January 29, 2015


Merry Christmas! Brasilian style!

Warning: What follows is not your typical happy, feel-good Christmas story. Its MY Christmas story and the very important life-lessons that I learned. (we are reading excerpts from Sister Carroll's journal here)

So this year's Christmas has brought on some serious reflection...

I'm not going o lie. I don't like Christmas all that much in Brasil. Its super hot, there's no snow, I'm not hearing the good ol' fashioned Christmas carols, and its literally just a giant excuse for people to drink and party and it all-around Satan's holiday in Sousa.

Em fim, its the exact opposite of what Christmas should be - the Christmas that I'm used to.
And I was getting a little frustrated and let down, because in the epoca of miracles and softened hearts, we can't find anyone all week that wants to hear because they are all drunk. Its spiritually and emotionally draining.

So its Christmas Eve, I'm sitting there on the mattress in our study room in a white jumpsuit that's HOT as all get out, just crying. Everyone is asleep and I'm there, crying, not sure exactly why. Its hard to describe, but almost like... homesick? But not homesick for home and family and normal Christmas. More like, homesick for my heavenly home. Almost like, internally, I just FELT that Christ's birth should mean more and I'm just in a very fallen world very far away from my Heavenly Father and not able to feel close to Him. And I was sad.

So I grabbed my companion's hymn book and it fell open to one of my favorite hymns - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

"But in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on Earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong will fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, goodwill to men."

After reading that, I felt a lot better, said a prayer, and went to sleep.

We spent Christmas Day visiting recent converts and giving pictures of Christ to them in cute little picture frames. Most of them were pretty down as well, with things going on in their own families. Lots of tears. But I had gotten my crying out of the way the night before, and God gave me a message of hope, so I was prepared to give that same message of hope to everyone else the next day. I could help everyone :)

It wasn't Christmas the way I wanted it to be, but maybe it was Christmas the way it needed to be.

But as I was studying the next day, God gently chastened me and I realized that whether or not I feel close to Him depends more on my personal effort and less on what happens around me, and I didn't put in my best personal effort this month. With only 3 weeks left in the field, I want to do EVERYTHING possible to:
(1) Truly come to know Jesus Christ
(2)Truly teach the doctrine of Christ to help other people come closer to Him
(3)Truly BE a representative of Jesus Christ through my words and actions.

I know that the only thing that brings real, lasting happiness in this life is the gospel. It is the only source of peace, and the only solution to the world's problems. That is why I am a missionary. I know that it is our choice if we are close or far from our Heavenly Father, and as we make the daily simple choices to do what is right, we will feel His love and support.

Merry Christmas to all!

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