Savai'i Missionaries
Upolu Missionaries
Tutuila Missionaries
We are not a social media mission, so we were not able to participate in the Church's social media campaign of "He is the Gift." However, we shared the gift and joy of Christmas with the children of Samoa. We organized and held three children's carnivals/parties on each of the three islands, complete with games, chasing of a greased pig, and a Santa! I am not sure who had more fun, the missionaries or the children. It is summer here and very hot and humid; that did not deter the children from coming or the missionaries from entertaining them. Please see all of the photos on the Life with Missionary page. I tried to get enough pictures that you can get a flavor for the fun that we had. I got a call from a friend of ours following our final carnival. He said his sons got into the car after the carnival had concluded and together said, "This is the best Christmas EVER!" It was thrilling to watch the missionaries and the children participate in the joy of the Christmas season.

Following our fun, we gathered for lunch and a devotional. Each missionary received a mission shirt. The saying on the back of the shirt means "even on the darkest night" and features the Southern Cross constellation. The stars shine the brightest on the darkest nights. Our emphasis was that even on our darkest night, in our darkest hours, the Savior is ever watchful and present. Even on the darkest night, we don't give up hope. We asked the missionaries to let their shirts and the stars at night be a reminder that He never gives up on us and is ever close.

When we struggle with "dark night" events, we cannot trust our feelings about what God may or may not be doing in our lives. We can only trust the doctrine and the witness of the scriptures. There are hundreds of statements made by the Savior himself regarding His efforts in our lives:

"Behold, I have engraven thee upon the palms of my hands."

"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you."

"For all flesh is in my hands; be still and know that I am God."

"Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee."

We know that the Savior's most important concern is to sanctify us and redeem us. Sometimes it means things will get hard and dark as we are tutored under His watchful care.

We never give up hope in our "dark nights" because He has promised that He will rescue us.  President Tolman taught that the word used for faith in the original Greek scriptures meant trust in another person. If we truly have faith/trust in the Savior, then we don't have expectations about outcomes. We simple do what He has asked, never give up hope, and allow the Lord to work in our lives.

At times when we struggle, we find ourselves praying with greater intent, studying more diligently, and seeking direction from the spirit with open hearts. Why would the Lord want to change our circumstances when it is those very circumstances that have caused us to draw closer to Him?

In the Church's Christmas video, we are taught that HE is the gift and then invited to discover the gift, embrace the gift, and share the gift. He guides us to discover and embrace Him through our darkest nights; it is in these moments when He is the closest. 

Elder Jeffery R. Holland helps us understand God's efforts in our mortal lives: "In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living--and chose to live--in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Our greatest assurance in God's plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive."  (General Conference, October 2013)

We invited the missionaries to discover and embrace the gift. We hope you will join with them in this effort. May this next year be filled with trust in Him who is the Gift.

1 comment:

  1. Sister Tolman you spoke to my heart with this post. Thank you my friend. I too love those scriptures about Christ's love and they have carried me through many hard time.