How it started
My friend and I served in the same mission — in the same district, in fact. She and her companion were from Honduras. As my companion was also from Honduras, I got dragged into a small circle of Honduran expats serving the Lord across the border.
We all got along famously, but this particular sister and I really hit it off. We never broke any mission rules; we were completely appropriate in our interactions. And yet we each felt there was something special about each other.
I was in my last area when we met, and so before long the time came for me to go home. I had a wool blanket that had served me well but would not fit into any of my luggage. I had no choice but to leave it behind. I could have just left it for some future elder, but I chose instead to gift it to this sister. I remembered her remarking at our last district meeting how cold she was at night, and I felt prompted to gift her the blanket.
She received my surprise gift with great joy. And now all these years later, I’ve received her surprise gift with great joy this Christmas season as we have reconnected.
How it stopped
We kept in contact after I returned home. These were days when cellular phones were the size of bricks and email, though not new, was still in its infancy. And so our communication occurred through handwritten letters.
Because the postal system in many Latin American countries is unreliable, the Church made arrangements to organize its own postal service for missionaries called POUCH. (I’m sure that’s an acronym or has some significant meaning, but don’t ask me to know it, because I couldn’t tell you.) Though I was no longer a full-time missionary, she still was. And so POUCH worked out great.
We kept writing letters through POUCH after she returned home. Now neither one of us were full-time missionaries. For some reason, our letters continued to get exchanged, but it wasn’t to last. Eventually, my last letter was returned with a notice written on the outside of the envelope to use the regular postal service.
I totally understood. Using this system for missionaries while we weren’t missionaries put the whole system at risk of being shut down. And if you’ve served a mission, you know how important mail can be for maintaining motivation and morale. So I wasn’t going to argue. But I did miss my friend and the joy I felt in reading her letters.
How it continues
Now imagine my joy to see a Facebook message from that same friend after all these years. We quickly learned about each other’s careers in the intervening years. We shared stories about COVID and how the church has responded in each of our home countries. And we relived the joy of friendship we shared all those years ago. We picked up so well it was as though we had never lost contact.
Yes, miracles still happen. And what better time for a miracle than the Christmas season? This unexpected but warmly welcomed gift fills my heart with gratitude not only for my Christmas miracle but also for the greatest Christmas miracle of all. As the source of all good, He is everything. We have nothing without Him.
And so as we #LightTheWorld this Christmas season, let us open our hearts to the miracles that can unfold in our own lives. Miracles still happen, both during Christmas and all year round. When you open yourself to possibility and give freely to others, sooner or later others will give freely to you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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