The whole week we spent sharing the good news of Christ with everyone. It was great! Friday we had the ward Christmas party, a talent show which was very fun. Lots of the little kids did some songs and dances, and of course we, the missionaries, had a number. We had recorded ourselves singing a song as chin people...very silly. The sound didn´t work though so we ended up showing the video and singing along to it, which was ok, but we were off. The ward laughed anyway:)
Saturday evening we had a baptismal service which was very special (the Relief Society President´s husband got baptised). What better gift for Jesus Christ on His birthday than a promise to always follow Him and keep His commandments! After the baptism we went to the Relief Society president´s house to each dinner with her family. Here in Chile Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is when all the fun happens. They eat dinner at like 10 or 11pm, then Viajito Pasquero (Santa Claus) comes at midnight...I don´t know how they do that if everyone is still awake...how do kids still believe in him?? I don´t know but they do. Anyway then they open gifts at midnight.
The next day we had church at 10am so went to pick up one of the ladies we are teaching and headed to church for only the first hour, we didn´t have the other classes. The rest of the day was a little weird...no one was in the street to talk to and we felt awkward knocking doors on Christmas day. So we visited members and people we are teaching to share a short Christmas message. We ate lunch with a family in the ward (turkey, roast, and shrimp, and potatoes and mayonaise, corn, bread, salad, rice, YUM). In the evening we visited more members and ate dinner with some recently baptised members.
And now Christmas is over! I feel like I didn´t really get a full dose of Christmas though. I want to sing more Christmas songs!:) I´m already planning what I´ll do next year for Christmas!
At the baptism on Saturday night I gave a short talk on Faith and Repentance. So I´ll share a little bit of that with you. I talked about how faith is the first step of everything. If we want to progress, we have to have faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is the key to true joy. We believe that He is our Savior, that He suffered and died for us that we might be redeemed from death and sin. But to have faith doesn´t just mean that we say we believe, it is to act on this belief. If we believe that Jesus suffered so that we can be cleansed from sin, we have to do something to apply the atonement in our lives.
We do this (acting in faith) in many ways, but one of these is to repent. Repentance is an act of faith. All growing up I learned about repentance as a process including recognizing you have sinned, confessing your sin, feeling sorrow for what you did wrong and committing to not make the same mistake. But as I have gotten older and had more experiences, to me repentance is those things, but more than that, it is a change; a change of heart, a change of perspective. To repent is to put your life more in line with the will and commandments of God.
Take for example someone who has decided to be baptised. They have repented of the things they have done wrong in the past, but also they are repenting in the sense that they are changing their life to put it more in alignment with what God wants. They are committing to live the commandments more fully.
But repentance isn´t just a one time thing, we will be repenting all our lives. Repentance is part of the refining process. We were sent to the earth to learn to be like Christ. We make mistakes and then repent of them, ideally as we grow and learn we don´t make the same mistakes over and over, rather we make different mistakes, and as we grow in our understand of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we start repenting for more minute sins. I like the imagery of sanding a big rough-edged rock into a smooth stone. At first you have to knock of the big awkward edges (we have to overcome obvious sins), but with time you start sanding of small imperfections until all is smooth and beautiful. It is the same with us!
Ok that wasn´t actually what I shared in my talk....part of it was. That´s what I wanted to say in my talk, but it came out a little different in Spanish and with less time to prepare:) The point is that it is really important to have faith and to repent. They are the basic principles of the Gospel. Being a missionary I am seeing more and more what a huge role they play in our spiritual health and happiness. For myself as a missionary I need to be faithful and repentant, and I need to teach others how to have faith and repent.
I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is so simple and yet so true! Living the principles of the Gospel is the only way to have true joy in your life. If you aren´t sure where you are with your faith and repentence I invite you to do an experiement. Think of a way to show your faith to God by starting to live a commandment that you struggle with more fully, or think of an area in your life where you know you need to change and be more in line with the teachings of the Savior and make goals to change. This is the reason we are here in the earth, to smooth our rough edges!
I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support! I hope you all had a very merry christmas and have a happy new year!!!