Gooooood day to y'all!
First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE, CATIE!!
And tomorrow, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ELIZA LYNN!
And anyone else that I've missed... I'm sorry.. it's so hard to stay up to date sometimes. :/
I truly hope y'all had an amazing Christmas! And that you saw miracles, and that on December 27th, you didn't feel the disappointment of Christmas being "over". Because truly, it never is over! We were talking to a member one day this last week who happens to work at a nursing home, and she said it's kinda sad how for the month of December, they have activities, and performance BOOKED for people to come and serve at the nursing home, and then once they jump into the month of January, there is NO ONE signed up. So spread the service ALL YEAR ROUND and plan times to go out of your way to serve, MORE than just in the month of December. I hope we can all make that one of our New Years Resolutions.
I know I saw miracles galore this last week. We've been challenged to write down at least 5 miracles that we see each day in our journal every night and it is SO EASY to find 5 because we're seeing way more than that. We've had people tell us that it's "because we're missionaries" that we see so many miracles, or that small things only "seem like miracles" to us. But I know that the smallest things, are still miracles, and sometimes even the smallest things are the GREATEST miracles.
Let me give you an example of this last week.
We had one of our investigators, and one of our LA's, in each of their lessons, say a prayer for us this last week. This is the first time I'd heard them pray since I've been here, THOSE were MIRACLES. The simplest of prayers. By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass.
One thing that I love so much about missions, is having the privilege to hear so many different people pray. There is so much power in prayer.
On Christmas day, we went over to one of our LA's house-- she's my favorite <3. We talked to her about how the morning went and she was saying that is was SUCH a good year, because her family didn't focus on the GIFTS. They had a simple Christmas, and there was no contention, which for them, was a miracle! We shared a little Christmas message, and then invited her to pray. She is so close to spiritual things, and so I love teaching her and seeing and feeling her reaction to scriptures and to the spirit. She told us no at first.. and really wanted us to pray, but I encouraged her a couple more times, and she finally gave in. She said the most beautiful, simple prayer, that I had heard in a long time. With a few pauses to bring forth some sobs of gratitude in her words. My heart was burning full of warmth from the spirit. When we all said Amen, I looked up to her with tears in my eyes, grabbed her hands, and said "THAT is the greatest Christmas Gift!" She then clutched my hands and gave me and Sister Tourtillott the greatest hug, thanking us soooo much for our sacrifices for being on a mission during this holiday season and having to be away from our families, so that we could be with her. It was the greatest gift I could have ever received on Christmas this year.
We were able to go caroling a lot this last week. We actually received a referral from the Millard Sisters (my first area) to go see the daughter of one of my favorite Recent Convert families from Millard. I had no clue her daughter was in our area!! I had heard so much about their daughter when I was getting to know the parents at the beginning of my mission, so I was SO excited. I had heard that the daughter had always been a little hesitant when around any missionaries, and this was a chance for the very first contact at her home. We put on our Santa hats on Christmas Adam Night (December 23rd, because Adam came before Eve ;)) And went to her door to carol. While we were singing, we weren't quite sure if she was a little angry or not that we were there, but when we finished, she got this big smile on her face and said "I wish my daughter would have been here!" She said that they had been at her parents house a few days earlier and some missionaries had come by to carol to her parents, and she wished that some would come to her house, because her daughter would LOVE it. So we talked a little more, made the connection that I knew her mom and dad, and she was totally friendly with us, and we made an appointment to come back and sing again, when her daughter would be home. Well, when we tried again, no one was ever home, so last night we decided to try again, PERFECT timing on our part, (SPIRIT)-- caught them right before her and her husband were leaving and we got to meet and play with her daughter for a little while, I gave her a little candy soldier that my mom had sent me in a package. It was the best thing ever!! She invited us back over anytime we want:) So she's warming up, big time! HEAVENLY FATHER HAS A PLAN.
We spent Christmas Eve with a super sweet family from our ward!! Their son, Blake, actually started the awesome website called Millennial Mormons, that many of you might know about. They've been mentions in the New York Times and whatnot-- it's really funny. Blake was there and was telling us all about it. His parents had given him an ornament with the MM symbol on it. I LOVE being able to witness how other people celebrate the holidays. It was fun doing puzzles with their youngest kids Christmas Eve:)
On Christmas eve DAY, my heart was a little sorrowful when we went up to this older gentleman putting his garbage can by his garage. He was nice to us at first, and we wished him a Merry Christmas, then gave him a 'He is the Gift' card. The man looked at the card, then back at us, with a much more disturbed face than before and said "You aren't supposed to be doing this.." We were both like "Doing what? We're just handing out Christmas cards!" And he said "there is NO soliciting in this neighborhood!" And gave the card back to us. We gently walked away, and sat in the car going "man... how sad! This poor man is worrying so much about solicitors on Christmas Eve..." My heart indeed WAS "exceedingly sorrowful"
It was the neatest thing though, because the weather here has been pretty gloomy lately. We've had NO snow, but clouds ALL the time. EXCEPT on Christmas Day!! The sun was SO bright! And as Sister Tourtillott and I were opening our presents and packages we had received (instead of doing exercise) we actually got to witness the sunrise!! Then the day after Christmas, it was back to clouds. Our Father allowed "The Son (SUN)" To come out on Christmas day, THAT was another miracle, that we noticed!
Christmas day was fun! We got to spend it with the Checketts!! I got to talk to my 2nd cousins and watch them all open presents and talk to my dad's cousin-- Gus all about miracles that he has seen in his life since he's been in the army and whatnot. I absolutely LOVE my family!! I loved spending Christmas with Gus and Nancy and all their MANY kiddos!!:):)
Talking to my family was another highlight!! Crazy how soon I am going to be seeing them all. My favorite part though, was being able to share my testimony with them. There is nothing I love doing more. And my daddy got to say a prayer will all of us together-- one that I will never forget.
It was a most incredible Christmas.
Christmas night, we decided to go and try a LA that we had received a little more information on from people and carol to them. We had only had an OLD Elkhorn address for this lady, so we decided to go in search of this house, where we had been told ABOUT where she lived. Sister Tourtillott was driving, and we had 10 minutes left to be out on Christmas night. I led her to what I thought was the street, and we drove down it, not being able to see any numbers on the houses. There was this one house that stuck out to me a bit more than the others. So I asked her to pull over so that we could try it. Low and behold-- we saw the number on the house as we walked up to it, and it WAS the house we were searching for. The spirit is so amazing to lead us to places even when we have no clue where we are. We knocked on the door, excited to see another miracle-- because we knew we had been led there for a reason, and started singing as she opened the door. We got maybe 4 words into the song, and she went "NO." and closed the door on us.. a little sad, but I know that us showing up on this Christmas night, is going to be something that Heavenly Father will use to soften her heart ONE day. NEAT experiences, EVERY day.
One of our LA's has a grand-daughter, Diana that we are teaching. Diana could seriously get baptized ANY day!! She is the gospel smartest 10 year old that I have ever met. She's been meeting with sisters forever! She just can't get baptized because her mom won't let her yet. We helped her grandma put together one of her birthday presents, and then they made us try some of Diana's moms, spicy verde sauce. The recorded us as we ate it, and it is some of the best stuff I have ever tasted!! Ever since I've been companions with Sister Weber, I'm obsessed with spicy things, we asked Diana if her mom could teach us how to make it, so we can get to know her more-- and I wanna learn!! It was great:) I love that family so much!
We also had exchanges this last week with the Papillion Sisters-- Sisters Papavero and Taylor. I love them TONS!! It was so great! We were all serving in Papillion for a day and I got to spend it mostly with Sister Papavero. I felt so honored as she turned to me for advice and concerns, and as she expressed to me how much progress she has seen in Sister Tourtillott and I and especially in our area. That was SO amazing to hear and it was so fun to meet their investigators and members of the ward.
I also was able to connect with a man in Panera who had on a "Minnesota Wild" hockey jersey on... all because of everything my dearest friend Shai taught me about hockey in Kearney. I LOVE connecting with people, because of things I learned from my friends on my mission!! I miss YSA tons. I hope y'all know that! :):) There will always be a special place in my heart for my Kearney folk! And for every other single area I've served in! I feel so blessed to have been in so many areas!!!!!!!
Last of all (sorry this is so long) we met with our investigator's fiancé this last week, FINALLY! He JUST got home from being deployed in Cuba this week, right before Christmas. Amanda has been SO excited! So we met with both of them together yesterday to help them establish a plan of how they want to encorperate the gospel into their lives, and we're going to start teaching them together, we have a good feeling about this one!:)
Annnnnd.... We're going ice skating again today! YAY
So over-all, I am doing well!! Miracles every day!! Too many to count one by one:) Some days I'm soooooo sad to be leaving, and others, I'm sooooo excited to see all those at home, so it's a bit of a rollarcoaster... but nothing I can't handle with the Lord by my side!! It'll be good! Keep on Keepin on!!
The work is always moving forward, and there is no such thing as "the end". #BecauseOfHim.
I hope y'all have a happy and SAFE New Years! And that you make goals and write them down!-- because "A goal not written is just a wish" Just the power of writing it down is huge! I know that as I've written goals down on my mission, sometimes without even looking at them super often, when I go back and see them, I see that I have achieved most of them anyways-- without even realizing it. Set goals. Give the Lord something to help you WITH. And realize that EVERY day is a new day, a new start, a chance to be forgiven and a chance to do better. A fresh clean slate!!
We get that all, #BecauseOfHim
I love you!
Love, Sister Checketts