|Nate with President and Sister Miles and Elder Christensen after FaceTiming with family.|
45 minutes is NOT ENOUGH. It was so good to see everyone though! Man, I just chat with you, Mikaila, Cierra, Justin, Quincy, and Dad, and it just makes me miss all of you so much! What a ride. Soon enough though, we will all be having our awesome chats and Sunday dinners again. As of yesterday I have 8 months left on the mission. SO bittersweet. But hey! I asked President Miles in my email to him today what he thought about my situation as far as school and work go. I should be getting some answers soon! Tell Aunt Jen for me that from experience I can tell her the first skype call can be brutal! But tell her not to worry. Josh is in the hands of someone more loving and capable than anyone we could ask for. He's serving Christ, and he knows it. Josh is a tough little beggar, too. He can survive anything! Everything gets better after the 6 month mark as well. He'll start kind of accepting that the mission is the reality and he'll really get into it soon enough. I've heard that for foreign missionaries it can be hard to skype as well because they are immersed in another culture, and right when they start getting used to it, they skype home and they see the culture that they would MUCH prefer. :) He'll be alright, though. I have all the faith in the world in him!
I most definitely did receive Grandma's package. She wouldn't believe my amazement when I reached into one of the socks and found the $10 she sent me! I literally fell to my knees on the floor and shouted hallelujah. Elder Christensen just sat and laughed at me. But those were some groovy socks! I can always count on Grandma Jackson to pick the best socks and ties! Those ties are just awesome :)
I also got Aunt Kellie's letter and money! Thank you thank you thank you! The letter that Uncle Kels wrote was a great recap for me, and I'm very grateful for the gift.
Dream Bars sound SOOOOO good right now. That's a dangerous thing for me. We just went in on a competition with President Miles. We are having a competition to see who can lose the most weight by Easter. It's going to get pretty intense. President Miles is a competitive guy, so I've gotta be on my "A" game. By all means send the dream bars, but I guess I'll only get to have like.... 1 a day instead of horking them all down at once! Elder Christensen and I went on our first run this morning. We're going to swap days between lifting some dumbbells that we have in our apartment, and taking a morning run. It will be good to get back into shape.
I'm so pumped that Uncle John and Aunt Christine moved to Springville, AND next to my home-town Canadians! That's awesome. I'm really glad that they live nearby now. I remember that we'd always have to take a trip to see them in Gunnison, and there was probably no way we were going up to Oregon, and now all we have to do is drive up the road! That's going to be awesome.
I agree with you about our FaceTime on Christmas. I could have talked forever. It makes me look forward to the night that I get home. I can't wait to just sit and talk and tell stories until you're so sick of me you'd wish I'd just go back, haha.
Alright, so one special Christmas moment for this year:
As I might have already told you, we had a Christmas devotional for the missionaries with President Miles in both halves of the mission. About 100 missionaries at a time. Both were great, but the one in the south most definitely took the cake for me. It was incredibly spiritual and really touched me. What would happen is we would gather everyone in the south to a stake center in Lethbridge, and we'd have a super nice dinner with them. Then we would have a devotional in the chapel. Several missionaries performed some awesome musical numbers, and then Sister Miles spoke to us. She announced to us a gift that she and President Miles were going to give us at the end of the meeting. This year, they gave us a Book of Mormon with their testimony pasted in the front of it. The whole mission will be reading the Book of Mormon by Easter, and they will be marking specifically -1. Every reference to the Savior and -2. Every time the Savior speaks. We're about 4 days in now, and it's already been incredibly revelatory. I'm so grateful for President Miles. But that wasn't even the best part. The best part was when President Miles spoke to us.
He told us a story. Years ago when President was running his business, he decided that they would give all of their employees a turkey for Christmas. Somehow, a few employees had been missed and had not received their turkey. So President hopped in his car and drove down to the warehouse where they were keeping all of the turkeys they had purchased. As he was getting out of the car, President saw a woman standing across the frozen parking lot. He thought it was kind of odd, but kept moving. He entered the warehouse, grabbed three turkeys, and loaded them into his car. When he finished loading the turkeys, he glanced behind and saw that the woman was still standing there. He received a prompting to go and talk to her. So President Miles approached the woman and kindly asked her "Can I help you in some way?" She looked at him and said over and over how she had no diapers for her son. President was moved with compassion and told her that he would buy her the diapers. They went to the nearby grocery store and he escorted this poor woman in, and then gave her some instructions. He told her to grab a cart and that she was to fill it. He then told her he would be back in 15 minutes. So he left, and when he returned she was no where in sight. He began to comb the store until he finally found her. There, in the back corner of the store, stood the poor woman. She held only two small soup cans like they were bricks of gold. President Miles walked up to her and told her that they were going to try again, but this time he was going to help her out a little. He then began to lead her through some of the aisles and suggested some different food items, etc. Once he figured she had a good grasp on what she needed to do, he told her that he would be back again in 15 minutes and that when he came back he wanted to see her cart all the way full. When he returned after the 15 minutes, he found the woman had filled her cart successfully. As President lead this woman through the check out and paid for her cart of groceries, he had an amazing insight come to him through the spirit.
This poor little woman - whom President still believes to this day had never even been inside a grocery store - is a lot like one of God's children who doesn't know how to read the Book of Mormon. President Miles - who would have been the metaphorical missionary in this story - simply led her to the store, and let her have at it. The Grocery store is like the Book of Mormon. Sometimes we - especially as missionaries - simply lead someone to the Book of Mormon without actually teaching them how to SHOP. President Miles explained that as we - the missionaries - read through the Book of Mormon, specifically highlighting the areas in which the Lord is referenced and where He speaks, we would be learning how to "shop" in the Book of Mormon. We would then be able to finish the Book of Mormon with our "carts" full.
This is seriously one of the most touching stories I have ever heard. I'm very grateful that I have an example of generosity and charity in President Miles, but I find myself even more grateful for the lesson that he taught me about the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful that I am able to read the Book of Mormon this way. With specific emphasis on Jesus Christ. I have gained more knowledge, insight, and testimony of the Savior in the past 4 days of reading than perhaps in my entire mission. I know Him better now, and I'm getting to know Him better every day.
I am grateful for my testimony of the Lord. I am grateful that there was a Savior sent for me. He truly is there. He could walk right through the door of the room you are in RIGHT THIS SECOND. He would know your name, and He would give you a hug and tell you how grateful He is that you are His. I'm grateful for the church that He has set up. No un-hallowed hand can stop it, and no man runs it's affairs. It is run by the very God of Heaven and Earth. He is my King. He is my Lord. He is my Best Friend. And He is all of those things for you as well, whether you want Him there or not.
I love you all! I hope you had an amazing Christmas. On to 2016!