一昨日坂庭兄弟はバプテスマを受けました！バプテスマ会はとっても良かったです。Sakaniwa Kyoudai was baptized on Saturday! It was the sweetest, most spiritual baptismal service I've been to. We had to teach him basically everything this last week, but we really felt that it was right for him to get baptized on the 26th. The ward chose a baptismal date and had a forty day fast that someone would get baptized on the 26th of December. We missionaries worked so hard to try to find someone who could be baptized on that day, and then out of the blue Sakaniwa Kyoudai showed up at church and said he wanted to be baptized! There was so much light in his eyes as he was baptized and as he bore his testimony. His wife was crying, too. There is so much happiness in the Sakaniwa family right now, and I know that that happiness will only grow stronger. It was truly the faith of this amazing ward that brought about this Christmas Miracle. I know that as we keep working hard and strengthening that faith, this ward is going to see countless miracles throughout the next year. This Christmas miracle was not just a one time baptism - it is going to be continuing growth and strength in this ward.
I had the opportunity to Skype with my family on Saturday before the baptism. It was nice to see their faces (although I never saw Robert's or Darci's) and hear their voices, although I didn't get enough time with Mom. I loved hearing Mom recite the family proclamation. I trust you all did well with memorizing that by Christmas. ;) I look forward to the next and last time that we skype during my mission.
Christmas was wonderful! The ward gave us two large trash bags FULL of gifts - mostly just junk food, but some cute socks and tights, too. It was so kind of them. Sister Gottfredson and I turned out the lights early Christmas Eve and read Luke 2 together by the light of our mini Christmas tree. It was nice to have a quiet Christmas. As Suzuki Shimai put it, you miss the real meaning of Christmas when you have loud parties with lots of food and excitement. I loved being able to focus on that quiet night in a stable, when the Savior of the world was born. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. I am ever grateful for Him.
Just in closing, I want to share a little about Suzuki Shimai. She was the less active that called out to us on the street a few weeks ago. We finally made the time to go visit her on Sunday. She was so excited to see us. We were only planning on sharing a short message, but she invited us in and we really felt the Spirit as we spoke about Christmas. I felt prompted to share the new Christmas video that the church produced, where all of the children bear testimony of Christ, and she just started crying. I bore testimony of the reality of our Savior and of His atonement. I felt so close with this kind woman, probably closer than anyone else in this area. I love her so much. Please keep her in your prayers.
With love, Crandall Shimai