We finally got back to Utila just in time for Christmas. Honduran Christmas is a little different than American Christmas. They don't really put a big emphasis on presents, and the biggest tradition is tamales, which EVERY family makes in preparation for Christmas. Almost every visit we made on Christmas day, people gave us tamales. Sadly, they're pretty average. Happily, I only had to endure tamales for a couple days. The rest of the week, I was trying to finish tithing settlement. Even with a small branch, it proved to be pretty tough to set up appointments with everyone. In fact, I still have a few finishing touches to make before sending the stuff off to Tegucigalpa. It was a really good experience, and it's just one more reason I respect bishops and branch presidents everywhere who make the sacrifices to do this stuff. Seriously, every Mormon that's reading this should go to your bishop and just tell him thanks for everything he does. Those guys do SO much, and I didn't realize it until I got thrown into this situation.
With all the tithing settlement stuff, there wasn't as much time for missionary work, but the Lord blessed us with some incredible experiences and successes. We found this sweet new family (the Castro Family). The oldest son is already a member as well as the mom's mom. Obviously, the missionaries taught them some before, but apparently they weren't ready. But it seems like something happened to make them a little more serious about our visits. We found them Wednesday of this past week, and they have been great! They're reading in the Book of Mormon, they learned how to pray, and the dad even went to church for the first time ever yesterday! Another blessing was that an ex-missionary came to visit Utila for the holidays, and went with us for one of the visits with the Castro Family. We taught the Book of Mormon and it was a really powerful lesson, and I think it motivated the dad to go to church yesterday. He said he loved it by the way. The mom is a little bit tougher, but she told us she would go to church too. And the oldest daughter (who is eight) already says she wants to get baptized. Elder Russo and I are really excited for this family, and we're hoping they keep at it with the commitments. Also, we're teaching two other people that could be baptized in January: Dennis, a 10 year old nino who is friends with our cook's kids and Maria, a single lady who used to go to church before but stopped because of issues with her former husband. Those got resolved though, and she's really excited to learn more about the gospel. They've each been to church once, so they're well on their way to baptism. And hey, if we catch some breaks and work like we've never worked before, we could accomplish our goal of 3 baptisms in a month, which hasn't happened in Utila for at least two years.
Ok, funny story of the week: We had an appointment last night with a member family. We've activated the kids during my time here, and we're working on the parents now. The mom has come to church a couple times, but the dad still hasn't. But they're a really awesome family, and we always have a great time there. Also, we feel the spirit really strong during our lessons with them. Anyway, it was no different in our lesson yesterday. We chatted for a bit, and my companion and I joked around with their kids, and everything was great. Then, we transitioned into the lesson, and were having a really good lesson. We got to the most crucial point, and I could feel the spirit pretty strong. And then, I felt something land on my arm. It scared me half to death, and I jumped out of my chair and flung my arm away to get whatever it was off of me. Well, turned out two geckos had fallen off the ceiling and landed on my arm. Everyone was laughing hysterically at my reaction, and I have to admit, it was pretty funny. Although next time, I hope it happens to my companion instead of me. Sorry, Elder Russo haha.
Anyway, hope everyone has a great New Year's Day! Celebrate it in a cool way. Listen to what I say, and if you go to a par-tay, may you say hey to all the people, ok? Ok, I gotta stay in Utila here by the bay, but have a great day!