Asia Area Leader Message (March 2024)

Celebrating the Life and Mission our Savior Jesus Christ

It’s important that we start now in our own lives and with our families to find ways to celebrate the life and mission of the Savior.

Elder Ross A. Chiles
Elder Ross A. Chiles of the Seventy

I’ll never forget the experience of moving to Taiwan many years ago with a small family.  It was 1993 and our second child was a newborn.  Prior to this, we had lived in Taiwan one time before as newlyweds, but this experience was going to be totally different, we weren’t just coming for an adventure - we were coming to live! I can still remember clearly feeling how difficult it was being gone from Canada for an extended period of time, and how much we missed celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter by gathering with our own families back home.   In those years, Carrie and I spent a lot of time thinking about how we could still make those celebrations and traditions meaningful for our small family, and how we could help our children to still feel the joy we had experienced growing up and find ways to teach them about the Savior and his gospel.

During those first years, we came up with a few guiding principles to help us.  First, it was nearly impossible to recreate the experiences we had in our own homes growing up in Canada.  In Taiwan, no one around us was celebrating the holidays.  We had to accept that and then simplify and adapt our celebrations for our present circumstances.  Second, we had to pick and choose which traditions were most important to us, and decide how we would recreate those meaningful experiences for our children with our limited resources. Third, we realized that we needed to focus on finding ways to teach our children about the Savior and his mission.  We ended up with a mixture of Home and Church based activities.  

Elder Ross A. Chiles
  1. We noticed that there were others in our ward and friend groups that were far away from family during these important times. We opened our home and invited many people to celebrate with us.  
  2. We made efforts not only to invite other foreigners, but also local friends. For many of our Taiwanese friends, joining our traditions was a meaningful way to teach or increase their understanding of the importance of the Savior’s life and sacrifice.
  3. Music about the Savior was an important part of our family traditions. We created family music books, participated in choirs and caroling, and as a result, enjoyed and shared the special Spirit that came through Christ-centered music. 
  4. As we prayerfully found others to serve during the holiday seasons, it opened memorable and meaningful opportunities to teach our children about caring for others. 
  5. In our ward and stake we helped to make sure that our sacrament meetings and activities during these holiday seasons were focused on Christ.  What a joy to help teach and share about the Savior through Church events such the Christmas Nativity Pageant and The Lamb of God Oratorio.

“Ponder and seek ways to expand our family Easter celebration to be more Christ-centered”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

In Vietnam, where the church is very new, one senior couple taught the YSAs in each branch how to act out the Nativity while reading from the New Testament gospels of Luke and Matthew.  We imagined that one day, each of these wonderful members would have their own families and would know how to teach their children the Christmas story.

In April General Conference of 2023 Elder Gary E. Stevenson gave an inspiring talk, “The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told”.  He invited us to “ponder and seek ways to expand our family Easter celebration to be more Christ-centered”.  He said, “Perhaps … we could all contemplate: How do we model the teaching and celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Easter story, with the same balance, fulness, and rich religious tradition of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Christmas story?” I especially appreciated Elder Stevenson's additional invitation to consider how “reading Book of Mormon scriptures at Easter might bless our lives and those of our loved ones in a meaningful way”.  

Celebrating the Life and Mission our Savior Jesus Christ

As the gathering continues across Asia, it’s important that we start now in our own lives and with our families to find ways to celebrate the life and mission of the Savior.  To think of things we can do personally, with family and friends, and as wards and stakes to better create meaningful and Christ-centered traditions at Christmas and Easter.

I pray that we will find ways to use the Book of Mormon to help us remember Christ always.  I testify that it teaches the Doctrine of Christ on every page and is a God-given way for us to remember and celebrate the life and mission of the Savior.