Saturday, December 31, 2016

Week 30: In which I count down to Christmas, Julian pops up, and Claudio flags us down.

T-6... 5... 4...

(Written Dec 19, 2016)
Salutations, my wonderful family and dear friends! Aqui estoy, y todavia estoy viviendo.¡A mí, me encanta este pueblito! Othello es lo mejor. No quiero estar en ningún otro lugar por la navidad. Si pudiera escoger un lugar en mí misíon para disfrutar la navidad, escogería directamente aqui. ¡Les amo mucho a todos! Espero que todos disfruten su navidad, en cualquier lado del mundo que estan.

Here I am, and I am still alive. I love this little town! Othello is the best. I don't want to be anywhere else for Christmas. If I could choose a place in my mission to enjoy Christmas, I would directly choose here. I love you all a lot!i hope everyone enjoys your holiday, whatever part of the world you are in.
Entonces, I guess I had probably better write in my native tongue. Man, Othello is the absolute best! It's perfect. Bishop Risenmay and his family are such good people, and they try so hard. Bishop Villarreal is just so loving. Christmas Day is so soon though! I can almost count the days on 1 hand. Thus begins the countdown...

I don't know if I told you about Julian. He's a former missionary who served an excellent mission and ended up as an assistant to the president! He is very, very bright, and knows just about everything about missionary work and is extremely knowledgeable about the gospel. However, he came home to discover his father had gone completely inactive and joined a very different church. He's had a bit of a rough time after that, but he's been doing really great! Honestly, he is completely brilliant. The point of the story, though, is he came to church this last week! It was completely out of the blue! He texted us Sunday morning asking when the church service was, and he then just showed up. Dang. We were attending the 2nd ward (English), but when we heard about him going we were about blown away to kingdom come. Things are looking very good for him.

We have also had another opportunity to teach Nikita, who I mentioned in my last email! She's doing really, really well. Apparently, the sister missionaries pushed really hard to get her baptized on a specific date before, and she's now a little more hesitant to set a date for it. However, she identifies herself with the Latter-Day Saints here, and she also has a ton of friends helping her along! We were able to teach her yesterday at a member's home, and it was really cool. She just realizes it's a really big commitment, and doesn't want to do anything half-way. She's got the right idea! Anyway, we'll be working with her and her mom a lot in the coming transfer or so.

A long time ago, I mentioned someone named Claudio (perhaps even my first email from Othello). Recently before we met him, he had become a member of a particular church that is one of the most ardently anti-Mormon groups in the city. Their members seem to like to seek us out to argue. Anyway, we were accordingly a bit nervous about Claudio. However, when we first met him, he had a bunch of concerns, and after talking for a while, he was shocked to hear how none of the clergy of the Church is paid, including us. His jaw about dropped when he heard about what we do as missionaries. He has been wanting to meet with us again for a while, but for one reason or another it has never been able to work out.

So, fun story: We had an appointment with Claudio, and we headed to his house (which is a little ways out of town). Unfortunately, he had had to take his wife to another city as part of a last-minute crisis. We left, disappointed, but understanding of his situation. We then worked in the area for a while, and decided to stop by once more to see if he had returned, but he had not. We then began walking the 30 or so minutes back to town.

However, to our great surprise, about 10-15 minutes down the road, we heard a car honk at us and pull over in front of us. It was Claudio! Apparently, he had returned home and his daughter told him we had stopped by. He was very sad we couldn't meet with him, but he didn't at all like the idea of us walking back to town, especially in the cold. Anyways, he immediately turned his car around and headed back to give us a ride back to town. He loves missionaries, and wants to help us out a ton! It's really heartening to see people with such big hearts, ready to serve people and help out some missionaries who had really only visited once before! It's kind of cool.

Anyway, that's all for now! Know that I love you all, and wish you all a wonderful season and a fantastic new year! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and all of the above! Happy New Year, as well (Why not? It's less than 2 weeks away).

Love you,

Elder Adams

(The following refers to the "St. Nicholas boot episode" from last week.  Also a note on transfers which didn't affect Ben.)

p.s. By the way, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! My feet are super toasty now! I would never have thought I would need boots, because I somehow forgot I would be in the cold for more than 20 minutes at a time. I now feel like I am a walking tank of warmth. I cannot thank you enough for sending those boots (and for letting me open them early, of course). You're lifesavers.

Oh yeah, and I think I forgot to mention that I'm still with Elder Steadman. The Zone Leaders are also the same.

(In a separate email, responding to a photo of our home table full of frosted Christmas cookies)
Oh my, that looks succulent. Yeah, I just grammered you. I also just verbed both "grammer" and "verb".

P.S. You might appreciate the fact that Elder Steadman is also a huge fan of Randall Munroe.

(Answers to questions from Editor Mom:)
How have you been celebrating the Christmas season, besides your mission party? Have you been able to do anything out of the norm because of the time of year? - Not really, no. I mean, we definitely feel it is Christmas, but aside from ward parties, it's pretty much business as usual. The main difference is the awesome advent calendars and the fact that it just... feels like Christmas, you know?

Did you put the little tree up? Do you have a bigger one or any other decorations besides your wreath? - Yes, we put up the little tree. Thanks for that, by the way! It really has added to the holiday cheer. Elder Steadman also has a little tree. We haven't found the time yet to put the ornaments on, though. We'll find some time one of these next few days!
Pictures of Ben at a service project, shared on the (private) mission Facebook page:

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