Monday, January 9, 2017

Christ-mas.More-christ 12/9/16

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel, Oh ransom captive Israel.

I love Christmas, as a time of lights, excitement, family, food and fun. However, since I have been on my mission, I have come to love it for a whole new reason. Maybe I am just slow or I never really understood the REASON for the SEASON. People have told me all my life to focus more on Christ and think about His birth, life and Atonement as opposed to all the worldly fanfare that comes with Christmas. Sadly, it has taken me 20 years to realize what Christmas really means, but I am grateful that the Lord mercifully helped me understand. 

This time, Christmas means light, but not just the kind wrapped on palm trees, but the kind that the Savior brings. It means service, love and kindness. It means looking at people through Heaven's eyes and seeing their full potential.
Christmas is still excitement, as I testify of what I know to be true, as I see people's hearts change with the knowledge of the gospel. Nothing is more beautiful or exciting than seeing hearts turn to God in faith and repentance. 
Christmas is family, forever and always, it is our Heavenly family reaching out us and us turning to them as we come closer to Christ. 
Christmas is food, whether it tamales, turkey or nourishment the scriptures provide as we read of Christ's birth and remember what a miraculous gift He is to us. 
Christmas is truly fun, it is also joy. Through memories we make as family and loved ones we are brought together and we feel of the hope and joy that Jesus Christ means to us. 

I have felt the true spirit of Christmas come through coming to know my Savior this year. 

This week specifically, I came to know the Savior through my Book of Mormon study in 3 Nephi. I was reading in chapter 9 verses 13-14; 22. These verses hit me especially hard, I have always known that that Christ loves us but these scriptures powerfully testified to me that He not only loves us, but He WANTS to heal us. He is anxiously awaiting for us to humble ourselves and partake of the peace, comfort and healing that He can provide. I am sure that after the recent accomplishment of the Atonement, he was even more full of mercy and love towards these people that he wanted to use His great gift in their lives. 

While talking to a woman on the street yesterday, I had the opportunity to feel a portion of that great love and desire to heal for this sweet woman. She was an older lady with faded tattoos, a cigarette bag around her neck, pink dyed hair, and dirty rings on her hands. Penny was so kind and was more than happy to let us share the video with her and testify of Jesus Christ. Our discussion of the Savior and Christmastime brought tears to her eyes and she began to cry out of sadness for all the misery in the world, and possibly her own personal reasons. To bring back the spirit of hope, we sang her Joy to the World, and testified of Christ's love for her. After the hymn, she grasped our hands firmly and asked that we pray together. Hermana Coffeen offered a sincere, simple and loving prayer, during which I felt a nearly overwhelming feeling of love from our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ for this lost sheep. The scripture I read in 3 Nephi that morning came to mind as I thought of the Savior with His arms outstretched, "O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they,  will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?"

I know the Lord Jesus Christ desires to heal us, that He loves us and cares for each person in their individual circumstance. I am grateful for all the things I have been able to learn about Him throughout my mission. It has been the greatest experience to come to KNOW my Savior better through this divine work.

I hope each of you have a Merry Christmas filled with love and joy. May God bless each of you and keep you in His care. As always, have a great week.
Be Safe&God Speed.
Love, Hermana Tobler

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