Merry Christmas, Malipayong Pasko, and Mele Kelikimaka!
This past week, we’ve been really trying to help all these less actives again, and so we’ve taught so many lessons about Christmas and coming to Jesus Christ. I think I shared a different scripture in each of these lessons- a story of Jesus Christ, or people who followed him, or his words to a prophet, but each one came back to the same thing. Repent and come to him. For some, we needed to remind them to be baptized, to walk in his way. Christ asks us to come.
On Christmas, after skyping (!- I love you all), we went to the tiny hospital in Sibonga- I didn’t even know it was a hospital until I looked at the Elders’ area map. We brought some little treats and pictures of Christ to give to people and visit. There were only two wards, with two patients each, so we didn't change the world. But the little boy with dehydration, the young mother whose eyes couldn't leave her son, the two families with sick grandmothers- I think maybe, we changed their worlds a little. One of the families asked if we would pray with them. I don't think I've ever seen someone so clearly in the way that the Lord sees them as I could see that grandmother. She was beautiful and so sick and her family and Heavenly Father love her, and I could say it all in Visaya. He loves us all so much. We went to the less actives' homes- we had Brother Ordeniza join even though he hadn't faced missionaries in over a year. These miracles come, and we can't really make them happen, but they come anyway. We also gathered up on top of the mountain with two of our returning less active families, and half the branch. The simple table was over flowing with food and all of us were well fed in every way this Christmas.
Earlier this week, we stopped by a less actives house- Sister Marlo Cabije. I've stopped by every week during my time in Sibonga and taught once because she avoids us so much. She used to be one of the most active members of this branch, so we were always so sad. This week, we had to talk to her, and work for it, but she allowed us to teach, and as we spoke, she finally opened up about her weaknesses, the trials and temptations in her life, the times she's fallen, and her lack of hope. I'm awed by the calling of a missionary. I'm 19 and I really cannot empathize with Sister Marlo, mother of 10 children, living on top of a mountain, surrounded by persecution. But I represent the Savior Jesus Christ and he lived and died and lives for times such as those, for people like Marlo Cabije. She took the first step that day and prayed to her Father. I couldn't help but crying as the Spirit told the three of us how much He loves her.
That's Christmas for me- that we can be clean, no matter what we did, that we can pray to Him, that we can come to him, and that through Him, we are changed. We become. My hope is that this Christmas, we all became a little more, and that we resolve to do the same next year. Come to Him, become more- become sanctified, become clean, become whole.
I know with all my heart that God loves us. That's the message we carry, that's the message we live. Just as in 3 Nephi 1, we must lift up our heads and rejoice in Christ.
I love you all!
Sister Josie Tueller
|Christmas presents to the Ordeniza family|