So maybe those things don't sound related, but have patience and all shall be made clear. The good news this week: the Christmas cheer that went on holiday last week returned in time for us to assemble cute 12 Days of Christmas Countdowns for all of our sisters, to have an awesome Christmas conference in our mission, and to play a part in our ward's elaborate Christmas activity where approximately 4.2 million visitors showed up. Okay, not that many, but close.
I know, you wanted to hear about the beer pong door first, but we're starting backwards this time. Just to keep you on your toes.
And because Christmas is great!
So we had our Christmas conference where the whole east half of our mission came together and that was grand. Not only did we have many a' magical musical numbers by various talented missionaries, but we also watched 17 Miracles together. Which in case you forgot, is the first movie I've seen in almost a year. I may or may not have cried through the entire movie. Before it even got sad or intense. Because my heart just felt so full and it was like I couldn't breathe and I'm not sure if that is normal when you watch movies to feel so deeply and I just forgot what it was like or maybe I was just so touched by stories of love and faith and sacrifice and felt blessed to give my small sacrifice. It wasn't even a Christmas movie, but we were all so grateful to receive this treat that uplifted and inspired us and helped us be grateful for all we have and can do and give.
The other good Christmas cheer came from our ward Christmas activity, which was super sweet. Our ward worked really hard to set up a mini Christmas market INSIDE our church with food and gifts and then they had this really great nativity program. Oh my gosh it was so much and everyone was so stressed but it was so good and so many people came, like our Vietnamese girl Nga and her two little sisters. It was their first time EVER seeing the nativity and we were so glad they got to come.
Wedding Bells Are Ringing...
Okay, actually they were Christmas bells disguised as wedding bells, meaning all of the sister missionaries wore wedding dresses as we played our role as angels in the nativity. And by all of us, I mean Sister Kriser got to wear a sheet that made her kind of look like a priestess, but the rest of us definitely looked like brides. And let me tell you, it was a stressful wedding day. I had to accompany a musical number that I'd only practiced once and it was a little rough and then right before the nativity performance, my dress's zipper broke and we also had people that we wanted to talk to but you can't really talk to be people and have it be normal when you are wearing a wedding dress or now an unzipped wedding dress that we pinned together with one precious safety pin and a white sash. So I ended up accompanying still in the wedding dress with one pin and singing a bunch of angelic choruses and greeting a few people before running away like the runaway bride I wanted to be and putting on my normal missionary attire.
Never thought I'd wear my first wedding dress on my mission.
How Greifswald stole Christmas
Okay, more lies. They didn't steal Christmas. I'm just not that witty anymore, but I am accepting suggestions for more clever ways to write about...things. The Greifswald sisters came down right before our mission conference to go on exchanges and it was good. We received a huge Albanian baked bread-frit thing filled with cheese that was delicious while we tried to stop by and see people and had a good time talking about how to overcome hard things on a mission. I was with Sister Schmidt, who I was in the MTC with and who came over with me, so that was fun. It was interesting to see where we've been and what new challenges we've encountered and how you get off the swing when you have to sit down to cry for a bit. I think it's just kind of a hard time for missionaries all over.
Behind the Beer Pong Door
It is not the title of a game or book, but I'm considering using it someday for some sort of something. On Saturday, we knocked on doors at a student housing place near our church to invite them to our Christmas activity and we came across a door that was decorated with all sorts of pictures and quotes about alcohol and we hesitated knocking, but went ahead anyways, interested in seeing who was behind the beer pong door. A surprisingly normal looking man opened the door and asked if we were Mormons and said he actually already had a Book of Mormon, but he hadn't read and wouldn't mind learning more. So that was sweet. Except he wasn't there when we went back later. Lame. But we shall find him because we know where he lives and he already had a book.
What I didn't know about missionary work before I went on a mission:
For some reason I thought that missionaries just ate with ward members and taught the ward members’ friends and always had regular appointments with people who had been learning about the church and had a desire to learn and would probably join the church eventually and the hardest thing would be getting along with a companion.
Because appointments fall out all over the place and we have so many cool finding experiences and then we seem to never get more than a first appointment, if that, even though we are constantly trying new things, and then we just talk to people or do a lot of travel to try to visit other people and it's just different and I will never have a life like this again.
But it's good. And Christmas is going to be bomb. We are so stoked. Because that's how we live life. Stoked.
Joy to the world!
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward