Feliz Ano Nuevo!
Sorry, I forgot to mention on Christmas that our next p-day wouldn’t be until New Years Day, but here I am! All is well. Wow, this Christmas really was one of the merriest I have ever had! It was so good to talk to you all for a few minutes and to feel at home with my family. I really wasn’t as distracted afterward as I thought I would be, either! We spent the rest of the day going from home to home to celebrate. Members, investigators, recent converts, and less actives! It was so fun. We ate PLENTY of panaton, hot chocolate, rosquitas, and them some more panaton. Good thing I LOVE IT NOW!
The truth is, never in my life have I felt the spirit of Christmas so strongly before. Never in my life have I understood more the love of our Savior than in this Christmas. Though I may not have been with my blood-family this Christmas, I really did feel at home and with family. Just like for my family back at home, I really can’t express in words the love I have for the people here. Today, I just wanted to talk about a couple of my families.
First, la familia Infante! They are recent converts of the elders. Daniel, the father, is the sweetest, kindest, most loving father and construction worker in the world. Fidelia, the mother, is the cutest, most faithful little mother who works in the market selling cow heads. They are pretty old and don’t understand a lot of things, but they have SO MUCH FAITH it just blows my mind. They have six grown children and a few grandchildren that are pretty adorable. Unfortunately only one of their children is a member… for now! Their son, Herber, joined the church a little over a year ago and just received his mission call to Bolivia! Fidelia and Daniel are excited for him but they are really gonna need some love when he leaves. We had a little gift exchange with them on Christmas… the humblest, sweetest gift exchange ever. AMO LOS INFANTE!
Another one of my families is La familia Cerna. Young and energetic Mario is a carpenter (and a former DJ). He is the friendliest, most selfless, and caring guy you’d ever meet. Melani is the simplest, kindest, most patient mother that I know. They live in one dirt-floored room with their three children (and one on the way). They have very little and still want to share and give us everything they do have. They are planning to be married the 9th of January and be baptized on the 10th. This week we did a “parillada” (basically, it’s a fundraiser selling food) with them to help them raise a little money to make the wedding special. Hermano Mario did NOT want anyone but them to pay for the wedding. He told us he knew it would mean more to them if they sacrificed for it. HE IS AMAZING!
He drank a LOT before and now he has completely quit. Before we even taught The Word of Wisdom, we had mentioned the things we don’t drink. He was in a relative’s home that night and they were taunting him to drink and he told them, “no! I’ve changed and I follow Jesus Christ!” Literally, I could have cried when he told us this story. Also, we have not taught them Lehi’s dream and he LITERALLY HAD THE SAME DREAM.
Okay, last Mario story… we had a lesson with them this week and a member family where Mario shared his testimony. He started by sharing the story of when we contacted him (Hermana Kimball and I, woo hoo!). He told us he didn’t take it seriously at first, but he felt something really special and wanted us to come back. He described the feeling he had as we started teaching… he basically described Alma 19:33. He no longer had the desire to do evil. He told us that he didn’t exactly understand why but he had the desire to do the things we were inviting him to do and to change his life to be more like Christ’s. I WAS CRYING. Basically, they ROCK.
The gospel is the BEST. I hope you all are living it and feeling that desire to continue on and do good. There are blessings and indescribable happiness ahead. Love you all, Feliz Ano. I can’t think of a better place to be for 2015 than here in Peru serving my Savior.