“A White Christmas in Ecuador,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 54–55
As a new missionary experiencing my first Christmas away from home, I was anxious to see what the holiday would be like where I was serving in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Being so near the equator, I knew we would not be having a white Christmas like those I was accustomed to. As other thoughts of home, turkey, games, lights, and caroling flashed through my mind, I soon began to sense a need for the familiar feeling of Christmas in my unfamiliar surroundings.
My companion and I felt a renewed urgency and responsibility to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to make the Christmas season more meaningful. One day we were given a warm welcome at the humble home of Señor Torres. He told us he’d been waiting and praying for the truth for eight years. For two months, my companion and I had passed by his house daily without stopping. Brother Torres told us later, “I always wanted to stop you to ask about your church, but you were always walking so fast that I thought you were too busy for me.” Prayers had been answered. We began teaching Señor Torres and his family with great joy.
Christmas day drew nearer, and we could hardly wait to see this family as we quietly approached their home for our fourth visit. Before we knocked on the door, we saw through the window a scene that touched our hearts.
Beauty emanated from all around the family as their loving dark eyes, rosy cheeks, and soft innocent faces glowed in the dimly lit room. Beneath a two-foot artificial tree on a table in the corner of the room lay the miniature figures of a nativity scene, telling the story of a small family in a stable.
Now, centuries after the nativity, the Torres family, in similarly humble circumstances, sat around an old table. Two young girls leaned anxiously over their mother’s shoulder as she read the book we had given her, Gospel Principles. The eldest child, eight-year-old Victor, was seated across from his mother, watching attentively as his father played “Silent Night” on an old rusty xylophone.
Then Victor saw us and ran to greet us. The family seemed embarrassed until we joined in and sang along in their language. Next they asked us to sing “Silent Night” in English; then we all sang the hymn again in Spanish. That event marked the start of a precious Christmas memory I’ll never forget.
Sister Torres told us she hadn’t felt like celebrating Christmas until we started to share the gospel with her family in their home. Then pictures of Christ, Christmas music, and the nativity scene had been brought from their place in her cupboards, where they had been collecting dust for the past three years. The true Christmas spirit had been restored as we presented the gospel message. As servants of Jesus Christ, testifying in His name, we had helped to bring Him back into a family’s Christmas.
On the third week of December, Christmas seemed complete as I watched Brother and Sister Torres and Victor, all dressed in white, enter the waters of baptism and become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My companion turned to me and whispered, “Looks like it’s a white Christmas after all.” I thought to myself, “What better Christmas could anyone ever ask for?”