Monday, December 3, 2012

Thoughts of Christmas and other things...

Well, transfers are the 13th of December so we find out this Saturday if I will be leaving. Pretty exciting a week from this Thursday I will have been in this area 6 months and my, how the time has flown by! This has definitely been the area of most growth thus far and I have seen such a change in myself and others. It has been so wonderful to serve in this ward and I'm probably going to cry like a baby when I have to leave because these guys are my home ward now! My ward mission leader is the nicest guy and has been so awesome to work with, and the bishop and counselors and just everybody and everyone has little kids so I have loved teasing them and saying hi to them etc. 

The Lord really knows where we need to be as missionaries, I think we as Elders learn a lot knowledge-wise, but we grow to love people and learn to love others as Christ does. The hard part won't be returning home at the end of two years but leaving all of the friends you have made and the people you have grown to love that you might never see again, that is what's hard. 

Lately, my studying has been on my Patriarchal Blessing, I think we ought to all study that blessing more regularly and pray about it more. It is pretty amazing that we each get a blessing directly from Heavenly Father through a Patriarch that directly states certain blessings we have, certain abilities, warnings, etc. It is like a church talk absolutely 100% for you. 

This last week we had a Christmas zone conference and it was so good :) We learned a lot about the Atonement and The Shumways are so amazing, he is such a great mission president. He shared with us his family's Christmas traditions and read to us a book about a woodcarver, Mr. Toomey that put all of us to tears. He read it to us like we were his kids, it was really something. (my 2 cents: You should look up that book and read it, it's a tear jerker) He shared to us how in 3 Nephi 1:13 it says "for on the morrow come I into the World..." and Isaiah 9:6 says "For unto us a child is born..." and then in Luke 2:11 it says "For unto you is born this day..." showing us how the Atonement is both universal and individual, it covers the world it covers us and it covers you and me. What a great time of year is Christmas time! We can reflect on the Savior's birth, life, and mission. What humble beginnings,
Below is from Elder Holland's 1977 Ensign article entitled, "Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come from the Store." I encourage you to look it up on

"One impression which has persisted with me recently is that this is a story—in profound paradox with our own times—that this is a story of intense poverty. I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7; italics added.) We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could talk in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of influence or means, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.

I have wondered if the Inspired Version also was suggesting they did not know the “right people” in saying, “There was none to give room for them in the inns.” (JST, Luke 2:7.)
We cannot be certain what the historian intended, but we do know these two were desperately poor. At the purification offering which the parents made after the child’s birth, a turtledove was substituted for the required lamb, a substitution the Lord had allowed in the Law of Moses to ease the burden of the truly impoverished. (See Lev. 12:8.) "I wonder what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the valley of the shadow of death in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?”

Pretty deep...I love to sing the words of Away in a Manger, it about makes me cry everytime. I also like to ponder what gift I would have given baby Jesus, what gift can I possibly give to the Son of God? The answer is always my love and my will, the best gift we can all give to the Saviour is submitting to their will and giving them our agency which is the only thing we really have that is our own. I hope we can all bring the Spirit of Christmas (which is really just the Spirit of Christ) into our homes this Holiday Season and always remember him.

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the heavens looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Oh, what it would have been like to hold Heavenly Father's little boy...his perfect gift to the world. Just like how Elder Uchtdorf talked about being good receivers toChristmas gifts this season let us be good receivers to Heavenly Father's gifts to us and good receivers to of his most important gift, his perfect little boy who came down from heaven to save us and redeem us.

Elder Blackburn

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