Life hasn't changed much since my last email. Actually, it hasn't changed at all. Which isn't a bad thing. I love how it is right now. Life's pretty great as a missionary.
We decorated for Christmas sort of. We have a two feet tall fake tree on a table. That's about it though. We went to the Christmas lights at the temple with some investigators. It was really cool. I love working with kids. I got to explain to a four year old named Raja about how he has a Father in Heaven who loves him and the story of how his brother Jesus Christ was born while we sat beneath the Christus. He just simply looked at me as I told him and then back at the statue of Christ and then reverently said, "I wish someone had told me that before."
I've been thinking about what he said all week. It pretty much broke my heart to hear that. He comes from a family where his mom has had a child out of wedlock three times, all with different dads. In fact, Raja doesn't know his dad too well. He doesn't have a fatherly figure like I've had growing up. And to top that all off, his mom is moving with them to Illinois to get back together with his oldest brother's father. As I talked to His aunt, she doesn't know the next time Raja will be able to see his dad. It definitely won't be soon.
This last Thursday, Raja's aunt's boyfriend took him to the church Christmas party. Raja was hyper and loud the entire time, just like a four year old should be, until the primary kids put on the nativity scene. Raja suddenly got quiet and stared at the stage as Joseph and Mary walked on. In Mary's arms she held the baby Jesus. Raja tapped my shoulder and then quietly asked, "Is that my brother?". All I could do was smile and nod. The grin that Raja had on his face after that made my day.
I'm so grateful that I have a dad who's been there for me my entire life. Even while I'm in Arizona. He still manages to write me every week. I can't imagine what life would be like without that support. Especially if I was four years old and being taken around the country due to my mother's continuous romantic mistakes, living a life completely void of the peace and security that the gospel brings.
In this Christmas season I promise that true happiness will come from paying attention to it's name. With that also comes the need for gratitude. Christ wasn't born in a fancy hotel, He was born in a manger. Among the lowliest of the low. Following His birth, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee to Egypt due to the impending massacre in Bethlehem, completely intended for the death of Christ. With that knowledge, who are we to expect gifts of any more value than a manger and a target on our heads? The fact of the matter is we've already been given the only gift we truly need.
We have a Father in Heaven who loves us enough to give us His only begotten son to live and die for us so that we can live with Him once more. I'm so grateful to have been brought up with that knowledge. I'm also extremely grateful to have the opportunity to share that gift with people like Raja. I know that the knowledge of Christ's gift for us is the ultimate source of happiness as long as we live worthy of it. That's all he asks in return. It's up to you to decide whether or not that's too much of gift for Him this Christmas.
Sincerely, Elder Earl