Saturday, November 29, 2014

Be thankful, He is the gift

Dear wonderful family,

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!!!  I hope that you all had a wonderful day an a great chance to be thankful for all of the blessings that we have in our lives.  I thought a lot about what I was grateful for and the gifts that God has given me.  I made a little list in my planner of things that I am grateful for and it got really long pretty fast, and the things that I put on there were general things too!  Some of the things that I listed were: my family, the atonement of Jesus Christ, the temple, covenants with God, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, Christmas lights, yummy food, water, scarves, sweaters, my mission, books, pecan pie, the holy ghost, hugs, tears, the sky, a modern day prophet, the 12 apostles, the stars, the moon, music, learning, writing, pictures, missionaries, prayer, phones, online proselyting, the internet, answers to prayers, water, knitting, companions, the sun, trees, leaves, the mission presidency, the ability to repent and change, the church, God's love, and Jesus Christ.
We had a wonderful treat and got to go to a member's home yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner.  Temple Square was closed from  12 pm -6 pm, so during that time, all of the sisters on Temple Square got to go to a member's home for Thanksgiving dinner!  The family that had us over were so nice!  The food was really tasty too!  I have not had a meal like that for a while and it was really yummy!!  We had turkey, ham, rolls, sweet potatoes (which I like now... weird), jello salad, stuffing, salad, spinach dip and... I forgot what else, but it was all so good!  and we also had Pecan pie!! yum! I also tried a little bit of persimmon pie... I didn't really like it, but the carrot cake cookies were yummy!
We shared a spiritual thought about thankfulness and how Thanksgiving came to be. President George Washington and Abraham Lincoln actually both had a big hand in this national holiday beginning.  Thanksgiving was originally set apart to be a day to give thanks to God for all of our gifts.  Isn't that so cool!  We also shared Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."  I think it is amazing that it is so important to be grateful that God gave us a commandment to thank Him.  I don't think it is because Heavenly Father wants to be thanked all the time, but he wants us to focus on the good and the positive.  When we are grateful, we are happy.  Sometimes, we may have a hard time being grateful for things or bad situations, but we can always find something to be thankful for.  When we look for the good, we will be surprised with how much good there is around us.  It reminds me of Nephi when his brothers had tied him to the mast and his ankles and wrists were swollen, and the ship was about to be swallowed up in the ocean.  "Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions." ( 1 Nephi 16:18)  When we are thankful, we trust God and know that He will help us always.
I want to invite you to take some time this coming week to think about all the things that you are grateful for.  Take about 20 minutes (at least) and list everything.  It could be when you are driving (turn the radio off) and just list the things.  You will be surprised and the spirit will really testify of God's love for you.  It will be a strengthening experience for you, I promise.
This past week, we went to the doctor for Sister Davis.  She had been having trouble hearing out of her right ear.  She would only faintly hear the alarm in the morning, so we figured that was a problem and made an appointment to go and see an ear doctor.  She was very nervous because if she lost her hearing, she would have lost her singing ability.  Well... as it turns out, she just had a lot of wax build up in her ear.  A TON of wax build up.  It was really weird to watch the doctor pull the wax out of her ear!  Sister Davis had no idea what was going on, but she said that I made a really amazed/disgusted face when he pulled out the wax and I have no doubt about that! haha!  It was really cool because we went to an audiologist and that is the other profession I could go into with my major.  But I think I would prefer to be an speech pathologist.  :)
On Tuesday, we had a special meeting with the missionary department about a new media campaign that the church is doing called "He is the Gift" have you seen/heard about that?  It is mainly on Temple Square, but it is also all over the internet.  The church purchased many jumbo-trons in Times Square and the youtube banner on December 7th (1st Presidency Christmas Devotional day) in many countries to show this video and this campaign.  It is an amazing video!  and it came out online (officially) today!!  They have added a screen in the North Visitor Center and covered the wall around it in a beautiful nativity picture.  They also re-decorated the south visitor center for the campaign as well.  In addition, they put new pictures up in the North Visitor Center covering the normal new testament pictures and they are beautiful!  The pictures tell the story of Jesus' birth.  It is beautiful and you will get to see them!
So..Go to this website!
It has a new video that the church has put out about Jesus Christ and Christmas!!  It is called "He is the Gift".  Jesus Christ was the first gift of Christmas.  He was a gift to each one of us so that we could have hope for the future, peace in the present, and happiness always if we choose.  Christmas is a wonderful and sacred time that we can celebrate the most important things in our lives and appreciate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Over 2000 years ago, the Messiah, the promised Savior of the World, was born in the most modest settings.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, yet he was born in a stable and visited by shepherds on his first night.  I know that Heavenly Father loved us all so much that he gave each one of us a chance to come back to him through the atonement of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.  This is a gift for all.  All we have to do is embrace this gift in our lives and follow him.  What a marvelous blessing.
The lights on Temple Square go on... TONIGHT!!  ekk!! so exciting!!  There will be so many people everywhere!  I think that there are more lights than last year actually.
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

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