I served an LDS mission in Dallas, Texas. For those of you who do not know what an LDS mission is, you can learn more about it here. As a young woman, your service is for a period of 18 months. The way my time lined up, I only spent one Christmas in the mission field, and it is still one of my very favorite Christmases of all time!
“Sunny and 75. Not the kind of weather a young woman from Utah expects on Christmas morning. My companion and I get up and get ready for breakfast with some members of the ward where we are serving. We are Spanish sisters, so the members we serve are mostly from Mexico. As we leave the apartment we smile at our little Christmas tree and packages from home.
“Breakfast consists of fried eggs, beans, chicken, and tortillas. We share a Christmas message with the family before heading back to our apartment to study and enjoy the packages we have received from home. My companion and I also exchange small gifts with one another.
“Today is one of two days a year where we actually get to talk to our families on the phone/Skype. After studying and exchanging gifts, we prepare to go to the church building and call our families. We have been counting down to this moment for weeks now. Months really. It’s been 7 months since the last call and I’ve started to forget what they sound like again. My companion is a greenie (new missionary) so this will be her first phone call home. We get only 40 minutes to talk to them. It is precious time.
“I finally get to see and hear my family! It is better than I imagined. My last few minutes I speak with only my parents. It feels good to have some one on one conversation with them. I miss them so bad it hurts. But I know I am doing the right thing. It’s hard to be away from family on Christmas. I cry a little before rejoining my companion who has also just finished her call. We hug each other and begin to talk about how our families are doing. I am proud of my companion for her focus and hard work. The first call can be tough.
“We have been invited to another member’s house for a Christmas lunch/dinner. When we arrive they have two little gift bags, one for my companion and one for me. The food is delicious. It’s not the ham, turkey, potatoes and gravy, funeral potatoes, or jello salad that I am used to on Christmas, but it is so yummy and made with love and care. I enjoy experiencing new traditions and new cultures. It’s one of my favorite things about my mission.
“Speaking of traditions, just last night my companion and I got to experience one family’s tradition of making tamales on Christmas Eve.
“There has been no shortage of food this Christmas!”
My first Christmas away from home was difficult, but it was an experience that I will cherish forever. I was able to experience the way I can find family wherever I go through my church. It also taught me to be grateful for the family I have. I cherish the holidays more now than I did before my mission because I have tasted the sacrifice of being away from family on Christmas. I remember hearing the song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and just crying because I knew I wouldn’t be home that year. It was a sacrifice I would make again if called upon to do so, but a sacrifice that I hope I am not ever asked to make again. The wonderful thing now is that I am married! So I have my own family (my husband and I), my side of the family, and his side of the family to be able to enjoy the holidays with!! It is a wonderful blessing that I hope I never take for granted.
My Christmas in Texas was precious. God bless Texas.