Christmas lights are shinning, holiday shopping is starting, although there is no snow to celebrate, Christmastime in Hong Kong is alive and exciting. The influence of Jesus Christ is all around, but where is it within us?
Being a missionary, away from home for the first time, preaching about the "Good News" of Jesus Christ has been a very personal experience for me. Although I am away from almost everything familiar, I do not have regret or remorse for the things I have left behind. The one thing I have taken with me, my testimony of the death and birth of Jesus Christ, has truly brought me the spirit of Christmas.
At 12:30 PM today, my companion, Elder McCleary and I arrived in Kowloon Tong for the start of choir practice in preparation to sing for the holiday seasons. A random phone call was taken in the Mission Office asking for the Ma On Shan missionaries. Sister Kesler, not knowing any Chinese passed the phone to me. A frantic, worried lady on the other line expressed some concerns and frantically urged the "Missionaries of Ma On Shan" to help her immediately. Not knowing the situation, thinking for the worst, we reluctantly, but faithfully left Kowloon Tong back to Ma On Shan to meet with her. An hour later we were able to sit with her inside the chapel and help her with her problems. She talked, and talked, and talked some more. For an hour and forty five minutes she continued to talk, leaving us little room to respond to her questions and her needs. She expressed great concern about her situation, and felt as though we could be of service. We patiently endured. For me especially, it was difficult- for you all know I love to talk. As cheerfully and as much compassion two twenty year old boys could give, we turned to Jesus Christ and His gospel for solutions. We expressed how little we understand regarding education, different cultures, and even about Cantonese, but we knew that Jesus Christ could help her. In the end, she being in a serious financial situation, failed to recognize our purpose as missionaries and was looking for money.
I contemplated this experience, and knew that Jesus Christ and his Atonement satisfied all pain and sorrows. I knew His gospel could change her life. It made me a little frustrated and very sad that I knew the way and the answer to her problems, yet she would not receive. I then thought of The greatest and first commandment- Love God with all thy heart, and love thy neighbor as Christ would. I thought of Elder Holland's talk October 2012 Sunday morning session's General Conference- "The First Commandment."
I thought of Christ's atonement, and His ability to know all solutions. I thought of Jesus Christ's service to the world. "And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men." 1 Nephi 19: 9. I can only imagine Jesus Christ teaching the people the way to salvation, while they disregard his counsel, while they laugh, and scorn, and mock, and spit upon His teachings. I realized in that hour and forty five minutes with this lady, that Jesus Christ would have suffered it. He would love her until the ends of the earth and not let go. Jesus is the Christ, He will not let go of any of you reading this message. He understands you, He will show you the way, and He loves you. The completion of the Atonement did not end His ministry, but started it. We can look to Him for hope, for peace, for guidance. Even if you before have shrunk in the call to bear His name, you CAN come back. His arms are open, His wounds there, testifying that He died for you, SO you can come to know Him as your personal Savior, EVEN the Savior or the World. Do not be as the Pharasies and deny his words. Learn of Him, Learn to Love Him. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son," that we may learn of His ways and deny them not.
This Christmastime, I invite all to hear of Him who died for your sake, hear of His death and His resurrection and the Restored Gospel that He has brought back for us in these Latter-Days. Hear of His goodness and mercy toward the Children of Men. I testify that Jesus Christ lives, and has Restored once that was ancient, again on the Earth I testify in His sacred name, the Only Begotten born of Bethlehem, even Jesus Christ, Amen.