Thursday, December 25, 2014

Santa's Out of Style

It's been a looooooong week. I don't know why, but even if no one transfers within my sphere of peeps, I feel like the general spirit of chaos around the mission makes the whole week seem really long. On that subject, I am now orphaned, as the mission terminology goes. My trainer has gone home. Now I just have my obsure aunts and cousins, and my stepchild! :P This missionary family thing can get way out of control if you let it haha!
Yesterday, we were driving along the island, when I realized I have not heard much about Santa, Frosty, or anything of the like this year. I thought to myself, "is Santa going out of style? Has the world in general started focusing on Nativity Scenes, Christ-centered carols, and overused Christmas scripture reading??"
Then I realized that I am a missionary and I'm in the South. Oh, well. Y'all can enjoy Santa and stuff back home. I'll be out here, hearing Luke 2 read, sung, and acted out about 10 times a day. :)
This week maybe also dragged on a little bit because it was overcast half of the week. I know, we are woosies here in Florida. It's gets overcast instead of sunny for two days in the middle of December, and we are suddenly depressed. Don't worry about us; we'll make it through somehow! ;) On one of our rainy days though, we taught a really sweet lesson to a part member family we have been slowly working with. The member, Valerie, is pretty sick, and needs a lot of encouragement. We decided to watch Joy to the World with her to try to uplift her for the holidays. Her husband, Marc, a rougher kind of guy, ended up sitting in on the movie. The both seemed to enjoy it thoroughly, and afterward, Mark asked for a copy of it. I was really surprised, but excited!
Virginia and Anthony, the other cool part member family, are still texting us and friendly to us, but apparently their daughter, Eva has an infectious skin condition right now... so we are teaching them from a distance for a little while, as per their request.
Yesterday, we went to the Gulf Breeze ward because Ramon and Ernestine couldn't make it to Navarre ward. We went to Sacrament in GB with them, then went to our own three hour block. Christmas Program/ Church-ed out! So much singing about the birth of Jesus!
Well, if you're family, talk soon! If not, Merry Christmas!!! Love y'all forevs!
-Sister Cooper

Sand on Sand on Sand

As I told my family, this week, and more than likely the week ahead as well, are a big jumble of Christmas party and missionary work. Oh, and we just got news that Sister Seegrist and I are both staying here for my last transfer. #finishstrong. My last transfer is going to be seven weeks long, which really means I just get the whole transfer, instead of 5 weeks and a wash out half-week of packing and flying home.
I am totally enjoying my second Christmas season out here in the mission. Didn't feel like that long ago that it was my first. At that point, I was planning on returning to school in January, making that Christmas my only Christmas in the field. Silly child, Christmas is the best time of year to be a missionary. Especially, I like having these He is the Gift cards. Even though lots of people in the South either have "found Jesus" or are tired of all their neighbors telling them to find Jesus, very few people dislike receiving a picture of baby Jesus at Christmas. Yesterday I did get shooed off by a we-realized-after-was-probably-drunk-guy. No love for baby Jesus there.
Half-Mission conference happened this week, which means I got to see Meet the Mormons. It's really good! I didn't cry like everyone said, but that's not surprising. Sister Dyches and I sang our song in the musical part, and it went really well. It was kind of ironic to be singing "snow on snow on snow" though, on a day where you didn't even need a jacket outside.
Ernestine is well on her way to getting baptized. She's been off alcohol for over a week! Keep her in your prayers, because the change of consumption led to her being sick this week. She is feeling better now, but still pray for her.
Merry Christmas soon! Watch Joy to the World! We watched it for Movie Night with the Missionaries this week, and it's not as bad as some of the other old church videos. :)
Peace on Earth!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hashtags on my Passalongs

Is everyone in the Christmas spirit yet? I know most people start Christmas after Thanksgiving, but I'm usually one who doesn't feel like Christmas until I don't have to do work or school. But since there is no time off as a missionary, I figured I might as well feel like Christmas! And it's hard no to when we have to walk around at night, sometimes fairly aimlessly, and look at all manner of Christmas lights. They make great conversation starters. :)
Our week was really great! The new gator we found last week met with us twice. We had dinner one time and the other time with had a snack and a lesson about the Atonement based in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The husband's family found out that they had the missionaries over and they are apparently really excited. Hopefully things will keep going well there.

Not only have the Christmas lights brightened our week, but also the He is the Gift card giving. Everyone likes He is the Gift cards. We even gave one to a lady who said she was Buddhist, but told us she honors Jesus too. She liked it. Who wouldn't like a passalong card with a hashtag on the back. Everyone pretends to be making fun of hashtags, but we all secretly know we like them. #nosecrets #sharethegift. But on the note of that lady, I wonder if she celebrates Christmas since she honors Jesus and all...

Ernestine is doing well getting ready for her baptism. She stopped drinking beer this week, but still has some alcoholic eggnog someone gave her. We're slowly helping her and her husband to accept that they can be strong and not take yucky stuff, even if someone offers it to them. They are really coming along though, and she will be able to make January 10th, if not sooner.

Merry Christmas from the sunny gulf shore! It's 70 degrees today. :)

-Sister Laura Cooper

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stories for the Grandkids

Last night, before I went to bed, I flipped back over the past week of journal entries and I was like wow this is a week that will not be forgotten. So many totally out there stories. I can see myself as a Grannie forcing my grandkids to listen to these stories over and over again haha!
"When I was on my mission when I was just 20 years old..."
My companion and I were walking down the street before a dinner appointment and came upon two guys outside talking. We stopped to talk to them, and found out one lived at that house, and one was visiting from California. After talking a while, my companion decided to give them a pass along card. The visitor asked "is this about the Mormons" and we said "yes, it is?", then he proceeded to start a long lecture about what he knew about the Mormons, and asked us if we'd heard of Joseph Smith. We, of course, said yes. Then he told us he knew Joseph Smith was a treasure hunter and that he wrote three different Bibles. Not pausing to let us talk, or responding to requests for time to talk, he continued for half an hour, continuously repeating some sermon Jesus apparently gave that said he was preparing a group of people for hellfire. Then he told us Mormons are that group. The whole time, the Navarre resident, his brother, was like "you don't know that!" "they are just spreading the word!' Finally, the Navarre-living brother went inside, and we got away from the other one. Maybe we've planted a seed with the defender!
Another 2 quick finding stories. A less-active member introduced us to a man, Anthony, and his significant other, Virginia, who wants to learn more about Christ and raise their daughter to know about him. Anthony is a less-active member, and a "lost sheep" (meaning he isn't on the ward roster). It was such a miracle to meet them! We were able to go back and see the couple this week and I was really impressed that Anthony was not resistant to our visit at all. Virginia talked for a while with us, and told us she wants to learn more!
Another cool thing happened where we biked an extra mile to go back and talk to someone we'd biked by. I don't have too much time to go into that one (out of character for this post because Grannies always have time haha!) But suffice it to say that you should never count out talking to someone because it looks awkward and way out of the way. It could totally work out!
Talk next week! Merry December to you!
-Sister Laura Cooper