Dear Family and Friends,
It’s a privilege once again to be able to share a few words with all of you this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It’s a wonderful time of year. I love it because it is all about Christ. It’s always refreshing to take another look at his humble birth, sinless life, and glorious resurrection, whatever form it may be. I would simply like to share today my feelings about the Savior as well as an experience that has greatly changed who I am today and made my mission all that it has turned out to be.
Just over two years ago I was sitting in my mission prep class at BYU-I listening to my teacher speak, and even though I regrettably don't remember much from that class, I will never forget these words. He said "You must start your missions now by praying that the Lord he will bless you beyond your own ability, to love the people wherever you serve. If you love the people you will love your mission." I was deeply touched by his remarks. And so that is exactly what I did. Almost every night before I went to sleep I prayed that wherever I served I would be blessed with love towards those people. At times I doubted that my prayers were even worthwhile. I remember thinking how can I even ask that when I didn’t know where I was going? But I continued to pray. A month or two later I received my call. I was called to serve in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. I then began praying that the Lord would bless me with that same Christ like love that he has towards the Ghanaian people. And I prayed and I prayed, day after day. Well the time finally came, and my mission began. And those first few months I had the hardest time truly loving the people the way I should have. They were just so different. I was so judgmental. But I still remember to this very day night after night kneeling down at my bed side begging and pleading the Lord to bless me with charity and love for these beautiful people. I knew that without his help I could not do it, I could not truly love them as he did.
As I have reflected on this throughout my mission it has became clear to me that because we are begotten sons and daughters of our all loving Father in Heaven, we are born with and inherit the same ability to love as he loves. It’s in our divine nature, we inherited that ability from our Heavenly Father. I don’t know when it happened, but in a way very similar to the way that Jesus Christ loves these people, I also have come to love these people. All of those prayers, all of that pleading and begging that I would find within my soul that Christ like love for these people, all of those prayers have been answered. As I think about all of the investigators, recent-converts and members that I have grown to love my heart is full, full of love towards them and towards the people of Ghana, to an extent that I know is not possible without the help of my Heavenly Father. I now know why I love my mission so much and why it has been the greatest building block in my life. Because of love. Almost instantly my thoughts are directed to the Savior. If I love the Ghanaian people as much as I do, If I get worried when an investigator calls me in the middle of the night, , if I cry because an investigator starts crying, if I am happy because they are happy, if I dread the day that I have to leave this country knowing that maybe in this life I will never see many of them again, I can't even begin to comprehend how much Jesus Christ must love and care about me. Because of the love I have now for them, I have come to understand the love that he has for me. In a way I've never understood before, I now understand the true meaning of the atonement and why Christ did what he did. I feel so much closer to my Savior and feel like I know him so much more now than I ever have before. Now I have an idea what it is like for him, how he feels when I sin, when I do wrong, when I fail to choose the right, but at the same time I now know how happy he is when we repent. I know how happy he is when we are happy. I know now why the 2nd greatest commandment is to love all men as ourselves, because when we truly learn how to do that we know God and understand his love he has for us, and we love him with all our heart. Love conquers all things. Mom and Dad, Family and Friends, I love my mission and these people so much, I dread the day I will have to leave them. My testimony has grown so much and my desire to share the gospel has grown even more. But my love for the Ghanaian people is the true story behind my whole mission and the foundation of my joy and happiness. My prayer is that this Christmas we may all find our hearts given out in love. Just as our Father in Heaven showed his love for us by sending is only begotten son into the world, may this Christmas we also show our love for him by loving those around us. I know that Christ lives. He loves us. He is the Savior of the World. He is real. Of that I so testify, In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen