Monday, December 23, 2013

Hey wonderful Family!
It's so great to hear from y'all this week. I wish y'all could be here experiencing these wonderful things with me. As a missionary, there are miracles happening every day all around us!
On Tuesday Sister Tanner and I had the opportunity to substitute seminary and woke up at 4:45 in the morning to do it! We didn't have much time to prepare the lesson cause we receieved it at 8 pm the day before and I know the spirit was teaching the lesson, not us! :) I'm grateful for that opportunity to teach the youth and hear their testimonies.
We taught great lessons this week! Gretchen bought us a blow up chair to sit on for when we come to her house and teach her! She really has a sincere desire to learn more about the Savior and loves coming to Church with us each week. I'm so grateful for her testimony.
We also had a couple lessons with Chris this week. A couple days ago we received a text from him that said "The temple is beautiful!" After some discussion, sister Tanner and I thought that he had been looking at the temples online, so we texted him back and asked and he said that he just had nothing to do so he went to see the temple. He went inside and saw the waiting room and talked to the man at the front desk. He also said that he was touching the walls and asked "Are these stone?" Hahaha he's so funy. He had the chance to go to the LDS bookstore just down the street from the temple and bought himself a quad with his name engraved on it. I'm so grateful for the time the Lord has spent preparing him to learn from us. I know that through the Lord, none of this would be happening. He truly is preparing people each and every day. Chris is now preparing to be baptized in the near future.
On Wednesday we had our Mission Christmas Devotional. It was so great! President and Sister Ames served us pulled pork bbq sandwich's (Sister Sylar's favorite!) and we got to see other missionaries who are serving around us. I was able to visit with Sister Tullis, my trainer, and some of the other sisters that I came out on my mission with. It's so great to see their growth and how much their testimonies are touching the lives of people in Texas! After lunch we went into the chapel and had a devotional about Christ. President Ames shared his own Christmas story, we all think it starts with The Savior's birth, but it doesn't start there. It starts before we came to the earth. I would like to share it with you:
The Full Christmas Story:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
(John 1:1-4)

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God , and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
(Abraham 3:22-25)

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
(Revelation 12:7-11)

26 ¶And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
(Genesis 1:26-28)

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
(2 Nephi 2:25)

6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
(Moses 5:6-7)

13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.
(1 Nephi 11:13-23)

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a Virgin shall conceive,and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14)

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:1-20)

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
(Luke 2:42-52)

23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age,
(Luke 3:23)

16 ¶And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
(Luke 4:16-18)

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
(Moroni 10:32)

As I have reflected on this Christmas season as a missionary, I've had the time to really think about the Savior and his sacrifice. I know that all he did was for us. I'm grateful for him being willing to come to earth and suffer all he did. I know that he went to the Garden of Gethsemane and bled from every pore for the remission of our sins, praying the father "Let this cup pass from me... not my will, but thine be done." I know that he suffered on the cross for each and every one of us. I have learned that it wasn't the nails that held Christ up on the cross, but it was the thought of you and me. He died for us all individually. And I know that the Savior was resurrected and overcame death, which makes it possible for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father again someday. As I reflect on the sacrifices of the Savior, I can't help to think of the Sacrifice of our Father in Heaven. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son..." What a sacrifice! I know that watching Christ go through the trials and pains of this life was not easy for our Father in Heaven, but he knew it had to be done and because of it, we can all become perfected in him.
I'm grateful to be serving the Lord full time this Christmas holiday. I know God Lives, I know He loves each and every one of us.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to the best family and friends in the world. You are in my prayers.
I love you.
-Sister Tawny Ann Sylar

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