Bonjour et happy new year everyone!
Wow--can you believe 2015 is just around the corner? Pretty sure this is about to be the greatest year of my life. I can't wait to see what is in store. But I sure wouldn't want to be spending it any other way than here in France, serving my Lord!
So this past week was so cool! My first and last Christmas as a missionary. But it sure was somethin' special. Literally almost all we did was eat, and eat, and eat. Sooo many people invited us over for dinners and lunches and gave us treats and what not. Let me tell ya, the French know how to throw a party! Their parties just consist of eating. Food is the culture here...you eat to have a good time, and you have a good time when you eat. They don't just stand around and chat or watch tv like Americans. You sit down together, and eat...Literally 3 hours of non-stop food being served to ya! Haha. So yes, I did eat the classical French Christmas Eve cuisine: Oysters, shrimp (with the head still on), caviare, salmon, and of course the good stuff like every type of bread, cheese, and a buche de noel!! (basically like an ice cream cake). It was such an adventure trying all of that!
There were so many people though who really just took us in and made us feel like family. They treat the missionaries here like royalty. I felt way too spoiled! I really love these people so much. But, it sure doesn't take away from how much I love my dear family and friends back home! I got to skype my wonderful family for an hour on Christmas day! That was the best present I ever could have been given. You don't really realize how good you've got it, until it's gone. Yes I still have my family, but obviously I don't get to see them and talk to them very regularly anymore. After 7 months of not talking to them, and after spending 7 months seeing every manner of broken family that there could possibly be, my gratitude and my love for my own family has grown by a million. I can't wrap my head around the fact of how blessed I am to have a God-loving, kind, selfless, devoted, and eternal family. There is nothing in this world that is more precious to me! If you haven't told your family in the last 24 hours that you love them and are grateful for them...don't waste another minute! Do it right now! Treasure those and cherish those whom God has given you to help carry you through this life. And to my incredible family: I love you more than words can describe, and my heart literally just wants to burst with gratitude for all you have ever done for me, and all you still continue to do. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.
I also got to spend Christmas day trying to spread a little Christmas spirit--aka the love of the Savior. My companion and I decided to take the treats that had been given to us and make them into little treat packages for all of the homeless people here. So, we got to go out that morning and track down those who are in need. As we placed the bag in their hands, they would look up at us with these eyes that have been through so much, but still have hope. Some of their eyes filled with tears, and some were so astonished by receiving a gift that they couldn't even look us in the eye, but just shout out "mercie! mercie!" It truly warmed my heart to see their eyes fill with the reassurance that there are people out there who care about them. They are not forgotten. Their God loves them, and that's what we wanted them to know more than anything. Something that my mission has opened my eyes up to is the massive amount of poverty in the world. We can't walk down the street for more than 10 mins without someone coming up to us, with an outstretched hand. I like to think of this much how we reach out to the Savior, when we're downtrodden and in need. He always has a hand reaching back to lift us up. I wish I had all the money in the world to give to these people, but I will share with them what I can; that they have an all-powerful, compassionate, and understanding God who loves them perfectly. That's the best gift I can really give to anyone! And that's what I'm trying to share every day here. Not just Christmas.
Well, I hope you're all fixing some really good goals for the New Year! I know that's what I'll be working on this week! And this year, make a little section in your goals for how you're going to be a better missionary. I'll be doing the same, because there's lots of ways I could improve. Maybe set how many times a month you'll invite the missionaries over along with one of your friends, or which less-active you're going to go visit each month, or how many Book of Mormons you'll give out each month, or to share a mormon message or thought on facebook each week! Whatever you want, but please do SOMETHING! This work is far too important to stand by and watch other's do it. And this gospel is far too important for us to keep it to ourselves. So set some good goals!!
Have a wonderful rest of your Christmas break and a happy New Year!!