Dearest family - how I love you!
It was wonderful to talk to you on Christmas and hear your dear voices. The time seemed super short and there were a ton of things I wanted to tell you that I didn't... but oh well.
I got the birthday package and the christmas package on Sunday and the package from G. Pete today. Thank you so so so much! I loved all the individually wrapped gifts and I put them all under our tiny tree and took pictures before opening them. (someday I'll figure out how to get a picture or two or my card to you...) And I'm super excited for the conference talks in the ENSIGN. So did everything make it alright? There are no lingering packages right? I guess the address you sent them too works just fine, we just have to wait for the office elders to pick themup and deliver them.
So happy surprize babies to LESLIE and ERIN SORENSON! Les, I seriously can't believe that but I'm so happy for you. And I can't wait to meet my new cousin when I get home in 15 months... How cool is that? You are in my prayers, along with everyone else. ;)
Also, happy anniversary mom and dad! I loved your schmoopy email this week. I can't describe how grateful I am to have parents that love each other like you do. And what's more, that love the gospel like you do. I am seeing my family with new eyes after being here in this crazy country for a month and a half now. I was reading my patriarchal blessing today and parts about my family (current, not future) stood out to me that never have before. You all bless my life so much and I am a better missionary because of the way you have always lived your lives. Thank you for acknowledging, understanding and practicing gospel principles everyday. That is so rare in the rest of the world.
Paige - thanks for your wisdom and insight about love and sacrifice in your email and also in your church talk which I just recieved. I needed to be reminded of that. It seems like being on a mission, all you'd think about is love and sacrifice, and in a way that is true, but there are so many aspects to think about. Dad said to be grateful for this time when I can concentrate all my thought and energy on one thing, preaching the gospel. And I certainly am grateful, but in a way I feel like I have more things to concentrate on and juggle than I ever have before, and the difference this time is that all the things are of eternal importance this time... I worry about people's lives, the branch here, the leadership (which really struggles - they just don't know how the church is supposed to run, what their responsibilities are, how to be good leaders, etc. - but we are teaching them poco a poco), my companion, how to be a better teacher, how to improve baptismal services, how to plan better, and the list goes on. There are so many different facets of missionary work and it's such a task to divide my time and give the most important things the most time. There is just far more to do here than two missionaries are able to do. Luckily, this is the Lord's work and we have His help and His spirit to guide us.
Mom - thanks for the Henley poem. I really liked it, especially the last few lines. It's important to remember that we have the power to be who we want to be, more importantly and wonderfully, to be who Heavenly Fathers wants and knows we can be. And we have that power because of the atonement of our Savior. Keep sending me your spiritual insights. They strengthen me so much, whether they come from friends, church, scriptures, or good literature (I miss reading good books besides the scriptures... but don't get me wrong, I love the scriptures more than I ever have).
All in all, my dearest family, you just make me smile from ear to ear. You are funny, and wonderful, and righteous and good. I love being able to hear your voices in my head as I read your emails. Your words always make my week and fill me up to overflowing with gratitude.
This week I also recieved words from: Roger Brough, Brent Warr, Sam Griffeths, Rosie Jones and Jocelyn Coffman! Thanks so much for your letters friends. I know you wrote them forever ago, but many of the things you wrote me were just what I needed this week. So I guess the timing was right. A note to all my friends - I am allowed to email you even though my time is very limited. So if you send me a line in order to give me your email address, I can respond to you much more easily. I rarely have time to write hand written letters even though I try to get one off each week to a lucky winner. But I love hearing about your lives and what you are all up to.
Jocelyn - you better tell me more about this man of yours. And Rachey face too. Are you guys engaged yet or what?
And last but not least, ALISON - thanks for the two sentences in the email this week, BUT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE! I think about you all the time. I don't worry, because I know you are amazing, but I want to know what you are doing, what your plans are, and who you are spending the most time with ;).
I'm convinced that Nicaragua is the craziest country in the world, but also one of the most beautiful and amazing. Yesterday I didn't write because we had a "super p-day" and the whole zone went to see the masaya volcano and tour the cave there. (Put this on your list Dad) It took all day to travel there and tour around and travel back, so we didn't get to write but the volcano was so cool. I didn't get to see lava because the crater is pretty deep but the sulfer fumes, like gaseous clouds were pretty sweet. And the cave was great too, finally a break from the hot-ness. There were even bats and vines in the cave. I just wish we could have gone further and explored more, but the guide said it was dangerous to go any further and I guess he was probably right since we were literally right next to an active volcano and two other inactive ones... So Nicaragua is pretty cool.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - my life is full of eternal worries of the most worthwhile kind.
I love you all to Kolob and back.
Love, Hna. Crosland