Christmas as a missionary in Australia was just plain strange, but at the end of the day I was grateful for the experience that became my 2013 Christmas!
First of all I was sick as a dog two days before Christmas. We had to go to the doctors which was all the way out in the bush. He gave me a shot and some pills and said the one word I didn't really want to hear as a missionary, "REST!" Even though I felt like crap and couldn't keep anything in my tummy, I still had a desire to go out and serve the people of SunnyBank. I didn't want to stay inside our flat. But, part of being a missionary is being obedient and so for two days I stayed inside and slept a lot and tried to eat without throwing up.
Christmas Eve was a Mission Christmas Party. I was recovering by this point and was able to keep bland foods down, thankfully! We started at 7am cleaning our Zone's (group of missionaries in an area) main chapel. Then we showered and went to a central stake center in the Mission. We then made bracelets for foster children. It was funny seeing all the big Polynesians try to slip tiny beads onto a piece of wire.
After service we had a huge Aussie Feed (feast). There was roast beef, turkey, and ham; potato salad, green salad, marshmallow salad, and all sorts of desserts. Unfortunately, because of my weak stomach, I was unable to try everything but, I was sincerely, grateful for the service that was being rendered to all the missionaries. I know in my family Christmas Eve is always a hectic day full of baking and last minute runs to the store, yet here were many people who volunteered their time to give the missionaries a Merry Christmas.
After the feed each Zone did a skit! They were hilarious and it was fun to see how all the Zones with Chinese speakers tried to include Chinese.
My favorite part was the Spiritual Devotional President gave us towards the end of the night. He shared about the significance of symbols in the Birth of Jesus Christ and in our day to day lives (the English major in me was in pure delight!). My favorite one he shared is from Luke 2:7 "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." The portion I have highlighted is where the symbol is. Think for a moment...what could be so significant about "swaddling clothes?"
Swaddling clothes, President Henderson explained to us, were not very common for new born babies, rather very common for wrapping the dead with. Then very powerfully and with the power of the Holy Ghost President Henderson concluded, "Christ was born to die."
Those words cut me to the center of my heart! I had always know why Christ came to Earth, but never before had someone professed Christ purpose to me so boldly and with so much reverence. I could feel the Holy Ghost reverberating my entire soul, testifying that the words President Henderson were saying were true. I am so grateful for CHRISTmas and for the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ. He came to Earth so that we could all live with God again. How blessed is his message and how happy I am to share that message with all those I talk to!
I have reached my 6 months mark of my mission and I am going to be in SunnyBank for at least one more transfer! I am excited to find, teach, and baptize. This truly is a "marvelous work and a wonder."
I love you all and I will talk to you in 2014!
These are all the Sisters in the Chinese program!
This is what I had for Christmas Dinner at Sister Cabamongan's cousin's house! They are Filipino, so we had some traditional dishes (the stuff with eggs) and then ham, stuffing and vegetables! It was yummy and my tummy was able to handle it all like a champion!