Well it's a New Year! And today, I received some Christmas packages! Wahoo! I got the one addressed to Elder Hall and I, and also one from Grandma Reeder. I haven't opened anything yet, but thank you so much!! Also, make sure and tell Grandma Reeder thanks for the package! Carmel on pretzels, it doesn't get any better than that! Thank you so much for everything. The presents don't even matter, it is just the love that I could feel from you guys. It really is amazing.
2012 - I can't believe it is here. I really, honestly can't believe that 2012 is here. Like I said in the phone call, I feel like I left last week. This week was kind of an interesting week. We didn't really have a whole ton of success between Christmas and New Year's eve, but it was a good week none the less. This week we had a visit with Santo and Flor (the couple that was baptized when Elder Day and I were together). We decided to talk about temples. We began talking, and Santo began to tell us the desire that he has to go to the temple to be sealed with his family. It doesn't get any better than that for missionaries. I was just so happy to hear and to feel the desire that he has to be sealed to his wife and family for time and all eternity.
The more time I spend preaching the gospel, the more time I realize how important the family is. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for everything. I realize now that every true joy I have had in my life came from you guys. Elder Morgan and I were talking, and he said that he read somewhere that in the pre-earth life, two of the things that we got to choose were #1 our family, and #2 our guardian angel. I don't know if that is doctrine, but I sure like to believe it. I don't doubt for a second why I chose the family I did. I think of all the things you have taught me, all the things you have done for me, and all the joy I have had in my life--because of my family. Family is absolutely everything. Nothing should EVER come in front of our family. Work, friends, personal desires, nothing. I have learned something extremely important from an Elder in the mission about family. Money never has, or never will buy happiness. This missionaries family is extremely well off. They have tons of money, but I have realized how little that money means to him now that he is on the mission. I am always talking about the things that I did with my family. I talk about my Dad, all the fun times we had together, and how we pretty much always did everything together. About my Mom, who always did practically everything for me, and always doing amazing little things for me to help me out. How I loved spending my free time with my family, because it was just so much fun. This Elder has been on extravagant vacations, always had everything he wanted, but never the thing most important. A special relationship with his family.
I have no doubt in my mind that I chose the family I did for a special reason. I think about the things that made me most happy before the mission, and it was the simple things. Working on something in the garage with Dad. Talking to Mom about my day when I got home late. Hanging out with Ash and Sven when they came up for a weekend. (It was always a little sweeter when I beat Sven at Fifa hahaha) All of these are the memories most important for me. It's not of a cool Christmas present, a fun vacation, none of this. It's the happiness that I have from my family. From the things that don't cost a single dollar. I know it is hard not to worry about money, but it is a sure lot more important to worry about our family. If we have our family we have what brings more happiness than money can buy. A new car can't do it, a fancy house, nothing. The special moments and our relationships are what brings true happiness. In the next life I'm sure we will be talking about all the great times we had as a family. Not how cool our car was or how big our house was.
I just want you to know how much I love you all. I know I was never much of a tell-you-I-Love-You person before the mission, but I hope that you know how much I really do, and that I'm a tell-you-I-love-you guy now. I am so grateful for every moment we spent together. I also want you to know that I know without a single doubt in my heart that we will be able to enjoy these moments forever if we are all faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no other way we can have true happiness. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings true happiness. If we aren't living the commandments of the Lord, there is no day better than today to start fresh.
So on Saturday night, there was a whole bunch of craziness!!!! At midnight, everyone was shooting off fireworks, guns, all sorts of stuff!! It was pretty crazy!!! Sunday taught me an important lesson. We walked through the streets, and you could honestly just smell alcohol. There were bottles everywhere, and the people still drinking from the night before. As I looked in their faces, I did not see a single person who was happy. All looked sick, sad, and for lack of a better word, disgusting. It made me realize how much happiness living the commandments of God brings us, and how much temporary happiness worldly things bring us. I hope we are all searching for true happiness and not worldly happiness. True happiness comes from a family who has a special relationship. True happiness comes from parents who live their lives as an example for their children. True happiness comes as a family seated together in church, and later in the temple. True happiness comes from our family, not from money. I'm so grateful for you, Mom and Dad, who always put family time in front of work. Who put in the time to show their love. Who never missed a soccer game, or a special moment in my life. I would never trade all the money in the world for the amazing memories I have with all of you.
All in all, I love you. Thanks for every single thing, but most especially for the special moments we have had together.
Elder Riley Ted Reeder