Merry Christmas everyone! I will try and keep this brief because guess what? I can call you tomorrow!!!! So crazy! Just to clarify, I will be calling home at 2:00 p.m. my time which should will be 10:00 a.m. your time. YAY!
I can't believe we have reached the Christmas week already! I know time goes by so quickly but it feels like this month has flown by. The past week has been busy as usual and it's been a little tricky to get a hold of some of our investigators and recent converts. I talked to Mattie this week which was a tender mercy. Mattie is a recent convert that was baptized when I was training Sister Pipe. I called her and learnt that she has been called as a teacher in her Relief Society class and she taught her first lesson last Sunday about Joseph Smith. Isn't that awesome? I love hearing from our recent converts and finding out that they are still strong. Sister Walker from the South Carolina Columbia Mission emailed me and said Brian is getting the priesthood this week! I am so happy for him. My heart is overflowing with joy as the Lord's blessings continue to flow in the lives of our recent converts.
My companion and I have been working on a project which is a document that records the amount of motor coaches we've had visit Temple Square throughout the year. The document is broken down into weeks and into motor coaches that have Mandarin speaking people on them and then other languages. It was very time consuming but awesome to see how many people from China visit the Square when they come here for a holiday. It's incredible because from May-October we've had 2000 Mandarin speaking people come through Temple Square. Our Mandarin speaking sister missionaries are the bomb and I believe that is how China will get the gospel.
On Thursday we had our Relief Society class in the Relief Society Building on Temple Square and whether it was a coincident or not, but guess who came to speak for my last Relief Society? Well, no it wasn't the Prophet, but it was Sister Linda K. Burton who is the President of the General Relief Society. Despite the snowy day the spirit was strong in our meeting. She talked about woman who have influenced our lives and shared stories about some of the heroes who are past Relief Society General Presidents and whose pictures hang on the wall in this huge building. She then invited us to share about women who have influenced our lives. Mum of course I thought about you and also Nan and Nanny Ma and so many others. Mum, I loved reflecting upon and thinking about what you have taught me throughout my life - like putting others first even when its not convenient or comfortable for you and giving things away without even thinking about it (even when it's a new IPod Touch). I really admire that about you mum and this week I had the opportunity to apply what I learned because a sister missionary who is here from the islands didn't have a pair of boots and she asked me if I had any spare boots. Well, I did have a spare pair and I was going to bring the brown pair home but I know they will be put to better use here. It was a great feeling to be able to give them to this sister - just like my mum would've - and of course our Savior is the greatest example of giving and that for me is the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks for teaching me that mum!
I wasn't feeling too good on Thursday and so I went to stay with my Zone leader who was sick too. I slept for 3-hours straight and then we found out that because it was snowing so hard Temple Square was closed early so Sister Magaoay came over with Sister Loisotto to pick me up and take me back to our apartment complex. I was so grateful. It was nice to rest as I have been going hard out and my body just told me, "That's enough!" That night we had dinner with he Schultz family. It was so nice and the food was delicious! We shared some of our fun Christmas traditions and they shared some fun ones too. We played a guessing game where there were three tupperware containers and the first one was filled with goldfish (crackers), the second with Kisses and the third with M&M's. You had to guess how many crackers, or kisses or M&M's were in each container and the person who guessed the amount closest to what was in the container was the winner. Well, turns out that my companion and I are terrible at guessing because we didn't win a prize. The next day Sister Schultz turned up to the Square with another tupperware container filled with Kisses and M&M's for us. That was so sweet and we appreciated her so much.
Friday! You'll never believe who we had dinner with that night? Sister Garisau that is here is from Raglan in New Zealand and her Uncles are the, "Moleni Brothers!" Turns out that they wanted to have her over for a Christmas feed and asked if we could go too. So, Fisi Moleni came and picked Sister Garisau and her companion up along with Sister Vaivai and I and we went to dinner with them. It was at a Chapel and their were lots of family members there and they had put on a mean feed. So awesome! They remembered the Solomon boys but more especially Uncle Rana. They called them, "The Temple View Defenders!" It was so nice of them to spoil us and we ate Maori bread, pulled pork, chicken, lasagna, pizza, salad, veggies, pumpkin pie, chocolate cake, ice-cream - pretty much everything! It was just like being at home. We rolled home after that massive feast! The next morning Amanda found me and gave me my Christmas package. Thanks again Amanda for bringing all that home and thanks family for spoiling me so, so, so, much! I am so grateful and I'm excited to give many of these presents to my friends.
Well, I will call you tomorrow and talk more. We close the Square at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow and on Christmas day so that we can have our Christmas celebrations. Tuesday will be more spiritual as we are doing a pasada and me and my companion will be the angels and the sisters will be going around in groups to meet different people from the Nativity and we will have a spiritual experience and watch Keisha Castle Hughes' version of the Nativity after. Then Wednesday we have Santa coming. I haven't started packing and next week will be my last full week. It's so crazy! I have my departing interview and blessing this Thursday and while it may seem a little early it's because our class is pretty big so I guess we've got to start somewhere.
I love you all and I'm really looking forward to calling home tomorrow. Merry Christmas everyone and see you in two weeks!