Wednesday, January 13, 2016

December 21, 2015 - Twas the P-Day before Christmas - Joshua, Texas

Dear Family,

It's been a pretty good week in good ol' Joshua. Nothing much came from the guy and his family that we tracted into last week but we had some spiritual experiences nonetheless. With it being the week before Christmas, the mission had a few multi-zone Christmas Devotionals. Ours was on Wednesday and it was an awesome experience. Basically, President and Sister Ames wanted to serve us and show that they love us so we had some smoked meat and beans for lunch, watched the "Christmas Carol" movie, and a heard a few talks.

It was interesting watching "A Christmas Carol" as a missionary because, first of all, we don't watch movies and second, it takes on some new meaning. It was the 80s version so it was a little weird in the first place but it was interesting because as missionaries we kind of saw a lot of our investigators in Scrooge. That sounds awful but it's true. At the beginning of the movie Scrooge just seems like a grumpy old man who only cares about money. As you get to know him a little more you see that he's really just been let down by family, friends, and relationships in general so much that he's turned to the only thing that hasn't failed him--work and wealth. It's the same for some our investigators. Religion failed them completely and so they turned to the only person they felt the could trust-- themselves. Later Scrooge is visited by Jacob Marley and blames the whole experience on some bad food doing weird things to his mind. Sound like feeling the spirit and not recognizing it, anyone? That night Scrooge is visited by three ghosts that come at the most inconvenient times. Missionaries anyone?! On top of that, these ghosts teach him about his past, his present, and his future. Totally the Plan of Salvation. After watching the whole movie I thought, "Whoa, we're totally the ghosts of past, present, and future for Mr. Brown!" Thinking of our investigators definitely made Scrooge's change of heart a lot more meaningful for all of us.

After the movie we moved into the chapel and the whole mission presidency spoke to us. I'll tell you know more about what I learned on Christmas, there's too much. When we were all about to leave after the closing prayer, President Ames told us he had the best gift yet for us if we'd stay seated. He then gave all the Zone Leaders a stack of letters from home to hand out to the individual missionaries. They were put inside of envelopes decorated by children in the mission and included one from our parents and one from our Stake President. Everyone was bawling and it was probably one of my favorite mission moments and Christmas memories yet. I can't even begin to describe what it felt like.

Friday morning was pretty great too because we did a little bit of service for a homeless shelter in downtown Fort Worth. We started by singing some Christmas carols in their chapel and then we handed out some dress shirts to the men there. It's always great doing service but it's even better when you get to do something a little different like that. Usually it's just helping someone move or cleaning up a yard so it was a nice change.

The rest of the week was pretty typical again. Though, we did have another investigator at church yesterday. That's always awesome. Right now we're working on getting investigators to actually come more than once. It's a slow process, but we'll get there. It's pretty amazing to see people progress so much from when we first knock on their door to when they come though. It's really rewarding to see the whole process from the beginning rather than starting in the middle like I did at the beginning of my mission. There's so many people that could be baptized right now and I only wish I could get them there faster. It'll happen eventually. I can see some big things happening in Joshua this next year.

That's about all this week. Talk to you later and have a wonderful Christmas!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

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