only if I work hard. I can't believe that we're almost in the new year again. I remember thinking at the beginning of the year, "This year is going to pass by so slowly," and somehow it's December. Time really does fly by in the mission.

Did I mention that I love Christmas?

I think someone asked me how old the Richardson's daughter is if I read right. She's 14, goes to a school where all but 2 hours are in English. I think it's tough for her, but she made the varsity soccer team, so that keeps here happy. She's really good at Connect 4, it's really hard to beat her.

We ate at a Chinese restaurant today, super good, it was like the Chinese food we eat in the states. And it's right next to our apartment building. So...

We had an epic pillow fight last night. We had one a few nights ago and broke a lamp (don't tell President), so we took some precautions last night, wrapping all of the lights in blankets. It was more to catch all of the glass upon breakage than to actually prevent them from breaking, let's be honest. We're six Elders living in the same house, what do you expect would happen. We had a mixture of weapons, couch pillows, fluffy pillows, harder pillows and mattresses, turned the lights off, then it was game time. We played for about 45 minutes, it was awesome. Don't worry, we planned and everything, but we finished in time to play. We're thinking about buying Nerf guns and having battles with them, too. Super fun. No blood, but hopefully in the next few wars we can get someone to the hospital.

We had a good week, I'm loving my time in the offices and the time that I have to learn and progress working closely with the Richardsons. Oh, we also helped someone move this week, super funny how they "loaded the truck." Hopefully I can survive the Christmas dinners this week, we'll see what happens. I love you all, do lots of Christmas things to be really happy this season. Talk to you next week!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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