Dec 25 We want to wish the families of our great missionaries and past Arkansas Bentonville Missionaries a Merry Christmas. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be a servant of the Savior Jesus Christ.
This Christmas has been sweet because we have been able to invite so many of Heavenly Father’s children to learn more about Him. The videos found on christmas.mormon.org were very impactful for me. Especially the one with the clock that talked about what life would be like without a Savior. No wonder so many celebrate His birth, life, and resurrection.
On Christmas Eve Neal woke up ready to go to work. He and President had joked about having a contest with the missionaries to see who could invite the most people to view the Christmas video. Neal sealed the deal. He put a stack of pass-a-long cards in his pocket and was ready to go. President called the assistants to have them let the mission know that whoever passed out more than President and his sons would get a steak dinner.
President and Neal headed off. A couple of hours later they came back for Matt and a grocery list. The next time they had passed out 40+ cards and gotten my groceries. President and Matt ended up going out again later in the day. The total was about 80. They were feeling pretty great about their efforts. Later that evening the assistants called wanting to know how many they’d gotten because there was a companionship in Tulsa that had gotten between 150 and 200. They’d lost track. Elder Brow____ comment was that this was the funnest Christmas he’d had. President’s comment was that he didn’t care how much it cost if the whole mission had done that well, he’d have bought them all dinner gladly.
I am not sure what all the missionaries are doing for Christmas. I know we asked the zone leaders a couple of times to check on missionaries to make sure they would have some gifts to unwrap, and a place to contact their families. I do know that a sister companionship found out that one Sister missionary’s package was returned to her family so with the help of a member in her area, they played secret Santa. I also heard from some members that a companionship of Elder’s had been doing something for another Elder who they thought wouldn’t have much of a ChristmasWe have one elder from Kirabusi. President Parkhurst worked on making sure that he would be able to skype or talk on the telephone with them. Thinking of the sacrifice he made to serve a mission and his companion who stays by him making sure he understands and adjusts to the different cultural situations, warms my heart.
We have many young missionaries serving. I worried that homesickness could be a challenge for some of our missionaries, but then the Spirit dictated a special promise. As I thought about the greatness of the promise, I realized that it was another example of the Lord revealing how to avoid a challenge before it happened. The President shared this with the missionaries in his letter, plus at the mission zone conference.
“Our wish for you this Holiday Season is that you might come to know what it means to be a servant of the Savior.
On Christmas day, I see us, as the Lord’s servants, at places others don’t usually go. When many are enjoying the fellowship of family and friends, we see the disciples in the ABM serving souls; making specific differences in the well-being of those who are typically forgotten. We see us playing games, painting nails, singing to, or reading with the unvisited in nursing homes or assisted living centers. We see us helping feed the hungry I see us engaged in bringing happiness to others. We hope this Christmas season you would answer the call to come, follow Him. There are things you can do this Christmas that you would not be able to do if you were home. You have no family obligations, no work obligations, and no social obligations. What you do have is the chance to lift the down trodden, visit the lonely, see the sick and afflicted. Do to others what the Savior would do if he were here. It will take effort to plan such a schedule, but I promise if you choose to fill your Christmas day with specific service towards the Lord’s children, you will not be homesick, you will feel something you have never felt before, and you will treasure the memory of the Christmas day you spent as a hands-on disciple of Jesus Christ. I promise you this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen”