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It was my very first Christmas on my mission. I was serving in a small town in South Africa and was enduring my "hardest area" yet. I was used to teaching around 20-25 lessons each week, but in this particular area my companion and I were lucky to teach one to two a week. There also hadn't been more than 1-2 baptisms in the ward for the last 3-4 years. I was feeling very depressed and there were only two things keeping me sane: talking with my family, and eating Christmas dinner.
We were living with some very nice church members in their side home attached to their house. They told us to bring our district over to our apartment and that they would deliver each of us a Christmas dinner. This was very nice of them. As the Christmas night went on I was able to talk to my family over Skype and catch up with them. It still didn't fill the void that I was feeling. Finally our Christmas dinner's came. I was so excited. It looked so delicious.
As I was about to eat mine, my district leader at the time told us that there were some missionaries stranded in their area that needed a ride back to their apartments, and that he needed someone to accompany him to help them. I volunteered, left my dinner behind, and we went out to help those elders.
While there and back, my district leader was asking how I was doing in my area and I told him I was struggling. I was struggling with the area and not teaching. I was struggling with the constant rejection I was getting everyday. I was struggling with being away from home and my family. Lucky for me, my district leader was a great friend. He reminded me of why I was out on my mission. He reminded me of the good were doing out there and to continue to work hard and that we would reap the blessings of our labor.
This validation really stuck with me the remainder of my time in that area. My companion and I worked super hard to find those who were seeking the truth and for their life to change. By the end of my time in that area (of which I asked to stay for an additional 3 months, totaling my time there at 6 months), we were able to have 4 baptisms, with a few left for the next set of missionaries, and the ward stronger.
During this holiday season, keep in mind that your missionaries may be struggling with these feelings of depression and sadness of not being home for the holidays. Send them packages, send them gifts, and send them constant validation that they are part of a marvelous work!
Oh! And to end the story, when we got home that night my companion had eaten my Christmas dinner. But that's a story for another day!