Friday, March 11, 2016

Christmas in Ripon!

December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This whole Christmas week has been amazing for me and my testimony of the Savior. Some parts made me homesick and some parts were really fun. On the 23rd Sister Palmer (the mission president's wife) invited the 6 sister training leaders over to the mission home (which is here in Ripon my new area) to help her make cookies for the Christmas mission devotional we had on the 24th, and to talk about how we can all coordinate our efforts better. It was such a good time. Sister Palmer is so incredibly sweet. She is like a mission mom to me here. She always says just the right thing to help me be a better sister and leader. Sister Allen was there too which was a highlight of course. She is such an amazing sister. Like probably the best sister missionary I've ever met. She is just one of those people that after you talk to you just feel loved and accepted and like you want to be better. So that was fun and comforting. Just what I needed in the midst of this crazy week. Christmas eve turned out to be really good despite some minor set backs. We had a really amazing Christmas eve dinner. After though, our next appointments just didn't answer. It was like 730pm on Christmas eve and we had no where to be until 9pm when we are to return to our apartment. I confess at first I was really discouraged. I imagined my family Christmas eve party and all the favorite traditions I was missing. I really missed my Aunt Krsten singing Oh Holy Night- that part is a favorite of mine always. After calling some members to see if we could come by to share a Christmas message with them and no luck we prayed for inspiration. We felt like we should go caroling. So we did for the rest of the night and gave away the Christmas cookies we had received. It was such a powerful experience. At many houses we were able to sing hymns and testify of our Savior Jesus Christ and His church. We brought the spirit into every home we entered. I never have felt closer to my Savior than that night I don't think. He picked me up and comforted me and I felt so much love and peace during a time that could have been filled with a lot of frustration, discouragement, and sadness. Christmas day was really good. The call with my family was amazing and then after that we had appointments to share our Christmas message with and our testimony. My favorite was the last appointment of the night with a inactive sister from the ward. She told us she was  waiting all day for us and the spirit we felt as we talked with her was amazing. I can truly say that this Christmas I experienced a Christ centered Christmas. I didn't have all the things I normally have at Christmas time, not even the family. I just had Christ and the love, hope, peace, and comfort He brings to me. I felt Him so close this season as I really tried hard to not get homesick and to serve with extra heart this past month. He carried me through. I don't think I can ever look at Christmas the same again after the one I just had. The best present we get every year is Christ and his love.

The rest of the week went really well. We moved into our new apartment which is SO NICE! We are happy to be living in our area, it makes biking around a lot easier and now we can have more time to be out working. We are making friends with the ward and they are really warming up to sisters I think. It will take more time to feel comfortable in the ward, but it is really coming along. I love you all and I hope you all have a happy new year!

all my love,
Sister Neeley

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