Just to get a jump on the holidays: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! It's all about Christmas here, but that's because they don't have Thanksgiving. I'm talking Christmas lights, trees, and all other decorations up starting three weeks ago. The funniest part is that they aren't saying anything about it (Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc), it's just that the required materials are here. I was thinking I might teach them a thing or two about exterior illumination ;p It's weird because we are having nothing but really hot days or really rainy days. It ended up raining about 7 of the last 8 days this past week or so.
I don't have my planner with me (where I write my notes for the email on Monday), so I will just say sorry if this is short, but will do my best to remember everything.
Tuesday, we had our meeting with Elder Aidukaitis of the Seventy and it was FANTASTIC! He was great! The entire time was filled with the Spirit, with teaching, with practice of what he wanted us to do, and lots of laughter/smiles. He showed new ways to talk to people, how to help them pray, and so much more. He really focused on obedience too. We were told that there are quite a few missionaries who aren't getting up right at 6:30 every morning. He told us, "If you aren't getting out of the bed to pray at 6:30, you are losing the first chance to be obedient in your entire day. The effect of that statement has made its mark haha, we have all been getting up at 6:15 or 6:20 to try and be out of the bed at 6:30 and on our knees praying. The real challenge is trying to stay up for the next few hours of study afterwards haha.
At one point, he opened the floor for questions and I asked him how to help wards/branches that seem to be discouraged. I had his complete attention. He asked me if I remembered the story of Ammon and what was the miracle that took place there. I told him that the miracle was that he had defended the king's flocks and then converted the king. He replied, "Yes, those were miracles too, but the greatest miracle was that he baptized an entire people. How did he do it? Let's think about this Elder, what would be easier: serving in a chapel where everyone has been converted to the Gospel, or going to teach the Gospel in Iraq, and which would you prefer? You're an American, so they don't like you, and you are a Christian which is even worse! They would most certainely do everything they could to kill you. What do you think?" I replied that it would be easier to serve in the chapel and that I would probably prefer to serve there. He then looked at me from his seat on the other side of the room, then got up and was right in front of me in less than two seconds. He said, "Elder, could you read a scripture for me?" I of course said that I would and opened to Ether 12:15 when he asked me to. It reads more or less like this, "For it was by the faith of Ammon and his brethren that such miracles were wrought among the lamanites." He looked at me and asked, "What is your name Elder?" I gave him my name, and he said, "Elder Sanderson, wouldn't it be great to one day see on the records of the church or in a book of the Church, 'For it was by the faith of Elder Sanderson and his companion that such a mighty miracle was wrought among the people of that ward/branch?' You need to have more faith Elder."
I honestly didn't know what had happened haha. How it turned on me is a question I will never get an answer to, but it was kind of striking. I even heard a few people kind of gasp haha. However, he wasn't done with us. He ended up saying so for the entire mission with his responses to the other questions that were asked. He wasn't saying that I don't have faith, just that I need more. I'm okay with that because now it's a personal goal of mine =) The rest of his visit was as good as ever and we even had time to talk with some of our friends from around the mission since we were all together. It was great to see some of my friends in the mission that I haven't seen in about 7 or 8 months for a lot of them =)
So that was Tuesday, the rest of the week seems pretty relaxed after that. After all, it's not every day that a member of the 70 tells you that you need more faith haha. We did missionary splits with our zone leaders this week too. I got to go to their area and learned a lot! Especially how easy it is to make street contacts. We set up so many new appointments and ended up getting around 14 new investigators this week. We are going to try and keep up the streak and find the Elect who are waiting for us.
I was sorry to hear about Grandpa Val today too =/ but like you said, I know he is in a better place and that he is happy there. I'm grateful for everything that I know about Heavenly Father's Plan for us =) I have been praying for everyone this week and that they could all be comforted when he passed. I felt comforted too and that was a huge blessing.
Just two more quick things! First, I say one play of that Broncos game last night! We were at a member's house for an activity and as we walked in, there it was on the tv. I was amazed and it definitely made my night! Even better is that Thanksgiving is this week! No matter where you go in the world, Thanksgiving is a great chance to watch football haha. We even had a turkey bowl this week! We played football today on a sandy field near the other Elders' house. We played three on three for 3 hours with three Americans and two Brazilians. Thursday night, we are going to make a Thanksgiving dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and maybe some sort of dessert. It should be great with three Americans cooking!
That's all I've got for today =) I love you all and am so grateful for you! I make sure to tell Heavenly Father that every time I'm praying to Him. I am thankful for my knowledge of Jesus Christ and these two years that I have to serve Him. I'm thankful that our families can be together because of the covenants we make in the temple. I'm grateful for the happiness that is in my life because of the many blessings that Heavenly Father has given me. I don't know what I would do without them. It will be great to talk to you all in a few weeks and see how everyone is doing! Love you guys and have a great Thanksgiving!