The answer about Christmas lights is yes. There are actually a lot of Christmas lights out and about. There is even a huge Christmas- tree -shaped formation of lights near the big Catholic chapel here. I don't know anything about a lot of other Christmas traditions, but I will let you know if I experience any.
It has been a pretty good week, and we are super close to having a baptism on the 21st of December. The name of the family is the B family. We will just be baptizing two of the daughters who are 11 and 12. We found them through a somewhat less active member, who is like their grand-uncle or something like that. He is really great, he is even endowed and has a super strong testimony of the church. They actually live in the same house, so we always get a member present when we teach them. They have had some trouble getting to church in the past because they live kind of far from the church, and they don't have a lot of money for their pamasahe (I can't think of an English word for that...), but they will be ready for baptism if they come to church this week, and I would be really surprised if they didn't come this week.
One more story for this week. I got to meet another normal American. He served here in Libmanan in 1983ish. He doesn't know any Tagalog. He came here and visited a lot of the people he taught while he was here, and got a few of our less actives to come to sacrament meeting. He is actually really good friends with Sister C, and his son is serving in the mission where Elder Acidera is from (Laoag). Elder Acidera has actually met his son. Isn't it such a small world sometimes? Another crazy part of this story is that as we walked to Sister C's house, where we were going to meet this guy for the first time, Elder Acidera was telling me how he needs a vial for consecrated oil. It just so happened that this guy had brought some extra oil vials for us. Isn't that amazing?
I thought of something else. I have actually had the opportunity to give a lot of blessings for the sick while I've been here. It is really neat to be able to serve people in this way. I have seen so many people benefit from the power of the priesthood here. It makes me want to always be worthy to be able to help others with the priesthood.
I love you guys!
Elder Benjamin Merrill