Nigerian Christmas

By Lori Mortensen

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    Based on an experience of the author and her friends“From henceforth I shall call you friends” (D&C 84:77).

    Monday, October 11

    Dear Grandma and Grandpa, (Oops! I mean Elder and Sister Wall. I keep forgetting!)

    How do you like Nigeria? Mom showed me where it is on the map. It’s very far away! But I’m glad you got to go on your mission. You always said you’d serve wherever Heavenly Father wanted you to go. Remember? But I still wish you weren’t so far away.


    Monday, November 1

    Dear Vera,

    Yes, Nigeria is far away from where you live, but we are so glad we’re here. The people are so warm and loving, and Heavenly Father has blessed us so much.

    On Sunday, four children were confirmed. We met in a tiny chapel with a concrete floor, and the Spirit was so strong. It was beautiful!

    Elder and Sister Wall

    P.S. We love the Primary children so much that we want to give them a special Christmas present. Do you have any ideas?

    Monday, November 22

    Dear Elder and Sister Wall, (See? I remembered!)

    I’ve got a great Christmas present idea! And I’ve even talked to Mom and the Primary president about it. But I’m not going to tell you what it is because I know how much you like surprises. (Remember the surprise birthday party Mom gave you, Grandma? You were so funny!)

    I will give you a hint. It starts with the letter P, and we’ll be sending it in a couple of weeks.


    P.S. Can you guess what it is?

    Friday, December 3

    Dear Vera,

    What could it be? Grandpa and I have been thinking about what you might be sending for the Primary children. We can hardly wait to find out!

    There are lots of things that start with P in Africa—like pigs, parrots, and potholes! But I don’t think that’s the surprise you’re talking about.

    Sister Wall

    Monday, December 13

    Dear Vera,

    Dalu and Merry Christmas! Dalu means “thank you” in Igbo (a language spoken in Nigeria). P stands for “pictures,” doesn’t it?

    All the children here in our Primary liked the Christmas pictures you and your friends drew for them at the Primary activity.

    We wish you could have seen them! All the children were smiling and laughing and saying how wonderful it was to hear from faraway Primary friends who love Jesus just like they do.

    Thanks so much for your Christmas present. It was perfect! (That starts with P too!)

    Elder and Sister Wall

    P.S. The Nigerian Primary children like to send surprises too!

    Friday, December 31

    Dear Elder and Sister Wall,

    Please tell the Primary children in Nigeria dalu for their pictures! All the kids in my Primary liked them! We especially enjoyed the pictures with the palm trees, fans, and baskets.


    P.S. Even though I still miss you, ever since we sent you the special present for your Primary children, Nigeria doesn’t seem far away at all!

    [I Love the Children]

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

    “I love the people of this Church, of all ages, of all races, and of many nations. I love the children. They are very much the same the world over. … How lovely you are, wherever you are, you precious children.”
    President Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 70.

    Illustrated by Ricky Smith

    Photography courtesy of Lori Mortensen

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    • Lori Mortensen is a member of the Cameron Park Ward, El Dorado California Stake.