December 9, 2013

Christmas is in Our Hearts...Not the Weather (December 9, 2013)

It is very hot. I will not lie. Someone send me snow. 

And with that, Christmas Message Number 2 from your friendly, Peruvian missionary! This week I am going straight to the Bible, right to where we read of Christ´s birth in the Holy Land. In two of the Four Gospels, we read of an angel visiting both Joseph (the man engaged to Jesus´ mother, Mary) and a group of shepherds who were tending their flocks in a nearby pasture. First we read in Matthew of the angel speaking to Joseph and prophesying of this soon-to-be child of Mary. The angel says in chapter 1, verse 21: "Y dará a luz un hijo, y llamarás su nombre JESUS, porque él salvará a su pueblo de sus pecados." We then read in Luke 2:10-11 the angel´s words to the shepherds: "No temáis, porque he aquí os doy nuevas de gran gozo, que serán para todo el pueblo: que os ha nacido hoy, en la ciudad de David, un Salvador, que es CRISTO el Señor." In truth, Jesus Christ was born into the world, and like the angel said, He was born into the world in order to save all those who will believe on Him from their sins and give those people the chance to experience "gran gozo" (great joy) without end. It seems impossible, but through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can indeed be free from the chains of sin, guilt, and pain, and can live lives of joy, happiness, and hope. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I know these things to be true and hope you all can know these things too for yourselves by the power of the Holy Ghost.

To continue, I have some cool stories to share. Actually, just two. But, they were certainly worth sharing! So first, the comical one. We went to a lesson with an Evangelista (an evangelist) who is also an English teacher. So, she was super interested to talk to us, for the English lesson and because Mormons are just super interesting. So, we began teaching her, and she asked to know our real names (actually demanded), because she didn’t like calling us by our last names. So, we finally gave in and I just said my name was Zach. So, for the next hour, I was referred to as Hermanito Zach. But the best part was when she guessed our ages. She said because I was so mature, so pensive and thoughtful about responses and scriptures, that I must be at least 28 years old. My companion burst out laughing and it almost blew her off her seat when I said I was 19. A compliment, I guess, but bien chistoso! (very funny)

Anyways, to go back to a little more reverent tone, we also met with a family who hasn’t attended church for 9 years. They were extremely dedicated members of the church, but due to unknown reasons, they slowly slipped away until now, where they believe that God does not love them. As we talked with them, I felt prompted to ask that question: "Do you think God loves you?" When the wife just looked at us and shook her head, I felt my entire heart break. I can’t even explain it. It was just heart-breaking. We shared a scripture about putting your trust in God, but then we testified before the family that God loves them. I thought back to my farewell talk before I left for my mission, and I remember saying that my goal on my mission was to help people know that God loves each of His children, and He knows each and everyone specifically. I looked her in the eyes and I testified of this truth, and I truly hope that if anyone reading this thinks the awful lie that God does not love them, then I hope that these words will speak to you like they did to everyone in that room: "God loves you, more than you can even imagine. You will fall, you will make mistakes, but He will always be there to lift you up, because He is literally your father and more than anything else in the world, He wants you to be happy."

May the Spirit of Christmas light up your homes, and may all of your homes be holy places of love and hope. Family is the best gift we have from God. Treasure your family and remember them this Christmas season!

Con mucho amor, muchas oraciones, y una fe fuerte, (with much love, many prayers and a strong faith,)

- Elder Dax Rich

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