Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 73 / Merry Christmas

Greetings Comrades,

We had our free hot chocolate activity last night. Every week we do it and each time we get a little more fancy. This time we had lights, a Christmas tree, and some funky Christmas music playing in the back ground. Some of the members even showed up and began passing out hot chocolate and cards with us. It was really fun and we all had a good time watching our missionary district leader be a fearless tyrant. When we would give him pamphlets and cards to pass out he would start to straighten his back, lift up his chin to the heavens, and walk the streets of this little town. He would stop everyone and wouldn't let them leave until he got to bear his testimony and the people's hands were filled with brochures and goodies. He even would stop Christmas sleighs that were passing by on roads to talk about Christ. I have seen a lot of courage from those around me this week. Everyone has showed me in someway that we are all afraid of something... That we all have something trying to push us back from being who we are meant to be, but with the Lord we can push back and find the courage that keeps us moving. My district and the friends and family I have made here give me courage. Sister Nydegger helps me so much in realizing why we are out here and gives me that extra boost to go out and begin again, and again. I love her and what I am learning from her and my ending time here.

I am really grateful for my mom and my sister for picking out those small and meaningful mangers that I have had the pleasure of giving out this Christmas. I gave some away in all the areas of Slovenija and it's always had such a sweet Spirit in giving them the little baby Christ and seeing the eyes of those I love, flicker with a warmth of peace. I gave one to a Ukrainian family and their little boy who is three opened it up. He looked at it in amazement. He usually is full of energy and swinging on the trees like the wild monkey he is, but as he held up the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph his gaze shook him with a smile so bright and fervent. He looked up at me and said in Russian, pointing to the figures on the statue. ''Mommy, Papa, and baby... BABY!'' How precious it is to look at this manger and see the family as a whole. The mom and dad and their efforts as well to raise up baby Jesus. I got to see the beautiful perspective of a small child, who can see the importance of such a small statue, a small manager... Even if he just saw it as just a mom and dad and a baby. He hugged it and kept it. I believe it proves how important God wanted Jesus to have loving parents, parents that loved Jesus so dearly... Not only in Heaven but down here on earth. That families are so important to Heavenly Father and especially now we must remember this, this holiday season, and forever.

We had our branch Christmas party on Saturday. All the members and people began to gather in and make their ways to their sits. Members that hadn't been to church for quite some time even came. This gathering was something quite beautiful. The electrical power actually went out in the beginning of the party and yet the Spirit of the room was still rich with cheerfulness and love. I found in the dark we began to unfold ourselves and relax and realize that all of us were bright from the hearts and love that we had for each other. The missionaries did a musical program at the end and the Spirit was strongest when one of our sweet members bore testimony of Christ. We had traditional Slovenian food at the party which contained sour kraut, sausages, and buckwheat mush or something. Whatever it was... I swear to you it gives me weird dreams at night.

One of the members who is a newly returned missionary has been waiting for his missionary name-tag replacement for quite some time. He didn't have one because it was lost on his mission and he requested a new one but it never made it to him in time before his service ended. Months down the road he was still waiting for it hoping that one day he would get it, but he was losing hope that he would as days went on. When we, the missionaries went to Zagreb this last week we received unexpectedly his name-tag and our district was happy and excited to give it to him finally. We wrapped it up and stuck a ribbon around it and brought it to our branch Christmas party. When the time was right we gave it to him. He was really happy to finally have it. It was really cool to see such a cool kid like this member wanting his name tag so much. All the history behind that name tag, all that it is and what it meant and what it still brings to his recollection of dreams and miracles that came to life because of a decision of a young man wanting to go on a mission to serve the Lord. The next day he gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. As I was listening to him speaking I looked at his white shirt pocket and noticed embedded in that pocket was the familiar shape of a missionary name tag. I am not sure exactly why but that moment my heart had a lot of gratitude for being on a mission and seeing this member wanting to remember and still be that example too. It touched me that we all are missionaries and we all need that reminder from day to day that we are all serving a master. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so honored that he is my master, my healer, my joy, my salvation. He never gets tired of us asking for his loving hand or guidance and he is always willing to listen and get us through anything we may be challenged in. I know this is the only path I want to be on the rest of my life and I have seen the many blessings I have received because I have chosen Him. I feel a deep relief and peace, a courage that anything is possible. I cannot believe in impossible anymore... because I know with Him anything and everything is. I know if Jesus says, ''Come follow me'' he won't just help me in the beginning but he will help me till the very end.

At our Zone Conference Party, the Slovenija zone got to sing a specially number after President Grant spoke. The song was called, ''Peace, Peace, Peace'' It was such a beautiful experience to gather together as a zone and sing such a really pretty, real song. I think that is the biggest gift that Jesus gives to us. Peace... If we have peace we can do anything. We can know that everything will be okay... Good or bad. It's one of my favorite gifts I have learned to feel in every aspect of life. I want to strive for it in everyday situations and hope to give it to those I can. Christmas is coming... Jesus was born. That day is so rewarding and can help us reflect on what we did this year for Jesus, and ask ourselves -how did we return our love to him? There are so many ways to give back, there are so many ways to lend your time and talents to people that need them, there are so many ways to brighten the day for other people where ever you are in the world. I hope and urge you to find those ways, to lend your time, to brighten the days of all of those around you. Life is so short, the point of it all is to empty our hearts out each day for those around us. When you close your eyes at night, let those lids be fueled by a heart that has never stopped beating for other people.

Happy Christmas Family and Friends!
I hope you serve and remember with all your hearts that Christ was born now let us rejoice.

Sestra Holly Cuthbert

While in Ljubljana, Holly got to see some of her most favorite people!

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