Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas!!! How weird it is to think that this Friday is Christmas. It's still quite hot here, although it has cooled off quite a bit the past three days. It's been chilly, like you walk outside and shiver because it's so cold A.K.A 85 degrees haha. It's the weirdest. But there's no snow, no Christmas music, no signs of Christmas at all really... It's getting really hard for me. Everyone says that Christmas as a missionary is such a special time and it's so amazing. I'm still waiting for that realization to hit. Our ward didn't have a Christmas party... they are going to climb a mountain on the 26th and we can't even go because it is out of our area. So Cambodian. I haven't really sung any Christmas songs either... It's rough being with a native for the holidays because she does Christmas so different than what I’m used to. We've just been singing normal hymns in Khmer for companionship study. I think that has a lot to do with my blues... Sorry to be such a downer lately. I promise this isn't me and I’m trying everything I can to pick myself up and put myself back together. I was expecting a good Christmas celebration at church yesterday to kind of boost my spirits, but that didn't end up happening either. We sang how firm a foundation, nearer my god to thee, and high on a mountaintop. And the missionaries were the ones that spoke. That was kind of cool to be able to see everything that I've personally learned about Christmas this year, even with the lack of my typical Christmas. It was easier to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. In years past I thought a lot about the birth of Jesus Christ, but this year I was able to make the connection between Christmas and the Atonement. I'm pretty sure I mentioned this in my last email, but every morning during personal study I just realize it even more. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, we wouldn't have the Atonement. The two go hand in hand. It is so amazing to think of the Atonement and everything Jesus Christ experienced for each and everyone of us. The Atonement is taking on a whole new meaning for me in my life. I'm definitely learning how to rely on it and access that enabling power. In our 12 days of Christmas study book from President and Sister Christensen one of the talks was "They bear their burdens with ease" by Elder Bednar. Such an amazing talk. He tells a story of one of his friends that buys a truck and wants to show it off, so he takes it in the mountains to get some firewood. He ends up getting stuck. He doesn't really know what to do, but decided that he will cut the wood anyways. As he COMPLETELY FILLS the back of his truck, he then has enough traction to get unstuck and continue on his way home. Throughout the talk Elder Bednar refers back to this story saying, "it was the load”. That's exactly how I’m feeling right now. It's the load that I’m currently carrying that is going to shape and mold me into whom I need to be. I know that the lord has a plan for me, although at times I may forget it and my faith may be weak, but I am slowly building my faith and confidence and hope in the Lord. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for me, for all of us, in order to be able to succor us in our times of need. He has experienced it all and when we are at our lowest lows and feel like we are completely lost, He knows exactly where we are, walks to us, takes us by the hand, and leads us.
How grateful I am for the knowledge that families can be together forever. Being away from my family for this Christmas season has been a lot harder than I anticipated, but as I think about the fact that I have eternity with them ahead of me, I can't help but smile. I am blessed with the best family ever. The Lord has placed so many amazing people in my life. I love each and every one of you. As you celebrate Christmas this week, think about all the blessings the Lord has given you, whether big or small. Whatever you are going through, humbly kneel before the Lord and pour out your heart in gratitude to Him. The love you feel is what this Christmas season is all about. He loves us more than we can comprehend and will always be there the listen, love, and comfort us. I know this Gospel is the way to find happiness in this life and in the life to come. I pray that each of us can continue to strive to keep the Christmas Spirit in our hearts all year long and remember the birth and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sorry this email was all over the place... That's just a look into how my brain is working right now!! I promise I’ll try to make my email next week better and more spiritual and actually talk about the work (or lack of work) that is going on in my area right now. I had it all written out, but left it at the apartment... whoops!!!!
Oh goodness. I almost forgot. We went ice-skating last pday and it was the most Christmassy thing ever. It was cold and there was Christmas music playing. Let it snow by Michael Buble came on and it literally started snowing (soap, don’t eat it!!!) I no joke started crying... it was so magical.
Ice Skating in Cambodia, with snow (it's soap, don't eat it)
Cambodian snowman-ha ha