I sent you a letter in the mail, so I hope you got it :)
And about my birthday, I don't need anything and I don't really want anything, either. I know that's probably annoying to hear, but seriously! Everything I get from people I end up giving away to someone else anyway. I'm going to come home with less stuff than I came out with! My suitcases are shrinking. So please, all I need are contacts and a white handkerchief for the Gilbert Temple Dedication, and I don't need the contacts until the 22 when I change them or the handkerchief until the first of March. I'm sorry, but I don't really want to make my birthday a big deal! And I don't want food or candy or clothes. And I don't need anything else! My birthday can start being a big deal again when I'm not a missionary anymore.
New Year's Day was weird. We went in early on New Year's Eve and then stayed in all day on New Year's Day. I didn't like it. 2 weeks in a row of being stuck inside for a day and a half! We didn't really do anything, either. Just weekly planning.....my favorite thing! Every week we alternate trying to be faster and trying to be more thorough. It's a constant battle! We don't know what to do! This week I think we will try again to be more thorough. It seems to take some stress off when we have a great plan :) I love planning!! I love having a plan and that security of knowing that we will be spending our time doing exactly what we need to do.
This weekend was incredible! Our ward started a 40 Day Fast on the 1st where each family who wants to or is able to participate signs up on a certain day that they would like to fast for missionary work, one family per day for the next 40 days. Yesterday was fast Sunday, as you know, and we saw SO MANY BLESSINGS! We got 3 new investigators in less than an hour! We've had great fellowship from members! Our investigators are feeling the Spirit stronger now than ever before in our lessons! It's amazing and I can't wait for the next 34 days of the fast to see what other miracles will come of it!
The Spirit has been teaching me so much the past 2 days. I've learned to make sure that I enjoy every part of my life no matter where the Lord takes me, whether it's on a mission, at home, at school, or whatever other adventure I'm led to. I do enjoy my mission. I love it soooo much! I cried on my 9-month mark and again on my 10-month mark because I am so sad to see my mission end all too soon. But I have been learning that even when my full-time mission ends, my mission doesn't end, and that I can keep feeling the Spirit and learning and growing and helping people, but in different ways. "Real" life is life after the mission anyway! I can't be a missionary forever! So I'm learning to have a light heart about time and just let it come and go as it will, and to be happy with the time I have and always excited and looking forward to the time ahead. I will love my family life better than my mission life, otherwise the rest of my life will be really sad! So the lesson is to love every part of life no matter where you are. Don't let yourself have a "bad year." You can have a bad day or a bad week, but if it lasts longer than that, there's something deeper that needs to be figured out, and a lot of times I would guess it has to do with fully keeping the commandments or not. If you are keeping all of God's commandments, your bad times shouldn't last that long! Even if it's hour by hour, not every hour can be bad if you are doing all that the Father has asked of us. (I'm not having a hard time, I'm just learning to be optimistic about my future :) I want to be happy and excited to go home from my mission! But not trunky!)
I also had a crazy experience the other night! Sister Clark and I pray as a companionship before we go to bed. I started my personal prayer before and got into some deep conversation with the Spirit. I heard Sister Clark finish her prayer and then turn around to wait for me to pray with her. I wasn't done with my prayer for a long time and didn't want to cut it short! I felt bad as I was praying and I said, "Lord, please send Sister Clark to bed. I feel so bad!" And immediately she crawled into bed! My prayer ended up being about 15 minutes before I went to bed. In the morning I told her about that and she said, "I was waiting for you and the Spirit told me 'Go to bed, she needs more time to finish her prayer' and I knew it wasn't just a thought, it was definitely the Spirit!" Isn't that amazing? The Lord answers prayers, but not only that, He conveys messages and really does speak to us!!!!!
Well, that's about it. We see Elder Holland on Saturday in a Tri-Mission Conference :) :)