I hope you all had a merry Christmas! For Christmas Eve, all the missionaries in the three zones of Huanuco gathered in a plaza to sing Christmas Carols and hand out Book of Mormons as Christmas gifts. I got to play chorister, which I had fun with. Later, we all went to the Zone Leader's house to spend the night. I'll send some pictures; it was definitely a solid way to make Christmas special on the mission.
Christmas Day itself was special as we got to skype our families. It definitely impacted me. I thought about writing some sort of tribute to them, but I realized soon thereafter how limiting words were (I hate that excuse because they can express a good deal). As family relationships have eternal significance, I began to realize that the import of my brother, or my sisters, or my mother and father made trite phrases like "they're always there for me" or "they're the most important people in my life" seem cheap. I worried if I went into experiences like board games with my brother, or literature discussions with my sister, or the goofy things my little sister and I would do to keep life fun, I would try to define our relationships by something external that shows a fraction of what it really means. But as Shakespeare said, "They do not love who do not show their love." And in Peru, I can demonstrate my love in weekly posts. So to my Mom and Dad, who are always there for me and are the most important people in my life. To Alex for the countless afternoons we hung out and played a thousand games. To Madeleine, for the ideas we share expounding on books and poems and movies to make them more interesting. And to Gracie, for "Calm a llama down" or blasting music like "Sweet Caroline" in the house and dancing around. I really do love you all, and honestly find these summarizations ridiculous in comparison to all we've done together and who you are. I know you. But my thoughts don't end with them; I love you too, grandparents, and uncles, and aunts, and cousins. I hope my friends are doing well, and I think of you guys and include you in my prayers. Especially at Christmas.
I'm a dork who likes Christian rock music, and my favorite group is Relient K. They made a Christmas song called "I Celebrate the Day" that I love. He's talking to Christ about the last year and he says, "Here is where you're finding me in the exact same place as New Year's Eve. And from the lack of my persistency I'm less than half as close as I want to be. And the first time that you opened your eyes did you realize that you would be my savior?... I celebrate the day that you were born to die, so I might one day pray for you to save my life."
I've definitely grown this year, especially with the mission, but this time always is one for self-reflection. Don't forget the purpose of Christ's birth. It implied His death, His Atonement, His Resurrection. And with that, we can pray with confidence that He'll save us, as we live His gospel and repent. That's the Christmas message. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.