Dear family,

This has been a crazy week! I loved it. It is my second Puerto Rican Christmas, and I really enjoyed it this time through. First of all, more deets on what the Christmas Conference was, and then on to what the real Christmas activities entailed.

Christmas Conference was held last Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a two day spectacle of lights and color. Not really...that just sounded appropriate there. It was a two-day activity with lots of missionaries and lots of fun. Tuesday was the fun day and Wednesday was the spiritual day (not that it wasn't fun though...). Tuesday (as previously mentioned) we went to the Yunque, which is the rain forest! It was very exciting. We did two hikes. The second one was really intense, and some of the missionaries couldn't make it to the top, so President had the Elders carry them. It was all very dramatic because it was raining too (I mean, we were in the rain forest). We made it to the observation tower, which is the famous part of the Yunque. We climbed the tower and all we saw was cloud, because it was a cloudy day. We were in a cloud. Very exciting, but not a beautiful view. We had a title of liberty type activity up there. It was cool. But cold.

Later that day, we did the flash mob I had previously mentioned at the outlet. It was super fun. We had a dinner and talent show that night, and it was really good. There were some entertaining talents, some talents that were actually good, and a really wonderful moment when some members from a nearby ward came in a did a real Puerto Rican paranda: Puerto Rican Christmas caroling. It's like that picture I sent of the Puerto Ricans playing music and singing loud, but even cooler. I want to be Puerto Rican just so I can do that. Seriously. You should have seen our President. It was awesome. It was just loud and rowdy and completely awesome. We recorded some on video, but you just can't capture that. It comes out as noise, not as music. It was awesome though. So good.

The next day we had a little talk with the President and then we watched the Christmas devotional by the first presidency. It was good. I noticed how much I've grown this year. Last year, I couldn't understand completely what they were saying on the devotional, and now, 1. I know why I couldn't understand (Church translators have Spanish accents!), and 2. I could understand with absolutely no problem. It was very cool. Elder Vines also came and talked to us about knowing God through other's experiences (the scriptures), and through our experiences. It was cool because he said that we can know Him through the scriptures, but we can testify of Him when we experience His characteristics and attributes in our lives. It was a really cool talk. He knows the scriptures really well. Later, we practiced singing again so we could sing at an Art Museum in Santurce (downtown). We went and ate lunch at the mission home, where I had weird flashback experiences. We ate food there last Christmas too, and it was weird to change from being the youngest last year to being the oldest this year. Looking back on this year, I don't know where it went. It flew by so fast. It was a very pensive moment. Anyway, we went and sang at the art gallery and then went on a walk through the botanical gardens afterwards and went and had a testimony meeting and then watched a movie of the activity. It was a really nice activity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

On Thursday night we ate dinner at a member house and it was the classic Christmas meal. Lechon, (some type of pork?), rice and gandules, and pasteles, which are those tamale-type things that are actually gross. Surprise! It was the 4th time I tried pasteles, and the first time I actually enjoyed them. It was a surprise for me too. So, it is true what they say: you have to try someting several times before you like it. We also had arroz con dulce, which is like a sweet rice pudding with cinnamon and raisens and ginger that is chilled in the fridge. Not my favorite. But then again, only have actually tried it once (I've always found an excuse to avoid it...).

Next exciting event was Christmas Eve. The enchilada tradition continued because the family we ate with had Mexican friends visiting, so we made enchiladas (they were actually pretty good; I ate them even though there was melted cheese on them...). It felt like home. Haha. Not really, but they were good. We also had Chinese take-out leftovers and other stuff (ranodm, but tasty). Half-way through dinner we experienced a little tremor (of the and earthquake, but not strong enough to be termed earthquake). It's my second! It was very exciting. We were just eating, and I was talking about Niagara Falls and then all-of-a-sudden, the hostess jumps up and yells: "It's a tremor! It's a tremor!" and the host jumps up and is like "Oh no!" and the rest of us are just kind of sitting there. Not gonna lie, I was a little worried when she jumped up. My heart did one of those little jump things and flashes of destruction came to mind...and then it stopped. It was cooler then the last one because I was awake for the whole thing. It happened in Aguas Buenas, which is actually fairly close to us. People have been saying it was a 5.4, which is a step up from the last one, which was only 5.1 or something. It was exciting, but I wouldn't mind if I never experienced it again. There is just something unsettling about a solid thing like the earth shaking. It is not supposed to move, in my experience. Luckily there wasn't a tsunami or something. Nothing feel off the shelves either. Then, we continued eating.

On Christmas Day we went around and caroled to members and shared a little scripture about Christmas with them. Then we went to a senior couple's house (missionary couple) to eat Christmas dinner. It was fun because we were a ton of missionaries together eating American Christmas dinner food. Delicious. After that we went to a hospital and caroled to the people there that we just happened to find in the halls or in rooms. It was a really great Christmas. I really enjoyed it.

Somebody really cool that we met on Christmas Eve and then went to teach on SUnday and had a return visit yesterday is Wanda. She is a single mom with a son, and she seems to really understand the message and seems excited to learn more. I'm excited to keep teaching her, especially since she is the only thing like an investigator that Hermana Comoletti has experienced. Yay! We mostly just visit menos activos. But, something really cool that has been happening with them is that we have been really working on listening and question asking...asking "questions from the heavens," and these last three days (Sunday, Monday and TUesday), we have had several "confessions" as to why people are inactive, which is wonderful, because we haven't been able to get to the root of things for so long. The Lord has really blessed us this week though with these "confessions" (for lack of a better term), so that we can focus in on the needs of each person instead of just blindly guessing. It has been a really cool experience. Well, it is kind of sad to hear why every one is less active, but it is definitely going to help us as we work with them.

Thanks so much for talking to me on Friday! And thank you for waiting patiently until I was ready. I really enjoyed talking to you. I hope you have a happy new year1

Hermana Miller


0075: First stop with Hermana Comoletti. It was a really pretty pool thing with a really picturesque bridge.

0098: Second stop with Sister Purdy. It was a really pretty waterfall thing with rocks to climb on and stuff.

0110: Third stop with Hermana Comoletti. This is the observation tower. We are probably one of the most ridiculous couples because she is 4'10' and I am nearly 6'. This was a funny one that captures that ridiculous.

0111: The observation tower on the outside.

0127: Me with two other sisters wearing our garbage bag ponchos.
0164: Hermana Comoletti and I on Christmas. I look so big next to her!
0169: All the sisters at the Christmas dinner. They're all so pretty!
0171: This is us with the Peitz, the senior couple that hosted. They are really cool. He reminds me a little bit of Grumpy because he always wears cowboy boots and a big belt buckle. He has a ranch in Northern California.

0236: A lizard that we found on a lemon last night. It was so cold it couldn't move, I think. A cold front has come in this week, and it is like in the 70s every day. Brrr. It finally moved after we touched it for a while. It was really strange.
0215 and 0221: Some orchids that grow in our yard. They just kind of grow in the wild here. It is really cool/beautiful.

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