As we pack up to head home, in the spirit of the traditional “last lecture,” I’m going to try to capture some of what we have learned on our mission. This is a little bit like dying, after all. Two years of lesson plans and handbooks, household equipment and decorations, left-over spices and canned food, mission handouts and clothes torn on barbed wire fences—most everything is given away or thrown out, and only the most precious things remain. Yet there is still too much to carry home in 50 pounds of checked luggage; we are forced to discover that most “things” are not very essential. We are gently tucking away gifts from dear friends here and Nicaraguan treasures to share for Christmas, our scriptures and a few letters from precious grandchildren, photos and a very full receipt book. We will carry home hearts full of the love of new friends and a greater appreciation for our Savior Jesus Christ.
The same kind of winnowing has accompanied our last months of teaching here, as we have tried to distill the essentials of the truly Christian life. Lately, I have noticed that when I have an opportunity to speak, I keep returning to the same messages: Paul’s condemnation of those who pretend to follow Christ, but do not really live in His light, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3: 5), and its companion message in the Old Testament, Isaiah 29: 13, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me. . .” We have realized that it is not enough to believe in Christ, for as Jesus Himself pointed out, “the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2: 19). The Christian is one who walks in the light of Christ—one who lives with the Spirit of Christ in his or her heart.
When we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we love and serve one another, even when we are tired or busy. We teach loving lessons to little children, and we say kind words to teenagers and strangers. We are honest and reliable.
When we recognize the promptings of the Spirit, we walk away from temptations and evil, and we are aware of angels, both seen and unseen, protecting us from the world.
Living by the Spirit, we are kind and faithful to spouses and family. We nurture children and honor parents. We pray together and make our homes holy places.
When we live by the Spirit, we obey the commandments of God, even when the world mocks them. We discover that every righteous choice makes it a little bit easier to discern between good and evil and continue in the right direction.
I am returning home with a new understanding of the life and peace that being Christlike offers and a new desire to fill my life with this light and Spirit—a new desire to live a life in His grace. I have faith that there really is power in prayer, that God is real and is aware of me and of you, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy priesthood authority are on the earth today.
I bear witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. As a part of God’s eternal plan for the happiness, growth, and the salvation of mankind, Jesus volunteered to live and die for us. There is no other name nor any other way for us to achieve Eternal Life.
As Paul so often taught, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Since we are not really dying, we’re going to try really living with Christ in our hearts for Christmas, and all of our days.
God’s great blessings to all! Frank and Ellen