Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Greatest Gift

My dear sister in law sent this sweet story to me, it won first place in the Women's Day Christmas contest in the 1980's. I spoke in church today and so this is what I began my talk with.
       It was but a few short days until Christmas in 1966.  Two young
elders of the Mormon church walked the streets of Laredo, Texas,
knocking on doors in search of someone who would listen to their
gospel message.  No one, it seemed, in the entire city had time to
hear the teachings of the Savior, so intent were they that the
celebration of His birth should suit their own purposes.

        Filled with discouragement, the two young men turned their
backs to the approaching twilight and began the long walk home.
 Retracing their steps of the afternoon, they came upon a low, wind-
swept riverbank.  Jutting from its brow stood the barest means of a
shelter, constructed of weathered wooden slats and large pieces of
cardboard.  Strangely, they felt moved to go to the door and knock.

        A small, olive-skinned child with tangled black hair and large
dark eyes answered.  Her mother appeared behind her, a short, thin
woman with a tired but warm smile.  In her rich Spanish alto, she
invited the young men to come in and rest awhile.  They were made
welcome and seated on the clean-swept floor.  The little one-room
shanty seemed to be filled with shy, smiling, dark-eyed children.
The mother proudly introduced each of them--eight in all--and each
in turn quickly bobbed his or her head.

        The young men were deeply moved at the extreme poverty they
saw.  No one in the family had shoes, and their clothes were ill-fitting
and in condition beyond mending.  The walls of the little home showed
daylight between the wooden slats, and eight little rolls of bedding
were pressed tightly into the cracks to help keep out the draft until
they were needed for sleeping.  A small round fire pit dug in one corner
marked the kitchen.  An odd assortment of chipped dishes and pots
were stacked beside an old ice chest, and a curtained-off section with
a cracked porcelain tub served as the bathing area.  Except for these
the room was barren.

        The mother told how her husband had gone north to find employ-
ment.   He had written that he had found a job of manual labor
and that it took most of his small wage to pay his board and room.
But, she told the young men, he had managed to save fifty cents to
send them for Christmas, with which she had purchased two boxes
of fruit gelatin.  It was one of the children's favorites and would make
a special treat on Christmas day.

        The next morning, as soon as the local shops opened, the young
men hurried to the dime store and purchased as many crayons, cars,
trucks and little inexpensive toys as they could afford.  Each was
carefully wrapped in brightly colored paper and all were put in a large
grocery bag.  That evening the two young men took their gifts to the
shanty on the riverbank.  When they knocked, the mother swung the
door open wide and invited them in.  They stepped inside and in halting
Spanish explained to the children that they had seen Santa and he had
been in such a hurry, he'd asked if they would deliver his gifts to the
children for him.

        With cries of delight the children scrambled for the bag, spilling
its contents upon the floor and quickly dividing the treasured
packages. Silently the mother's eyes filled with tears of gratitude.
She stepped forward to clasp tightly one of each of the young men's
hands in hers. For long moments she was unable to speak.  Then,
with tears still welling from her eyes, she smiled and said, "no one
ever has been so kind.  You have given us a special gift, the kind of
love that lights Christmas in the heart.  May we also give you a
special gift?"  From the corner of the room she drew out the two
small boxes of fruit gelatin and handed them to the young men.  Then
all eyes were moist.  All knew the true meaning of giving, and none
would ever forget that at Christmas, the greatest gift of all was given.
                                            by Sandra Bateman, American Fork, Utah

The missionaries offered this dear lady the most priceless gift...

Emily Freeman explains it best like this...
"There is a moment of epiphany after the soul had doubted all it knows, when it begins to reach out for solid answers and firm ground. This moment is defined by one emotion that sustains and creates a desire for change. Before faith or knowledge is found, before joy or happiness is experienced, before the healing begins, one emotion starts to stir from deep within the depths of despair.
It is HOPE!

It was hope that the missionaries shared on that visit to this Mother of eight, hope that life could get better, that people still care and that God had not forgotten her and her family.
Now with this HOPE she stands a far greater chance of being open to hear the message of Peace that these two young missionaries had to offer.

Gerald Lund said...
"As long as we have hope,

we have direction,
the energy to move,
and the map to move by.
We have a hundred alternatives,
a thousand paths and infinity of dreams."

This is the Season of Hope for all of us.

It is a time to become better acquainted with our Savior Jesus Christ.

In 2 Nephi 25:26 we read "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ...that our children may know to what source they may look"

Now, just 3 days before Christmas ...can we truly say that we talk about Christ, do we rejoice in Christ and do we preach and teach about Christ, to our families?

What type of LEGACY of truth are we leaving for our family?

Do we trust that the Savior will guide our lives the right way?

Brother Jeffrey R. Holland said it best when he said of the Savior " He knows the way, because He is the way!

I love the Christmas Song MARY, DID YOU KNOW? written in 1984 by lyrics by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Mary did you know… that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know …that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know …that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you?
Mary did you know… that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know …that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know… that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby….you have kissed the face of God?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear… and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the lamb.
Mary did you know… that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know …that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know… that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding the great I am?

I am not sure if Mary truly understood all that would be required of her and of her Son,  but I do think she was ready to accept whatever Heavenly Father asked.  In Luke 1 : 38 she replied to the Angel ..."Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word."

Will our posterity say that we were full of HOPE, that we were faithful and ready to follow the Savior?

I believe that what these two missionaries saw and experienced on their mission that Christmas night, will never be forgotten. It will be part of their Legacy.

. Christ referred to the Gospel as... The Good News

How blessed we are this Christmas Season to have this Good news in our lives. May we be more willing to share it with those around us this Christmas season and always, so that they can have what the Savior explained in John 10 :10.. ..."I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly"

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