Soon after we returned to the chapel and had a white elephant gift exchange. My buddy Elder Eli from Tonga won my present which was a whoopy cushion, brazilian envelopes and a Kleenex pack. He really liked the whoopy cushion, but it sadly broke in the same hour when he sat on it incorrectly and it burst. haha.
Tuesday morning we helped Angelo with a move. We moved a lot of furniture out of his mom´s house and put it into his apartment. It was a good opportunity to break the ice with his mom and offer to serve them. We worked until 12:30 and then went to lunch.
On Wednesday we met with Angelo at his house and left a short message before walking over to his mom´s apartment. Our discussion with Silva went great. She informed us of her agnostic views and her philosophical beliefs as a college professor. She had lots of questions about how our church works. She asked about the missionary program, women´s role in the church, priesthood, and other topics. She really opened up her heart when she started a conversation about faith. She wanted to know what faith is to us. She shared her opinion and related it to some personal difficulties that she is going through. We had been talking with her for a while and she looked at her watch, then asked us if we are hungry. She insisted that we stay more to talk with her, so she had Angelo call in to order 2 pizzas. We ate and talked more. When we got on the subject of the restoration and the Book of Mormon, she was interested and wanted to have a copy of the Book of Mormon. We have her one and she committed to reading it. She told us that she wants to attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to look for answers to her doubts. I noticed her curiosity in our conversations that night and I believe that she will know for herself that everything we taught her is true, if she reads the Book of Mormon and prays to receive an answer. I know that Heavenly Father can touch her heart and she can one day take the same steps that Angelo is taking. We left her house with full pizza bellies a new friendship made.
Thursday was spent working in the office and teaching a few lessons in our area. Friday came quickly and we had our zone leader come with us to Angelo´s house to interview him. Since his apartment is so small my zone leader permitted me to stay in the room and participate in the interview. We had a good discussion and Angelo passed the baptismal interview!
Saturday was the special day! Even though very few members of the ward were there we were delighted to see that Angelo invited multiple family members to watch his baptism. His mom, grandma, younger brother, and some other people showed up. I had the privilege to baptize Angelo and we all felt a warm spirit in the baptismal service. Elder and Sister Briggs brought cake to eat afterwards, then we headed home.
Sunday morning Angelo was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by the quorum president brother Raimundo and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I am happy for his decision to follow Jesus Christ by following His example, being baptized and receiving the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost. Church was only Sacrament meeting and afterwards we went to lunch. Tonight we have a Christmas Eve party / dinner at Diana´s house. We will do a secret santa activity with havaiana flip flops and eat some good food. It should be lots of fun.
In the spirit of Christmas, I would like to share a quick Christmas message that I really like. I goes like this:
“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.
“There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.
“Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others.
“Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.
“Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.
“Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came.
“Because He came and paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to gain eternal life.” (President Thomas S. Monson, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional)
I reflected and see how the Christmas season is a time to reflect and act upon the blessings and opportunities we have because of the birth, life, Atonement, and Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father loves us so much that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. I know that through Him we can reach a complete joy instead of momentary happiness. I´m grateful for the opportunity that I have to "give myself" in the service of God as a missionary and help others understand the meaning of Christmas and what this life is really all about. I love my family and I can´t wait to be with them again after my mission. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!!!
Elder McKay Hilton