Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

Hello!  Hope you are all enjoying this holiday season.  I can´t believe that next week is Christmas, 8 days until I get to speak with my family!  Woot! 

Our district (us hermanas and the two elders here in Santa Elena) are pretty excited for this Friday. I´ll explain why:

Last Sunday Hermana Franco and I held a family home evening at the Caceres´ home.  They are what they call one of the ¨pioneer¨ families here in the branch.  At the end of our lesson Hermana Caceres  said she had a dream the other night that her husband and two other men from the branch were building a pesebre (nativity) for the Church, and it reminded her of when the branch two years back did a live nativity scene.  Before she could say anymore, I said, ¨Hermana, do you want to have a Nativity Activity this Christmas?¨ and she smiled and we said ¨Let´s do it!¨  At that time there was some talk of a Christmas dinner, nothing more, and it wasn´t definite it would go through because some of the leaders were caught up in family affairs and traveling.. and I had been feeling anxious to do something together to help the branch feel the Christmas spirit, so we jumped on this idea as fast as we could!! 

We hurried back to the apartment and made a handful of phone calls, and the elders were pretty excited at the idea.  At our district meeting on Tuesday we worked out more details and decided to hold a meeting with everyone we needed on Saturday.  I was excited but also nervous because we didn´t have a lot of time, a lot of leaders are in and out of town this month, and I didn´t want the members to think we were going to take over and plan everything without them.  Saturday finally came and I was so pleasantly surprised with what I saw:  a YSA brought us into the secretary office and started to play Christmas videos he found during the week and said he wanted to (one of which is Christmas concert in Chile with a certain missionary who once upon a time was on a singing tv show back in the day... Yes, David Archuleta!  oh I died!  I´m not a big fan, but seeing him with his nametag and singing so beautifully in Spanish really got me.)  I had no idea that he was going to organize the media for the activity!  Yes! Still not everyone had arrived for the meeting, and I was getting a little worried, until I heard our branch president call our YSA friend to come outside.. and we followed... and we were suprised to find four members out by the palm trees discussing where they wanted to put the Nativity.. and all I could do was watch and listen and smile... everything is set and planned and they are all so excited about it!  I had no idea that in the past few days they had been talking and planning!! All we did was set a spark to the fire, and everyone is doing their part and it´s turning out to be a lot bigger than we expected!  We are inviting everyone and will be standing outside the gate inviting people right before it starts...  I´ll hopefully post pictures next week.  

I am so happy that we were able to help the members get excited and start collaborating, and it´s all taking a life on its own.  I am excited that this activity will help a lot of people remember the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. The people here say that there are not many things this time of year centered on that, so we are going to have something for all of the pueblo!!  Woo!

I love you all so much, I wish I could talk to all of you at Christmas... but hey just in a few more months you´ll see me in person!  Weird!  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!! 

 xoxo hermana hillary 

Monday, December 3, 2012

little changes

Happy December!!  Time is really flying.

I am so lucky to be with my companion Hermana Franco!  She literally
stops to smells the roses, and then takes pictures of them.  We have
too many photos of beautiful sunsets here!  (sorry for the tease.. the
loading time for photos takes too long here)  haha and right now she
is singing jingle bells in english.  It´s in the small and simple
things that help us find a laugh or a beautiful moment.

We have been working really hard with some families and we are seeing
real progress!  It is an answer to our prayers.  I will be honest, it
had been a while since we had heard ¨I am coming to church tomorrow!¨
or ¨I love what I read yesterday!  I have some questions..¨  I have
been learning more and more about our purpose and we together as a
companionship are learning how to more effectively teach the
Restoration, and  I find it amusing that when we enchance something in
our work we have more eagerness and for some reason it´s when people
don´t happen to be progressing... but our little seeds we have planted
so long ago and finally starting to sprout!  We had a family in Church
yesterday and it made my day.  I can see that they are sincerely
progressing and didn´t come out of obligation or because they love us.
They came because they see a change in themselves thanks to reading
and praying together.

I´ve been thinking a lot of the little changes I am going through that
I may not even recognize to their fullest extent.  Nelson Mandela said
something like ¨there is nothing like returning to a place unchanged
to see the way you have changed yourself¨ ... so we´ll see how that
turns out when I come home...  but no!  Who is talking about home?  I
still have plenty of time!  Right?  Just the fact that the mission
secretary is booking my flight home already freaks me out... wait..
the mission ends?  Wait, you mean I have to leave Argentina one day?

I love you all.  Hope you are already thinking of the true reason for
this season, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

xoxo hermana hill mill

P.S Mark your calendars...
Arrival date: April 10th 2013.
Estimated date of normalizing socially: TBD 2013.