I want to apologize in advance for not being able to write each and every one of you an individual "thanks" for the outpouring of love and support that I have felt this holiday season. Being away from family at this time of the year isn't the easiest thing in the whole world, so I appreciate all of you writing me and staying close!
This month, my Mission President and his wife challenged all of us to study about the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ to help us remember the purpose of the celebrations of the Christmas season. I have learned so much and have come so close to him as I put this special focus on my studies. I am so grateful to have the guidance of my priesthood leaders in helping me develop and strengthen my relationship with Him. It is the most wonderful and beautiful thing to learn and study about. I love this time of the year!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is gift giving. How wonderful it is to see someone's face light up when we buy that "perfect gift". It brings so much joy to my heart to see others happy and take some of the burdens off of their shoulders. The traditions of gift giving to celebrate Christ's birth bring a special spirit to all of the homes that we visit. My Mission President sent me an email a few days ago that prompted some thought about the concept of gift giving. We are celebrating the miraculous birth of the Savior of the world. The question that he asked me was: what can we give Him in return for all that he has done for us and all that he is still doing for us? What can we adequately offer him as a gift to repay him for all that he has already given us? I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmas songs The Little Drummer Boy: "Come they told me, a new born king to see. Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king, so to honor him when we come. I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give our king. Shall I play for you? Mary nodded, the ox and lamb kept time. I played my drum for him. I played my best for him."
On that thought he sent me this poem:
What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would do my part
Yet what I can, I give him-
Give my heart
Think of it! Our Savior, who created worlds and commands the elements of the earth to obey him, who reins in the heavens and will rein on the earth, who we are eternally indebted to....only asks for our hearts in return. That's it. Thus we read in 3 Nephi 9:20 "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit." And, of course, the promise, "And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost." What a beautiful concept. I wish I had more to offer, but that's all that he wants. He wants us to give our hearts to him and keep his commandments. It is a gift that all people can give despite their social status, financial situation, race, gender, or age. May we all ponder these things in our hearts during this Christmas season and devote ourselves to giving back to him who gave his all for us. As we open our hearts to him and submit our will to his, he has promised to bless us forever. The gift of eternal life, which he gives freely, is priceless!
I love you! Have a merry Christmas!
Love, Hermana Townley