The Most Precious Possessions
By Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy
- As a stake president, Elder Soares met with a family from humble conditions and was touched by the joy they radiated.
- When he recounted his experience to his family, his daughter wanted to give the family Christmas gifts.
- As they delivered the gifts, Elder Soares and his family learned the priceless value of humility and faith.
“As we joyfully chatted, they expressed their gratitude for the presents; but above all, they conveyed their thankfulness for having received the true gospel of Jesus Christ.” —Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidency of the Seventy
While Alma preached to the poor whose afflictions had made them humble, he said, “I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye” (Alma 32:8). This scripture brings to my mind one of my most special Christmas memories, one that our family experienced many years ago.
When I served as a stake president, I enjoyed meeting each new convert baptized in our stake. It was a great opportunity to welcome them and explain a little about the path they should take to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence.
I remember one specific family who came in together—a father, mother, and four little daughters. That night I could not have imagined the impact that their interview would have not only on me, but also on my family.
The father was a good man who was righteous and faithful. He displayed great joy for having found the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He worked hard for long hours in order to provide for his family. His wife helped increase the family’s income by cleaning houses while the little girls were at school. Their home was very small and humble—a one-bedroom dwelling with a tiny kitchen.
Despite their humble conditions, this family radiated joy and a special light in their countenances which came from their humility and desire to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Literally, they were like the people to whom Alma had preached—blessed and joyful. As I talked to them that evening, I felt closer to the Savior. I was touched by their faith and desire to become true disciples of Christ.
The impressions left on me by that interview were so strong that I shared my feelings with my family in our next family home evening. I remember explaining to my children that the most precious possession that this particular family had was their humility and their faith in the Savior Jesus Christ. That was what motivated them to live in righteousness. I also told my children that, despite the usual difficulties of life, they were blessed and joyful because the gospel was the center of their lives.
After listening to my account, my then six-year-old daughter turned to me and said, “Dad, since Christmas is so close, we could give them some gifts!” No doubt my daughter had been touched by the sweet spirit of that family. Thus, following her suggestion, we decided to take the opportunity to set up a Christmas project as a special present for Brother Silva’s family. I then asked each member of my family what they thought we should offer them. Without a wink, the same daughter responded, “I can give my dolls to the girls. I’ll give the dolls a bath, comb their hair, make new clothes for them, pack them in a beautiful bundle, and give them as a gift. Can I do that?”
I was so moved by the spontaneity, generosity, and love that my daughter showed towards a family she didn’t even know! Each one of us committed to preparing some special gift to offer them. During our family home evenings that preceded Christmas, we checked the unfolding of our project. On Christmas Eve, we placed in our car all the gifts that had been prepared and went to visit the Silva family. My daughter was so eager that she could barely wait for the moment of meeting those girls and giving them the dolls that she had so carefully prepared.
As we entered their humble home, we could feel the sweet spirit that emanated from their living quarters. They had pictures of Jesus Christ on the walls, and the scriptures were on a small center table on which they ate their meals. That was a symbolic remembrance to the family that feeding their souls was as important as nurturing their bodies. The Silvas truly had a Christ-centered home.
As we joyfully chatted, they expressed their gratitude for the presents; but above all, they conveyed their thankfulness for having received the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They were the living representation of the Savior’s teachings when He said to His disciples, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
They truly reflected Christ’s light on their countenances.
We left with tear-filled eyes and hearts full of gratitude for their example of humility and faith. They had helped us recognize what should be our priorities in life from then on. They had taught us that humility and faith are very important attributes that we must develop in order to become more like the Savior. Brother Silva’s family represented exactly those that Alma taught, saying, “Blessed are ye.”
We visited them to give presents, but truly we were the ones who were awarded.