To celebrate the season this morning, I fumigated our house again. Yes, I may not open any presents this year (no Mom, nothing´s arrived except the blogs), my Christmas will be bug free- at least inside our kitnet.
So, Christmas in Belem. Nobody´s willing to go to church or read the Book of Mormon because they´re too busy resting up for the big day, but everyone, literally everyone has some kind of Christmas tree, big or small, and Christmas lights. Even the people that live in wood plank houses on stilts have some kind of lights stringing from their window. Here, it´s almost as if Christmas lights are an outward expression of your inner commitment to religion. If you don´t have a Christmas tree on your ´´porch-thing´´ and lights in your windows, you don´t believe in Jesus- unthinkable! I love it though! It may be hotter than heck, but with all the light from our neighbors and a little bit of Amy Grant, I am definitely feeling the Christmas spirit.
Recently, it´s been pretty frustrating getting people to keep their commitments, but also really humbling too. The members have been so helpful. Here, they don´t just come to one or two lessons with us. They spend the whole day with us, walking around, making street contacts, and teaching the lessons.
Yesterday, a member, Yolanda (15) came teaching with us AGAIN. She literally spends at least 4 days a week helping us out. Ugh, I have a funny story about her family, but no time. Anways, in actuality (my english is getting so bad. This is so hard!), her whole family is really helpful. As we were walking around the other day, I was trying to tell funny stories of how Christmas with my family goes- my mom never wants to buy us clothes anymore because we´re so picky, my dad gets nuts every year from our grandparents but never actually gets to eat any, that one year when we all got black high-heeled boots for Christmas and thought we were so cool. Then I asked what she wanted most for Christmas. Yolanda just laughed and said they just spend the day sleeping and eating together, no presents. Wow, immediately humbled. 1. I realized more forcefully how blessed/ ungrateful I am for all the things I take for granted like presents at Christmas and 2. I just thought it was so beautiful how, even without money to buy presents or do things together, this time of year is so special to Yolanda´s family just for the opportunity to remember Christ together. There´s a lot more to that story, and I didn´t explain it very well, but while I´ve always know and tried to make Christmas not about the presents and events, it was good to have an even stronger witness of the joy of the season in my life.
The devotional went fine, but not a lot of people showed up, so we´re doing it again on Christmas day and in MY CHAPEL! My comp and I have been going crazy with inviting the whole world! I´m so excited for EVERYONE to show up at the church to really feel the spirit and remember our Savior. We´re praying and working for miracles here!
I love you all, more than I can say. Thank you for the letters (Eliana and grandparents), prayers, and just everything you do for this weird sister missionary out in the boonies of Brazil. Merry Christmas!
Love, Sister Barkdull