So first off, Christmas was GREAT!! I was a little worried about it at first because our family wasn't there and it was just going to be me and my parents but NO! It turned out awesome! Christmas eve we went and bought boxes of food and made baskets of treats to those in need. We got everything together and then went to go meet a bishop of one of the wards here in Guayaquil who was going to take us to meet several of these families in need. What we didn't know was that he had also invited his counselors AND the sister missionaries of that area!!! What an awesome surprise!! So we ended up having a big group of people to go and visit with us! Such an awesome surprise!! The only problem was we didn't have much car space.. so I went into the very back seat (which has like no leg room haha) with all the baskets and boxes and a few of the sister missionaries' bags and in the row in front of me there were six sister missionaries crammed into a three person space hahaha it was so funny!! We would sing christmas carols really loud in funny voices and just spent the time laughing even though we were crammed together! So we set of all of us with the Bishop leading us and we started up these tall hills on these roads with no pavement and it was soooo super bumpy and all of us were hitting our heads on the ceiling and bracing ourselves and haha what an experience! When we got to the houses we would all pile out and go into the homes of these needy members. I FELT THE SPIRIT SOOOOO STRONGLY IT WAS SO COOL!!! We gave them the baskets and boxes of food and wished them Merry Christmas and talked to them for a bit, exchanged hugs and then walked down the hill and did the same with a few other members. We drove further into the hills, stopping and meeting some of the nicest people I have ever met and taking boxes and treats to families who weren't going to have Christmas or barely had anything. It was such a neat experience. These people are so humble and kind and just accept us into their home and give warm hugs. These people don't care where you're from or what you look like they give love to EVERYONE and I just felt that while we were visiting with them. Near the end of our little adventure we went to this really poor neighborhood where we were going to give things to people who weren't going to have food for Christmas. When we got out of the car, kids from all around came around us and were asking "Tienen regalos? Tienen regalos? Tienen dulces para mi?" or in other words "Do you have present? Do you have presents? Do you have candy for me?" It was so humbling. Here we all were with things for this one family and there were so many others who didn't have anything. I mean, so many of us have our huge christmas trees and tons of presents and food every christmas and family all around and so much more. These kids had none of that and they were so excited when they saw us and thought we had brought things for them. My heart was crushed, I cannot tell you how bad I just wanted to hand something out to every child. The sister missionaries had to hold the baskets and boxes on top of their heads because the kids would try to reach in and take things. But ohhhh I wish I could have given them something. That was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. When we finally came home haha we came home to a flooded house which was more humbling.. we cleaned that up and then we ate a dinner of salsa chicken and tortillas, skyped our family and opened our gifts. The next day my parents made menudo (a soup with cow stomach..ew), meat, tortillas, salsa and other things and we had the office elders and nurses over for lunch. It was so much fun to talk and joke with them and we just had a great time! After that we got to skype my brother who is on his mission which was so much fun. This seriously was one of the best christmases ever:)
Next, the Friday after Christmas I went to go stay with the sister missionaries in an area about 45 - 60 minutes away from our house. THAT WAS SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE!!! I got to see mission life up close and live it for several days! The first day I was with them I was amazed. We woke up at 6:15 and did personal study and companion study, each for about 1 hour. I thought this was going to be so long and kind of boring but NOOOO turns out when the time came for each to be done I was really disappointing and wanting more time!!! During my personal study time I would study preach my gospel lessons and write notes in spanish to help me start thinking and speaking better in the language. I read the book of mormon in english and in spanish and I felt the spirit so strongly and got so many neat insights. During companion study we only speak in spanish, and you know what the crazy thing was??!?!? I WAS ABLE TO!!! I ONLY HAD TO ASK HOW TO SAY A WORD A COUPLE TIMES BUT I WAS ABLE TO EXPRESS MYSELF!!!! HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?!? I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT!!! Just in those several days I was already seeing the works of the gift of tongues!! It was amazing! In our lessons with people I would take notes and write down things that I liked that the missionaries did or things they said. I also wrote down questions that were frequently asked by lots of people and that I wanted to learn more about so that I would better be able to answer those questions when I go on my own mission. At first I was really scared to share my testimony or thoughts because of the different language and I thought I would mess up and I was scared but when I did, I spoke with the spirit and the people listened really intently and I was able to say what I was thinking!!! IT WAS SO SO SO SO SO SO COOL!!!! I seriously have a greater testimony now that if you trust in god he will help you! Holy cow! Next thing, when we ate lunch with this very kind member she gave us A TON of food and I was really nervous because usually I don't eat THAT much and there were beans and sometimes I have a hard time eating beans because the skins get stuck in my throat but OH MY GOSH Heavenly father helped me eat it ALL and even the beans!!! Crazy huh?! Usually when I eat that much I feel like I'm gonna throw up but I didn't!! Holy cow! So cool! On sunday I went to church with them and road the bus for the first time and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! It was so lurchy but so cool, to get on you have to like flag the bus down there aren't just bus stops every where and to get off you basically have to swing from live bar to bar because the bus is still moving and then it will stop all at once and almost throw you!! So awesome! In church (and in all the day before and before church) I was able to understand everything and talk to anyone!! It was so cool!! I haven't been going to young womens because I have been really scared, one of the times I went, or the last time, I was trying to speak and the kids started laughing and made fun of me so I had been really afraid to try again. I went to the investigator class but for the third hour the sisters nudged me to go to the young womens class with one of the rescued members who was a teacher.. I was VERY reluctant and came to the point of almost crying three times because I was so nervous BUUUUT when class started the girls were soooo nice and I WAS ABLE TO TALK TO ALL OF THEM AND SAY MY THOUGHTS AND I EVEN GOT UP AND TALKED IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS (it was a combined all ages class) IT WAS SOOOO FLIPPIN COOL!!! Can you say miracle because HA I CAN!! It was such a neat experience! Monday I ended up getting sick but it was P day and I washed clothes by hand and the sisters and I went to the mall to get food and then I went home because I was feeling so bad (I was originally going to stay to the next morning but I got really bad stomach sickness and had to go). But holy cow!! It was such a neat experience, I had totally taken missionaries and their lives for granted and underestimated them and missionary work! But now I know it is no easy thing! It takes work and courage and a lot of energy! The first day was so hard for me because I wasn't used to working straight up every hour of the day and walking around for hours and taking cold showers and taking taxis and buses everywhere and eating so much haha and trying things I hadn't before or eating things I didn't like but WOW my eyes have been opened.. in the beginning missionary work is so hard to adjust to but once you do it is the neatest thing ever. I cannot wait to serve a mission. I know it's not going to be easy but it's definitely going to be worth it:)
I hope everyone had an awesome week and is having a great day. Heavenly Father will bless you if you just trust him and take a leap of faith. I was studying in my personal study one day about faith and I was thinking... faith is like a trust fall but with heavenly father.. you have to trust him that he is standing behind you and trust that he is going to catch you. No you can't see him, all you can see is what's in front of you.. but that doesn't mean he is not right behind you. He may be further back or right up close but you have to trust that he is there and take the fall, take a fall of faith knowing he is going to catch you, not crying and fearing on the way down. Yes there is a way down to fall.. but if you have faith in Jesus Christ.. you know that you wont hit the ground but that instead you will land in his arms. I challenge everyone to take a fall or leap of faith this week big or small and see what blessings you recieve for it. I'm not saying it's going to be easy or that the result will be right away, but I AM SAYING that it will be worth it, if you take that leap or fall with the spirit and trust him on the way down. He will catch you and he will lead you home. Love you all!! Have a fantastic new years!!