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Saturday, January 9, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Look ma! No snow! Plus these power lines are really cool and go for
miles but you can't really see  in this picture. But for real, it's
been such a mild winter so far, hardly any snow, and in the forties
the last few days.

Hi family! I know you're probably in the middle of the ocean somewhere or relaxing on an island, but I figure you have wifi on the fancy boat. Usually I don't really have anything to write about but this week I've been keeping notes, and now I have a ton of stuff! This has felt like the longest week on my mission by far. 

We had transfers, so Monday we met up with the rest of our district for breakfast at the church and to open the transfer email, we have a new district leader, and the other set of sisters is training. Hermana Brittner from California is the newbie. She's cute, I like her.  But with this last set of changes, Elder McVicker, who came out the same time I did, and I have seniority in our ward. How crazy is that? As much as I love this area and the people in it, I am ready for a change. Luckily, I am still with Sis W and the work is going really well, so I have things to keep me motivated and not bored.

Tuesday night, we did service in Minneapolis. We were with the group we do service with once a week (FOCUS) and helped them translate for their Christmas event. Through the schools they invited certain families to come and "shop" for new things for free. It was really neat to see how grateful some of the parents were. It was one of those it really feels like Christmas moments. It just felt good, you know what I mean? We also met this lady named Irene. She is almost 80, and is one of the most vibrant people I've ever met. She did not look even close to that old and still gets around really well and stuff. But she was super cute. We and the Elders were talking to her and she said that if we were ever in St Anthony Village where she lives, we could feel free to stop by for a cup of cider or something. So cute. Her sister is almost 90 and was there too. I want to be that type of old person.

On Wednesday, we got a call that invited us to the mission leadership council lunch, and we were freaking out all morning. We had no idea why we were invited. Turns out they literally just had too much food. That was nice of them haha. Plus the food was good and we got leftovers. Then we had dinner with a member and she made nopales which is cactus. It was super good! AH! Sis Warmbier decided to cut her hair and then got more than halfway through and decided it was terrible! and then I got to fix it...:I...haha it was really funny, and it actually turned out ok. We also got a package from mom Warmbier with some Christmas presents for both of us, cuuute:) We have this cute Christmas garland thing that you hang Christmas cards on. So send me a postcard from Puerto Rico or wherever you're going haha.

I know that the day by day emails are boring, but seriously this week was so long. It's the only way I can remember everything. 

Thursday. We went to Chaska and had a lesson with Martin, our recent convert. It was an impromptu lesson, we were only planning on dropping off a couple things and showing the Christmas video. But we should have known better, because he loves to talk. What happened is that he has been struggling with the idea of tithing,  He really doesn't like that it's a set amount that we are obligated to pay. So he was praying for an answer to know if tithing is a law of God or man. He is from a Catholic background where you donate whatever you want. He found a video on YouTube by some Christian dude and took it as his answer! He said that it talked about how we don't belong to the house of Israel so we don't have to pay, and how Abraham payed tithing on the treasury money or something and so it's different, I don't know, but I was ticked. Luckily I stayed pretty calm and we were able to try and talk some sense into him and explain. He kept trying to show us the (sixteen minute!!) video, we watched like 3 minutes and I refused to watch anymore. I just started talking instead of watching, and we were able to leave with a pretty good spirit and testifying of the truth. This was a moment where I really felt the gift of tongues as a real thing. I am convinced that I have never spoken that easily. It still wasn't perfect, but I was able, with Sis W's help, to communicate what he needed to hear. Here's the other kicker, he left for Mexico on vacation for a month! We are a little anxious about that, but we'll see what happens. 

Friday we had a multi-zone Christmas Conference! It was really fun, we sang songs, President Forbes talked about the events preceding Christ's birth and how the prophecies were fulfilled, and then after lunch, we watched the Sound of Music! It was way fun because missionary/President Forbes commentary was so funny. Also during the conference Sis W and I sang! We sang Estrella de Luz and it turned out really well. 

After the conference we had an appointment with a member. There have been a lot of humbling moments on my mission, but this was a big one. Her and her two teenage kids live in the basement of a home, and it's basically one room. They have a twin bed  on one side in the corner where her son sleeps and then her and her thirteen year old daughter share a bigger mattress on the floor, their kitchen is literally the space under the stairs and consisted of a hot plate and a fridge. She was so nice to us and made us fajitas. Her kids are sweet too. I really am learning to love these people a lot. It's easier now that I can mostly understand them. 

Saturday we had a slow day, we only taught one lesson, and it was to a member that we stopped by. She is a RM and brought a wonderful spirit to our evening. She just went through her second miscarriage, and testified of God's plan and love for us. Amazing.

Sunday was crazy. Good crazy. Cristina came to church again! yay!! She stayed for all three hours and was answering questions and participating. She is literally the perfect investigator. We've only taught her a few times and she is already almost done with second Nephi, she comes to church and says her prayers are improving. She's awesome. We had to leave her in the hands of the other sisters during third hour because we taught young women's. I finally know all their names now. We taught them about missionary work (surprise surprise) and easy ways to do it. It was a good lesson and they were good at participating. Plus it was in English so that was nice too. After church we had tithing settlement in our ward. It's unusual here because they kind of have to adjust it latino-style. They have a really short meeting all together right after church, and talk about what it means to pay tithing, and why and what it is and the shpeel they give at the beginning of tithing settlement. Then they do a potluck and while they eat, they go in family by family and all they have to do is answer the yes/no question "do you pay a full tithe?" and then it's done. Bishop said that they get 4 or 5 times more people to tithing settlement this way than the "gringo way" as he called it:) Sunday night we had a lot of success. We went and visited two less active families that we hadn't seen in a really long time (one of them came to church whoop whoop and the other we had never met) and were able to teach them, and then we had a lesson with a family we haven't been able to see in a while. It was a nice boost after Saturday of not teaching much. 

Woo, so that was my week. Lot's of neat experiences. I don't know why it felt so long. Plus I've been sick for the last couple of weeks, and cough up a lung every time I laugh. I should prooobably talk to Elder Graff about that, cuz it's not really getting better. 

The last thing I want to share is from my studies this week. Our mission has this study packet all about the Atonement, and President asked us to read from it every day to prepare for Christmas. So I have had the really cool opportunity to be reading about the Atonement along with my reading in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Jesus the Christ. I have been reading about the actual event of the Atonement and Crucifixion and learning more about the Atonement in general. But something that really stood out to me this week was about the nature of Christ and His power. So because Christ was born to a mortal mother, he inherited the ability to die, or in other words, for his spirit and body to separate. From his immortal Father, he inherited the ability to control the separation (and reunion) of his spirit and body. I have been thinking a lot about the implications of this. Reading about the crucifixion gives me shivers, because it is literally the worst possible way to die, and the Romans knew that and perfected it. But if Christ had/has the power to control when he dies, he could have decided at any moment to stop the pain, to give up, to relieve his body of the hours and hours of agony. But he didn't! It wasn't until his work was done that he pronounced "It is finished" and gave up the ghost. Or literally allowed himself to die. He decided, it was never up to anyone else. I think it's the most amazing thing and has really added to the depth of my understanding of the Atonement. Christmas has been the perfect time to study and learn more about Christ and what he did for us. 

Have fun this week! I'll give you Skype details next week:)
Love, Emily

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