It finally hit me this week that it´s time for Christmas, something that´s been very difficult for my mind and body to accept because this will be my first Navidad without snow (or cold in general). Also, it´s not like people are listening to Christmas music on the radio or anything--all of that is in English, so no ¨Frosty the Snowman¨ or stuff like that. But I found a mini Christmas tree in a pile of left-behind missionary stuff, and the Dominicans have been painting their houses (a holiday tradition, and they´re bright colors like pink, blue, green, yellow, and orange), so bring on the Christmas spirit! Oh, Christmas day is my next P-day, so no email on Monday.
On Friday, we had a great zone meeting with the APs there and talked about Christmas-themed contacting questions. We had just found out a couple days before that each zone is doing a musical number for the big Christmas conference with the whole South/half f the mission, and I was asked to pick the song, so we´re doing my mom´s favorite Christmas Primary song, ¨Stars Were Gleaming¨ but in Spanish with an English solo by our Hermana Leader. So at the meeting, I made an on-the-spot arrangement and we practiced for the conference on Wednesday; it´ll be great:) After, I stayed in Bani and did splits with the Hermana Leader´s comp, H. Graham from California. At the end of the day, we were walking back to the apartment, and 30 seconds before we got there, a motor drove past us with two teenagers. Out of nowhere, teh non-driver reached out and grabbed my bag off of my shoulder. It happened so fast, the strap got caught on my arm and burned me. The motor slowed down, and somehow I miraculously pulled my bag back from him, and then they just drove off without a word. Oh my goodness it was so freaky, I was mostly just in physical shock that I had nearly been robbed; plus my wallet with everything had been in there. We were definitely grateful that the Lord protected us, gracias para bendiciones!
We took a gua-gua back to Ocoa the next morning, and then Hermana Alas and I had a great lesson with 12-year-old Johanny. It was such a blessing, we really weren't going to visit her, but we reviewed the first part of lesson 1/the Restoration (we met her while in a first lesson of one of her neighbors, and she came to church the next two Sundays, in addition to the YW's Evening of Excellence on Friday!). We were about to teach the four ¨pillars¨ of the Çhurch (living prophet&Apostles, Priesthood, revelation, and scriptures) when I had the impression to talk about the life of Jesus Christ. We ended up talking about His light and the happiness that comes from His presence & a knowledge of the Gospel. And then...I invited her to be baptized! And she said yes!! So she ahs a date for February 13th (cuz youth need at least 8 times in church), and then she told us that two of her brothers and a cousin were baptized in 2011, but they´re inactives, so she has a Book of Mormon in the house!
Later that day, we had a great Law of Chastity talk with Alexander, Mario, and their friend, Michiell, who we met in a lesson earlier in the week with them. We read ¨The Family: A Proclamation to the World,¨ and they especially liked how it tied into the Plan of Salvation and the part about the role of a father. And then Michiell came to church yesterday by himself!! AND he stayed for all three hours! We´re excited about him:) Back up to our lesson with Alexander and Mario last Saturday: they´re preparing and excited to receive the Priesthood, and Alexander has a new baptism date of December 26th!
More baptism news: our mission president told us this week that Rubi cannot be baptized right now. I just stood there and cried when I found out. She is SO ready and is doing everything to prepare; she´s even memorized half of the missionary commission by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. But President wants at least one of her parents or grandparents to be baptized first because she´s only 9 years old--Alexander, her uncle who lives in the same house, isn't enough. Nearly all of Ocoa´s converts who´ve been baptized within the past year are less-actives now, so he also thinks that could happen to Rubi. She took it really well when we told her, which was a total blessing. Her mom drinks coffee and alcohol, smokes, uses drugs, and isn't married by the law to her ¨husband¨--there´s so much to work on with her, and it´s going to take a lot of time, but we had another lesson with her, and I asked her if she would be baptized if she came to know that our message was true. She said yes, and we would like for her and Rubi to be baptized on the same day:) She straight up said, ¨I want to know which church is the true church.¨ Whelp, we can definitely help you with that! So now we´re teaching Rubi, her mom (Yimaira), two of Yimaira´s brothers (Alexander and Julio), and their parents (Nelson and Milita). They have so much potential! I want this whole family to be sealed!!
So...I´m in a trio now. Hermana Gomez, who lives in the house with us, flew home to Texas this morning to get American medical help and heal. Her body has hardly let her sleep these first two transfers of her mission (major insomnia problems), so after not being able to work the past two weeks and practically not waling, President Nuckols sent her home, It was so sad, the Nuckols drove Hermanas Gomez and Gonzalez back to Ocoa from the capital yesterday, we went to church, President gave aw awesome talk and taught all the you and missionaries together, he told me and Hermana Alas that H. Gomez was going home, we went to the house, H. Gomez packed, we said good-bye, and she drove back to Santo Domingo with the Nuckols. She´s devastated and wants to stay so badly, but her body simply can´t handle that right now. Her mission may be reassigned to the States after she heals, but we hope she can serve here again. It´s all in the Lord´s hands right now, and we´re trusting in Him. As Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy said in the April 2015 General Conference, ¨Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark? The Savior provides His gospel as a light to guide those who choose to believe in and follow Him.¨
I know that Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world, and only through His Atonement can we return to His & God´s presence and live in an eternal state of peace and happiness. I hope you all can feel of His love, light, and divine help this week, especially in the midst of your trials. He´s here with us every step of the way, and through Him, we can do all things.
May your Christmas be a Christ-centered Christmas,
-"Last time with the Ocoa Hermanas together" (Hna Randall, Alas, Gomez, Gonzalez)