Thursday, January 2, 2014

chocolate, singing, tights and socks.... pretty much sums up my Christmas!

Brace yourself this one is a doosie  ( how the heck do you spell that? do you know what i am referring too?? oh well) I don't even know where to start because soooo many things have happened the past few weeks and i feel as though I haven't emailed in forever, yet i just talked to you guys a week ago..... so how do I have so much dumb stuff to say? 

I did not know that having this much chocolate was even possible!!! literally have a mountain in one of the corners in our flat. but it is great because we are excellent re-gifters.  Sister Pope and I aren't eating sweets or junk food unless it is pudding at a members home ( pudding = all dessert.... weird i know)  so we are just given loads and loads of chocolate away.  one day we wrote out quotes and stapled them to pieces of candy and were handing them out in town center.... it was funny because even then people rejected us.  Sister Pope and I just turned to each other and were like what the heck man it's FREE CHOCOLATE! why would you reject that?
Idk if I told you this story yet or not, but if i did... oops. you get to read it again. so sister pope and i decided to take full advantage of the christmas season and we wanted to go caroling.  (we were somewhat obsessed with christmas music.) so we just flipped open the yellow pages and found a nursing home and called and asked if we could come volunteer somehow, or carol or something for them.... turns out that they were having a christmas party the next day, and needed the entertainment.... guess who became the entertainment.  so we called elder davis and elder ottoni and they came with us.  it was so fun/funny/bad/good. let's just say we aren't the best singers in the world.... we got up there and had to sing for 45 mins. luckily christmas music is my favourite thing!!!.... if it is december....  but highlights of it were this one older lady would get mad at all the other old people because they were not clapping loud enough for us.  another older lady kept winking and waving at elder ottoni, and when we went around to say hello after, she grabbed his hand and would not let go. and during jingle bell rock, we messed up so bad that sister pope and i just started laughing/ crying and couldn't stop so we could not sing.  elder ottoni did not know the song, and so elder davis had to finish it up as a solo. you probably had to be there but it was hilarious.  

another thing we wanted to do to take advantage of christmas was to deliver little treats to investigators and less actives.  well we got a recipe from Sister Farnsworth, the bishops wife, who is from america. She gave us a recipe but it needed shortening. turns out they don't have that here, they have something called lard.  we got some lard and went and made cookies to deliver. the entire time sister pope just keeps saying these cookies taste like lard, all i can taste is lard. i told her that it was all in her head.   (they did taste a bit funny but i didn't say that) well we find out after we make them that there are different types of lard.... animal fat lard and vegetable lard.  we were supposed to use the vegetable lard. guess which one we used..... buttttt did we still deliver them even though they tasted nasty? yes. yes we did. oops :) 

THEY DON'T HAVE EGG NOG HERE!!!!! so sad right? it did not feel fully like christmas without egg nog.  i went to every store and asked multiple people in the store just in case that person was clueless. nope they just don't have it here. which i find funny because many times most egg nog is alcoholic, not the kind i get don't worry, and they LOVE their alcohol over here. so for me it seems like a perfect fit! maybe i will introduce them to it.

last semi different thing we did was,  with elder davis and elder ottoni, we  had all the members write their testimonies inside the Books of Mormon we pass out.  then we wrapped them up in christmas paper and went caroling and delivered them.  Something i learned, if I ever need money, i am going to come to England and go caroling.  apparently people do it for charity, because every door we went to they tried to offer us money for the charity we were with.  when we told them we weren't with a charity and didn't want their money, just to give them a free gift, they were shocked, semi confused, and very happy.  it was a cool experience though.  of course it was pouring rain. and some people did NOT want us to carol and quickly made that known, but others even requested more songs ( we must not have been that bad).  hopefully they read the testimonies and the Book of Mormon and give us a call! 

Owl onesies
christmas eve we went to this amazing family's home with all 6 of us missionaries (on christmas we were allowed to go to the same place -- usually we cannot be in the same members home at the same time).  we played games and it was just such a good night! the coolest game ever mum i might buy it for you for christmas. yes i have not done my christmas shopping yet.... there has been no time! anddddd now there are sales so i did it on purpose obviously.... but i forgot the name of the game, but it was fun.  if i don't end up getting it i will let you know and you should buy it.  
Christmas morning with Phyllis :)

christmas day we woke up at 5:40 hurried and opened our presents and got ready.  we left at about 6:15 to go to phyllis's.  because the elders were supposed to pick us up at 7:30 from her home. luckily the elders were late. it was her first christmas without her parents being alive, so we went over and she opened her presents and then BEST THING EVER!!!! we watched the little mermaid. i forgot how much i love prince eric.  dark hair green or blue eyes yes please.  i know i know, he is a cartoon. but he is still beautiful.  then we went to the sotos home. another amazing family.  they are in their late 20's.  he is from chile, she is from england. he is in the bishopric and they have a little 3 year old named elias.  when we got there he was soooooo excited about his toys.  little kids at christmas are the best!!!  anyways so it was the two of them and elder davis and elder ottoni and sister pope and i and we watched toy story 3 in 3D and the emperors new groove.  SUCH A FUNNY MOVIE!  in between the two movies we went and sang at an elderly home for a bit with a few other ward members.  one lady sister cox who is in her 70's and loves loves loves singing.  she is good but man can she hit those high notes.  so we went caroling and did you know there are about 6 or 7 verses to ALL the christmas carols..... i didn't know that..... lucky for us we got to sing ALL the verses of ALL the songs... twice. whoooooo.    after that we went to the Whittakers, the senior couple ate a bit sang some more and skyped you!!!!   then we went to the farnsworths.  the cutest little three girls.  they got sooooo many presents it was ridiculous! and they had to show us every. single. one. and then for the rest of the night we talked to bishop and his wife about life! and careers and marriage and philosophical stuff and ya it was good! man oh man it is crazy it is already over!!!! 

oh funny england tradition over here is that they have christmas crackers.  they are these cardboard candy looking things ( pic on dropbox)  and sit in a circle and cross your arms and grab a side in each hand and another person takes the other side and you pull and one person ends up with the toy inside.  and every single one has a paper crown inside and a joke.  they are quality jokes like ice lollie status.... or  in american, Popsicle status.  walking down the street looking in the windows you see almost every house the people are sitting around the table with these paper crowns on. so funny.  
(Last Christmas our dear friend Laurie gave us a box of poppers!  We all had paper crowns on.  We didn't realize they were an English tradition!)

but boxing was the best slash worst day ever.  best day ever because owl onsies, films all day, and friends. what more could you want.  also it was funny because Elder Choi made us curry but he accidentally set off the fire alarm.  we were panicked because we thought the firemen were going to come and bishop would have to come and stuff. luckily they didn't, but the elders could not get it figured out how to turn it off for about 20 minutes.  i quick looked at the instructions and saw what it said to do.  i figured they had already tried that, and i did not want to be the annoying person who says well have you tried this, and it has obviously already been tried..... so i just waited...about 5 mins later i asked if i could try it, and it worked.  thats why there are sisters out on missions ha   

but it was the worst day ever because it was transfer calls, and we for sure knew elder ottoni was leaving, but then we found out that elder davis is also moving.  hardest goodbye i have had in 9 months.  they have become my brothers these past 5 months together. we have been through so much, it was really hard to say goodbye, because it isn't like saying goodbye to you, i will see you again. but lets be real i will probably maybe see them one more time in my life, and it will never be the same.  so that was a hard night not gonna lie.  and the new zone leaders are great! a bit intense and intimidating, (because one was just the AP for 7 months and this is his last transfer on the mission) but that is okay we are learning a lot.

so today we just did the coolest thing! the cox's an older couple in the ward took us to the Abby cathedral and the Roman Baths.  This city has so much history it is incredible!! i feel so sophisticated and cultured right this second.
at the Abby we learned that Alban was the first ever martyr in England, he was killed for converting to the Christian faith and hiding a priest.  also June 22 is St. Albans day.  I am now celebrating it for the rest of my life.  not in worship just in the fact that i think i served here, and i think the story is cool, and it sounds like a good excuse for a party/holiday! also the nave is the longest one in england! it was originally built in the 1st century, and then was torn down and restored and halfway restored and reformed and pretty much every other thing you can do to a building. but some of the stuff still dates back to the original!

this is the coolest seat, it is for the bishop, we laughed thinking of that chair in a bishops office. 

the roman baths were also built in the 1st century! and they were just discovered in the 1900's.  it had activities on the side and a audio tour. so interesting! but the problem i have discovered is that I love learning about these things, but my brain cannot remember hardly anything.  those are the 3 facts i got from the Abby, and pretty much the only thing i can remember from the baths are obviously the physical structure of the building, a really fun game you should look up called 9 men morris, and the word frigidarium. which is the cold room.  like a fridge!! cool huh?  
whew. i am tired just from writing that email.  so sorry for you having to read it, except lets be real idk if anyone but mum actually reads the whole thing. don't worry i don't blame you ha
oh ya so on new years eve we went to bed around 10.... but at 11:58 i set the alarm and woke up and went whoooooo.... drank about two sips of orange juice ( in replacement of sparkling cider and went back to sleep)  sister pope never even woke up ha people were still partying this morning at 6 when we woke up!!  exciting and thrilling life of a missionary.  

but one thing i loved this year that even though presents weren't big and necessarily that exciting, although some of the socks were pretty cool, it was one of my favourite Christmas's.  Sister Pope and I talked about it and decided it was because we were so focused on other people and serving them and trying to make them happy.  just proves that material things really don't bring lasting happiness.  we may think they bring happiness, but they really don't.  Serving others brings happiness and memories that are incomparable. and the great thing is that we don't have to just serve others at christmas! we can have the spirit of Christ all year round.  

another thought I have been thinking about lately is the process of making and achieving goals.  As a missionary we make transfer, monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly goals. (a lot i know)  but i have realised that almost even more important than our goals is our plans to accomplish the goal. with every goal we should have 2-3 (or more) plans on how we are going to accomplish the goal. if you just say "i want to become a good piano player".... that goal will probably not be reached. but if you create plans as to when you will practice, how you will practice, different things to practice, etc it is much more likely that the goal will be reached.  

and the whole point of this life is to grow and progress. i am guilty of many times just kinda chilling at the level i am at without striving to better myself.  Christ commanded us to be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect in Matthew 5:48..... we aren't going to achieve perfection, but if we don't make goals and plans we certainly aren't even going to get close.  this life is all about learning, growing, and continuing to improve and work at becoming more Christlike.  

so my challenge for you this week is, if you have already made new year resolutions, go and make plans to achieve your goals, and if you have already done that, then dang good work! but my last thought regarding this is that in trying to achieve these goals we are not going to be perfect. we are going to mess up and fail and fall short sometimes. does not mean we should throw the whole goal out the window. if we are trying to eat healthy and eat a little sweet, we should not just go and devour a huge tub of ice cream.  evaluate reset and start again!  mum you sent me this quote and i love it!  " We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day" - Richard G Scott "The Transforming Power of Faith and Character"   

so on that note i hope you guys have a fantastic week. a great start to a new year! i love you so much! thank you for everything that every single one of you do for me.  you truly are such great examples to me! 

love, rachel     

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