Christmas in the 'Keek was amazing! On Christmas Eve, a member took us to see some lights around the county. On Christmas day Sister Van Buskirk made yummy cinnamon rolls. I can't believe how much trouble she went to with stockings, decorations, and presents under the tree! She truly served us. I felt like I was at home:) Thank you everyone for your beautiful letters and gifts. We were able to meet with some less active families in the ward and I think we were fed five times. I love Christmas:)
I dislike the few days after Christmas because no one wants to meet with us. We went three days straight without a single lesson! Most potentials and investigators told us to wait until after New Years. Hopefully things will pick up again on Thursday when school is back in session!
Transfer calls were Sunday and Sister Olsen and I are both staying in Accokeek! However, Sister Olsen has been out for seven months now and her Visa to Brazil should be here any second. I'm not sure what will happen to me when it comes, but it's highly unlikely that she'll make it to the end of this transfer. Exciting things are going to happen in this ward during the next six weeks!
Tonya is on date to be baptized, and she is committed! As always, please pray for her! I feel like we're finally making headway because she's sharing her doctrinal concerns with us. She's asking more questions! Yay!
Kayla isn't on date yet, but she wants to be! We've started taking her with us to dinner appointments. She's making lots of friends in the ward, and now we want to help her understand the spiritual importance of this commitment.
The Fisher family was handed to us by the Elders because the family has a teenage daughter. We taught them for the first time last Thursday and it went really well! They're ready to be baptized, but they want to do it together as a family. They are more active than some members!!
*Now I thought I'd share a little more about Virginia:
In the South, people want to give you water. We are offered water at every single house! And sometimes they just give us water without us asking. Here's the cute part: they never give water in a cup with ice. The people here keep water bottles, usually Deer Park brand, so they can give them out. We normally pick up two or three bottles a day. The back of our car is stuffed with them! We throw out SO MANY WATER BOTTLES.
The names here. And not just the black people! I've met a white Danesha. I've met a Kanesha, and a Tanesha. JayQuan, DeVaughn, Kiondre, Shantay, Tasia, Niedra, Tyrone, Latrice, Asan, Veinza, Kanenye. Seriously!
Anyway... I have a friend who was ET'd home because of depression so I thought I'd address that a little bit. She wrote me asking about how I deal with depression on the mission. I believe there's a relationship between the way I think and act about things, and the way I feel.
I've struggled with depression for nearly 10 years now. Sometimes I get stuck in thinking that I can't ever get out of it--that depression will always be a part of my life. My favorite miracle in the New Testament is the woman with the issue of blood. Even after 12 years, she believed that she could be healed. I fully believe that I can be healed, and my mission is helping me. God has given me so many opportunities to learn. I'm trying to be the best student I can be:)
In addition to her faith, the woman was healed by the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ. He said that virtue had left him when she touched his robe. She was healed by his strength and purity. I love Moroni 8:26--when we offer up a broken heart, we've opened up space for God to fill our hearts with love and hope. That's sanctification.
I had a nightmare the other night that my mission ended, and it was time for me to go home. I was so disappointed in myself...I haven't grown as much as I want to and I haven't learned all that I need to. Learning won't come by time, but it does take time. (See: Pres. Eyring's "Mountains to Climb.") There are things that I need to do every single day to overcome this.
I know that for me the hardest part of each day is when I first wake up and when I leave the apartment after morning studies. Instead of thinking about them as being difficult, I focus on what I'm grateful for, why I'm serving a mission, and what my opportunities are that day. I have to do this every single day!!
*As part of my new year's goals, these are things that I want to do to be healed:
-Focus on a Christlike attribute each month (reminder: January is knowledge!)
-Read Jesus the Christ twice to learn more about His life
-Read one chapter from the Book of Mormon every day
-Read my Patriarchal Blessing every day to understand my purpose in life
-Always speak highly of myself and others
-Keep a daily gratitude journal
Small and simple.
I'd also like to invite my family and friends to read the Book of Mormon with me:) I figured out that if we read one chapter a day, we can almost read it twice before I get home! I'm starting tomorrow, January 1st.
So...that's what I'm doing to deal with depression on my mission. It really is just that--doing. So many things act upon us, and all we can do is act. My feelings can't change unless my thoughts and actions do first. And as my family saw during our Christmas Skype session, I'm a happy little Sister:)
I love you all dearly. Please be happy and safe:) I appreciate all of your love and prayers and support.
Love, Sister Sarah "Rahrah" Crandall:)