Christmas is a hard time for missionaries. It is one of the two times a year that you are allowed to talk to your family via phone or skype. We have to stay focused on the work here. I was really grateful and the time spent talking to my family was amazing. I love them and I miss them a lot. Saying goodbye was hard, but I made it short so as to be relatively painless.
In a way I am lucky in that it doesn't feel like Christmas. It's been in the 80's and 90's every day, so Christmas memories are somewhat harder to be triggered. This made it easier to focus less on the popular culture of Christmas and more on the birth and life of our Lord and Savior Jesús Christ; the Shepherd and the Lamb; the humble King of Kings and Lord of Lords who was born in a manger; the Mighty God, and Ever Lasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He suffered beyond our comprehension so that we could be saved. I hope that every one was able to ponder a little about His birth and life, and His great sacrifice for the salvation of man. If not, I ask that you do. We owe Him everything, and we can never pay the debt, but we can give a Little back through our thoughts prayers, and service.
The four of us in our house were able to have a small celebration. We opened packages from our families, shared Candy, and exchanged gifts. Elder Jarrett gave me a hand-made wooden saxophone. It's not well tuned, but it is fun to play.
I forgot to mention last week that I felt my first earthquake. That was pretty cool. It was just a small shake, but it was still a cool experience for my first time. I also experienced a new dish last week. It was some kind of Green vegetable made into a pancake with eggs. It was delicious, but I couldn't figure out what the vegetable was. All I knew was that they were called porotos verdes and that they weren't in my dictionary. I asked around and learned that they could be found in the feria, they're cheap, and that they are very unique to South America which is why they were not in my dictionary. I looked around the feria only to find that they are green beans. So for your reference, if you chop up greem beans, boil them, and fry them like pancakes together with egg, they are delicious. They're called tortillas de porotos verdes.
My companion has been resting his injured foot all week, so we have spent a lot of time inside. In this time, I was finally able to finish Reading the New Testament, regretably for the first time. I would never say that study of the Book of Mormon is over emphasized in the Church, but I would say that study of the Bible is under emphasized. I have studied the New Testament throughout my life, but never read it from cover to cover. I wish I had done it sooner. It really is an amazing book. Maybe in a future post, I will include the scriptures I've marked for the future missionaries out there, and anyone else interested. My Mission President said some powerful words on the subject of reading the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. "How can you call yourself Christian having never read the Bible from beginning to end?" I'll tackle that next and sign out on that note.
Happy New Year!!
Ben's home in El Bosque (he shares with three other missionaries)
The family Ben spent Christmas Eve with. He used their computer to Skype with us. (He told me their last name but I don't remember)
Burning the collapsed bunk bed in the "back yard"