SAN DIEGO — Christmas time is definitely different on a mission. I am so thankful to Heavenly Father that He has kept Sister Kennington and I so busy. I have never been so happy to be so exhausted in my life. It is a little hard not to get a tiny bit homesick around the holidays, but it's not a bad homesick. I just love you all so much!
It was our turn to pick up the mail at the mission office. I got the packages Mom and Dad sent (haven't opened them yet) and Jackie Steele sent me one too! Nice huh?
I honestly can't even remember what happened this week. It was so crazy, I can barely keep my eyes opened writing to you. Every night, I have five minutes to rush and wash my face, and brush my teeth and jump into bed before 10:30. Unfortunately, I have been really bad at writing in my journal. But for some reason, what I had planned to tell you about, I feel like Heavenly Father would rather me tell you about what happened last night. It is a simple story, nothing grandiose, nothing extraordinary, but it is the tiny, the seemingly insignificant things that testify to me that God is real.
I was serving at the Battalion last night. I had just finished up a tour and I was exhausted. We weren't that busy, but the other sisters were watching one of our Christmas presentations we have been having, so after finishing my tour, I walked up to the front and a little girl and her aunt were wanting to go. Honestly, I was so tired I felt like crying. I had no idea how I would have the energy to take this little girl on the tour and make it a good experience for her. But Heavenly Father practically pushed me into the first room and I knew He needed her to come on the tour. I knew she was special to Him.
When we got to the outfitting room and Sister Lewis and I were dressing her up like a soldier, it came to the part where we talk about how the men did what they did. How they were able to leave their families, leave their friends, and face the unknown. We brought out the Book of Mormon and the Bible and I got down on my knees so I could look in her eyes and tell her about her Savior, whose life was written in the precious pages. The Spirit pierced the room, it touched my heart with so much force, I thought for sure there must be angels peeking in on this sweet moment.
Sister Lewis looked at her, and said, "Julianna, Heavenly Father loves you, no matter what, will you always remember that?" "Yes" was all she said. But that "Yes" held a whole new meaning to me as her aunt explained little Julianna's situation: living without the Gospel of Jesus Christ in her life because of the actions of her parents. What a tender mercy Heavenly Father gave me last night.
God loves all of His children. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
I have been thinking about the Savior a lot this month, of always, but this month as His birth is celebrated all over the world this Christmas season. Part of a talk that Sister Kennington shared with me came to my mind. I changed some of the words, but the talk is entitled, "Missionary work and the Atonement."
"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price."
How much sweeter will Eternal Life be, when we can look back and see how far we've come. When we can say, yes, it was hard, but it was worth it. When we can look our Savior in the eye, and thank Him for reaching down and pulling us up when we had climbed as far as we could.
Life is hard. But Salvation is priceless.