Hello all! How the heck are ya?!
This week FLEW by. You’d think it would be slow with the excitement for Christmas and everything but….nope. It came and went and there it was.
I can’t believe Squeeze is home. Welcome home Anneliese Carter! I love you.
With Christmas tomorrow, I can’t help but reflect on the traditions and the spirit and the fun associated with this time of year. But, I just love being a missionary. I just love it. Christmas is so….clear. Everything seems to be clearer now. I guess by virtue of simply really actually truly deeply putting the Lord first in my life–or trying to–out here I feel like I can really see what Christmas is. Why it is, too. The what is Christ. It always has been. And the why is us–all the Lord’s children on this beautiful earth. As the hymnist wrote, “God loved us SO He sent His Son.” We are why He came. And, in the spirit of Christmas, I want to share some thoughts about….not the Christmas story in Luke 2. Sorry. But hear me out.
I was reading in Mark 10 this morning–LOVE IT. Just a few thoughts (totally my own interpretation so just run with it): the “rich young man” as so many people know him came running to Jesus. Let’s call this man Sam. He ran. Sam was so stoked to see Christ and to show Him how faithful Sam had been in his life. Ever since he was a kid, Sam had obeyed the commandments. He had gone to church and read the scriptures and prayed and honored his parents. And now, here he came to show Christ how far He’d come. I wonder if Sam, though he went through all the motions and “did” the gospel, felt a lack. Maybe he felt like he was doing all the things but not getting the desired result–salvation. Maybe that is why he ran to Christ–he knew he was lacking something and he felt an urgency to figure out what it was so he could secure his salvation. He, to me, was working out his own salvation with/before the Lord (isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do?).
(I’m doing this from memory so I may mess up some of the words in the scriptures) “And Christ beholding him [Sam] loved him.” Man. I love that. Christ sees us coming, He loves us. He sees us and how far we think we’ve come and He just loves us. I think of how many times I “run” to Christ, feeling a lack in my life or just wanting to show Him my gold stars, and showed Him what I had and the first thing He does is just love me.
I love Him.
Then the Lord gently reminds Him of the commandments–Christ knows everything and knew this man had kept these commandments, had gone through the motions. Sam is glad to report that he has been doing all of that, “from [his] youth.”
I can picture a sweet smile on Christ’s face as he looks again at Sam and now delivers the kicker. Now He tells him to “take up the cross and follow me.” That’s tough. It kind of implies hat Sam had not been doing this already. Sometimes I feel like just because I am “doing” the gospel, I am carrying my cross and following Christ. But am I really?
Christ invites Sam to walk that path of discipleship, really. To not just go through the motions, but to change–to become a “new creature” and be born again and have his nature changed from his carnal and fallen state to something so much more, something celestial (Mosiah 27). This is the Doctrine of Christ. It is how we change. It is how we really become a “new creature” and how we “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”
I want that.
As he told Sam to take up the cross and follow Him, I felt Him telling that same thing to me. Take up the cross! Be a disciple! As Mildred Eyring told her dear son Elder Eyring, “if you’re on the right path, it is always going to be uphill.” But we walk up that hill with the best of the best! Even Christ the Lord! I have such a long way to go. And as I work with all our investigators and recent converts and just everyone, I see the road ahead of them. Baptism–including marriage and quitting alcohol and tobacco and lots of hard things–the temple, enduring to the end, repenting, coming to Christ each and every day. That is the road ahead of all of us. That is the road we walk with our crosses as we follow our dear Savior.
And, you know, as I think of that little babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in a hot and stinky stable, I know it is possible. He is hope. He is peace. He is Christmas. He is the gift that makes it all possible. And I am so grateful for that little babe.
Ok. That’s all I’m going to write about that. Take it or leave it–just some thoughts 🙂
This week was awesome, and the funniest part was when we got fed by one of the members in our ward. I LOVE their food. It is such a treat to me. I love diving into the culture and trying their foods. “Sure, Hermana Frica, I’ll eat my black banana with my rice and chicken.” “Sure, Hermana Frica, I will drink my habichuelas con dulce with potatoes and other veggies” (it’s kind of like Dominican hot chocolate with beans and potatoes and yucca sometimes in it). I LOVE their food! It is so good.
Poor Hermana Alexander. She about passed out and threw up and did everything in between. Bless her heart! After the habichuelas con dulce, she could not get over the potatoes or the beans or anything. Let alone the black banana. A for effort though. I am just grateful that I am a garbage disposal.
This week was awesome! Our investigators are doing well and little by little progressing and coming closer to Christ. It is so beautiful.
Other than that, I will just talk to you tomorrow! I’m stoked! I love you all! Merry Christmas. Eat, drink (root beer), and be merry! Have fun and Christmas. Remember Christ. Always.
I love you!