Here in Monterrey, its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Perhaps it’s the Christmas tree and decorations that were recently set up in the mission offices. Or it could be the fact that we have been planning and preparing for the mission Christmas activites. (We finished the mission Christmas card this last week, the one I sent you last year with pictures of all them missionaries. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have made the card this year if it weren’t for the experience and knowledge gained from being a photography editor for the Hobachi.)
Another reason for the Christmas spirit could be the cold. Even though I lived in California for a few years, I’ve always associated Christmas with bitter cold. I quite enjoy it. I love being bundled up warm and sharing a warm conversation while it is cold outside. I think about how the gospel offers us warmth and comfort while the world around us is suffering the cold. How much they need this message! Think about how much good it would do them to feel the Spirit of God like a fire burning!
Last Christmas was one of my best. Of course I missed being with all of you, but we got to talk on Christmas day. What made last Christmas the best were the gifts I got and gave. I’m not talking about the cookies or the ties, or even the letters (all of which I appreciated.) The best gift we’ve ever gotten is the gift of God’s Only Begotten Son. Last Christmas I was able to understand that gift better than ever before. It is through Him that we receive another great gift, the gift of eternal life (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).
Last Christmas I was able to help give that gift. I remember as if it were yesterday three days after last Christmas, when the Montoya Leal family entered the waters of baptism.
* * *
It is funny that mom should mention investigators who stop progressing. You will remember Adriana Perez, the investigator whom I told you about last week. Every lesson with her is an amazing spiritual experience. She is very sensitive to the power of the Holy Ghost and has desires to know and obey God. This Sunday she had to work, but attended an earlier ward in order to be able to partake of the sacrament. She was progressing wonderfully well.
But all of a sudden she disappeared. She wasn’t at home when we went for our appointment, and doesn’t answer our phone calls. We haven’t seen her since Sunday.
Now, I don’t know what has happened, and I am full of faith that we will be able to find and teach and baptize her, but this experience has caused me to think. It could be that she has lost her desire, for fear or family pressure, or whatever reason. But at least we planted a seed. In fact, her situation in this case would fit exactly Jesus’ description of some of the people who hear the word, “that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it… [but] when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matt 13:20-21). I think it is more likely that she has been busy with her work, or attending to her sick daughter.
This experience has also caused me to think about how I view her and my other investigators. We have been really stressed this week because we haven’t been able to find her. Why so stressed? Because she needs a lot of lessons before her scheduled baptism this Sunday. In other words, I was viewing her as a baptism rather than a daughter of God who needs our help. I pray for more charity, for the ability to see others as God sees them and love them as He loves them.
Yesterday I had a wonderful blessing. I received a letter from a convert. You may remember Tere (Santa Teresa de Jesus Torres Flores) from Puerta del Sol. I try to write to my converts on a regular basis to encourage them and remind them of the things they know, but I hardly ever recieve a response. So it was with great joy that I received her letter. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. She is going through some hard times financially, but she is paying her tithing. She has family problems, but has faith in God and puts her trust in him. She is really busy, but makes time every day to read the Book of Mormon and prepare her class for Sunday (she has a calling as a primary teacher).
I think back on how she was when I first met her, and I can’t help but be amazed. The gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives.
President Mendoza went to McAllen yesterday [to get mail] and I got my Missionary Mall shirts and ties. . . . During December, he has to go at least once a week or the post office won’t have room for all the Christmas packages that come.