Christmas is growing closer for many, and with the holiday comes festivities, lights and reflection.
Enjoying the magic of glowing Christmas lights is a tradition our family looks forward to each year. Within days after Thanksgiving the questions begin, “Daddy, do you think the lights are up at Candy Cane Lane yet? Can we go there tonight?” As November progresses into December we sometimes find ourselves taking alternate routes or driving around blocks for no reason other than to let our nine-year-old daughter enjoy the lights and decorations of the season. Tonight is no exception.
Visiting grandma and grandpa for the holidays, we plan a night to visiting the Christmas light extravaganza at the Mormon Temple in Mesa, Arizona. Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights decorate the expansive garden grounds and life-size nativity figures. The night turns cold, and then starts to rain, but the inclement weather does not thwart the hundreds of visitors enjoying the evening and gathering for the outdoor Christmas concert that is about to being.
Mixed throughout the crowd are sprinkled missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each from a different part of the world, happily willing to answer questions and share their message when interest is shown. Most of these young men and women are in their 20s and have committed two years (at their own expense) to serve a mission.
Two of these young missionaries share time with me and I am impressed and warmed by their maturity and faith. Good kids with a sincere message. You can see the faith in their eyes when they ask all to “Come unto Christ.”
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people with varying spiritual points-of-view during my 365 voyage. Tonight I find my new missionary friends to be very warm, knowledgeable and committed to their mission. In their words, “To proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Meet Elder Hernandez-Cornello and Elder Anaya.
Elder Hernandez-Cornello, (Mexico), a young man who has dedicated his life to service, starts our dialogue with an ingratiating voice of maturity: “I’ve seen in my life many people living happy and healthy lives, all because they believe in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and listen to the Prophets.”
“We can learn of them by praying, reading the scriptures (The Bible and The Book of Mormon) and in doing so will learn of God’s Plan of Happiness.”
Elder Anaya (Texas) has only been in the “mission field” a few weeks and is in Mesa while waiting to leave for the remainder of his time in Argentina. His greatest advice? “I am going to be spending the next two years sharing this message, ‘Come unto the Gospel…’ this is something I wish for everybody to have. It’s the best way to find happiness in life.”
I ask him, “What if someone is happy where they are and do not want to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”
His answer: “That’s OK. My advice to them: Be the best person you can be… and let it rub-off on other people… even one kind act can make a big difference in improving the world and making it a better place. Things like, saying “hello” to each other; opening doors for each other… I’m talking about the small, little things that can make a difference every day in someone’s life.”
I am heartfelt by the stillness of their message, the pureness of their intent and the obvious love they have for the world around them.
And about the world around them, they are not just talking of the people; they are also talking of the planet. To quote two perspectives from Elder Cornello:
For the planet… “We all need to do our part for the environment and taking care of our natural resources.”
And for the people: “There are many great miracles still to come for all of us.”
May we all find the miracles we are seeking.