It's not quite like "Christmas Eve in Washington" America's hometown. Wow I missed hearing that song this year!
Everyone kept saying how strangely warm the weather had been this year. Just last week it was still raining because it wasn't cold enough for snow! That is so not like Utah! The end of December and not having a significant snowfall?? So last week we asked our beloved weatherman, Kevin Eubank, what the chances were of having a white Christmas.
I had never had a white Christmas in my entire LIFE, and I was really hoping we would get one!
He broke into weatherman mode. He told us that the statistics are as follows: 58% of winters in Utah have snow already on the ground on Christmas, but only 24% of Christmases have snow falling on Christmas. That doesn't sound like good odds. Especially on a weird weather year. But. He told us that there is this weird pattern that every 7 years it snows on Christmas. He asked us to guess how many years it had been... 7 years!! He then said, "Sisters, if you have faith, it will snow on Christmas!"
Christmas eve rolled around though. And it was still warm. No sign of a storm approaching. We doubted.
Christmas morning we woke to snow on the ground! And snow falling!! I was like a little child. We got about a foot of snow that day! It was incredible!! We apologized to Brother Eubank for our lack of faith when we saw him that afternoon - he kindly opened his home for us to Skype our families! Sister Cox said, "This is all based on Brother Eubank's faith! Because we DOUBTED!!!" I gave Brother Eubank a snowflake ornament that I crocheted.
I had also doubted the white handbook. The white handbook is a missionaries "rule book." It has a lot of helpful advice and tips and clarifies some of the rules that we should live by while serving. (I have a hard time resisting the Pirates of the Caribbean perspective of, "They're more like guidelines than actual RULES." :) The white handbook says that holidays are PERFECT times to visit people because they are all home with their families.
Yeah. But who wants a missionary in their home on a holiday?!
Sister Cox and I got creative though. We got permission to take her guitar caroling and sang a version of "Silent Night" that we had arranged. (By we I mean she - she's so talented!) On Christmas eve we visited so many people that we haven't seen in such a long time! It was the most successful day we've had in this area since Sister Haddock was here 2 months ago! Many, many people thanked us for our visit and said that it helped to bring some holiday cheer into their lives. It felt so good to be able to provide that.
Probably the biggest miracle happened with the Barkers. Irene was just baptized a few weeks ago, and we had planned on going to temple square with them on Christmas eve to see the lights. When we arrived she came outside and said that the family was all fighting and that we wouldn't be going that night. We were bummed. We asked if we could instead sing to them, and they agreed. So we sang "Silent Night." Almost immediately the feeling in the room changed. You could feel the heaviness when we entered the home, but while we sang M. began to cry. (He's such a big Teddy Bear - for people that know my family, the Barker boys are like the Taylor boys. Super tall and large, but gentle giants. :) At the end of that song we felt like we needed to keep going. So we asked them for their favorite Christmas hymns, and Sister Cox whipped out a guitar part on the spot. You could just feel the peace wash over the room. They are having a hard time right now, but it was so good to be able to help lift their spirits in such a way! They also thanked us for bringing the Spirit into their home on Christmas eve. I love that family so much! I'm a little sad that I never got to Temple Square, but that impromptu caroling visit was so perfect and exactly what all of us needed.
This week we were so loved and so cared for. And we shared our love as much as we could! We had wonderful meals, and even got to spend time Christmas day with some families. It felt so nice. I had thought that I'd want to ask for permission to go home early next year to be there for Christmas, but I LOVE that I get to have two Christmases as a missionary!
Speaking of - if I've calculated correctly, and if I really do go home an entire transfer early (for school) then I will be headed home one year from today. Wow. Can't believe how much time has gone by already!
PS! Don't send me any mail this week! There is a very strong possibility that we may be moving in the next few days.
This week I started medication for my depression. It was a bit of a bumpy week but I think we're going to start seeing improvement. I sometimes get very depressed around Christmas, and especially on the 28th. Yesterday marked 10 years since my friend Caitlin passed away. I really am learning how to be patient with myself and to recognize what I am capable of and what things I can just not worry about. Last week I met with my mission President and he reminded me of the scripture in Mosiah 4:27, "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."
I have often remembered and contemplated the line "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." That is good counsel for us all! I am SO PRONE to overdoing things. (I said that to Bishop Pierson and he sarcastically responded with, "No! You're kidding!!!" Ha. Oops... definitely need to learn to pace myself...) But this week as I studied that verse I came to realize that it's not just about slowing down, it's about pushing on. Be diligent. Don't try to do things that you're just not capable of! A refusal to give up, no matter how much I want to is what this means. And I'm not just talking about giving up in terms of the mission - I am honestly praying and doing my best to consider what the best course would be for me. Some people need to go home early, and I may be one of them. That is real life, and it's nothing to be ashamed for. However, I need to continue making good choices! I need to continue doing my best! I am also so prone to "turtling" as the Pierson's call it. I have spent days, weeks and sometimes months of my life sitting on the couch not doing anything but watch tv and make something. Those times are good sometimes, but really being a depressed mess is no way to live a life. I am learning that being diligent is THAT kind of refusal to give up. Sitting on the couch watching tv or reading a book would be the easy way to endure a depression episode. And, as stated, we all have days and days are allowed. But I'm really grateful that now I am learning how to cope with depression and still be a human being. One day I will be a mom, and my kids deserve more than me checking out of life until my head is back in shape.
So. Have realistic expectations. But still try to be a little better tomorrow than I am today. That's what I'm learning. :)
I love you all! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are going to have a fantastic New Year! We will be in by 5 and spend the evening watching Frozen and Ephraim's rescue with our District. Can't wait!!