Merry (late) Christmas! Wow, yesterday didn’t feel real. I’m sure y’all saw that I got to Skype my family. Best 40 minutes and Christmas present ever. It was a really special day. But we will get to that part later.
There is really so much to talk about, so I apologize for the length of this email! Let’s begin with last Monday. We went to Costco! Yes, there are Costco’s in England apparently. Honestly, that was probably one of my favorite things so far. I just felt at home. It sounds silly, but I was so happy. Muffins were my breakfast, lunch and dinner all week. Shout out to Jacint for working there and sneaking us in.
The rest of the week was full of teaching miracles. The week prior we struggled with pretty much everything. On Sunday we fasted as a district (so eight missionaries) and prayed that things would begin to look up. Honestly speaking, I thought this week would be even more dead. But God was listening and fasting works! Our prayers were truly answered. We were so blessed with many lessons to teach and were running here and there.
My absolute favorite teaching experience this week was with Boya. Boya has been around for awhile being taught. She would be progressing well and then just disappear. She showed up when I was with Sister Kerr, but sadly didn’t last long. Last week she miraculously showed up again and I told her I’m not letting her go. I may have freaked her out with how bold I was, but wow she holds a special place in my heart. We had wonderful lessons with her and one of my absolute favorites was when we went to her dorm. I felt like I was at school again and it was a bunch of fun. But then we taught her about the Word of Wisdom and noticed she had lots of tea. She let us take it and throw it away in the good ole rubbish bin! That was a good time. Boya is legit.
Laura, Mia, and Jacque are doing wonderfully as well. I really, really wish you could meet them! Oh almost forgot this one- Bert. Bert was walking by the chapel when we were doing the Nativity and he ended up coming back later to come inside. We began teaching him and saw him three days in a row and he seemed really open and really solid. But then we were about to say goodbye and schedule another time to see him when he informed us that he was going to Morocco for a couple weeks. We said that’s fine and we can see him when he gets back. And he responded with, “No because my mission here is already finished.” Then things got crazy. Long story short, he’s a super sweet, spiritual guy. But when I say spiritual I mean very, very spiritual. Like reincarnation, out of body experiences, Buddha spiritual. It was then clear he really wasn’t interest in learning so we said goodbye, and surprise! He shows up at where we were eating lunch. I’ll always remember Bert haha.
And Gerald! Gerald came into the Visitors’ Centre on Saturday. He’s from the Caribbean and speaks French, so we had a bit of a hard time communicating. Turns out he met with missionaries in the Caribbean and he’s really keen on learning more. We struggled to exchange phone numbers but invited him to church. Now in London on Christmas there is absolute zero transportation. The city just shuts down. And believe it or not, Gerald showed up to church! He stayed basically the whole day at the chapel watching videos and speaking French with other friends. And then while walking home, we ran into him again! We aren’t entirely sure if he’s legally living here, but we are going to teach him and he’s great. So that was a fun time.
Christmas Eve was magical. We spend it at the Visitors’ Centre directors flat, Elder and Sister Hulet. We had tacos for dinner and watched Charles Dickens! It made everything feel so real that I’m here in London as I was able to recognize everything they were talking about. Also, the guy who plays Charles Dickens is in my ward! It was so fun to watch and y’all should watch it! (Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=XZe-hLewU80) The rest of the night was spent exchanging gifts, singing, and reading the scriptures together. It was a powerful night I will always remember and I am so blessed
Christmas then didn’t even feel real! It was incredible. We woke up, turned on Christmas music, had the lights glowing on our little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and we opened presents. Wow am I blessed. Thank you to everyone who sent me cards and for all my extended family for sending their testimonies to me. The gifts I received are gifts I will forever treasure. We then got ready for the day and headed to the chapel. On the way there, we saw this poor little pigeon stuck in a fence. We climbed the fence and got the bird out. Turns out his legs were broken and so he couldn’t walk. It was so sad! We were late to the Visitors’ Centre and so we had to go, but as we left, a flock of other pigeons showed up around the poor little guy and were pecking at him! Pray for him.
So that was a fun start, but then we had church and it was great. We had a beautiful brunch put on by members of the ward which was very sweet. Then I got to take a nap! Can you believe it?! A nap! So nice. We then went to a senior couples home for dinner which again was so, so lovely. Finally, I got to Skype my family! 7 months is a long time to not hear my momma’s voice. I even forgot I had a dog. But I was beyond grateful to speak with them. Sister Gregson and I then walked home and noticed no one was in the streets, so we danced! Who would have ever thought I was get to dance in the streets of London, surrounded by Christmas lights, on the best day of the year. Another magical moment. I’m blessed. So, so blessed.
This Christmas, I have learned so many lessons. Being removed from my family and focused on serving Jesus Christ has brought an entire new meaning to Christmas, and the real reason behind it. I have reflected on those lessons learned, and hope to keep them extremely prevalent in my life moving into the new year.
1. “No room in the inn” was not a singular expression of rejection–just the first.
As a missionary, rejection occurs every single day. But the Savior before even entering this world, was rejected. That rejection continued through the rest of His life, ministry, and today. Yet He continues to offer love, compassion, and mercy. He fulfilled what He came to the Earth to accomplish, while facing constant rejection. Knowing this puts the rejection I face into an entire different realm. I’m not being rejected. It’s the message and name badge people see and reject. It is their Savior Jesus Christ. But that love and compassion is still always offered regardless of if there is room in the inn.
2. We need to make room for Christ.
President Howard W. Hunter once taught, “We make room for the gifts, but sometimes no room is made for the giver. We have room for the commercialism of Christmas and even pleasure-seeking on the Sabbath day, but there are times when there is not room for worship. Our thoughts are filled with other things–there is no room.”
We are each innkeepers and decide if there is room for Jesus. So, have we made room? Making room for Him in my life is the best decision I have ever made. A year and a half to fully dedicate all of my time to Him is not nearly enough. But this short time I have has helped me recognise how to always have room for Him. Always.
3. Wait for your manger.
Moving into 2017, I’ve realised it’s time to wait for my manger. I came across the most incredible point with more symbolism regarding where Christ was born. I could never sum it up better than what Al Fox Carraway wrote:
“Mary is now in the last few days of her pregnancy, (sympathsizing cuz those are the hardest days!) I don’t often think of their travels, the discomfort she was in, or of all the opportunities that came up that didn’t work out for her. How badly she wanted that Inn, but was denied. That seemed like such an amazing, potential miracle & how heartbreaking it must have been when it didn’t work out.
Was it because Mary was being punished? Did she do something wrong? No. Not at all!
But Heavenly Father had something else in mind. A manger. It may not have seemed “perfect” to Mary or Joseph, it may not have been what they had in mind. But surely, the birth of Christ was perfect in every way. It was the best way, rather than a good, or a better. Because it was according to God’s plan.
What I’m saying is, wait for your “manger.” Wait for your something best, rather than settling for something good, or something better. Wait for your something perfect according to Him. I know it can be hard and full of discomfort, just like Mary, but when you see opportunities pass, keep going with faith knowing there IS something else to come. That you are not being punished. That it will not just bless you, but profoundly help and bless others because of it. Because you waited. Because you trust Him. Because you know that ‘He will not fail thee!’ (Deut. 31: 8)”
4. The Christmas lights are found in Him.
This Christmas season, an extreme emphasis was made on lighting the world. I noticed as we focused on ways to serve others that people will notice the light of Christ in us as we do what He did. Watching the #LIGHTtheWORLD video over and over each day brought so many special and unique experiences. Christ focused on the needs of the individual, and so should we. Even if it is just helping a stuck bird and as Elder Hulet called it, “Lighting the world for all of God’s creatures great and small!”
5. Just believe.
On Christmas Eve, I was saying my evening prayer when I felt overcome with how we just need to believe. How simple it was to believe in Santa Claus as a little child (don’t let Eli read this part!) As we grow up, the excitement and child spirit begins to dwindle. I think what Heavenly Father wants us to do is just continue to believe. Be like a little child. Believe in Him.
6. The birth is the preface of the story.
As we think about the magnificent “Christmas Story,” it is clear that the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem was just the preface to the core substance of the story. The climax and reason for the entire story was His atoning sacrifice, which leads into into the next point.
7. Jesus the Christ was born to die.
This final point was what struck me the most this Christmas. As I was lying in bed and my mind didn’t seem to want to rest, I came across those seven words. “Jesus the Christ was born to die.” The past few months I’ve searched diligently to understand Christ and learn who He is. My studies have been full of questions and sometimes confusion. I have put my mind into a realm of time where answers sometimes do not exist. But when I came across the fact that Jesus Christ’s sole purpose was to come to this Earth to die, something dug deep within me. Finally things were beginning to make sense again.
It is all because of Him. Because of His sacrifice and His Atonement, we can live again. He knows how to succour us. He came here to die for us because He loves His Father and He loves us. He accepted the role to be the Savior of the world. How remarkable, outstanding and complex yet simple this act was. It is ever more real today as it was 2000 years ago. It denies comprehension. Jesus Christ was born to die and because of this eternal truth, I will forever be grateful. If it were not for the atoning Christ in Jerusalem, the babe born in Bethlehem would have been just another child born. But His purpose was so much greater, and therefore His birth is what allowed this single, most important task of preforming the Atonement to occur. But it’s these final few words that make it even more personal: Jesus Christ was born to die SO WE CAN LIVE. This struck home to me in a way I cannot express in words.
I could continue to go on with all the incredible lessons I learned this year. They always say Christmas on your mission can be the best Christmas you’ve ever had. Yesterday I found that was true. It didn’t necessarily feel much like Christmas, but it felt more like Christmas. That sentence probably made no sense, but I’m thankful for this beautiful season to remember our Lord and Savior. I’m excited to move forward into 2017 with Him always in mind and I would challenge you all to think of a way to make more room for Him this coming year. And always remember- Sister Fuhriman loves you!