Wednesday, December 25, 2013



Well, last Monday was the greatest day of my mission.  WHY, might you ask?  Well, because I got a package. Not just any package, however... This package contained two baseball mitts, two baseballs, a ton of socks, and my patriarchal blessing!  Those were like ALL I EVER WANTED since I’ve been on my mission, and they all came in at once!  It was so sweet! 
I immediately played catch with Elder Swonson for like a half hour, which I regretted the next day because I couldn't move my right arm.  I should've known better.  I'm all fat and outta shape.  Who was I to think I could just be chuckin’ curveballs and cutters at Elder Swonson, without being a bit sore?

The other great part was getting my patriarchal blessing.  I've seriously been wanting that SO BAD since I’ve been on my mission.  I read it like 10 times, and I actually put a little "legend" at the bottom and marked up the entire thing in different colors correlating them to different categories.  For example, I would highlight promises in purple, blessings in blue, gifts in green, commands in yellow, my future in red.  I'd box things about my purpose, and so on and so forth.  So, the entire thing is marked up.  I read it a lot and learned so much.  It really was fantastic.  Now, I read it like every other day. It’s pretty sweet.

So apparently, according to my district leader, Elder Wright and I have had the best numbers in the zone for the last two weeks straight.  We're killing it with our members present during lessons, other lessons taught, etc.  I thought I'd just throw that in there. 

This week was kind of tough to get a lot done, because of Christmas.   Tuesday, we had to run ALL the way out to Yorktown, so Elder Swonson could interview someone for baptism. Yorktown is in the middle of NOWHERELAND.   Texas is crazy.  Some towns, are just like home, fairly populated with lots of stores, etc.  But, Yorktown? Yorktown has one streetlight and 400 people that live there.  The missionaries out there live in a trailer, and they actually cover 6 towns.  Their area is massive!  

So, after our district meeting, then the two hour drive to Yorktown, we spent some time there and drove ALL the way home.  That took up most of the day, and we actually had to cancel our dinner appointment for Tuesday night.  We saw so much land on that drive.   I just don’t get it.   It’s insane!   I am like just staring out over these plains thinking, "what on earth is all this for...?" haha us Californians!!  We just don't understand.  There are cows and goats and deer, and I just get all confused.  I’m definitely out of place out there! 

On Thursday, we had a Christmas conference for the ENTIRE mission.  We had to wake up really early and drive out to the location.  It was sweet though!  We took zone pictures, and then everyone just stood around talking to each other FOREVER.  I saw a few people I knew in the MTC.  We heard from President Slaughter, which was great.  He taught us the REAL Christmas story of Jesus' birth.

It’s funny how the world actually sees the nativity.  When you actually REALLY go through Matthew and Luke, it’s quite different than how it's explained nowadays, with all the wise men and shephards getting to Jesus RIGHT when he's born and praising him.  When, really, the wise men weren't even kings, and they didn't get to Jesus until he was a toddler!  There's a lot of stuff like that; it's just funny.  We also heard a lot of very great musical numbers during the first part of that conference as well; including one sister who sang the first noel in 3 was amazing.   She was a fantastic singer.  We also had a RIDICULOUSLY big BBQ in the gym, and I almost threw up from all the food I ate.  I swear, I’m like a dog sometimes; you never really KNOW exactly when you're going to get your next meal, so I just eat and eat and eat like it’s my last!   Oh, man, that’s got to stop.   We also had a talent show, and I got volunteered for another musical number!  I seriously don't know what the heck is going on here, and why I keep getting volunteered for musical numbers.  And, let’s just say my district here can’t compete with my district at the MTC.  It’s all male, and only two of us can actually hold a tune.  So, you know it isn't very good if I consider myself one of the "good ones" in the group!   The rest of the show was fantastic as well, some people are so talented!

Speaking of talent, I've been learning how to play the ukulele this week.  Elder Swonson has one, and some books on how to learn.  SO, at night I try to teach myself.  I can kinda play Silent Night on it.  I want my own uke to play though!  I think I could learn this one, no joke!

On Saturday, we had a Christmas party for our ward, and we invited a lot of non-members.   Elder Wright and I helped set up for the whole thing!  It took forever, but it turned out fantastic!  The party was a big hit; lots of good food, lots of people showed up, and lots of nonmembers came!   We had a great time.  They also had a talent show and a presentation on the birth of Christ at the end.   It was all just great; I really had a good time, and I think the non-members did, too.

Some COOL stuff that happened this week:  I gave three more blessings this week.  One blessing was for a man with Parkinsons that’s pretty bad.  On Saturday, another member called us to see if he could come pick us up to bless his 14 months old grandson, who was very sick.  This time I did the sealing...for the first time EVER.

Something else that was cool was that we had two lessons with “S” this week, one of our investigators, and they went very good! She's really reading the Book of Mormon now, and she's killing it and having lots of questions.  So we come over and help her in all the ways we can.  She's great; she's really putting in an effort now, and she loves the Book of Mormon.  I even came up with a great response this week when she asked if there were any instances in the bible, where it referred to the Book of Mormon.   So, we talked about Ezekiel 37, and I talked to her about the stick of Judah and stick of Ephraim.  I've only actually HEARD someone bring up that scripture once in the MTC, so I’m not sure how I remembered it!  

I also had an opportunity to bear her my testimony as well, which went great.   And, I didn't cry, so I felt like it was good. She was kinda making fun of me for it the second time we saw her, but that's okay.  She could also see how much I meant it, and how important it was to me.  I think that's helping her with her motivation to keep reading and meeting with us.

We finally got some good biking weather, but we also had to ride a lot those days! I think I rode 80 miles in 3 days?  I know that doesn't seem like a ton, but it gets a little old.  I live in the hill country, and I carry a big bag on my back and I’m wearing church clothes, so it gets a little tough going up those hills...BUT, I mob down the hills with my extra weight haha :D.

Well, I’ll leave you with a little spiritual thought.   When we met with the “R” family this week, Brother “R” shared a story he was reading.  It is called "The Parable of the Bicycle." In the story, there is a family, and the mother is doing EVERYTHING she can do be perfect.  She's trying to be a perfect person, which we all know is impossible.  One day she just gives up and tells her husband she can't do it anymore, and she breaks down crying saying she just CANNOT be perfect.  He just stares at her and tells her the following parable:

He talked about how one day his daughter came up to him and asked him if she could get a bike.  They were not very wealthy, so thinking he was clever and he could get her off his back he said "okay honey, if you save up ALL of your pennies, one day you'll have enough for a bike!" So, she got excited and said "okay!" For weeks, she saved up her pennies.  Then, one day, about three weeks later, she comes to her dad and says, "I’ve saved all my pennies, and you said if I did I could get a bike! Can we go to the store to look at them?" Of course, being the loving father that he is, he takes her all around town to the various bike stores, looking for "The One." Finally, they found the perfect bike.  His daughter, being very young and naive, gets giddy with excitement and runs to the bike and declares that it's the one.  She then turns over the price tag, her smile disappears, and she begins to cry.  Her dad asks her what is wrong and she says "oh daddy, I’ll never be able to buy this bike, as I don't have enough pennies!" He says "well, how much is the bike?" She replied, "$100.”  He said "and, how much money do you have?" She said, "62 cents." Being her father, and loving her very much, he said, "well I’ll tell you what, how about you give me all of your 62 cents, a big hug and a kiss, and I’ll pay the rest. How does that sound?" Of course, she agreed.So, why am I telling you this story?  As I'm sure many of you can guess, this is a perfect example of the atonement our Savior has provided for us.  Because as much as we want to be, we are an imperfect people. We can try and try, to no avail; we cannot be perfect as our Savior was.  However, because of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, he sent his son here to earth so that we COULD return to live with him. Jesus Christ came here, atoned for our sins, and died for us, so that he could, in essence, "pay off" the rest of the debt.  HE is the father in that parable.  Because when it comes down to it, we'll try our entire lives, but when we die, we'll only have 62 cents to give our Father in Heaven, when what we really need is 100 dollars.  But Jesus beckons us over, asks us to give him a big hug and a kiss and our 62 cents, and he'll pay the rest. And the best part is that Jesus has ALREADY DONE this for us.  He's already performed the atonement; it's already through.  All we are asked to do is take advantage of it, so why wouldn't we!?

I hope that everyone remembers the real reason of Christmas.  It’s great getting gifts.  It's awesome seeing the lights and trees and candy and cookies.  But, for a moment, let's all remember what we're celebrating. We’re celebrating the birth of the single greatest person who has ever walked on the earth: the birth of our Lord, our Savior, and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! I love you all!


Elder Snow

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