Well I have decided to write a letter to my family and friends this Christmas. I hope that all of you enjoy a few of my words. I would like to take a minute and let you know what I have learned in my time here in Ecuador. I feel like I just left two weeks ago but here I am in the second year. The experiences that I have gained and the things that I have learned are beyond my understanding. I never knew how much I did not know. (I´m sorry if my spelling is horrible... Spanish is a lot different.)
Well as I ponder about the experiences that I have had the first thing thing that comes to my mind is how I have come to know that God is my loving Heavenly Father. I remember the first time I really felt Gods love in my life. It was my second year in High School and I had been working all year to gain that state championship title. Really i had dedicated my whole life to it since i was little. But during that second year I put everything on the line. When the final moments came I did not reach my goal and I was angry. Everything I had ever worked for during my whole life had seemed to vanish. I had trusted God. I obeyed his commandments and I even asked for his help. But he failed me. At least that is how I felt. But the next morning walking into Seminary a little depressed I read the last words that were in my notebook. As I read what was written there the spirit testified to me that God does love me and he is looking out for me. The words written were The things that seem like a big deal to us now will not seem like such a big deal later on in life. Still to this day I do not remember writing that down but it is there. Another time I have felt Gods love in my life is here on the mission. I remember walking into the MTC the first day and wondering how I was going to learn to be a missionary if I could not understand spanish!!! Luckly I had a companion who was just as lost as I was. But then came the day when we got to Ecuador and the people talked in a whole different language then what I had been trying to learn in the MTC. Those first few weeks I think I will ever forget. I felt tired lonely, abandonded, mad, and frustrated. Why was spanish so hard for me? I felt as if i was in a wrestling match an my oponent had both legs in and was stalling his way out of the first period. While the other new missionaries would seem to pick it up with ease I was struggling... It was in this time of confusion and frustration that I turned to the Lord in pray. I remember praying and praying and then praying some more. I did everything posible to learn spanish and even though it was not an easy experienceI was able to learn a little more and feel a little more of the love that Heavenly Father has for me.
28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it,saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them theirknowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are with out affection, and they hate their own blood;
40 Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands.
41 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide aseternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.
The Lord loves me and you. He weeps with us when we weep. He watches over all of us. He wants us to have success and to be happy. I hope whoever reads this kows that God loves them. If you dont, pray and asked him. Come unto him and he will come unto you.
The second thing that i would like to share with you that I have learned in my time here is the purpose of life. I never really understood why I was here what i was doing or where I was going. I always had goals that helped me progress and build character but they were focused on sports and school and other temporal things. I never saw the big picture. As I have learned about the Gospel, I have realized how important this life is. How we are here to be happy. How important this time is so we ca prepare ourselves to stand before the Lord to be judged of our acts and the desires of our hearts. I have learned that if we really put into act the principles of the Gospel when we are presented before the Lord we will see him as he is and we will be like unto him. We will have been changed. From what we are now to what the Lord would have us become. I have thought a lot about who I am now and who I want to become. I have also thought a lot about how I am going to become that person. I have never been so humbled by how little i am before God and how much I have to improve in my own life to become the person that I want to be and what the lord wants me to be. I know that only through Christ we will become changed. We all can have the hope to become like him. It is my biggest desire to become the person that the lord wants me to become. To be changed. There is only one way. One doctrine. And it is through Christ.
I hope that all of us can come to know this Christmas That God loves us, and why we are here. Those two things have helped me in my life and they will help all of us on this journey that we are all on. To end my letter I want to give an invitation to everyone that reads this. Think of someone else this Christmas. Someone who might be a little lost or confused in this life. Maybe someone who does not have what you have. Have we realized the wonderful meaning of christmas? Do we understand what it cost our heavenly Father to give us his son so that we could return to him?
I think as I read the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac that our Father is trying to tell us what it cost him to give his Son as a gift to the world. You remember the story of how Abraham’s son came after long years of waiting and was looked upon by his worthy sire, Abraham, as more precious than all his other possessions; yet, in the midst of his rejoicing, Abraham was told to take this only son and offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord. He responded. Can you feel what was in the heart of Abraham on that occasion? You love your son just as Abraham did; perhaps not quite so much, because of the peculiar circumstances, but what do you think was in his heart when he started away from Mother Sarah, and they bade her goodbye? What do you think was in his heart when he saw Isaac bidding farewell to his mother to take that three days’ journey to the appointed place where the sacrifice was to be made? I imagine it was about all Father Abraham could do to keep from showing his great grief and sorrow at that parting, but he and his son trudged along three days toward the appointed place, Isaac carrying the fagots that were to consume the sacrifice. The two travelers rested, finally, at the mountainside, and the men who had accompanied them were told to remain while Abraham and his son started up the hill.
The boy then said to his father: “Why, Father, we have the fagots; we have the fire to burn the sacrifice; but where is the sacrifice?”
It must have pierced the heart of Father Abraham to hear the trusting and confiding son say: “You have forgotten the sacrifice.” Looking at the youth, his son of promise, the poor father could only say: “The Lord will provide.”
They ascended the mountain, gathered the stones together, and placed the fagots upon them. Then Isaac was bound, hand and foot, kneeling upon the altar. I presume Abraham, like a true father, must have given his son his farewell kiss, his blessing, his love, and his soul must have been drawn out in that hour of agony toward his son who was to die by the hand of his own father. Every step proceeded until the cold steel was drawn, and the hand raised that was to strike the blow to let out the life’s blood when the angel of the Lord said: “It is enough.”
Our Father in Heaven went through all that and more, for in his case the hand was not stayed. He loved his Son, Jesus Christ, better than Abraham ever loved Isaac, for our Father had with him his Son, our Redeemer, in the eternal worlds, faithful and true for ages, standing in a place of trust and honor, and the Father loved him dearly, and yet he allowed this well-beloved Son to descend from his place of glory and honor, where millions did him homage, down to the earth, a condescension that is not within the power of man to conceive. He came to receive the insult, the abuse, and the crown of thorns. God heard the cry of his Son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when, it is said, the pores of his body opened and drops of blood stood upon him, and he cried out: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.”
I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress, in this world, and not render aid and assistance? I have heard of mothers throwing themselves into raging streams when they could not swim a stroke to save their drowning children, rushing into burning buildings, to rescue those whom they loved.
We cannot stand by and listen to those cries without its touching our hearts. The Lord has not given us the power to save our own. He has given us faith, and we submit to the inevitable, but he had the power to save, and he loved his Son, and he could have saved him. He might have rescued him from the insult of the crowds. He might have rescued him when the crown of thorns was placed upon his head. He might have rescued him when the Son, hanging between the two thieves, was mocked with, “Save thyself, and come down from the cross. He saved others; himself he cannot save.” He listened to all this. He saw that Son condemned; he saw him drag the cross through the streets of Jerusalem and faint under its load. He saw that Son finally upon Calvary; he saw his body stretched out upon the wooden cross; he saw the cruel nails driven through hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life’s blood of his Son. He looked upon that.
In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of his Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over his Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment when even our Savior cried out in despair: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even he could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room, so as not to look upon the last struggles, so he bowed his head, and hid in some part of his universe, his great heart almost breaking for the love that he had for his Son. Oh, in that moment when he might have saved his Son, I thank him and praise him that he did not fail us, for he had not only the love of his Son in mind, but he also had love for us. I rejoice that he did not interfere, and that his love for us made it possible for him to endure to look upon the sufferings of his Son and give him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer. Without him, without his sacrifice, we would have remained, and we would never have come glorified into his presence. And so this is what it cost, in part, for our Father in Heaven to give the gift of his Son unto men.
How do I appreciate the gift?
I hope all of us might reach out our hands and share this message with the world. When we give our life to the Lord and when we make sacrifices for him we can show unto him that we appreciate his Son and the gift that we all celebrate during Christmas. I know that Christ lives.
Have a merry Christmas!
Love you guys,