Our nephew is serving in Puerto Rico. He sent a picture of him wearing the HAIR tie in public (thus fulfilling his obligation to rule #3).
We also got a call out in his latest email and I think it’s fascinating to learn about Puerto Rican Christmases…
Hope you had a fantastic Christmas! It was so nice to talk to the immediate family, to have a little bit of instantaneous communication. That and to hear all those familiar voices--except for Jason's. His voice has definitely gotten deeper...Thank you to all who sent letters, packages, and notes. As a missionary, it's awesome to get packages & even greater to get them Christmas. So thank you tons! Attached is a little picture of how Aunt Lisa's package helped me get into the Christmas Spirit! haha [what useful things, huh?]
Christmas here was a much more relaxed day, had church at 11 instead of the usual 9:30. Then went to a member's house for lunch, took turns chatting with our families, then went to a dinner appointment. The members here are really good at feeding us, especially this time of year. The food is usually pretty good, and almost always with rice and beans. Including on Christmas!
Puerto Ricans definitely have a different sense of Christmas cheer. Christmas is celebrated more like the 4th of July, with tons of cherry bombs! There's a tradition here of having what's called a parranda. This is basically a travelling party, house to house, all night long. Singing songs, drinking, eating, from about midnight to 5 in the morning. We had two nights where we fell asleep to a couple parrandas starting a little early. Here, they also have the Day of the Kings on the 6th of January, to celebrate the 3 wise men's arrival to pay their respects to Jesus. Among this, they include some other holidays throughout January. I've heard that they really have just like one giant party until the 3rd week in January!
This last week of the year we started off driving up to Bayamon for a devotional with President Glazier of the Dominican Republic MTC. We talked about how we can better teach our investigators. One thing that he encouraged us to try to do, is to try to create a conversational environment where the investigator can teach us through an examination of scripture. He commented that many times--especially when encouraging investigators to keep a commitment--missionaries don't use scriptures, but use opinions. He encouraged us to use the scriptures and ask good questions. By doing so, the Holy Spirit can teach our investigators directly and they can become familiar with the way the Holy Ghost works. So this has been a recent emphasis we have had in our teaching.
Last night, we had a dinner appointment with a lady married to a member, but he's a little bit less active.She asked us when we were setting up the appointment what we would like to eat. What puertorican foods we hadn't yet had. I suggested we have mofongo. Mofongo is a side dish made of sliced plantains. The plantain slices are fried until crispy, then crushed with a mortar and pestle with garlic, butter, and seasoning salt. It was really good--like a Puerto Rican version of mashed potatoes. Of course, it was served with some deep fried chicken. lol
But after dinner, we had a great lesson with her, really led by the Spirit. She has been investigating the Church for a long time now, and we invited her to set the goal of baptism on the 28th of January. She was a little anxious to commit to the date because she hasn't yet received an answer to her prayers--or at least recognized it. I promised her that the Lord would answer her prayer before that date, if she put in her part to find out. She didn't agree wholeheartedly, but said that she would do all she could to be ready by that date. Now, as a missionary, it would be reasonable to be a little upset, or maybe disappointed, at her response. But afterwards, I just felt the calmness of the Spirit assuring that all would be well, that she'll receive her answer. The amazing thing about missionary work, is that it's the Lord's work, and that He has the power to do what He needs done. I know that the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture to lead us, and that God is aware of our exact needs, and that if we turn to Him in prayer, He will enlarge our capabilities.
At the end of this year, as we reflect on the year, and plan for the next, I know that we have the hope that the Gospel brings. The Atonement of Christ can be applied in a very real, day to day manner. Through Christ's Atonement, we have the hope of becoming better, of improving ourselves. Through His grace, we can do all things.
Love you all!
Elder Jordan Peacock