Guess what? Eastern Orthodox people don't celebrate their Christmas until! So, while I could say Merry Christmas, I'm going to wait a titch bit. We as missionaries in cities where Orthodoxy is the primary faith have the choice as to when we will celebrate Christmas this year. My district chose to do it on the 7th. I'm way excited to see what they do here in Banja Luka. The city is already beautifully decorated with lights and little shops. And, in the end, it doesn't really matter when we celebrate, as long as we make sure to take the time to gather as a family (if that's an option) and commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I love this mission so much. I love how personal it is. We're a pretty small mission, so you really get to know and love everyone, missionaries and members. It's kind of like how we build our church buildings. I have this theory that religions model their churches after their views on God. Some religions build huge, breathtakingly ornate structures that almost demand silence and respect when you enter their doors. In my mind, they represent God as a beautiful, unreachable Being whom we both love and fear. Other faiths do not have physical churches, but rather consider religion to reside solely in the heart. This to me is a depiction of God not of substance, but rather as an idea that is both everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our buildings are not immense and ornate, but they are still clean, real, and holy. God is over all, but He is our friend. He is perfect, and while we are not, we can still have a personal relationship with Him. We have divine potential. We have individual worth. But along with our inner worship of our Heavenly Father, we are part of something bigger and better. Our friends and family worship with us in these sacred buildings and provide support, love, and encouragement as we try to live our faith the best we can. I am so thankful for that.
I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Tell someone you love them.