It's official. I picked the WORST couple weeks to decide not to write you. Now there is SO much to inform you of, so sorry if this is long, but it's meant to cover the last two VERY busy weeks full of change and news. I will try chronological order and try not to bore you. ;)
As I mentioned in the last letter that I would tell you more about, a few weeks ago, Sister Corona from my district ended up going home. I was so sad to hear about it because we were all such a close district, and we were doing the best we could to help her out. In the end, she felt that she could better figure her personal struggles out at home and has plans to come back hopefully soon! So please continue to keep her in your prayers, because she is such a great missionary, and it would be great to have her back in the mission to help out. Sister Byon (her companion) ended up being moved that same day she left to Fullerton, and just like that our district minimized by two powerful sisters. It was all a surprise to. We were all so caught off guard. As a district, we covered their area for the rest of the transfer, and now that the transfer has come, Sister Byon has returned and joined with Sister Davis (was in the west area last transfer) to bring that area back to life. We are now back to 8 missionaries in Anaheim!
And yes, I say "we" because once again, I am staying in Anaheim! I will be here for the holidays! WOO! I am so excited to keep working in this area because it is one fire right now and I love this ward so much. Since I have been here for so long, it feels like home, so it will be nice to be here for the holidays. :) I will feel more like home! (Although, of course, you can't be replaced!) I am still District Leader in the same area. The sad part of it, however, is that Elder Thorne was transferred away from me back to Santa Ana, where he came from. :( We were SO sad! These past 2 transfers have been the greatest transfers of my mission. BY FAR! I have learned so much from him, and we have both grown so much together. I was so sad to say goodbye to yet another companion in this area. He is such a great elder, though, and he will continue to do a great job there in Santa Ana. He will be missed! The funny part is, we were going around all this week visiting the members and investigators I know here (which is many, since it's been a while ha) and taking pictures in preparation for me leaving, because we were all pretty sure I was leaving, but, in reality, we should have been doing the opposite. We were all caught off guard to find out that all the veterans here in Anaheim (Elder Richard, Sister Ballard, and myself) are all staying. Looks like we haven't finished our work here yet! ha I know I was meant to be here for Roberto still, but looks like that's not all! :)
My new companion is Elder Esmit (Smith) from Del Norte, Colorado and he is a 6'10'' teddy bear! I love him to death already, and I am excited to work with him. Due to his height, I also now drive a big (prepare yourself, Dad) Dodge (I know what you're thinking ;)) Minivan. ha I look like a soccer mom. Lame! But fun, because I'm not longer stuck in a Corolla. It's always fun to play with all the gadgets in a new car. Just will take a little getting used to since I've been a Toyota Corolla user for the past year and a half ha. I'll be sure to send pics! He has been companions with Elder Tueller, Elder Garza, and Elder Anderson, so we're already connected through companions ha. He says hello! :) However, he will only be my companion for the next 4 weeks. He is leaving before the transfer ends (with Elder Parkinson) to go home. Because they started their mission so close to Christmas, they are lucky enough to only miss ONE christmas with their families. President has given them each permission to go home just before Christmas to spend it with their families. So cool! So, when he leaves, I will be in a trio with the north elders, Elder Richards and Elder Dehlin! I am beyond excited. They are so cool, and I just love being their District Leader. Now I will finally be their companion! Woo hoo! So excited.
Speaking of cars, I may or may not have had my first car "accident." :/ Darn California is ruining my driving record! I wouldn't even really classify it to anything other than a little bump. Not that I am trying to justify myself or anything, but I idled into someone at 3 miles per hour because I looked away for a second, and it turns out, the traffic wasn't moving...just me. Awkward. Well, so we bumped into the Kia in font of us, and it turns out, the driver doesn't have a license, nor did they have insurance. So...not sure it that whole situation is going anywhere. We punched a couple of holes into their bumper with the screws from the license plate frame, but there was only a little scratch on our car. So, they didn't take it away, just told us to be more careful. So glad it wasn't anything big. We're all good! Hopefully it doesn't happen again!
Now bringing it back to Roberto. My goodness. That had to be the best baptismal program I have ever been a part of. The Spirit was felt so strong, and it was so powerful to watch the Spirit work in him and help him understand the importance of that very special day for him and his family. The short talks were amazing, and he asked that the Primary and missionaries sing "Oracion de un nino" o sea "A Child's Prayer" so that his kids were involved along with us missionaries. It was so powerful and the Primary sang so beautifully, so it was so strong. He pretty much broke down during the song, and with wet eyes, he and I entered the waters of baptized. Luckily, I got it right on the first try (not that I usually don't ;)), and he emerged a new man-ready and with a HUGE smile on his face. He is so happy and couldn't stop smiling the rest of the night. I am so happy for that family and the privilege I have had to be a part of this. It sure has changed my mission. I have learned so much right along with him, and it is amazing to me to have such a strong connection with him. I can't wait to come back this time next year to watch them be sealed together as a family for all eternity. :) Now everyone in that house is a member of the Church besides his father, who attended the baptism and told us he wouldn't mind us stopping by soon to speak with him. I hope that goes well! It is amazing to see the blessings this gospel has for families. I have such a strong testimony that this work really is for the benefit and salvation of the family. There is nothing that brings me more happiness and peace than that of watching and helping people make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father that will alter their life-for the better-forever. I am so happy for this family and can't wait for the day they enter the temple. :)
Well, that was a pretty brief highlight of how everything has been these last few weeks. I sure love all that I have learned so far in my mission, and I look forward to all that I still have yet to learn! There is no doubt in my mind that the purpose of our missions is not only to change the lives of those we teach, but also ours. I know I still have a while to go, so I will keep working towards being the best I possibly can to be sure I receive the blessings God is preparing for me after I leave the mission field. I also received word today (not that I'm focused on this or anything-no worries-not a trunky missionary ;)) that I will be going home on my birthday! How cool is that?! I can't think of a better Christmas present that to reunite with you all once again. Like I said, I will be working hard out here to be sure I live up to all the responsibilities God has prepared for me. I sure love this mission-as I'm sure you've heard over and over (because it's true) this is the greatest part of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love you all so much and hope you are doing well. You are always in my prayers. Take care and talk to you soon!
"God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are." (Thanks Hermana Mosley! :))
P.S. Here are some pics of Roberto's baptism, the district before we were dispersed (Elder Thorne and Sister Hulet left us :( ), and my new comp and van! ha