So it has certainly been a long time since I have felt like I have gotten to sit down and really write a letter to everyone probably because it has been. Our schedules as missionaries are definitely shuffled around a bit during the holiday season. So I haven't had the chance to even do any emailing until this current P-Day. And I am sure you all might be wondering. What is it like to be a missionary in Germany during the Christmas season? Well to share my honest experience, holidays in Germany are probably the last kind of days of the year when you want to do missionary work. And in fact, this last week we were all given specific instructions on what we could and couldn’t do during the three day Christmas holiday. They celebrate Christmas for three days (24, 25 &26) in Germany in case you were wondering. But back to what I was saying. It is kind of disappointing to be honest, you would think during the holiday season people would be the happiest and most welcoming. On the contrary nobody has time or they have guests over or they just feel even more disturbed by your presence than ever. So really it is a good thing that the holidays are over because then the work picks back up again. However Christmas is not doom and gloom for a missionary, do not get me wrong. And we were not alone during the Christmas season either. We were invited by the members over to their houses for most of the week. And those moments for me are always a nice little breath of fresh air. If there is something that I will miss when I am not a missionary, it will be that I will not really be able to hang out with members of the Church in such a way again. I will not really have very many opportunities to sit down and get to know someone over dinner and really get to see how cool people really are. I wonder quite often if there were people back in my home wards that I could've grown such a bond with or enjoyed my time with. It is just nice to form a bond with the people you go to Church with. It is nice as a missionary to feel like you are a part of the family in some way. Although it can be quite hilarious when it comes down to the missionary rules, for instance when we were at the Pitari's (branch president's) house last week during one of the Christmas holiday days. They have a little 3-4 year old granddaughter named Sophie that is always there. And she is a pretty silly little girl. President Pitari's family is Italian so it’s funny when she speaks because half the time it is German and the other half of the time it is Italian so at one moment you have no idea what she is saying and the next moment you do. But what was funny is that at one point while we were there she was holding onto my arm and she would try to sit on my lap and even try to kiss my cheek. And it was just hilarious because as a missionary you can't pick up kids and other things like that. So every time she tried to do one of those things I have to try to get away and then her whole family is trying to pick her up and get her away but she keeps coming back. Basically the relationship of a missionary and the members is pretty hilarious sometimes.
But yeah I guess you can say that things are pretty tough right now as a missionary or for me at least. I feel the exact same as I did when I first got into Hannover and we were white-washing the missionary program there. It is hard when just about every day the only thing you are doing is dooring and street contacting and trying to go by on contacts and less actives. Thinking about these kinds of times reminds me of a conversation at an eating appointment back in Hannover. We were eating with two young married couples and the rest of the missionaries in Hannover. And of course we were asking them were they served their missions. And so one of them served in Greece and the other served in Utah. The one that served in Greece did nothing but doors and the other usual methods of finding people and had zero baptisms. While the one that went to Utah did absolutely no dooring and it was actually completely discourage anyways and he got around 80 something baptisms. It really makes you ponder your role as a missionary and what it takes for you to accomplish your role as a disciple and representative of Christ. For instance President Joseph Fielding Smith served a mission in England. A country that is very well-known in church history for converting large amounts of people and even now I would say that the numbers in England are comparatively higher than to those in other European missions. But at the time when Joseph Fielding Smith served there, a future prophet of the Church, he had a total of zero baptisms by the end of his mission, although he served with all his might, mind, and strength and I do not doubt it for a second that he did otherwise. He did not see the success of his labors at that point. And although I have already seen success in my mission, I cannot say that the current situation that I am in now does not shock me or have an effect upon me because I yearn to be a striving force for good. Although sometimes I may think that I am not much to look at in terms of a missionary. I am still all the Lord has right here, right now, to fill this position. My only hope is that as I take advantage of this experience I can be magnified by the Spirit of God, and become effective and powerful. I hope only that the Spirit may bear record of my testimony. And that although many have sought for more impressive ways of saying it, singing it, or writing it, and used all matter of poetic expression. When all is said and done, the declaration which is most powerful is similar to a declaration of love in its three-word variety. I know that my Redeemer lives! My mission so far has opened my eyes to a prize much bigger than that of a so called successful mission with many baptisms but to a prize of a firm testimony that which I can build my future life upon and my future family upon. A testimony that is based on the foundation of Christ of which I cannot fall from and even more than that a promise of eternal life. And as President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “What will the Church do for you, a man? It will give you the assurance, as certain as life itself, that death is but a graduation, and that those most precious to you may be yours through all eternity." I cannot express the enabling power of the gospel and what it has done for me already, so young and so weak in my current state of life. I could never regret my mission whether or not I saw many baptisms or other successes. I am glad to be where I am right now, even if it means I plant only the tiniest of seeds. However I will try to accomplish greatness nonetheless.
I just want to end my letter by saying that I am grateful for all of those who sent me something during the Christmas time or who kept me in their prayers. I am very grateful for all the love and support that I receive from each and every one of you. And I think and pray for you all as much as is permissible. I love y'all!