Monday, December 24, 2012

The Greatest Gift

It's Christmas Eve and I am far from home. At least the home that I used to know. The phrase, "Home is wherever you have the people you love" is  making more sense to me. I have come to the knowledge of the truthfulness of that statement over this Christmas holiday. What I didn't realize when I arrived in Atlanta six months ago was that I was coming home, a new home. A home very similar to the one that I left, except a lot bigger. The people that I love, truly love, aren't just in the Salt Lake Valley. They are here in Atlanta. They are the people I have served. They are the people's whose lives I have changed in someway. This is where home is for the next 18 months, because I am surrounded by people I love. 

     I want to tell you a story that happened recently (yesterday actually). It is nothing exciting but I feel that it is a real turning point for me in my mission. We were in a member's home and he was taking us around and showing us his house. He had a lot of children and he and his wife raised them in that very house. He decided that once they moved out from the house that the children could keep their individual rooms and decorate them so he could have a piece of the children's childhood once they moved out. So he took us around the home showing us each child's room. He'd tell us a bit about the child and show us the things from their childhood. It was very interesting to hear about their fun stories. Most of his children went on missions, in fact all of them. They went to Chile, Africa, Mexico, Russia, just all these awesome places. On their walls they had swords, spears, maps, flags, maps and all sorts of souvenirs from the places they served. Seeing these things made me really upset. I really wanted to go on a foreign mission. I wanted to learn a foreign language. I wanted to have all these cool things to bring home and show my family and friends. I wanted to learn a new culture. I wanted to teach my kids a foreign language and show them all the cool cultural things I've learned. When I saw all these things on the wall I instantly thought, "What am I going to bring home from Georgia? A confederate flag?" It made me really sad. Out of nowhere the thought came to me, almost a voice saying, "Ryan, these things are not important. You are going to bring home the greatest gift. Far better than a sword, spear or map. You are going to bring home a testimony, you are going to bring home the atonement of Jesus Christ. A gift worth far more than any language, cultural food or story. You are going to bring home stories of people whose lives have been changed. Your walls may not be covered with cultural souvenirs from the place that you served, but they will be covered with pictures of people who YOU gave God's greatest gift to. The atonement of Jesus Christ, and in turn you will receive that greatest gift also." It occurred to me at that very moment what my wall would be covered with and what my children would learn when they looked at my wall. It would be covered with the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and my children would see that. My hope for them is that they would not be excited to go on a mission to bring home a spear or sword, but to bring home the greatest souvenir of all. The Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

      That is all that I really have time to share with you today. God's greatest gift to mankind is truly the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is what we should be remembering on Christmas. I invite you all to partake of God's greatest gift. Read the scriptures, pray, repent, go to Church, serve a mission, serve your neighbor, serve your children, serve your wife. Partake of Christ's atonement and watch how much better your Christmas will be. I love you all so much. I truly do. I hope that you all have the best Christmas ever. 

-Elder Ryan Romero

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