4 December 2010
Well, I got this email from dad telling me that we were supposed to write you a letter about Christmas, but somehow not make you want to be home...haha, I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to do that, but I am going to try my best. Right now I am gearing up for the family fast for mom, and I have a lot on my mind, but I want to tell you about my favorite Christmas in the mission.
I’ll tell you right now, my first Christmas was not my favorite, but I will spare you the details.
My last Christmas in the mission was also in my last area. I had been there a little over a month and it was really hard to be there. The sister that had been there before me had been there six months and everyone loved her. When she left they were so sad and were not too excited to see me. Not that they were awful, it was just a hard change. The ward was struggling, there hadn’t been a baptism in quite a while, and everybody was pointing fingers at each other as to why the ward wasn’t really running right. It was a mess to say the least.
The day before Christmas was a sunday, so my companion and I attended ward counsel. The bishop mentioned he wanted to go visit the less actives and asked for help from the auxiliary committees...and nobody said anything. After a long pause, I said that we would come and suggested we carol to them. The bishop thought it was a good idea and told us he would bring his family. (THEY WERE AMAZING SINGERS!!!) So we met at the church and all piled in the back of the bishop’s pickup truck (and by back I mean we were all sitting in the bed of his truck. It was hilarious) We practiced a few songs on the way over there, and they even taught me a little about the bass clef. This was actually the night that I started to teach myself how to read the bass clef.
The first house we went to was a family that my companion and I had been working with for a while. They had just lost their grandfather and had been away. We got out, knocked on their door and just started singing. The whole family came out to listen and I just remember seeing the tears stream down their faces. Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, the words seemed to have so much more meaning for this family, who had lost so much. Come and adore him,born the king of angels. I had never realized what a powerful call this song had. Come and worship the king of kings, come and show him you love him, respect him, and honor his sacrifice. Come and show him you are grateful for what He has done. We sang three hymns or so, I don’t really remember. All I remember is their faces, smiling, grateful for the love and support, and grateful at that time,for the knowledge they had of the gospel. Come and adore him Christ the Lord.
We visited every house that night, every house of every single member of the ward. With every house it was the same. Tears of gratitude, tears of love, and tears in knowing that though they had nothing, they had the gospel and that was enough. I will never forget it. I will never forget their faces, and how I felt.
I remember walking in the house that night, so late, but so grateful for the experience. The next morning, I had no presents to open (mom and dad were never very good with timing packages for me :) and I had no special food to eat, but I was so happy. My companion and I had each decided to try and recreate a Christmas tradition, so I failed at making Aunt Barbara’s sugar cookies, and she failed to make this cake. We laughed, and just enjoyed the day. I long for that feeling sometimes, just to be content with where I am at that moment.
To me, Christmas is more than waking up at the crack of dawn to open presents, it is more than the movie Christmas night and it is more than the eve of Christmas Eve party. It is knowing that my Lord and Savior has come, that he fulfilled his promise here on the earth, and that because of His blessed gift, I can be worthy to receive the ultimate gift- eternal life. It is knowing that despite my faults, my bad decisions, and my struggles to be who the Lord wants me to be, Christmas is knowing that because of a tiny babe in Bethlehem, someday I will put off the mortal and become immortal. Christmas is love, for it was the pure love of Christ that sent him to earth to bare my every hardship, feel my every pain, take upon him the cancer of my mother and the heart ache of being yet alone. It is because of the gift of his life, that I can now give to others.
Little brother, I hope this letter finds you well, but more importantly I hope it finds you filled with the joy that this season brings. I want you to know how much my decision to serve a mission has changed my life. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of the people and the experiences and thank my God in Heaven for what he has given me through my missionary service. I am not the same. I am, as always, so proud of you. I can feel the changes in you and it brings joy to my heart to know that this sacred calling has touched you in a way that only YOU will truly understand. Know that I pray for you daily and that I miss you, but not too much. You are where you need to be, and that is the greatest blessing our family could have right now. It is through your service that mom continues to do so well, and that the rest of us are surviving. I love you, I miss you, and I look forward to the phone call Christmas day.
Love love love you,