The MOST Memorable Christmas


This one in front of the temple is the day two of the Kiribati sisters got their endowments taken out. The one in the yellow skirt is Sister Kianteiti(Candeze) and she just converted last year. She really is so sweet and has the strongest testimony. I love her a lot. It was awesome being in the temple with her for her first time ever.

We had Elder Nelson from the Quorum of the Twelve come speak to us in the morning and it was awesome to be in his presence and to hear him and his wife speak. It is always amazing to me how wonderfully eloquent the apostles are but it was amazing to hear him speak with no notes or teleprompter or anything for 30-40 minutes about 12 different facets of the Gospel and he is now 90 years old. The Lord truly does strengthen and help his servants. I have been studying a lot about the Restoration of the Church because I feel that it is important that I strengthen my personal testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Church. We watched the Restoration film as a district on Christmas Eve and the new one is very graphic in showing the suffering and pain that the prophet went through in order to bring forth the Gospel. All I could think was, why would he go through so much pain and suffering even to the point of giving his own life for something that was false? Something he didn’t believe in with every fiber of his being? The biggest testimony to me of the truth of how the Gospel was restored is how I feel when I read the Book of Mormon.
This week we had a young sister who had just gotten back from her mission 4 days ago come and speak to us about missionary work. I think it was actually my favorite talk this week because I really related to everything she said and I could see how much her mission in Nagasaki Japan had effected her. She told several stories of people that were investigating the Church, including a woman whose husband would not let her join the Church but who still wanted so badly to come closer to Christ and she emailed this Sister missionary and told her she was still working hard and preparing for baptism, despite the fact that she would not get to be baptized for several years. She said a mission is basically all about a “game of feelings.” That it is so important to be able to share from your heart and really be able to give your testimony to investigators, as it truly has the power to change their lives.
Some notes from her talk, that I bear testimony as having received by the Holy Ghost as being true:
God is so aware of us. Perfectly and completely. He knows the depths of our hearts and He really loves us at our very core.
Sometimes your heart will break for the people you teach, but God knows your faith and He knows them and His plan is without flaw. You really have a front row seat to the number 1 miracle in the world. Your mission is about to change you foreverl. You really can’t even prepare of imagine the blessings to come and the people who will become so very meaningful to you.
AAAH. I CAN”T WAIT. I already feel like I have been in the MTC for a month and I am ready to go to the Philippines despite not speaking the language very well at all. No matter what, I am going to get there and be culture shocked and feel like I can barely speak Tagalog, so I kinda wish we were just going already. But I do know this time is important to prepare and to study as best I can. It’s less like drinking from a fire hose now and more like filling a well within me drop by drop and moment to moment. I really am loving it here and my district of all sisters is awesome.
I do have the funniest story to tell you about how our Christmas became the most memorable Christmas EVER. They kept saying over and over how everyone loves Christmas in the MTC and how it will be SO SO MEMORABLE. And mostly we were just like OK. Blah because let’s be honest we don’t have a Christmas tree and we don’t have our families and we have rubbery cafeteria food(thank goodness for Amazon boxes from mom). But Christmas came and it was so great. We all gave each other little gifts and it was especially sweet to see the Kiribati sisters open them and be so happy. I got a few notes that almost made me cry because the sisters are really the greatest and know how to make me tear up a good deal.
But fast forward to the end of our wonderful Christmas day that we truly did enjoy and I was so happy to talk to my family especially! Love that you guys made me laugh so much I couldn’t even cry after because you all are too funny. Which is why you will appreciate this next part.
Sister Pilimai and I head to the Fireside that night with everyone but I had to go to the bathroom because they are sorta strict about you leaving in the middle of talks and stuff and they always ask you to “take care of your personal needs beforehand” in other words, if you don’t be prepared to hold it for awhile. So we walk in and most of our zone was in the 2nd row and it was too late to go sit with them so we sit in the bleachers. After the first musical performance there was this really long monologue from “Mary” telling her story and that’s when the smell started to hit Pilimai and I. We look over and an Elder next to us has taken off his shoes!!! AAAAGH! It was so so bad! Like worse than bad. We moved over one seat and it was still awful. Eventually he put one foot back in but it was pretty much just as bad and we were silently praying for the other foot to go back in but it never happened. We were laughing so hard because we were trying to breath out of our mouths but our eyes were starting to water. Then Pilimai leans over and in whisper yell, (Michelle style for my family) I CANNOT BREATHE. That’s when I basically completely lost it and had to silent laugh as best I could. Then she says: This is the most memorable Christmas for reals. And that’s how it became the most memorable ever.
Anyway, that’s your funny story for the week. It really was a great Christmas day, and on a serious note we really did celebrate the true meaning.
I love all of you. Thank you for your notes, for your support, and for your continued prayers.
Sister McLean



Sister Sutherby and I matching in our shirts. She loves doing this dorky face in pictures so I was copying her.


Christmas day, we woke up to snow on the ground for the first time since we got to the MTC. It was so beautiful.


My kasama & I are now officially adopted into the Poly family here.


My kasama and I.


Me and the two Ts as we call them. Sister Terua and Sister Teruaboas. They are both from Kiribati and in our zone. This is Christmas Day again.


This is Christmas Evening. The most memorable Christmas of my life!


This is Christmas Evening. The most memorable Christmas of my life!


This is Christmas Evening. The most memorable Christmas of my life!


This is my companion and I getting snow thrown on us by the crazy Kiribati elder.

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2 thoughts on “The MOST Memorable Christmas

  1. Theresa Arcibal

    Hi Ate Marissa,

    Looks like you had a fun Christmas except For the smell sniky feet. Lol Very beautiful pictures wgen the girl’s wake-up I will show them your pictures from Christmas. Alexandria does talk about you and when will you return. She always says, Ate Marissa will be back before Maya’s 4th birthday and my 7th birthday.
    Our Christmas here was good but almost everyone is sick. Poor Jalen is very sick he was none stop vomiting for almost 3 days so Tony and Rosa took him to the hospital. They gave him some antivomit medicine and I think an IV to get fluid into his system. Now my mom, Tony and uncle Ben are getting sick too I think with the flu. Season has been a really bad season for being sick.
    Tony, Rosa and the kids will be here until Tuesday I hope we will all be able to go somewhere together as a family before they leave.
    Oh I forgot to tell you about the kids opening their presents. So we made a pile for each kid then when I when said you can open 1 they stated tearing into all of them we don’t even know who gave them what. It was like a krazy whirl wind of wrapping paper. Lol
    We are all glad to hear you are doing well and having a great time and wonderful experience out there.
    We look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Lot’s of love,
    Alexandria, Maya, Uncle Ben and Aunt Theresa


  2. Kimberlee

    Hi Sis. M – It is so delightful and uplifting to read your blog and to see your pictures – added bonus! I am grateful there was so much love and some good laughter shared among the sisters of your district on Christmas. Our Christmas reminded us, once again, of the goodness of families and of the Savior for making these relationships possible on an eternal scale, and of the importance of seeing everybody as family in the eternal sense. Thank you for taking notes and for sharing them with respect to the sister who returned from her mission. It rings true from our various missionary experiences. You will need these foundational beliefs on an hourly basis as you experience life from the perspectives of those who don’t have these testimonies or see their importance in improving their life. So glad you are being filled with great learning experiences to support you in your work when you arrive in your mission field. Happy New Year, Sister Staking


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