We set up a free hot chocolate stand in Old Town Alexandria a couple nights before Christmas.
At the temple with Edgardo and Julio for the Festival of Lights!
At the temple with Hawa.
On Christmas Eve we were asked by our bishop to join him in going to the hospital to give a priesthood blessing to a sick baby, the son of a mother in the ward. There's nowhere else I would've rather been on Christmas Eve than there helping that little child! There was such a tender spirit in that hospital room and it was incredible to see the young mother manage to stay smiling and happy amidst such a rough time on Christmas Eve. I felt really grateful for all of the people working at the hospital on Christmas Eve, sacrificing time away from their families to be there to help the people.
We started teaching Edgardo this week about some of the different commandments. He is so humble and willing to change! At the end of one of our lessons, he said the closing prayer. In his prayer he said something along the lines of "I'm very sad that my missionaries are leaving. I love them a lot. They've helped me to change and I'm going to miss them..." It was nice to hear how much he's appreciated us. He said this prayer after finding out that we are both getting transferred to new areas this next week. Edgardo came to church on Christmas and brought his brother-in-laws father, who is a member of the church, with him! His brother in laws father is also from Peru, but doesn't speak any English. It was the perfect Sunday though, because our ward and the Spanish ward combined for Christmas Day service! So half of the the songs and talks and prayers were in Spanish and the other half were in Enlgish. It was a fun Christmas Sunday at church! Edgardo will be getting baptized sometime in the middle of January.
Michael also blessed the sacrament for the first time on Christmas and is starting to be able to use his priesthood! He did great and was super excited about being able to do it.
We found out a few days ago that we will both be getting transferred out of our ward! They will be bringing two new elders in to "white wash" our area! They are lucky missionaries both coming into an awesome ward with a lot of work to do! We were surprised to find this out, but I guess we are both needed elsewhere! We thought the sisters in the ward will be taking all of our investigators, but now the elders coming in will have some good work to do! It has been an amazing 4 transfers (6 months) here in Alexandria and I'm going to miss this area and the people here a ton! These past four transfers have gone by so much quicker than my first four, I can't believe it's almost been a year since I got here. Elder Judkins and I have been able to be part of some incredible miracles and have had a lot of fun serving here. This ward is awesome! The bishop is great, the members are supportive, and we've met many people that are prepared and interested in learning about the restored gospel. I've learned a lot serving here and I look forward to the new lessons I'll learn with different challenges that may come in my next area. I won't find out until tomorrow night where I will be headed.
We got some REALLY exciting news last night! Our mission had a goal to have 300 baptisms as a mission this year, and on Christmas Eve we hit 300! Obviously the work we do is not about numbers, it's about blessing the lives of individual people. This goal helped us to stay focused and work hard throughout the year. The theme we've based this year on is from the scripture Alma 37:6-7 which talks about how the Lord uses small means to bring about the salvation of many souls. Throughout the year we've focused on different simple things we can do to become better missionaries each day, that'll help us to help others. We did a mission-wide conference call last night where they announced that we hit 300 baptisms. After that announcement there was some more amazing news! On January 14th, we will be having TWO members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visit our mission!! Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Ronald A. Rasband are coming here in just a couple weeks! They will be joined by Elder Gong of the Quorum of the Seventy. We will be having a mission-wide conference with them all! President Huntsman said that it is extremely rare to have 2 Apostles visit a mission together at the same time, so we're pretty lucky. They are planning to come here for some other meetings and fireside they're doing, but Elder Gong talked with President Huntsman and asked him if it would be okay for them to meet with our mission while they are here, so of course President Huntsman accepted! I'm excited to get to shake both of their hands and learn from their counsel that we will receive!
In just a few days I will be in a new area! I'm sad to leave, but excited for the changes ahead! I love you all and I hope you have a great last week of 2016!
Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission
We helped volunteer at a senior center this week,
We are going to miss Bishop Leavitt and his family!
Christmas Sunday with our Ward Mission Leader,
Thanks for all of the Christmas gifts Mom and others!