!Feliz dia de Gracias! I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Sorry if I'm not replying to anyone that wrote me yesterday or today. We won't get mail until tonight because of the holiday. But mom, I did get your Thanksgiving letter. Thanks! It was nice to get one last letter before the holiday. I'm glad President Lee spoke about Missionary Work. They teach us a lot about the importance of getting members involved. I've never read the Joseph Smith History by his mother all the way through but now I'm wishing I did. It's crazy that SO many people put SO much trust and faith in Joseph Smith. And are willing to sacrifice their entire lives for what he has taught. Why do we trust him so much? Especially when we've never even met him? Because through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and Joseph Smith Translations of the Bible we grow SO much closer to Jesus Christ and learn SO much more about Jesus Christ. It's pretty simple. There is so much evidence that he is a prophet of God. This Thanksgiving I am most grateful that because of Joseph Smith I have this knowledge of the gospel and the Book of Mormon. But most of all I am grateful for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his example of perfection.
So tell me all about Thanksgiving! Was it at mom and dad's house? Who came? What did you eat? Are you already putting up Christmas decorations? I think I'm going to miss decorating for Christmas more than I'll miss the actual holiday. But they did put up nice Christmas lights here at the MTC. I sent a picture with the lights...hopefully you can see them. So I'll tell you what Thanksgiving was like at the MTC. It was actually so much fun I loved it! In the morning Elder Holland came and spoke to us. He had a few of his really cute grandkids do musical numbers and/or share their testimonies. He talked a lot about the this final dispensation and how every other dispensation has known that they will end in apostasy but we know that this dispensation will finally end in victory. It should put weight on our shoulders to get the work done. He also said that our future families will be equally as important as missionary work but NOTHING is more important that this mission because for 24/7 we are engaged in the salvation of a human soul...starting with our own and taking it to as many people as we can. It's just so true! I can't believe I even considered serving a mission as a sacrifice because it really is a huge blessing AND responsibility. He also talked about how we are part of God's family so he is working just as hard to get us to return and live with him. He wants to live with his entire family again just as we want to live with our families again when we die. Everything god does is to bring about the eternal life and salvation of men. For Thanksgiving Dinner (lunch) we had turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and pie (well that's what I had...but they also had stuffing and rolls etc.) So it felt just like a normal thanksgiving! Really good food and I ate until I was stuffed. I actually out ate all the elders in my district haha Elder Christensen was like, "I just don't understand where it all goes!" We then went to a Thanksgiving Program thing where I was in a skit as an Indian Princess (I sent pictures of that). They told the story of the first Thanksgiving and then we sang "Over the River and Through the Woods" All the missionaries went wild being able to sing a non-church hymn for once. I actually didn't know that song was about Thanksgiving until we sang it. Then we worked on a humanitarian project and made 4200 education kits and 4500 health kits for children in Africa (I think the city was ouelessebougou...maybe Scott will know?) We finished the night off watching 17 Miracles and they handed out bags of kettle corn for everyone. That movie will make ANYONE realize just how grateful we should be. And how blessed we are! Elder Holland also said that we have the opportunity to do more in one day than our ancestors had to do in an entire lifetime.
So for the rest of the week it was pretty typical. Nothing exciting happened on Sunday...no apostles or spur of the moment testimony bearing opportunities but it was a great day. Well it was raining so we couldn't go on a temple walk..instead we had a mormon messages movie night in our classroom until dinner time. Super relaxing...Sunday's aren't going to be relaxing once I'm in California I'm sure. Our fireside that night was on the importance of staying healthy and how , if we want to be 100% obedient, we need to workout at least 30 minutes a day. I was happy to hear that! Now my companions won't have any excuse about working out with me. Yay :) Funny story of the week...we were talking to our investigator about what to expect after he gets baptized (which will be on Saturday) and I was trying to explain that the bishop will most likely give him a "calling" so that he has the opportunity to serve others. Well I said "The lord will call you as a servant" He couldn't stop smiling but he didn't tell me what I had said until after the lesson.
Everyone started getting sick a few weeks ago and I told my companion that I wasn't worried because I never get sick. Well Lo and Behold I was the only one that got sick. Well and another Elder in our district. And Elders at this age really don't know how to take care of themselves without their mom. I had to buy him medicine haha But I've been sleeping so great because the medicine I take every night knocks me out. Maybe I should have gotten sick earlier. Hopefully I'll be better before California. Which reminds me...we got our travel plans. I leave for San Jose on December 5. My flight is at 730 or 830 I can't remember. All I know is I have to be at the travel office at 5am. The rest of my district leaves December 4 ( including my comp) So i don't know what I'll do by myself for that entire day. We're supposed to go to the travel office to figure it out but it's been closed for the holiday.
Mom did you find anything out about my bike? And are you going to be able to send that stuff to cali?
Our devotional on Tuesday was about the importance of using our agency. God created things to ACT and things to be ACTED UPON. If we don't choose to act then we are choosing not to use our agency. Especially as missionaries we need to act...we can't be passive because people NEED the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we realize that someone's salvation is at stake we are able to realize how important missionary work really is. Being a member of this church is not just a lifestyle or a social group...it's the difference of salvation. I don't think I realized how big of a deal missionary work was/is when I decided to serve. But I am gaining an understanding of it now. Most people have lost hope and so they stop acting. Satan wants us to lose our agency so he takes away our hope. The gospel of Jesus Christ restores that hope. Everyone on this earth has already exercised their hope in Jesus Christ by choosing to follow God's plan and to be on this earth in the first place.
Anyway...sorry this wasn't the most exciting update. One more week in the MTC and then I'm sure I'll have lots of exciting stories to share from California. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I hope to hear from you soon! Take care and God Bless
Love, Sister Billings