Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jan 2, 2013
It was SO GOOD to hear from all of you! Christmas was really neat on a mission. I missed you all and the traditions we have (especially waking up at ridiculous hours in the morning to go sneak our stockings ;). But it was a neat experience to be on a mission on Christmas. You wouldn't believe how incredibly thoughtful everyone here was. There were so many people that went well out of their way to make Christmas special for us missionaries. We received so many gifts, random strangers were kind to us, many families invited us over for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and we almost went into a sugar coma with how much Christmas desserts we were given. My favorite part was feeling like I am living a part of the Savior's life out here on His birthday. Did you read the article in the Ensign by Elder Holland? He talks about how when he was on a mission during Christmas, he came to understand Christmas better rather than simply enjoy it. That explains how I felt so well. I don't think I will ever forget it.

Oh, I guess I should tell you transfer info :) I have been transferred back to Kirtland in the Twinsburgh area with Sister Neslen. Twinsburg is right next to and is in the same district as Hiram, so it almost felt like coming home! I have thoroughly grilled the Hiram sisters about former people I taught and found several months ago. It is so fun :) The senior couples that were serving at the Johnson home with me (the Riches and Jones) are now serving in Kirtland. It has been SO GOOD to see them!!! I really missed working with the senior couples out full proselyting. When I got back to the visitors center, all the nativities were on display (500+ from all over the world) and it was BEAUTIFUL! I have never been that fascinated by nativity scenes, but this Christmas it really seemed to hit me how special each person/animal/object represented in the nativity really are. 

Sister Neslen is so fun! We had someone come in to see the nativities that really loved Sister Neslen, and one of the things she said was, "You are like a life-size Barbie!" It was SO funny, and so true! She is really beautiful, and she is hilarious! I have really loved serving with her so far. She has a lot of enthusiasm and energy, which makes missionary work fun.  

So, do you all remember what one of my favorite movies is? Hitch? Christmas Eve, I was able to relive part of that movie! The Willowick sister (Sister Tok and Sister Gee) invited us up to Kirtland to come to a member dinner with them. It was SO good! The mom had prepared seafood pasta (Alfredo with shrimps and scallops), bruscetta, and to top it off, a cake with amazing pinterest frosting (have you heard of pinterest? EVERY woman I have talked to has raved about it!) After we finished eating, the other sisters were giving the lesson. About half way through Luke 2, Sister Tok's face caught my eye. She wasn't saying a whole lot, and her mouth was awkwardly lopsided. I couldn't really tell what was wrong with her face, but it just looked weird. Once we were able to get out of there (Sister Tok was trying so hard to get out of there quickly!) she was saying over and over, "What is wrong with my face?!" Half of her face was blowing up! Her lips were about double the size they normally are (and she already has big lips!) and she was saying that her top lip was starting to go numb. We ran over to the nearest gas station for some Benedryl (she was freaking out like Will Smith was in the medicine isle by this point). She got some Benedryl and we went out caroling with some other missionaries. It was SO funny! Just check out the picture. It says it all. Turns out a Hawaiian had an allergic reaction to seafood. Go figure :) I love that sister!

On Christmas morning we stayed over at the Hyrum smith home and opened presents. I had so much to open! Thank you so much for the gifts- they were so fun! And thank you for the mints for Sister Neslen- it was fun to share gifts with her. Then we did our studies and went to breakfast at a members home. They were so sweet and had SO much good food! They had pancakes with some pecan goodness syrup, and eggnog that tasted like a milkshake... everything was so good! Then we went off to the Polous' (senior couple living at the Morley farm) to get in line to Skype. It was crazy over there! So many sisters. It was fun to talk to all of you! Then we watched the end of 17 Miracles (it was a little strange watching TV...) Later we ate Christmas dinner with the senior couples and had a talent show with the Kirtland missionaries. It ended with a spiritual message and then we went and celebrated in the Hyrum home. 

We have been doing a lot of finding, and it is neat to see how the Lord puts prepared people in our path. We are excited to start teaching a lot of them. 

Last night was confirmation that I have gotten weird on my mission. We went over to a part-members home, and when we were leaving I walked out of the house without hugging the mom. (just fyi, sister missionaries hug everyone. It is an unspoken rule) Then Sister Neslen showed me up by happily hugging her, so I had to go back and repent. I walked back in the door and hugged her while I apologized for my lack of love. Then I stepped back outside the door and extended my hand to the 20 something year old son to shake it, and he said, "Oh no you don't, I get a hug too!" Then in utter horror and shock I stood there as he closed in for the awkward side-hug. I had a full view of Sister Neslen's face full of dread, knowing she was the next victim. That .5 second hug seemed to last a life-time and a half before Sister Neslen got her turn. As we walked away down the driveway we barely had enough self control to hold in our screams of terror until we got into the car. When the car doors shut, the screaming begun. We were freaking out- "Why did he hug us, doesn't he know?! Why did you let him hug you?! After you hugged him you know I couldn't say no! What was I supposed to do- he surprise attacked me!!"- for a full solid minute before we started texting our district for sympathy and solace. We are getting our clothes dry cleaned today, and we will be signing up for missionary counselling ASAP. I pity the man who goes on a date with me after my mission. No touchie. 

I love you family! It is so good to write to you again- it feels like Christmas was so long ago! Stay good! Don't hug missionaries!

Sister Mahrt

P.S.  I am glad I was able to talk to all of you! I was also REALLY disappointed in Skype. On both Mothers Day and Christmas having Skype not work properly has been really frustrating. I was so excited to talk to you all, but then the frustration at not being able to see you was almost unbearable! Sorry if that frustration came through in the phone call. I was really disappointed. Maybe next Mothers Day we can just call. We'll be seeing each other a few weeks later anyway ;)

Sister Poppleton left welcome to T-Burg party stuff
Sister Neslen was praying for EVER!!! I went in there, and guess what? She was TOTALLY ASLEEP! This was one of our first nights.
Tracting in our first blizzard! We were so excited!
Christmas Eve in our matching PJs that the Momma Neslen sent
Our Christmas talent show- the Sister Bell, Rasumussen, Maynard and Palmer sang to a Christmas song- it was awesome!

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