To my wonderful family and friends,
I had a wonderful Christmas! during our morning studies, Elder Sorensen and I held a Christmas devotional with 1.5-3 minute hymnbook talks using Christmas hymns. Then we planned a Christmas carol that we would share throughout most of the day. Our carol consisted of Elder Sorenson reading a portion of the Christmas story in Luke 2, while I sang Away in a Manger and then The First Noel quietly. We practiced it a few times and got it down. We were so excited!
After appointments we had set previously, calling home, and then a Mexican Christmas Fiesta at our Branch President’s house, we walked down their street to knock on a few doors of those we knew. The first stop was a wonderful reception, and we got to meet the husband and mother of our friend whom we had met previously! We continued on, knocking on doors we knew and doors that were lighted. Originally we had planned to only stay on this street for an hour, but every time we said the word "carol", the person’s face lit up, and they set aside what they were doing and stood and listened. The Spirit was so strong at each door, and after each time, we would ask who else they thought might enjoy hearing it. Each person would point to one or two doors.
By 9:00, we had caroled for about 3 hours and hadn’t left three blocks on the same street. We met so many wonderful people, were able to teach and testify of Jesus Christ to each of them, and even gave a priesthood blessing to a widow with the Flu. We could tell that her granddaughter was touched, and as we left, we asked if we could come back and share our message with her. She welcomed it. We later caroled to a man who watched and listened intently. As we left, we asked if we could return and share our message, and he said "I’d like that. My mother just passed away."
One of our final stops was to a part-member, part-less-active family. There is one active 13-year old son in a home of 5 people. The father invited us in and gathered the children to hear. We began singing, and I looked around at their faces. The other member in the home is a 15-year old daughter, who recently turned away from faith in general. As we caroled, she smiled and listened. A powerful Spirit filled that room, and as we finished the carol, we stood in silence for a short time. I could feel the Spirit saying "don’t you leave yet." We asked if we could pray together, and the father gave his permission. It was a simple prayer, but the feeling within the room was warm, and strong.
These final three hours of my 2015 Christmas were sacred. The Spirit we felt swelled my heart and brought me to tears multiple times. I was so touched as I watched the faces of those we caroled to. This night will remain among the cherished memories of all of my Christmases, and certainly among the cherished memories of my mission.
I could never adequately convey the gratitude I have for my calling to this mission, at this time, to these companions, these wards, this branch, these two magnificent Mission Presidents and their wives. I love this Gospel. I love my Savior. I am so grateful for how I have come to know Him being in His service here. I heard a testimony borne yesterday by our Branch President who, as a young man, sat behind Elder Bruce R. McConkie at the time that he gave his final testimony. He shared that Elder McConkie was given a priesthood blessing and left his death bed to share a conference address which included these words:
“I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”
I know that Christ lives. I know that he leads this church, His church, through living prophets and apostles, called by revelation. I will bear that testimony all the rest of my mortal days, until I kneel at his feet and wet them with my own tears. This gospel is true. I know it is. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.