Sent Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013
Wow, what an amazing letter! I will forgo writing my personal weekly letter to be blasted and copy Elder Goates rendition (which is way better than how I write! He's hysterical!) so you can still read our highlights from the week and when we see each other I can tell you more of the details.
I'm writing today because we had a Christmas mission conference night through this morning. We were told to write today so here i am being obedient! Also we don't have as much time today so it will have to be brief.
Elder Goates Letter to his family:
It is seventy-five degrees right now. The Christmas season has a different feeling with such warm weather. The entire mission got together for mission conference and Christmas family home evening, spending all day at the mission home.
There are approximately two hundred missionaries in the Arizona Tempe Mission, and they are all very different. There are the missionaries that act like they are still in high school. There are the missionaries that are ready to be CEOs. There are missionaries that won't speak unless spoken to. Overall, there is a wide spectrum of elders, but I can usually count on all of the sisters being good missionaries. Additional sisters is really benefiting the mission.
We did an a very interesting activity with the whole mission. We drew a name from a hat, and each of us got the name of a random missionary that we were supposed to observe that day, then write a one page letter to them describing their Christ-like attributes. So we all had to stalk each other. I didn't know the guy I drew out of the hat at all, so my letter was the most insincere thing I have ever written. It was pretty funny. On a more serious note, everyone has Christ-like attributes, because we are all children of God and we have a piece of his divinity and creative power. As Jesus said, we should let our light shine. Nobody is without merit.
For the family home evening we had about thirteen musical numbers given by various missionaries around the mission. We have a very impressive piano player in our mission, Elder Apsley, that can play what seems like all of the hymns by ear. A missionary from the Tempe zone wrote a song about the restoration, accompanied by the ukulele. We performed "O Come, O come, Emmanuel" as a quintet. We added Elder Beck to the mix to help cancel out Elder Stiles. I was furthest away from the microphone, so there was not enough base part, and some of the tenors were a bit too loud. I was pleased with how it sounded, however, the audience seemed to like it, and Sister Hansen invited us to perform it in sacrament meeting. Sisters Marquez and Funke gave us a standing ovation from the back of the room, which didn't spread to the other missionaries (Marquez and Funke are in our zone.)
Mateo will be getting baptized, even after expressing some concerns. Jim, our one-legged investigator, is Catholic just like Mateo. Jim loves when we come over, and he openly tells us that coming to our church meetings is far better than the Catholic ones, but he swears up and down that he will never get baptized in our church. In fact, he actually told Mateo that getting baptized into our Church would be a "mortal sin." It doesn't matter, however, Mateo has felt things that he cannot deny as he has learned about the gospel.
Michael has moved. We planted a seed.
Bruce will become a certified pilot in the next week or two.
I would encourage all of you to organize a service activity this Christmas, even if it merely serving each other. Before my mission, the Christmas season was actually a fairly depressing time, because I was focusing so much on what I personally wanted. Don't fall into that trap. Gifts have destroyed Christmas in this country, don't let them ruin Christmas in the Goates house.
Christmas is a great time to reflect on how we are aligning our lives with the example of Jesus Christ. Faith, hope, charity, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence and obedience are the Christ-like attributes that are listed in Preach My Gospel. Will each one of you identify one of these attributes that you will work on between now and Christmas? Write them down on a piece of paper with everyone's name and hang it up somewhere. Every night before you go to bed, tell God in prayer what you have done to improve in your chosen area. I promise that doing this activity will make a more spiritually uplifting Christmas for our family. I will be doing the same thing.