Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Liahona Christmas—Gifts of the Season:

The Kingdom of Tonga sits directly on the International Dateline where the sun rises to welcome a new day before anywhere else in the world. These islands are where time begins! 

One year ago on December 20, 2008,  Elder Hawley and I arrived here to serve as ITEP senior couple missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and what a ride it has been!  Hard work and long hours, yes, but we are nourished with golden moments along the way.   Elder and Sister Hawley in Tongan dress

A Merry Christmas from the Kingdom of Tonga!                     [Blossoms shaped like red Christmas trees]049“Christmas” trees bloom brilliant red bouquets  in December   [Liahona campus]153

091Bougainvillea festively decorates the island:002 101Poinsettias in July---but hey, it’s winter then:July poinsettias

A Nuku’alofa White Christmas:                                                          As fingers touch, we walk under Liahona skies of blue.    028The clouds are edged with gold--006 As gold turns to pink and light fades to grey,                                           we gaze in wonder towards the Nuku’alofa temple.                           There is our star of Bethlehem, our Wayfinder                                    and conduit to our heavenly home.    

[Sunset from Liahona campus]016The softening dusk is fragrant with white plumeria  as we pause in thanks for His gift to all the world. 014We return from the temple under stars displayed in black velvet knowing our Savior is the light of the world who can penetrate all darkness and bring us  heavenly peace. 

We invite you to enjoy the gifts of the temple this season and have a “White Christmas” all year long:Nuku'alofa Temple

Long Walk Part of the Gift!

The story is told of a missionary in Africa who taught the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.  He explained that the Wise Men had traveled hundreds of miles to see the Christ child.  The presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh were an expression of  joy for His birth.  One small African boy listened carefully and then left.  A few weeks later, on Christmas day, the boy brought to his teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty.  “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the  teacher exclaimed. 

The young boy named a sea coast several miles away where such extraordinary shells could be found.  The teacher was  astonished.  “Why…it’s wonderful!  But you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”   

The boy’s eyes brightened, as he replied, “Oh teacher!  Long walk part of gift.” 

Long ago shepherds made haste to see the Christ child and the wise men traveled afar with precious gifts; we too must undertake a personal search for our Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no better time than now to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.   “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.” (D&C 64:34.)  

Pres. Eyring has stated, “You make choices every day and almost every hour that keep you walking in the light or moving away toward darkness.”  What a joy it is to walk the lighted pathway that leads to our Savior.                                      [from Liahona campus]023