Today is a pretty rushed P-day because it is shortened due to the full-day P-day we will get on Christmas. Actually our Zone is going to be working Christmas Lights at the Mesa Temple that day so we will be getting back to work around 4:00PM on Christmas. I will be hoping for some Christmas miracles as I converse with people on the grounds of the temple and find people that God has prepared to receive the gospel.
This past week was another really great one. I can see great strides of progress in my ability to speak Spanish as I try an emulate the skill of my companion, Elder Ralphs. Unfortunately, all of the baptisms that we had scheduled for Christmas had to be pushed back because we weren't able to teach them everything they needed to learn prior to baptism due to odd work schedules and things like that. There is this one couple that has been living together for 25 years that we are trying to get married. It can be really frustrating because when we say they need to get married within the next month (prior to baptism) they say "Es tan pronto!" (It's so soon!). I find it very hard to believe that getting married after being together for 25 years is considered even remotely soon. My companion and I fasted and prayed for them but they didn't do their part so they didn't get an answer to their prayers. It is a slow process but I am almost certain that they will grasp the importance of marriage soon.
Anyway, I don't have much time so I will answer some of your questions and address some of the comments from your emails. My Jos. A. Banks suits are not doing so well. Both of them have seam rips in various places, the pants for the blue suit are totally out of commission but the black Dickies jeans are really holding up well! I may try to buy a more durable new suit in the near future. Right now I am living with four Elders, my companion Elder Ralphs, Elder Tuttle (from St. Louis; he went to BYU for a year and is a hockey player) and Elder Chavez (a Mexican from East LA who is fluent in both languages). I will send you some pictures of them in my next email. It is kind of annoying because we only have one bathroom which is ok for me because I usually spend the least amount of time in there.
I just got the box with the candy and the Camelbak mouth pieces so thanks for those. I liked in Mom's email when she talked about the choirs of heaven singing when Christ comes again. I have often thought about that too. I am almost finished reading Jesus the Christ (right now I only have about 70 pages left) and I had a similar thought when I read about the shepherds in Bethlehem seeing the heavens open and hearing multitudes of angels singing and signaling the coming of the Messiah. I couldn't imagine what that would sound like to human ears but it was probably Mo-tab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) times a billion. It is going to be amazing hearing or hopefully being part of the hosts of Heaven singing to signal the second coming of the Messiah. Music can be very powerful for me in terms of feeling the spirit as well.
I want to share with you one quick thing that the Spirit taught me this week during my studies before I sign off. I was reading the recent Ensign magazine which contained all of the October conference talks, specifically, "Reflections of a Consecrated Life" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He wrote about how when you consecrate something, you set it apart completely for a spiritual purpose. My Branch President in the MTC always told us to become consecrated missionaries and I just always took it to mean "be a really really good missionary." But I have come to realize that everything that I do, every action I take needs to be consecrated towards missionary work and ultimately towards God. As I pondered some more about this talk, I also realized what it really means to be a member of this church and to be here on earth. So many times we get so caught up in worldly things, even worldly things that are important such as a job, food, shelter etc. . . but really, every action and decision we make needs to be consecrated towards one purpose which is to believe in and emulate Jesus Christ so that we can return to our Heavenly Father. This means not just going to church every Sunday just because that is what you have done your whole life. We need to come to see the reality of the plan of salvation and that our time on this earth as members of this church is meant to be consecrated towards our end goal. When we do this, we are following the commandments. We are constantly striving to grow spiritually and strengthen the relationship we have with our Savior. When we do this, all of the worldly things that we need will be provided for and we will be happy. Anyway, that is something I learned this week. Merry Christmas!! Talk to you on Saturday.