This week I had the first Christmas away from [my family]. Christmas Eve felt kind of weird and somewhat unreal as my companions and I went about our normal activities - exercising, studying, visiting with less actives and investigators, and even doing some tracting. While we were tracting we came across two cows in a field by a house (I really am in the countryside). As we walked past them, they were really curious about us and came up to the fence and as we walked down the road they followed us (on their side of the fence of course) and, at some points, ran to keep up with us. One of them gave a loud mournful bellow when the fence finally ended and we went on without them. These cows knew we are "someone special" and have something great to offer. I wish more people were like them. (I named the cows Mary and Joseph)
On Christmas Eve, we came back to our apartment at 6 p.m. after singing some Christmas carols to a couple of patients at a nursing home (when we found out that [a church] member who stays at the nursing home, was asleep). My companions and I had a unique yet awesome Christmas Eve dinner. Since Sister Leavens family has a tradition of having a simple snack-like dinner on Christmas Eve, like crackers and cheese, we had Ritz and Triscuit crackers with mild cheddar cheese and ham slices, apple slices with Sister Jone's homemade brown sugar cream cheese dip, and French bread with oil and vinegar.
I arranged the crackers, cheese, and ham on the plates so they looked very professional and were visually appealing, if I may say so myself. My companions and I had fun eating Christmas Eve dinner while listening to a MoTab Christmas CD as well as The Forgotten Carols. It felt weird sitting there listening to music and "relaxing" after dinner with no place we needed to go and nothing we needed to do.
A missionary Christmas dinner
On Christmas we still went about our normal activities of exercise and studies but we got two hours to open presents and we went to members' homes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (You can see our beautiful Christmas tree we named "Evangeline" and I attached some pictures of us opening presents). I was so excited about skyping/calling [my family] all day. It was so nice to see [their] faces and talk to [them] even though [they] didn't get to see my face for very long.
This week I actually received my first marriage proposal, as did my companions, by a young, single guy with a mohawk, who we believe is slightly mentally challenged. Sister Leavens met Billy [name changed] at the library with Sister Thatcher, her previous companion, and they gave him a Book of Mormon. On Friday he told us that he hadn't read any yet. As we sat at a table in the library waiting to have a "dialogue" with Joe [name changed], Billy came up to us and told us he wanted to marry a "sweet Mormon girl." He then boldly asked Sister Leavens, "Will you marry me?" Well that took us all by surprise. When she didn't say yes, he turned to Sister Jones and asked her, and when she didn't say yes, he finally turned to me and asked me if I would marry him.
My companions and I ended up responding by telling Billy that we wouldn't be able to marry him unless he read The Book of Mormon. He then declared to us that he would read The Book of Mormon and come to church with us every day! (We later found out that Billy had given Joe his copy of The Book of Mormon and told Joe that he wasn't planning on reading it) When Billy started to walk out of the library, he looked over at us and said, "I still want to marry you! I'm waiting!" Well, I have to say that I was expecting to have some strange and new experiences on my mission, but this is an experience I definitely wasn't expecting until after my mission. lol.
Yesterday, we had dinner with the Laws family who are from Ypsilanti if I remember correctly and remember Grandma and Uncle Evan. I was also able to meet Brother Laws' father, who was the Stake President before President Nielson in the Ann Arbor Stake. He had a picture of him with President Nielson, President Camron, and a couple other Presidents who I do not know. It really is a small world. (see attached pictures)
Ashley with Duane Laws, a former Stake President from Ypsilanti, Michigan
Photo of the five most recent Stake Presidents in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Kim Cameron, Steve Hedquist, Tom Nielson, Duane Laws, Rick DeVries)
Well I miss yall a bunch. This week is going to be super relaxing (weird), seeing that today is P-Day, tomorrow we have to be home by 6pm (New Year’s Eve) and Wednesday (New Year’s Day) we get a Super P-Day. It is the one day of the year we get to sleep in and have P-Day all day long. We are going over to Cookville (Cookvel) to meet up with our zone to watch "Monsters University."