This week we had our Christmas Conference. President talked a lot about the historical nativity. He explained a lot of the customs and traditions back when Christ was born and all the meanings. It was very interesting because he's been there plenty of times and so he told us a lot of stories and experiences of when he was there in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I wish I could explain everything in detail to you but it's hard over email and I'm sure a lot of it you already have heard of but it was all new and insightful to me. He talked about how Mary and Joseph were probably in their teens (13-17) when this was going on, the actual date of when Christ was born, more facts about the star, the manager, etc. His birth was incredible and meek. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and this time we have to remember him and his ministry here on Earth. I love reading about the need we have for him and the excitement we had waiting for his arrival. We were there on that glorious day over 2000 years ago at his birth rejoicing and praising Him! Now we are here, hopefully having that same excitement about Him in the knowledge we have that He lives and is coming again. Our whole existence and purpose here in this life is because of Him and for us to become like Him so we too can live with our Heavenly Father. He is our guide and knows the terrains better than we can imagine. Are we listening to his directions and following him? I hope so.
Well this last week has been a huge turning point for the Alvarado-Calixtro family!!!! The WHOLE family came to church yesterday!!!!!! We sent someone to just pick up the girls but she came back to the church and said they weren't there. A couple minutes later, they all walk in to the chapel. Carlos the dad looked extremely tired (he goes to work at 1 in the morning over in San Jose and sleeps in his car while he is there ((so he doesn't get much sleep)) and stays there till the weekends and comes back home and tries to catch up on his sleep before he heads back). The girls on Friday were able to go with the ward over to the Oakland temple in San Francisco to see the lights. They just LOVED it. We visited them Saturday night and Hannah showed us all her pictures she took and told us all about it. She was just beaming! Carlos and Betty said "the girls really love your church!" and that they are happy as parents to see the girls excitement and love for the church. I think this is what helped the parents in coming to church in that they are curious why the girls love it so much! What was really cute, when Hannah came to church the 1st time the other week, I went with her to primary. We learned the Nativity song. Well the primary kids went up and sang it in sacrament yesterday. Hannah walked over to me and whispered "do I have to go up there?". I told her "They are singing the song that we learned in primary last time you were here. So if you want to go up there and sing, you can, but you don't have to." I thought she would just go sit down, but nope, she walked up there and sang with the kids!!!! I couldn't stop smiling. I looked over at Betty and Carlos and they were confussed but impressed that she went up and actually knew the song for only coming once! Ha ha.. The parents let Lupita, Hannah, and little Jesus stay for the rest of the meetings. So I went with Jesus to Sunbeams while Hna Odor went with Lupita to her Sunday school class and Hannah was brave enough to go to her own class by herself and not with Hna Odor and Lupita. It was so exciting having them all there. Hannah went with us last night to our Stake Christmas concert and the girls are going with us Tuesday to Fresno for the leaving missionaries fireside. I'm so happy they are getting involved in all these youth activities and enjoying them. Now we just need to get the parents involved more. This was pretty much the highlight of the week. It would have been even better if President gave us the approval of going with the ward to the Oakland temple. Ha ha.. We definitely have to go next year or at least in the future! I hear it is just beautiful!
This week begins the new transfer but like I said Hna Odor and I will be staying together here in Los Banos still. I got your package at the Christmas Conference. Thank you! Is there anything in it that I need to open before Christmas or are they all for Christmas day? Just want to make sure. I'm struggling finding you all a Christmas gift so you might get them after. They will be a New Years gift. Ha ha.. Hopefully you got my Christmas ornament by now though. If not, keep an eye out for it in the mail. Hopefully it looks good. :/
Tell Grandma I love her and that I bought peanuts like she told me! I hope she can find the strength to pull through a little longer. Please keep me posted though and again know you are allowed to call the mission office if you need to get a hold of me. I can't wait to hear you all next week though. Honestly I'm nervous but can't wait to hear your sweet voices. Again, I only get 40 minutes so be sure to think of questions or have stories ready so we can save as much time as we can!!!!! Anything you want me to start thinking of or stories to share? What time is best to call? Actually I think you call me like last time, but when is best for everyone? Let me know so I can plan for it. I am not sure what my day will be like so as of right now any time is good. Probably more in the afternoon in case we have a meeting in the morning and so you can all open your presents.
I love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
! Take care!!!!!!!!!
- hermana Sorensen