The Many Shepherds of Christmas

It was the shepherds in the fields who became the first missionaries of Christmas. Having heard the good news from the angels, and then having received a witness for themselves of the miracle that had come to pass, they went out among the people to declare the message of peace, hope, and joy.

The Stone Creek Ward sent many missionaries into the field this year. They each serve different people in very different parts of the world, but their message is the same: our Savior lives! We hope you’ll enjoy hearing their testimonies of the gospel and will feel of their love for the Savior as we share with you the message that they are now declaring to the flock of their own fields.

Elder Brandon Wallis
The message I would like to share with members of the Church for Christmas is this: we have a great blessing of knowing of the gospel and its comforting message. Just like a great Christmas present that you want to share with other family members or friends, we have an amazing gift we can give to our spiritual brothers and sisters. That is the message of the Restoration, the fact that we have a Savior and Redeemer; that HE LIVES, and that through Him we can have eternal joy.

By reaching out and giving this gift to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members, we can also receive the gift of the Spirit and love of God more abundantly in our lives.

A great way to measure one's conversion and love of the Savior is how often we share His gospel with our brothers and sisters. It doesn't always have to be something big. Be a good example always. We are all representatives of Christ. We may not all have a badge on, but we all should have Christ written on our hearts.

I leave you all with a challenge that I also extend to myself. That challenge is to improve daily in developing Christlike attributes. Choose the right for the right reason. Choose to open your mouth and share your testimony. Choose to listen to your family members and try to understand each other to avoid contention in your home. Choose to align your will with the will of our Father in Heaven. Choose to do all these things out of the love you have for the Savior.

Last of all, I want to thank my parents for teaching me these principles, and leading by example. I hope to be at least half the father to my children as my Dad is to me. I also hope to find at least half the amazing woman my Mom is. I also thank my sister for being my best friend, and a great example of how to be charitable in life. I love my family. I love this gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with my brothers and sisters.

Elder Kaden Barlow 
Looking back, I have many fond memories of Christmas. I love the snow, the lights, the trips to Temple Square, the Christmas Eve snowboarding trips, but my most cherished memories are and always will be of those spent with family and friends. I love and miss you all. I also love the feeling that comes from focusing more on the Savior during this time of year.

Since coming out on my mission, my testimony of Jesus Christ and his role as Savior has been greatly strengthened. I love the power and authority that I have to be a witness every day that Christ lives, especially around this time of year where I can declare the same tidings of great joy that the angels declared: ¨For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace¨ (Isaiah 9:6).

The knowledge that we have a Savior thorough whom we can repent and one day return to God’s presence is often taken for granted, but now at this time we can remember his wonderful birth and what he did in life; that he was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, he was wounded and bruised for the transgressions of the race. He took on the iniquity of us all, a patient and willing sacrifice, silent under affliction as a lamb brought to slaughter.

And why? Because he loves all of us, individually and perfectly. And that is my testimony, and that is what I will be sharing as a missionary this time of year. That he lives, and that we can return to live with him. That he came to earth, born in a manger in Bethlehem. He suffered and died for us, that through his Atonement we can be forgiven of our sins and our families can live together forever. He is our Savior, our redeemer and I know that this is true.

Sister Rebecca Packer
As Christmas has been approaching, I have been thinking about the life of the Savior, starting with his birth in Bethlehem. He lived a life of service: healing the sick, causing the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and the blind to receive their sight. All these things that he did sometimes seemed to me like a good fairy tale story, but they're not. Christ WAS born of Mary. He IS the son of God. He DID perform miracles, and He IS the Savior of the world.

As I have come to know my Savior better while serving him as a missionary, I have tried to develop some of his attributes, mainly that of service. As I have done so, I have seen many miracles similar to those performed by the Savior. I have seen many sick spirits healed, I have seen the spiritually lame begin to walk the straight and narrow path, I have seen those who would never listen give a listening hear and I have seen people’s eyes opened to the message of the restoration and the love of their Savior. I have seen lives and hearts change. Christ served those around him his entire life, and continues to serve to this day.

I have gained such a strong testimony of the Savior and I would like to share it through a simple primary song: "I know my Savior lives, and loves me too. The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true." It is true! I know it! And I love it! And I am so thankful to be able to serve at this glorious time. The Church is true! Merry Christmas!

Sister Courtney Wood

“Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for Heaven to live with thee there.” ("Away in a Manger," Hymn 206)

As a shepherd in the Lord’s field right now, these words have never ceased to leave my head in this holiday season. It’s a time when I need our Savior and his atonement. I plead for him to be with me always, because this work is hard. I can’t even imagine what he went through. But I know he knows how I feel. Sharing with my brothers and sisters the glad message about the Savior is what brings all joy: reassuring them that because Jesus Christ loves us and died for us, we can experience true happiness. I hope and pray that each of us dear children can feel his tender care this Christmas.

Elder Christian Tanner
Talking about the wise men, Thomas S. Monson said, "...They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh." He continues to say to us, "These are not the gifts that Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves."

As we have all heard many times, Christmas is a season of giving. If we truly are seeking Christ this season, let us give from our hearts. We might not have much to give. Maybe we are the ones in need of receiving. But through service, we learn what Christ means.

If we know the meaning of Christ, we know the meaning of Christmas. And as such, we, as wise men, still seek him.

Elder Zach Taylor
This Christmas, I'd plan to share a message about really how significant Christ is. I had never realized it before, but all that he did for us is really necessary for our eternal salvation and happiness. I love the description in the scriptures where it talks about how he was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and we hid our faces from him. I don't remember exactly, but those three or four verses are some of my favorites now. We really cannot be truly happy unless we take advantage of the atonement of Christ.

I find that when I'm walking and I'm having a bad day, I can pull out one of our little cards with Christ's face and just feel completely at peace when I look at him. I know he has a purpose for every single one of us, even those who feel completely alienated from God.

His hand is always extended, and through him we can do all things. I love the scripture in Philippians 4:13 where it says, "I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me." It really is true, and I want these people here to know that.

Elder Jake Kruitbosch
Jesus Christ paid for our sins. He performed an eternal atonement, out of love for us. While being on a mission I've begun to realize how significant that is. Because of that single event, people around the world worship Jesus Christ. Each of us holds that truth dear to our heart; it has helped each of us in our own trials to overcome things.

And in church you can look around, and everyone has their own story about how Jesus Christ and the knowledge of him and the atonement has helped them overcome something. We should remember this and be eternally grateful for such a blessing and sacrifice that has been made and given to us.

We should celebrate Jesus Christ.2 Nephi 25:26: "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

This should be the center, or as Helaman puts it in Helaman 5:12: "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

I love the Lord. He is my rock, my God, my King.

Elder Tanner Nelson
The birth of our Savior was the most amazing thing that our God could have given us. A lot of times I think we take that for granted; that on that Holy Night, a child was born. A child who would lead a PERFECT life, a child who would teach us to return to our Heavenly Father, a child who would suffer for our sins, suffer for our temptations, and suffer for our afflictions, all so that He would know how to best help us.

That night, a Savior was born, and I think it was no coincidence that a new star shone in the heavens, because a new light was born on earth--a light to lead us, guide us, and show us the way. How amazing it would have been to have been a shepherd and heard the angel and seen the Christ child!! What an amazing gift, and what an amazing night.

I know that Christ was put here to lead us back to our Heavenly Father and to help us find peace in this troubled world and there was none other who could have qualified for that same responsibility. Jesus Christ is our older brother, our Savior, our Advocate, and our best friend. We can never understand Him perfectly, but He understands us, and that is a gift that we should cherish more than anything else.

Elder Xavier Stilson
When I looked at the story of the Savior’s birth during this Christmas season, I saw something different that I haven’t seen before while reading these scriptures. The KING of kings was cast out of every place that his mortal father Joseph tried to find for him. There was no room in the inn, and the innkeeper didn’t try to make room for this humble family. They were cast out of the city and had to find refuge in a stable. Christ Jesus wasn’t even able to wear one solid piece of cloth, as Joseph only found swaddling rags.

During this time of Christmas what will you do? Will you be as the innkeeper and cast Christ out as many people do, calling Christmas "X"Mas? Now yes, it is very flattering that ya'll would use my name instead...;) But seriously, we need to be as the shepherds who came running as the birth of the Savior was announced to them! RUN TO CHRIST as fast as we ran through the stores on Black Friday! This is the birth of the Saviour!

Luke 2 says: For behold, unto you is born this day the Savior of the world! I love my Savior, and I am grateful that I have found room in my heart for him. I challenge you all to do the same! He wants to enter just as he wanted to enter the inn. But he cannot and WILL not force his way into your life. I have found that out the hard way and this is a blessing to you all, especially the youth in the Stone Creek ward. Just as the prophet Joshua taught, "Choose you THIS day who you will serve, but as for me in my house we will serve the Lord! Welcome him, so he will welcome you at the judgment bar!

Elder Almen Thorpe
I read a quote from President Monson that said, "Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger wind, the stronger trees. The further sky, the greater length. The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, in trees and men good timbers grow."

The meaning of this quote is that we may have our rough times, sad times, and happy times but what we have to know is to not give up and be strong like a tree. No matter how tough the wind is, no matter how far away the sky is, no matter how hard it rains or snows, we keep marching on. I can relate this to missionary work, because every day there's a challenge, whether its getting rejected, not wanted, or people hurting us, we keep our heads up and move.

I like to share to all the elders, sisters and families back at home or in some other country that when you have a bad day, don't forget that our Father in Heaven is always on our right and left shoulder--we are never alone. This church is the true church, and I love what I’m doing right now, being a messenger and mouthpiece for the Lord.

Also, you don't have to be a missionary to do missionary work. Everybody is a missionary. We live our lives doing missionary work every day and sometimes we don't realize it, and all we have to do is be bold and invite those unto Christ.

I leave you with my testimony that our Father in Heaven is truly beside us every step of the way, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the true church restored on this earth. I’ve seen this gospel change people’s lives and have seen miracles right in front of my own two eyes. I love my Father in Heaven.