My oh my. Where to start?! So, who is ready for a long email? :)
We had 2 Thanksgiving appointments. One was at the Bishop's house (We played football in the snow beforehand). This Thanksgiving was quite delicious! Sister Rhodes made the greatest purple mashed potatoes ever and it absolutely rocked. And homemade pies. I don't usually like pies that much but these were rockin! (She told me that missionaries who help in the kitchen get invited back. ;) Hooray!).
We also went out to the Gordon's house. They live out in Princeton which is pretty far away. I took a deep breath outside afterward and my nose hair froze!! Such a strange sensation. I seriously can't get over all this snow. I know it's not even bad yet. Not at all! But I've never seen so much! I also shoveled snow for the first time this week. :) Let's just say that my electric blanket is my new best friend!!!
Also, shoutout to Kyle, whose birthday is this week!!!! Here's to an amazing, spiritual, lovable, fun, genius, and fantabulous brother!! :)
Sister Peel and I celebrated my halfway mark at Olive Garden!!! Hooray!! I feel like I've experienced quite a bit in 9 months and am excited to see what the remaining 9 months hold in store. :) I love that place. There's something extra magical about going to Olive Garden on a mission when my day-to-day diet consists largely of green beans, eggs, and salad. So good!!!! :D
Oh man, I wish I had taken a picture of the ginormous plate of lasagna we were fed this week (that same day that we went to Olive Garden!!! Dx) It was ridiculous! What's more, Sister Peel had just told me that morning how much she dislikes lasagna. Ha! Well, we couldn't even use our "snowflake" password (the key word I use when we don't want to eat something. It means "please eat this so I don't have to!") because I could barely handle my own! It was ridiculously cheesy, too. But this sweet old Chilean lady made it for us and stared at us the whole time asking how we liked it. Oh dear. So, we took one for the team. Dx #toomuchfood.
Something we have been sharing with people lately is found in Alma 48: 11-13, 17. We don't have very much information about Captain Moroni. We know he was "a strong and mighty man," a man of "perfect understanding," and a man whose "soul did delight not delight in bloodshed... but in the liberty and the freedom of his country and his brethren." He was "firm in the faith of Christ," and did "labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people." This is essentially it. But, perhaps something extra neat about Moroni is the fact that his "heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many blessings and privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people." Then when we look at verse 17 we see that "if all men had been and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever" and "the devil never would have had power over the hearts of the children of men." Clearly Moroni was an amazing, and powerful man! Ha! (Sheri Dew says she already has dibs on him if he's still single in heaven. sorry, ladies. :P) It's interesting to me that among the few characteristics we know about Moroni, his exceeding gratitude is highlighted. In fact, it gets its own verse. It seems like his gratitude is likely one of the foundations ( if not THE foundation) of his amazing character. Clearly he understood the true source of his great power and strength was the Lord. He was close to the Lord because of that understanding. I believe that gratitude is a source of strength, just as it was for Moroni, and that the more we increase our gratitude and appreciation for all the amazing blessings each of us receives every single day, the more we can feel of God's power in our lives. It's good to be grateful throughout the year but the holidays are a time we can especially reflect on all that there is to be grateful for, especially for our Savior!
Another couple of quick things I'll share. I have thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas study of the Book of Mormon. It has opened my eyes in many ways. It is looking more like a Christmas ornament every day (from all the red and green things I'm highlighting) :D. It is truly a great study and one that I would recommend to anyone. Anyway. One thing I love is how in Alma 61 verse 15 it talks about how the spirit of god is the spirit of freedom. I was pondering about that and realized how true it is. When we have spiritual experiences, when we feel the spirit's influence in our lives, it is like being free. If we live worthy enough to feel the spirit in our lives it is like pure freedom from the cares of the world, from worldly appetites, selfishness and sorrow. I also love verse 17. It says "In the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us." I love how much "in the strength of the Lord" is mentioned in these chapters, as well as the idea that our faith can act as an energy source, that there is a direct relationship between the amount of faith we exercise and the amount of strength we receive from the Lord. It is also interesting to see many examples in the Book of Mormon of how it is up to us to determine how we will allow the trials in our lives affect us. For instance, in Alma 62: 41 we see that some were softened and humbled, (they grew and were strengthened because of their afflictions) and some were hardened. It is interesting how it is up to us to determine how we will let these challenges affect us. We can use them to turn us closer to God and have them become strengths to us, or we can choose to turn away from God and not have this occur. This interests me. But it's okay if it wasn't very interesting to you, now the rant is over. :)
We also had Anna's baptism on Saturday!!!!!!! Wow, that took a whole lot of planning but it really happened! :) I decided on Friday that since we needed a musical number I would go ahead and do that. So I played "I am a Child of God." Sister Kakuschke tried to play the piano part with me but it didn't quite happen in time so I went solo. The baptism was great.It was a small turnout, but still great. It is amazing how quick baptisms are! Weeks and weeks (usually months and months) of preparation for only a few short seconds. :) So, funny story. I get finished playing and I put the cello away. I close the lid without doing all of the buckles because Sister Hoffman started giving her talk right after and I didn't want to be super distracting snapping buckles during it. SO. I go to sit back down. Everything is fine. Then here comes Alvin, the 1 year old baby, who comes up to the cello and gives it a push. Everything happened so quickly. One minute I'm sitting (like almost halfway across the room) and the next thing I know I'm catching the cello before it hits the ground! Oh, man!!! Everyone told me "Nice catch!!" I moved quite quickly apparently. The elders thought it was really funny, that it had awakened the inner athlete in me. My cello senses were tingling!! :P It was especially embarrassing for me because Sister Kakuschke (it's her daughter's really nice cello) was sitting right there!!! It was truly a miracle I was able to get there in time. I definitely would not have moved that quickly for anything else but a cello. :P So, this was definitely a baptism to remember!
Sister Moffitt, Jared and I also performed our "Come Thou Fount" piece at sacrament meeting yesterday. That was fun. :) The members sure seem to enjoy when I play and I'm happy to do so. I'm so grateful I have all these opportunities on my mission! :) I should have some more in December!
We are in for another great week! Except, a certain sister missionary (whose name will NOT be mentioned. Sister Woods, cough, cough! Haha, it must have been Abby. ;)) may or may not have dropped the phone in an icy puddle. So, now our phone is broken even after a few days of soaking it in rice. We are getting a new one later this week but this will make for an interesting time contacting members to come to our appointments with us! Ha. But we are having a lesson with Marcy at the church this week! So excited about her. This is the one who we met tracting that was like "I still want to join the church but we can't meet with my husband around." I didn't even think he was rude or anything. It doesn't phase me anymore. I don't notice. I figure it's much better when they let you know outright they aren't interested! :) So that's exciting.
Well, that's all for now, folks!
Sister Lacey Woods