Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Santa Snow and his Reindeer!
(aka STL's - Sister Erickson & Sister Underly,
and AP's Elder Excell & Elder Wightman)
Hey everyone!

Another great week in the mission field! This last week, we had Christmas conferences here in the mission! We had 3 different conferences: one for the southern part of Vegas, one for the northern part of Vegas, and one for the people out-of-valley! It's been so cool to go around the mission and see all of the missionaries! (I'll include some pictures of me with some past companions.)  The conferences have been great! The basic lineup has been that we start with some announcements and videos from the office staff. Then after that, Sister Snow talks about the birth of the Savior. We then give a training centered around the life and example of Jesus Christ. Each of the zone leadership teams for each zone then give training about one of Christ’s miracles, and how ideas from it can be applied to missionary work. Then, President Snow trains on the death, resurrection, and legacy of Jesus Christ. There have been some really cool spiritual experiences during these conferences! This is the Snow's last Christmas conference in the mission, so it's been pretty emotional for them as well. After all of the trainings have been given, we have lunch (provided by the stake relief society of whatever stake we happen to be in), then a talent show, and then President dresses up like Santa Claus and takes pictures with everyone! There have been some great talents over the last few days! Some are really talented, and some, their talent is just to make people laugh, but they're all great! This year, President added a little something extra to his Santa Claus routine. We spent some time Monday night building a sleigh out of cardboard and wrapping paper. Every year, Sister Snow plays some Christmas carols on the piano, and everyone sings them before President comes in. This year he made his entrance by sleigh! We got to be the reindeer! (Hence the antlers with all the pics of past comps, haha). It's been a lot of fun!
Elder Dixon
Elder Andersen
Elder Aitchison
Elder Branning
Elder Tupou
One unique thing about doing zone conferences is that we give the same training multiple times throughout the mission. It’s been kind of cool, because it's given the message a chance to really sink in with me. In our training, we've been talking about the reasons that Christ did what he did. Everything that Christ did, he did because he loved other people. And every aspect of Christ's life was centered around others. He never had a selfish thought, even at times in his life when it would have been so easy to do so. I think we all have times in our lives when we're hurt or upset or something else, and we want nothing more than to focus on ourselves. It's our natural reaction to those circumstances. But in Christ's life, even when things were most difficult for him, he chose to turn outwards and serve others. As I've pondered on this, it's given me an increased desire to serve others and do so out of love for them! I'm so grateful for the opportunity that this mission has been for me to be able to focus completely on serving others! I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and his selfless example, especially at this time of year. So this Christmas season, take the opportunity to go out and serve someone! It's an easy time of year to get absorbed into all of the different things that you have to do, but I promise, as we focus on others instead, it will bring us so much happiness!

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas!
Elder Excell

Building Santa's Sleigh
Video of Santa's big entrance pulled by his 4 new reindeer:

Santa Snow from Traci Excell on Vimeo.

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