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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 2, 2013 - Redwood City

Hola familia! Espero que todo esta bien y que su dia de accion de gracias estaba lleno de comida :) This week was INCREDIBLE!! And I can't believe that it's December already. Tomorrow is my 14th month mark! Wow. Well I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was really really good! As close to perfect as it can get without being at home with the family. On Thanksgiving morning after we did our studies, we went to a park and played touch football with our zone (with permission from president of course). It was so fun! Almost as fun as playing soccer. And I was SOO sore the next day...but definitely worth it.
After our football game we taught a few lessons and then we went to dinner at the Ruiz Family's house. It was INCREDIBLE. I'll send pictures but even those won't do it justice. He went all out and cooked a very very fancy american style Thanksgiving dinner. He even made gluten free gravy for me :) The only thing missing was mom's gluten free apple pie! We tried to teach a few lessons after dinner but we were only able to teach one and we ended up going with our roommates to their investigators house and being forced to eat a second dinner! Even though I was full, I was glad because it tasted more like the food we have for Thanksgiving at home. The Ruiz dinner was more like food you would have at a restaurant. Although still very delicous! Plus she was all alone and had prepared TONS of food for just herself. She was so happy that we came over so that she could have someone to share it with.
Anyway, that was pretty much it for Thanksgiving. I gained 4lbs in just that day....but it's gone now again thank goodness.
As for the HIGHLIGHT of the week..............AMBER GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By far the happiest moment of my mission as well as my entire LIFE. I've been plenty happy before but never ever as happy as I felt at her baptism. The whole thing was such a miracle. If you remember, she was going to wait until June to get baptized because that's when her boyfriend had agreed to get married. Well it turns out that he wasn't exactly faithful to her and she found out about a lot of things that he had been keeping to her. Horrible situation. But luckily she turned it into something positive and saw it as her answer to get baptized and move on.
It was a miracle because right when she found out that he wasn't faithful to her a lady from the del rey park ward, who is a real estate agent, called and asked if she would want to look at an apartment in San Jose. Amber went with her to look at it and decided that she wanted to move in asap. She moved all of her stuff within two weeks and changed her kids school and day care and everything. Luckily San Jose is actually closer to her work. But still....HUGE sacrifice and change in order to be baptized.
 When she went to her apartment one night she opened the fridge and just started crying because a member in the ward had filled her fridge with food. She said she had been praying because she wasn't sure how she was going to be able to buy groceries for the week. Other than that, there were a ton of other small, yet crucial, miracles that happened leading up to her baptism.
As for the actual baptismal service, it was beautiful! She was late getting there because of traffic so I got to see Sister Champlin and talk to her for awhile. Her and I really had a special bond and it made me miss her so much! I've really loved each and everyone of my companions but she feels more like family than a friend or companion. When Amber finally showed up we quickly took a picture as soon as she was in white. There were SO many missionaries there because Sister GG and I started teaching her in April then Sister Champlin joined us and then we passed her off to the sisters in the other ward and all of us have new companions now. So there were 10 sister missionaries and I think 8 elders. Maybe more. Even though the elders didn't teach her, she would always invite them over for dinner. Everyone loves her! Plus the Del Rey ward (the ward I was working in ), the gavilan hills ward (the one we passed her to) and the Glenview ward (where she moved to in San jose) AND her non-member mom and brother. So she had a lot of love and support there for her that night.
"Amber's missionaries" sang "I'll go where you want me to go" right before she was baptized and she just cried and cried during the entire song. She was baptized by the same brother that baptized her son, Brother Zollinger. I honestly can't even explain how happy I felt watching her be baptized. It's way beyond words and even thinking about it right now is brining tears of joy to my eyes again.
After she changed into dry clothes she stood up in front of everyone and bore a beautiful heart-felt testimony about the gospel and the truthfulness of this church. I wish I could have recorded it so that I could watch it over and over again! I know her children are going to be blessed because of the decision of their mom. The stake president got up at the end of the service and said "You've got guts Amber!" And I coudln't agree with him more!
Well as far as investigators and lessons her in my current area....we met some awesome guys on the street the other night. We were walking downtown and a man that owns a restaurant stopped us and asked if we could talk to his friend. We said of course and sat down at one of his tables. His friend moved here from egypt about 2 months ago and only speaks arabic so the restaurant owner (who also speaks arabic) translated our simplified version of the restoration for him. He told us that his arabic friend loves god and wants to learn more about Him so we promised to bring a copy of an arabic book of mormon. Before we left, we asked if we could sing a song and we sang Silent Night. Both of them got tears in their eyes and said they felt something weird but good. We asked them how they felt and they said they had chills but felt something warm inside. We testified of the spirit and promised to come back. It was such a different experience from any that I've ever had before but I felt very drawn to the arabic man and I haven't been able to stop thinking about how much the gospel can bless his life. So we will keep our promise and return soon :)
Remember JoseLuis who was recently baptized? He's doing so great! He was ordained a priest last Sunday and this Sunday he blessed the sacrament! It was so cute to see a 65 yr old man up there learning how to participate in priesthood ordinances for the first time. Before church started I was looking around the room and my companion asked who I was looking for. I said I was looking for JoseLuis and she said, pointing to the stand, that he was going to bless the sacrament. I guess my surprised reaction was pretty funny because she started laughing. I was surprised, but pleasantly! We stopped by his house after church to give him a gift from our mission president that he gives to all of the recent convernts. He wasn't home, but his family was! So we asked if we could teach them and they are GOLDEN! They couldn't wait for us to come back. That was our first time at his house because we teach him at his daughters house where he spends most of his days taking care of grandkids. So now we have two househoulds of family members of JoseLuis to teach.
I learned a lesson about judging who's ready to accept the gospel this week. We received a phone call from a sweet old lady that asked us to come teach her so she could be baptized. Of course we set an appointment! But when we arrived at the address that she gave us we realized that we were at a mental hospital. And not only that, but a CREEPY one. As my companion said, "I feel like we just walked into a horror movie". It was seriously creepy. But we knew we had to go meet her so we said a prayer and of we went! It turns out that she lives in the assisted living part of the hospital. She met with missionaries in the past and called us because she's ready to be baptized now! MIRACLE! She came to church with us on Sunday so keep her in your prayers. Oh, her name is Yadira.
Well I think that is all for this week! I really hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas season! I sure am loving the Christmas music!! And now I can listen to it without annoying my companion....I think I started listening to it in July.
I love you all! Les quiero mucho!
-Hermana Billings

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