Sunday, December 1, 2013


We are still at DisneyWorld and I am struggling to get this posted.  Please understand any grammatical errors Syd might have typed in her haste.  I usually read over and add a letter if she missed one while she was typing, but my iPad and Steve's computer are not letting me.  Argh!   There are a lot of pictures this week.  Sydney got our 25 days of Christmas, in which I mailed her a paper tree and ornaments with pictures on them.  Some also had, for example, Day 5 and then a scripture.  She then has to read the scripture and guess what is inside day 5's package, etc.   Then she can flip over the ornament and display her picture.  There were extra ornaments with pictures of home, family, friends, etc.  The packages are filled with fun things and things that are needed.  They were very excited, because there are two of everything.  

This week, I am thankful.

I am thankful for Monday. We're still meeting our investigator 이....(the one we found in the burger cafe) almost every day. Even in such a short time, I have personally witnessed her change so much. She really likes us and admires what we're doing and, this week, she even said that she thinks it would be good if her kids could serve missions too! Meeting with her has really showed me that finding and teaching investigators not only comes from teaching lessons and bearing testimony, but by being an example of selfless service and love.

I am thankful for Tuesday. I am thankful that through our own efforts, and with a whole lot of help from Heavenly Father, we now meet eleven investigators on a regular basis. Eleven. Do you know how many investigators we met regularly at the beginning of this transfer? Or even two weeks ago? Zero. That's what we call a missionary miracle.

I am thankful for Wednesday. Wednesday we met  이....(our investigator who is getting baptized) and taught her the Restoration. She is, in a word, wonderful. At the end of our lesson she very excitedly offered to say the prayer and then humbly thanked her Father in Heaven for sending her the Book of Mormon, through which she could now learn more about Him. It never ceases to amaze me how completely this sweet girl understands about our Heavenly Father--not an unreachable and apathetic Being, but a Father who truly, truly loves her.

I am thankful for Thursday. Thanksgiving. For the most part,Thursday was just another day, but for dinner, we went to the home of a less active in our ward. Her name is S......, she's from the Philippines, and she's lived in 충주 for thirteen years, teaching English and sending what little money she makes home to her family. In her tiny apartment, in a forgotten corner of 충주, I celebrated Thanksgiving by singing Christmas hymns with my companion and enjoying the humblest of the meals with S......,perhaps the sweetest and strongest soul I have ever known. All week I had been thinking about S...... and what we could do for her, and all week I kept coming back to the thought that she needed a priesthood blessing. As our meal came to a close, I shared my spiritual thought and asked S...... if she would like a blessing. She was quiet for a long time and then, with tears in her eyes, she responded with, "Yes, Sister. I really need a blessing." And in that moment, perhaps the first on my mission, I really was Sister Arvanitas. Not just a girl with a nametag, but an actual servant of the Lord. I didn't know how badly Shirley needed a blessing, but God did and I felt privileged to be the means by which her need was realized. I don't think I've ever spent a Thanksgiving on which I felt more thankful.

I am thankful for Friday. We had another lesson with 이..... This time the Plan of Salvation. When we asked her where she thought she was before this life, she responded with, "My mom's stomach." Okay, yes. But before that? She thought for a while and then she said,"God's stomach!" Bahaha. I love her.

I am thankful for Saturday, perhaps our best English class yet. We looked at the lyrics to "I'm Yours" and talked about the phrase "bending over backwards" and explained all the different meanings of the word "chill." May I always remember sitting between  이.... and the tiny (seriously the smallest twelve year old I've ever seen), adorable little friend she brought to English class, and quietly helping them with the big words and singing them the melody. Also, notice how 이......isn't even a member yet and she's already inviting her friends to church? I love her.

I am thankful for Sunday. Since we had an appointment right after church and another one later in the evening, we had no time to go home and eat dinner after breaking our fast. So we desperately called our elders and asked if they would take pity on us and donate some of their food to fill our sad and grumbly tummies. After much persuasion, they agreed. As we waited outside in the cold in front of their apartment, we expected them to bring down some apples and maybe, if we were really lucky, a couple slices of bread. Boy, were we wrong. The brought down a veritable feast.Grilled ham and egg sandwiches, candied sweet potatoes, bananas, orange juice, and some Oreos for dessert. It was by far the best meal I've had yet on my mission.

And finally, I am thankful for today. I am thankful for my sweet companion, 이지우, and all the things she has taught me and all the love she has shown me this past twelve weeks. I'm thankful for every day that we've had the chance to spend together. I am thankful for 충주. 
But my time here is up. 
On Thursday, I'm transferring to 공주. My new companion will be 이희원 자매님 and we'll have roommates! 김수현 and Kinikini 자매님, both of whom I knew in the MTC!

My heart breaks a little to leave this beautiful area, this wonderful ward, and all our newfound investigators, but I know that Heavenly Father knows what's best for these people. And, right now, that isn't me.
And that's okay.

I still love you all.
Sister Abba
Putting the Star on top

Happy about Christmas

Excited for presents!

The delicious meal provided by the Elders
Being silly at District Meeting

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