Holy cow... this week was a doozy. Many wonderful moments!!
Christmas Eve was absolutely wonderful! We spent it with 3 families, 2 of them are part of the Cranberry ward! Remember the wonderful Sister Webb I told you about last week? Well we went to her home for lunch and guess what we ate.... EBELESKIVERS! Sister Draper comes from a strong Danish family so she knew what they were too! It was so crazy and wonderful!! Auntie Mel and Uncle Craig would be so proud :) They were really good and I felt right at home. Getting to spend part of the day in the Webb's home was such a blessing, the Spirit is so strong there and I could feel the love that they all had for one another. They have 6 children and they are all so adorable. After the meal, the 10 year old daughter had created a Nativity program for us to be a part of! I played a Shepard, which meant that I got to wear a heavy blue bathrobe and a blue towel on my head (held there by a headband). It was very fun, and it really helped me realize the importance of emphasizing to children what a blessing it is to celebrate the birth of our Savior! The whole reason for this wonderful season! Each child played a role in the nativity scene, but I must say my favorite was the little two year old daughter named Abre. She was the star. :) She stood on the edge of the sofa and stretched on her little tippy toes to hold up the little plastic silver star she held. It was so cute!!
Later on Christmas Eve, we went to another family in the Cranberry Ward's home - the Ottesons. They fed us dinner and we played Apples to Apples!! The same wonderful Spirit I felt in the Webb's home was present at the Otteson's, and it made me not want to leave! The Otteson's have 4 children and the oldest, Jackson, was my buddy for the game. He had so much fun grabbing a new card for us after each round and would whisper the word in my ear as he handed me the card. After grabbing a particular one, he read the card to me in a hushed voice, "landlord da vinkee.... (then louder) Landlord da vinkee!! Hey I know him - he is in my backpack!!" So confused, I looked at the card to see it said, "Leonardo Da Vinci" HAHA It was so funny!!! He was SO excited to make a connection with something he was learning in school, even though his pronunciation was a little off :) hehe adorable! We had lots of fun, and Jackson and I took 2nd place! woot woot!
After the Ottesons it was time to head home, BUT to a different home! We got permission to stay the night with the Cranberry Sisters!!!! Holy smokes we had a blast. Both Sister Morphy and Sister Gates are so wonderful and we became such instant friends when I got to do exchanges with them weeks ago. So, it was perfect. We all woke up Christmas morning and opened presents together and enjoyed each other's company before we separated for the day. :)
I got to enjoy Christmas at the Eberle home, and boy was it great!! That family will always hold such a special place in my heart! Heavenly Father really blessed me to be able to be in Butler for this Christmas on my mission because the Eberle's also had a few fun traditions that were the same as mine! That family is such a blast. They have a daughter that is a junior in high school who reminds me SO MUCH of Nancy, it is so happy! Their home is constantly full of laughter and love and I could feel it was such a tender mercy to be a part of it! The Eberle's gave us the coolest t-shirts that are covered in "Pittsburghese" and they are so awesome!! We sat there looking at them and had to ask several questions because a lot them I haven't heard before. So fun! Skyping home was.... the best. Seeing your faces made my heart so full and reminded me of how blessed I have been my whole life to be a part of such a wonderful family!! I MISS YOU!
And lastly... my dear companion Sister Draper is on her way home to Utah... President Topham came to pick her up this morning with his wife and the goodbye was hard. We have grown very close and she will be missed. She has some medical issues she is dealing with and I pray that she and her family will all be well. Please keep her in your prayers!
I love you all so very much. I know that Heavenly Father knows me and each of you personally and that He cares about our lives! He wants us to succeed and reach our potential so we must do what is necessary to help accomplish that! He can't do all the work for us, that is the blessing of agency :) I hope everyone has a fabulous week!! Don't forget to make your New Year Resolutions and I would challenge you to make at least one of them about improving your relationship with your Savior Jesus Christ! That alone will help in every other aspect of your life! LOVE YINZ!!
p.s. pictures: 1) Sister Draper and I on Christmas eve with our festive scarfs! 2) Us with the Webb family in our Nativity costumes :) 3) Alan Kean... he rocks. haha He taught us how to safely light ourselves on fire! Don't worry - I didn't try. LOVE YOU!!