December 20, 2016

Sent By

President Mark Perez

Merry Christmas to the Wonderful Missionaries of the Lincoln California Stake

Dear Parents,
I hope this note finds you and your families well during this most wonderful time of the year. Would you please forward my letter to your wonderful missionary. Merry Christmas to everyone.
With Love,
President Perez

My Dear Sisters and Elders all over the world.

It is with great emotion that I sit and think of each one of you. I hope that this note finds you happy, healthy and well. I trust that you are. All is well here at home. Your families are well. I remind you that you have been promised that your families will be blessed because of your faithful and dedicated service.
I hope that you have a beautiful Christmas Day that includes you visiting with your families.

I am listening to "Called to Serve" right now.

I entered the MTC on October 2, 1980. My call was to Colombia Bogota in South America. It was the hardest day of my life. I had only been baptized 14 months prior. I had received no training or preparation of any type. I had no family that took me to the MTC. I said good-bye to Sister Perez up the road by the Provo Temple and walked down to the MTC. I had turned my back to everything that I was familiar with, to everything that was dear to me, to everything that I had loved. It was so hard.

I thought I was "something" for making such a huge sacrifice. It didn't take me long to realize that it was not a sacrifice at all, but a great privilege and honor to serve the Lord as a missionary. I remember singing "How Great Thou Art", some 2000 of us, and coming to the words, "That He should descend from his throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine". I couldn't sing. I was so rebellious and proud. From that day since, I have tried to give the Lord my all, to be submissive to Him, and do whatever He would ask of me.

My visa didn't arrive in time and I spent 13 weeks in the MTC. No fun. On Christmas day, 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball came to the MTC to visit with all of us. It was an amazing experience for me. In the margin of my Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 17:5 (And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.) I wrote, Christmas Day 1980. This is how I felt. I wept. I didn't want him to leave us. It felt so good to have God's prophet with us, to witness to us of Christ's love and our charge to represent Him as full-time missionaries.

I hope you have similar feelings as you think about the Savior and the scared work you have charge over. It is so sacred. You have been called to teach of His Doctrine, which is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism for the Remission of Sins, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, helping our brothers and sisters to endure to the end. This is it. Nothing more, nothing less. Always focus on this doctrine, and your sacred responsibility to Find and Teach, and then get out of the way of the Holy Ghost, so he can testify of Heavenly Father, of Jesus Christ, and the restoration of God's Kingdom here upon the earth. Then you will see miracles happen. Then you will weep. Your investigators will weep with you. And you will have desires to "tarry a little long with them."

My four sons and daughter served. Kelsi just returned home from the Texas Lubbock Mission. It is so good to have her home. She is adjusting slowly. She loved her mission. It was a hard mission. She was "all in." Because of it, she too desired to "tarry a little longer with them."
I wrote letters to them each week, for many years. I always concluded each letter as follows. I conclude my letter to you in the same manner, as if you were my own children, with the same love and concern that I had for my own.

Work hard. Be obedient. Be humble and kind. Love and serve everyone. The Work is True. It's all True.

With Love,

President Perez


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