Monday, December 21, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life: Jimmy Stewart and Jesus Christ

It's a wonderful life: a classic Christmas tale, a black and white film starring Jimmy Stewart. I remember the first time I actually sat down to watch it. I was quite young, it was kind of long. I'm a sensitive soul (though I seem thick skinned) and there came a moment when my little heart broke for this poor man and all his problems. I distinctly remember turning to my mom with tears streaming down my face and saying that I couldn't watch it anymore, that 'this life was anything but wonderful'. She wisely told me to keep watching, that it wasn't over yet, and everything would be alright in the end, I would see. And as we know, this classic film ended in pure happiness, all problems solved, and left Jimmy Stewart with an immense gratitude for the life he had lived, the experiences that had shaped him, and the good he had both seen and done.

Dear friends, it really is a wonderful life, but it's also, sometimes, a hard 'knock' life (whatever 'knock' means, Annie was never really clear.)

I believe that I forgot to mention that Manuela (an investigator from Bilbao) was baptized on December 6th. All her family came to support her, and in the photos I've seen she looks truly happy. And that, in turn, makes me truly happy.  We keep meeting with our dear friends Anna and Norma, and as we were checking up on Anna's Christmas Day fecha to be baptized she told us she wasn't quite ready yet, and dropped the "I'm not married" bomb. We were sad for her, her uncertain future as well as that of her newborn son, but also (unfortunately) we were sorry for ourselves. Our hopes for a Christmas baptism were dashed like the snow in the famous Christmas carol. But we went forth with faith to the area book and Hermana Ingram found a registro [old record] laying out of someone who used to meet with the missionaries, and she felt really strongly that we should pass by them. As we climbed the stairs to the apartment in which he lived, a man painting the stairway asked if we were the missionaries for the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." We had a great conversation with Jose Martin, who lives in a pueblo but went to our church all through his youth. We invited him to pretty much everything we do, and he said he'd try and make it. I know we were lead to him, even if we can't continue the teaching process at this time.

Manuela and Hermana Randall

Hermanas Manotas, McWhorter, Ingram, and I

We threw we the ward Christmas party (because no one else wanted to). It was a bit stressful and a lot of work, but all things considered -a weeks notice, no budget, and poor communication- it came off a lot better than we expected. 

They sang "The First Noel"
The Sunday before Christmas was the primary program, and in my year y pico [and a little be more] as a missionary, it was one of the most spiritual meetings I've ever been in. They firmly testified and recited the articles of faith, sang familiar songs made beautiful in Spanish, and as they sang "I hope they call me on a mission" I got nostalgic. It was so precious.

Always around this time of year, I remember the story line of "It's a Wonderful Life," how Jimmy Stewart makes a wish that he was never born and then sees the consequences. I've often pondered on that same story line, but with the perspective of me not knowing this gospel. On one hand, it was fun - a couple more Sunday birthday parties I could have gone to, longer camping trips, stuff like that. But as I got older the view got dimmer. Now that I'm here, completely focused on sharing what I know, I know how precious it is- and I wouldn't give it up for anything. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the true church that teaches it have been the anchor and foundation of my family life, of my education, of my relationships with others, of my personal study, and the solution to every one of my little problems.

As hard as it is to ponder on that possibility, there is another, darker train of thought. What if Christ, our savior, whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season, had never come? What if we were left with the stain of Adam's transgression and left to both spiritual and temporal death?
Well? What if?

But thankfully, we're not. We can continue, improve, and become better. We can change. There is, surprisingly, always hope.
Gracias a que Él vive [Because He lives]
Ha Nacido un Salvador. [A Savior is born]

What a wonderful time to be a missionary.
Have the best Christmas ever, ok?
Lots of love,
Hermana Alayna Een

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