This week was a great week. I love being a missionary! I am so happy to be here serving in this crazy, but wonderful place. This week we had a Christmas Devotional with President and Sister Rahlf. I really enjoyed it! I felt the Spirit so strong! Both of them are great teachers. By the way, "devotional" doesn't really describe it....it's more like a workshop. We spend the better part of the day with the mission president and wife. We were there from 8:45am to about 4:00pm. (Free lunch! Yay!) And every second was full of learning and full of the Spirit. Even though we are sitting for most of the time, devotionals are exhausting! Learning so much about the gospel and feeling the Spirit takes a lot out of you. I am always "spiritually exhausted" afterwards. This devotional was especially wonderful because it was about one of my favorite things ever: Christmas! Their focus was on the Nativity story and on the music of Christmas. We didn't talk about ways to improve missionary work, key indicators, or teaching skills like we usually do at their devotionals. We just focused on the birth of the Savior. After all, the best way to become more like the Savior is to learn of Him. And that's what we did! The Nativity is my favorite scripture story. It holds so much. I have such a strong testimony of our Savior's birth. I was happy to learn more from President and Sister Rahlf. I wish I had time to tell you all the wonderful things I learn. Someday, I'll teach it to you! Here are a few highlights:
Sis Rahlf taught us about the song "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "The Messiah." It's a well known song, and I'd never thought about the beauty of it until the devotional this week. Handel wrote the entire oratorio of "The Messiah" (which is super long and very musically complex) in about 25 days. That is amazing! He said that he wrote it by inspiration from heaven. Listening to it, I know that to be true. We watched a video that you all should check out. It's of a group of singers that go into a mall in Pennsylvania and "flash mob" style sing the "Hallelujah Chorus." It was wonderful! I cried. You should all check it out! When you listen, really listen to the words and the beauty of the music. I promise you'll like it. You could probably search on YouTube, "hallelujah chorus in Pennsylvania mall" or something like that.
President Rahlf also taught us a lot about Mary. I really enjoyed that as well. What must she have felt? What must she have thought? If I was her, I would have been very scared and very humbled. She really did a marvelous thing. Although we don't worship Mary like other religions, she deserves our respect and reverence. Mary must have felt fearful and very alone. But she was strong and Heavenly Father put people in her path to make her stronger, like her cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Joseph. Learning about this reminded me of the play/musical "Savior of the World." The words to the song, which are also words from the Bible, came to my mind: "With God, nothing is impossible." I know that to be true, then and now. For each of us! Nothing is impossible.
Our area is also improving. We finally had some investigators at church! We were so happy to have them there. They were very well received. We have also been continuing in strengthening our branch and its members. I can see the members and its leaders working to strengthen it. I can feel the Spirit working in us! I hope we can continue to strengthen and improve each week as an area and as a branch.
One investigator who came to church is our investigator Nympha. She is 16 years old and is preparing for baptism in January. She is really good friends with another young woman Roella, who was a less active in our branch, but has since returned. Roella, who only recently started coming back to church, brought her friend with her! Roella and Nympha are both so sweet and both have strong testimonies. Nympha enjoyed church and even mentioned to Roella that she might want to serve a mission when she's older. It made me so happy! I am so blessed to be sharing this wonderful gift of the gospel. These girls, Roella and Nympha, both understand that gift and have a desire to share it. It is amazing to see. It brought tears to my eyes to think that I had a little part in shaping their desire to serve and to bring people unto Christ. That's all I want, and the only reason I am here. To bring them to Him. I am just the messenger, the delivery girl (like my job at UPS last year! Haha!). I deliver the message, deliver the gift, but I am not the gift. HE is the gift. Jesus Christ is the best gift on earth. At Christmas time, at good times, and especially at bad times. He is the gift for all of us. If I can give that gift to others and inspire them to continue to share it, to keep the missionary work going, I'd be the happiest "delivery girl" in the world. As members of the church we have a responsibility to share this amazing, perfect gift with the world. If we don't share it, who will? We must share this happiness we have with others. We must give! I am blessed to be a full time "giver" of the gospel to these amazing people in this beautiful, crazy place.
I love you all so so much! I think and pray for you every day. It's a perfect time of the year to talk about Christ! Maligayang Pasko! Mahal kita! Kayo'y maganda!
xo Sister Anna Ray Allen