So we just had this thing called "Natal" down here in Brazil. I don't know if you celebrate it back in the states, it seemed familiar but I guess it's a summer holiday during which you nearly die from heat exhaustion and sugar overdoses. At least that was my experience.
But actually, Christmas is pretty awesome here, certainly one that I will remember for the rest of my life. My first Christmas away from home, while on my mission, focused very much on the true reason behind the holiday. Definitely a great spirit of giving and Christ-like love throughout the day. Let me give you all a quick run through of what it was like:
Woke up super early (5:50) even though we were allowed to sleep in. Read scriptures, prayed, and worked on some little gifts for my district. I stole the idea from President Eyring's last conference talk. Wrote down a phrase and a scripture that I thought specifically applied to each person and then explained myself in a little note. Not a lot but I put quite a bit of thought into it to make sure it was personalized.
Had breakfast and then a devotional from Elder Costa, the area president of Brazil. He's an awesome man, and whenever he speaks I get a lot more excited to head into the mission field and teach.
Afterwards we had most of the day to relax, play games, and dress in our normal clothes. You'd be amazed at just how great it feels to dress like a regular person for just a little bit. I played a lot of ping-pong, got to chat back and forth with my family over e-mail, and eat morbid amounts of candy. They treat us really well here because they know it's hard being away from home, and I appreciated it.
At the end of the day we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. I really enjoyed it, especially President Monson's message. Great way to end an awesome day, with a general feeling of love between everyone here.
So quickly, as my last few minutes tick down, I want to take this opportunity on this post-Christmas e-mail to bear my testimony of Christ. This is something that I know without any doubt and wish to shout with the voice of an angel. He is our Savior. He loves all of us, enough to suffer unimaginably for our pains, sins, and afflictions. He lives. He died, three days later he broke the bonds of death, and by so doing allowed us to do the same. I love him with all the depth and breadth of my soul, and that's the real reason why I'm down here in Brazil. He is the bedrock of my testimony, the foundation of who I am. I wish that I could talk to each of you individually to share this, but this is going to have to do. I truly do know that this is his work, and I'm doing my best to follow his will.
So that's all, do good work everyone and spread this good word! I'm doing my best over here.
Elder Alex Burt