Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Natal!

Dear kin, Kilarney clan, manger mates, and all ya'll,


Wow, you can tell that Christmas is having its effect on me. It's really pathetic when I start laughing at my computer. The other elders think that I'm reading something funny, but I'm under the false impression that I'm writing something funny. Our mission is also being visited on the tenth of January by Elder S. Gifford Nielson, so I'm getting ready with lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that was 18, Sarah, just for you) Oh boy, time to cool down my overactive Christmas joy jets and talk about the spiritual things that happened this last week.

We got hit with a lot of food this last week. The ward members decided that it was time to chub up the missionaries, so we got some huge boxes of food. We have also gotten many, many plates of cookies. This is great if I choose to never look in a mirror again. :D But seriously, it is wonderful to feel so much love from the members. I am glad that I come from a family that loves the missionaries in the ward, because I am definitely grateful for those in the ward that show love for the Lord's servants.

There were several highlights from this last week. One Tuesday I went on exchange with Elder Markowski who is serving in Belpre (he and his companion, Elder Kieran, live in the same house as we). <-- (good grammar, no?) Anyway, it is so much fun living with another set of elders. We live the law of consecration among all four of us. None of the support money given to us on our cards is really "our own", we've chosen to share it all among the four of us, and it works out great. There's a lot of great love in our house! Anyway, Tuesday was a great adventure with Elder Markowski. Elder Gadberry's been dying to serve in a place with a car, so he went to Belpre, OH with Elder Kieran.

Wednesday night we had the great joy of caroling as a district. We had picked out a few homes that we wanted to go visit. Some elders in Ravenswood, WV also told us of a man, Brother Stauers, from their ward who is in the local hospital, Camden Clark. We went to go sing to him. We've visited him before in the hospital, so I knew a little bit about him. Elder Kieran served in Ravenswood before, so he had a conversation with Brother Stauers and then Brother Stauers volunteered to sing for us. Here Brother Stauers was in very humble circumstances. He just had the lower half of his right leg amputated, he had a tube in his throat, and he was very hoarse. He sang "The Little Drummer Boy" to us. It was the purest and most sincere song I have ever heard. As you will recall, the boy in the song lays before the Christ child his song as a gift. Here Brother Stauers lay, broken and low, and he gave us the gift of his song. I don't think that I will ever hear that song sung the same way again. I was so deeply touched. I want to be able to give my whole self as an offering and a gift to the Christ.

On Thursday we had specialized training which was taught by President Pitt. It was wonderful. For several hours we were taught about and discussed the importance of covenants. Covenants really are so important. Every blessing we receive is based on our obedience to covenants we made with Heavenly Father before this life or during this life. At the end of the training, Sister Pitt led a special Christmas program. Several groups from the mission sang songs. I was the very last performer and I sang "O Holy Night" as a solo. The whole time, I thought about Brother Stauers and how I hoped I could present the same kind of gift that he had given me. People said they liked it, but I wished that I had had my family there to sing with me. :D

We had another very exciting addition to our companionship this week. A senior missionary couple is moving into the Spencer Branch in WV, and so the elders are moving out. Elder Ramirez, who was serving in Spencer, is now serving with Elder Gadberry and me in Vienna! He also brought with him the truck that they were using in Spencer! How wonderful! We now have transportation to do the Lord's work more effectively!

I love you all so much. I know that Jesus was "born to give us second birth". Through HIm, we can receive joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come. I will talk to you on Christmas. By the way, the time has been changed to 11:00 AM. I will see you then! I love you dearly and miss you truly. Merry Christmas!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

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