YES! Christmas is the best time of the year :) It gives people an excuse to be nice to each other. And it gives us a chance to direct our thoughts more willingly towards the Christ child and all that His birth means. I read a quote from President Monson a moment ago that pressed on my heart - he mentioned all of us spiritually taking the journey to Bethlehem. Can you imagine for a moment that you are a wiseman or a shepherd, walking along the dusty path towards the city. If you are a shepherd, some stray sheep wander with you, huffing and pressing on your legs, not to be annoying but simply because they enjoy being near you. Maybe there is dirt in your sandals, or perhaps you're barefoot. The city is dark, people are sleeping, the song of the angels is still ringing in your ears. Or perhaps you're a wiseman - two long years you've spent pursuing that star. You are tired, your camel or horse is exhausted, but as you see Bethlehem in the distance, you feel a spiritual rush, because you know your King is close.
We are all coming from afar to celebrate the birth of our savior. Each of us is on the road of our own spiritual journey - for the month of December, I want you to be journeying towards Bethlehem. How fast are you moving? Are you dragging your feet? Are you singing as you go? Or have you stopped and sat on a rock by the highway in discouragement because you feel that He is just too far away.
He is never far away. The only distance that comes between us and Christ is the distance that we create.
This week I had the privilege of seeing a spiritual journey reach a milestone. Bailee, who has been taught by missionaries for three years, was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ on December 7th. The service was incredible - there were about 100 people in attendance. After the actual baptism, I was trying to imagine how she had to be feeling right then. "What," I thought, "Have I received after wanting it for 3 years?" I realized there wasn't anything I'd wanted for three years. Or two years. Or even one. If I had been told to wait a few years for something, I would have given up. I do not have that kind of determination naturally.
Brothers and sisters, wherever you may be, whatever you may be desiring, the Lord is aware of you. He answers prayers in His time. Do not worry, do not be afraid - miracles may not always come when we think they should or in the way we imagined, but they always come. We simply have to be moving on our spiritual path with our eyes open to see them. Kind of like looking for spare change on the sidewalk. That's kind of a funny analogy, but it fits. A while ago I asked you to look for miracles (spare change) and send them to me, and I eagerly anticipate receiving those. There is nothing that lifts a missionary like hearing of miracles that are blessing their family.
I love you all :)