“My Best Christmas Gift,” Liahona, Dec. 2008, 46
I was barely two years old when my mother became seriously ill. Because she had no one to leave me with, she took me with her to the hospital in Tupiza, Bolivia. She died shortly thereafter, leaving me all alone.
During my childhood and early teenage years, I was passed from one place to another, never knowing what it was like to have a family, never receiving any kind of gift—not even for my birthday or for Christmas.
Left on my own, I faced a lot of challenges and dangers while growing up. It was only later that I learned I was never really alone and that an invisible hand was watching over me.
When I was 15, I was invited to live with a Latter-day Saint family. Their daughter, slightly older than I, took me to Mutual. Everyone there welcomed me and paid attention to me. For the first time in my young life, people treated me with love and kindness.
I was introduced to the missionaries, who began teaching me. Soon I realized that I had a loving Heavenly Father, who had protected me throughout my life. I accepted the gospel and was baptized on Christmas Eve 1978. That evening I received my first and still most cherished Christmas gift: membership in the Lord’s Church.
Other gifts followed. Two years later I met a young man who was not a member of the Church. I took him to church with me, and after he made his own baptismal covenants, we were married. Later Heavenly Father blessed my husband and me with three children, who were sealed to us for time and all eternity in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple.
When I was young, everyone called me “the poor little orphan girl.” When I recall this memory today, I feel grateful because I have the blessing of knowing that I have a Father, who has always loved me. I have also tasted of the Savior’s infinite love. He restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was chosen in the premortal world and labored diligently to translate the Book of Mormon. I know that it contains the fulness of the gospel.
I received my first and best Christmas gift at age 15 and have enjoyed the Lord’s tender mercies ever since. I still feel gratitude in my heart for that gift and strive to keep my gaze fixed on the next life, where I hope to thank the Father and the Son and live forever with my beloved family.