Ok, so I decided I couldn’t wait till next week's email to tell you about Thanksgiving. I already told you how I was up at 5:30 AM to do laundry. It was pretty crazy and I was so happy we didn’t have to wait for hours to finish. Then first on the agenda was the morning devotional. Guess Who??? That’s right…….ELDER HOLLAND!!!!
It was the best devotional. He brought his family and his grandkids, they sang and gave short testimonies. Then Elder and Sister Holland stood up holding hands at the microphone (sooooo cute!) and told us they loved us and that we have no agency in the matter and are now all their adopted children for the day. They said it multiple times and I know the missionaries felt special. They told us we were the beginning of something wonderful. What a great time to be a missionary, ushering in a new era of church history! A few of the things that stood out to me in Elder Holland’s talk: He asked us to ponder the question, “What does it mean to have what I have?” He also told us never to say, ”When I get back to the real world…..” He boldly (and I mean Elder Holland BOLDLY) said that, “THIS is ‘REAL Life’ ”. “It doesn’t get anymore real than this!” He closed by testifying to each of us that God loves us and knows us by name! I am so grateful that I know that I am a child of God. I know the Lord loves me. I have felt his arms encircle me with that love. To everyone reading this, I know you are a child of God, He knows you by name and He loves you. The spirit and power present in that devotional was incredible. During one part of the devotional, the Hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go Dear Lord” began to run through my mind. The answer of, “I will, Lord” burned within me. I love this Gospel. What a blessing it was to listen to an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ on this beautiful Thanksgiving Day. When Elder Holland left, all the missionaries stood and we just basked in the spirit of the moment.
After devotional we had Thanksgiving dinner. It was good. Not like home cooked good and the rolls had nothing on you mom, but it was good. After dinner we went and packed a sack dinner. Then we had a humanitarian service presentation. They showed a wonderful message about helping and serving others. They talked about how one of the ways members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worship is through giving service to our fellowman. They showed us the “Helping Hands” video again. If you haven’t watched it, DO! I think you can find it on YouTube –mormonhelpinghandsnyc. I am inspired to find people to serve every day on my mission.
After that presentation we went to the cafeteria to make over 4,000 educational bags and 4,000 hygiene kits for the people of Mali. It was so fun working together knowing how important these simple items will be to the recipients. We finished a little early and the table behind us found a roll of tape and they were blowing this roll of tape up and down the 30-40 foot table cheering if they made it without falling off. He,he – oh, missionaries, we are so easily entertained! Then we ate dinner in our residencies which basically was cookies and candies because the sandwiches were kinda warm and soggy. Hermana Pearson and I made our turkey decorations mom sent. They are so cute!
Then we went to a special musical program. There were some great instrumental pieces and singers, but the best part was when the entire audience sang “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…” Who knew there were three verses! Ok, seriously, who knew there was more beyond the first line. :) We also enjoyed a Thanksgiving skit. The characters when their part/name was called would have to say a little line. For example, the turkey’s gobbled, the pilgrim women said, “Mercy me”. The best one was the preacher who said, “ Hallellujah!” The first time the preacher went no one said anything, but the last time he shouted, the audience shouted back, “Amen!” It was such a fun program.
The final surprise of the night (which I had my suspicions about from mid-day because of the time frame) …a Movie! The best part was President Brown saying we have popcorn for you. Then they gave each missionary a decent sized bag of delicious kettle corn. We’re talkin’ the real stuff. The movie we watched was, “17 Miracles”. Church history, the MTC spirit and me = basically cried the whole movie. Even Elders were tearing up. Every time I watch that movie I am so touched by the sacrifice and faith of those early saints. It really hit me hard because I have a better understanding of what it means to sacrifice almost everything for the gospel. I am giving up 18 months of my life to serve the people of New Mexico. The last line in the movie says it all, “It will all be worth it.” I know that these 18 months serving the Lord will be the best months of my life.
So that was my Thanksgiving. Even though I was away from my family and friends I had a great experience. It was a spiritually enriching day and a day I will never forget. Ok, well, I love everyone lots. I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with gratitude as we remember the great things the Lord has done for us.