Sunday, January 2, 2011


Hello familia!
Hm, seems like I just saw all of you.... Man, that was really good to be able to see everyone on skype - kind of like a reminder that home is a real place, sometimes it seems like memories of a different life long long ago... I definitely think we passed the 45 minute limit, but its ok. My companion talked to his parents, and each of his brothers and sisters scattered around the US as seperate 45 minute phone calls, so I figured we deserved a few extra minutes. Its weird how everyone looks different too! Everyone looks a lot more grown up (well, the kids anyway, the adults still look the same, ha) After the phone call I felt really good not trunky, like more refreshed. Glad we did it with skype, even though it was pretty hard.

It really was a sweet Christmas. Definitely memorable. Like I said, on Christmas Eve, in the morning, the hermana that just went to the temple for the first time, Hermana Torres invited us to her house to celebrate for a little while with her and her kids. And at the same time as we arrived, the Relief Society President, the Branch President, and the Young Woman's President all came too... we all went in, and after talking for a few minutes, they all sang US a christmas hymn (weird, we usually do that to THEM) and then each took turns saying really nice stuff about us as missionaries, how they felt that they were honored to have two GOOD missionaries in the branch, how they appreciated our obedience and diligence and love for the members and converts, etc. It was sweet, really dont think I deserved half of what they said, but it was a really sweet experience, I could feel the Spirit there, testifying that these people really sincerely love us. And we dont know why, but they pulled out a ton of presents that they had all pitched in to get for us - towels, cologne, shirts, socks, pictures of Christ, ties, you name it. We were super grateful - and later, we came home and once again, someone dropped off like 4 boxes for each of us, blankets and such... and then the branch president came at like 10 pm and had MORE.... we really dont know how to repay them, but I felt completely at home, really like I have family here. We made tamales with a member during the day (I cooked the banana leaves to wrap them in) and went by a bunch of members at night.

Then Christmas morning we had an activity (like I said, it was crazy -throwing eggs at each other, forcing people to eat jalepeno peppers, decorating my face with ketchup and pancake batter... we managed to fit in a reading of Luke chapter 2 in there thank goodness) then the skype call, then we went to Ogden and ate dinner with some recent converts, attended a Christmas baptism, and the had a lesson in Logan at 8 - which was sweet, we met the wife a week ago, and she said her husband might not want to listen, but to come by on Christmas and knock, and she would make a plan to get us in the door. Not sure what the plan was, but we knocked, he didnt really seem like he would let us in, but we said we were helping families remember the reason for Chritsmas, and in the middle of explaining why he couldnt listen, he ended up blurting out "come in, its cold." So we did, and after talking for a minute, we felt impressed to watch Finding Faith in Christ DVD, and the whole family watched intently, and after he said "I feel like I need to follow the Savior more. I talk about Him at our church, but I feel empty sometimes there. We need to follow Him, dont we?" He also mentioned wanting to feel like he "owns" the truth, right now he said its impossible to know which church actually has all the truth. It was a really neat experience. We set up another appointment - also seemed like he was going to reject it, but in mid sentence once again he blurted out "next saturday I'm home..." The wife looked really happy about it. Couldn't think of a better way to end Christmas.
So it was pretty great. And THANK YOU for everything everyone sent! the Maguras sent amazing homemade cookies (the candy cane cookies were the most popular), Aunt Jill and Uncle Dan, the pictures and the family update were great! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the Christmas card and check! Grandma Pat, that little Christmas tree was perfect for the aprtment, and the book, the Subway card, the glowsticks, and the other candy and goodies were awesome! The Smiths - those pears are the best I've ever tasted. And family, of course, thanks for everything - Jeffrey, you're right, the uke is super easy to learn, I love it! I think I'm driving my comp crazy, but we're going to take it to lessons and stuff, haha. The BYU blanket is great, and the pillowcase from the YM/YW is pretty intense. Elder Ruvalcaba loved his too! Thanks a lot for including him - it turned out that his family sent nothing, but the branch went overboard for him, and he had a lot for Christmas, felt a lot of love. He was really grateful that you thought of him too! Forgive me if I didnt think of everything right now, but we are really grateful for everything that was given, mostly that everyone remembers us!

And I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas back east too! It seemed like everyone was in good spirits. Next year we'll do it together!

Any other news? Had a baptism on Sunday - Gloria Wences. She actually got baptized 20 years ago, but under a false name and false ID. She felt like she was lying to God, and has never taken the Sacrament because of it, and went inactive. She came back to church, and wanted to be baptized again under her real name, and do it right - hilarious lady, she was always her interview she began shouting "THE ELDERS JUST WANT TO BAPTIZE ME THEY'RE FORCING ME INTO THIS!!!" Freaked us out, and when she came out of the interview all calm, she told us "Did I scare you? Just kidding." Punk. Almost didnt get baptized because the water turned out to be freezing cold, but she said "I heard my Heavenly Father say "Gloria, get into the water!" so I did." The whole night she shook her finger at me and said it was the gabacho (gringo)'s fault! Gloria. Hilarious lady, but in all seriousness she is really excited to finally be a real member and be able to worthily take the sacrament.
Well, I think that's all for now, the church is true folks! I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God! I know that the Spirit testifies of truth, and we can rely on it. I have seen and experienced promptings of that Spirit for 22 months (well before too) and through them we can get to know the Savior - He lets us know what He would say, or what He would do, or how He feels about people or situations - and then He lets US do it in His name. Love you guys, happy New Year!
Elder Thelin

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