What a wonderful week! We are seeing MIRACLES! It's so incredible! The Christmas season has always been my favorite. In fact, I've been thinking about really celebrating Christmas this year. With the business of missionary work, there is no time to sit down and watch a Christmas movie. We don't have many decorations. If we listen to Christmas music, it's the same 5 hymns over and over again. There aren't many gifts under our tiny tree, and I can safely say that we won't be baking any Christmas cookies this year. It's not a 'normal' Christmas. But I love it! Celebrating in this way has helped me reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is much more than a Babe being born in Bethlehem. It goes back much farther than that, even to before this world began. The Father knew that we would need help in returning to Him, so He presented a plan. He sent His Son to die for us, then rise with living breath! God so loved us that He sent His Son (John 3:16). This has been the plan all along! We accepted this plan before we came here! We knew of it when we saw our first parents cast out of their garden paradise and we know of it now!
In this April's General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: "In our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death--in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter--without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it."
This year, as I have learned more of the Creation and the Fall, I have come to understand as never before our need for the Atonement. Without the Atonement, all is pointless and lost. Without the Savior, without the Father's plan, we are lost. A Savior was born so that we may return to our Father. Unto us a child is given!
This week, the Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" opened in the Majestic theatre in downtown San Antonio. Sister Johnson and I had the privilege of handing out flyers to people as they went in to see the show. When the assistants called us on Friday night, I do have to admit that I panicked a bit. I figured it would be like the Alamo on the first day in the mission field... and I was right. But it was so much better this time around! The growth I can see in myself is incredible to me. One year ago, I was terrified to open my mouth about the Book of Mormon, but this week... I wasn't! It was so exciting! I spent my personal study poring over Preach My Gospel and other words of the prophets, finding how they would introduce the Book of Mormon. I felt like I had quite the impressive list of lines to use to spark interest in the Book of Mormon. However, I didn't get to use any of them. I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that I had had the opportunity to strengthen my own testimony of the Book of Mormon. Not to mention, I was able to use some of those lines later while contacting referrals. What a blessing!
If I had had the opportunity to say more than "Enjoy your night!" and "Merry Christmas!" to those people rushing to see the performance, I would have said something like this: "The Book of Mormon is more than a musical, it is powerful evidence that God loves all of His children. It is evidence that God has again called prophets to lead His children in righteousness. It has brought me peace and joy, and that same peace and joy is available to you as you read, ponder, and pray about the truths contained in the Book of Mormon." I love the Book of Mormon!
I love this mission. I love the gospel. I love the Lord. I love you all!
Have a very wonderful Christmas! Especially as you reflect on it's true meaning.