A Merry Missionary Christmas

“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” the song says, but young Latter-day Saint missionaries, now more than 26,000 strong, prove each Christmas that there’s no better place to celebrate the Lord’s birth than right where they are and no better way than by teaching His gospel.

Christmas in their fields of labor may bring Papa Noël or piñatas, mince pies or pineapples, sunshine or snow. But in whatever land they welcome Christmas Day, they all receive the warmth and joy that comes only from loving and serving the Lord and their fellowmen.

Merry Christmas, Elders and Sisters!

[photos] Photographers: Australia Brisbane Mission Elder Don P. Richards

Australia Perth Mission Elder Robert Southerton

Belgium Brussels Mission Elders Linton and Guynn

Canada Halifax Mission Brother and Sister Van Orman

Chile Santiago North Mission Elder Douglas Alexander

El Salvador San Salvador Mission Elder Neil G. Peterson

Finland Helsinki Mission Elders David Johnson and David W. Welch

France Paris Mission Jack T. Fuller

Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission Elder Rollin Hotchkiss

Hong Kong Mission Elder Kevin J. Ellis

Ireland Dublin Mission Elder James McMurdie

Italy Rome Mission Elder T. E. Boyce

Japan Sapporo Mission Elder Lonnie K. Frost

Japan Tokyo Mission President Harrison T. Price

Korea Seoul Mission Elder David Newman

Mexico Villahermosa Mission Elder John M. Whitney

Netherlands Amsterdam Mission Elder Thomas N. Teichrieb

New York New York City Mission Elder Stephen R. Elliott

New Zealand Auckland Mission Elder Kevin Thompson

Peru Lima South Mission Elder John W. Schouten

Singapore Mission President Soren F. Cox

Switzerland Geneva Mission Elders in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tahiti Papeete Mission Elders Gerry Hickman and Brent Robinson

[photo] b. Elders Richard D. Childs and Lamont McMurtrey of the New York New York City Mission explain the gospel to a passerby on the breezeway at the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan

[photo] d. On Christmas Eve, according to Finnish custom, Elders David Johnson and Kurt Schnieber of the Finland Helsinki Mission help decorate the Christmas tree of Pertti Felin, branch president in Kerava, Finland. Christmas trees in Finland are traditionally decorated with Finnish flags

[photo] e. For a missionary, the day begins with exercise. Here elders from the Japan Tokyo Mission jog through the streets of Tokyo

[photo] f. Missionaries can’t afford to give many presents, but Elders Tim Price and Guy Nelson of the Canada Halifax Mission conjure up some banana bread for gifts to their investigators

[photo] g. Prayer is an almost constant part of every missionary’s life, and like most forms of worship, prayer takes on a special meaning at Christmastime. Elders Cole and Weaver of the Ireland Dublin Mission kneel in prayer on Christmas Eve before a blazing Irish turf fire

[photo] h. All around the world the missionaries start each day with a good, nourishing breakfast. Here Elders George Felt, Paris White, Daniel Hadfield, and Victor Bostrom of the Japan Tokyo Mission sit down to a breakfast of hot cracked-wheat cereal, toast, and eggs; i. Even on Christmas day the elders of the Japan Tokyo Mission get out of bed early to prepare for a busy day of proselyting. The type of bed the elders are sleeping in is called a futon and consists of a thin undermattress on the floor and a top quilt. Electric blankets are often added to these during the winter months

[photo] j. Gospel study is a part of every missionary’s day. Elders William Henry Pond and David Jones of the Tahiti Papeete Mission ponder the scriptures before leaving for their day’s labors

[photo] k. The Roman Coliseum looms in the background as Elders David P. S. Mack and Bruce R. Pugmire of the Italy Rome Mission talk to an investigator out for his daily passeggiata, or walk. Christmas night after sacrament meeting, they will go caroling

[photo] l. As in many missions throughout the world, the missionaries of the Chile Santiago North Mission try to schedule baptisms for Christmas day. Here Elder Poole baptizes an investigator while Elder Nuñez serves as a witness

[photo] m. The Christmas season in Australia is the hottest time of the year, and instead of white snowbanks, the Australian Saints enjoy multicolored flowers. Christmas in Australia is time for families to hold a hearty Christmas dinner, and the missionaries usually join a member family for this special occasion. In this photo, Sisters Emmalee Jackson and Pamela Marles of the Australia Perth Mission share a Christmas message from the prophet with investigators

[photos] n. Christmases in Tahiti are lush and green—just like the rest of the year. The members celebrate the holiday with a Christmas Eve branch party, Papa Noël (Santa Claus) makes an appearance, but the children are usually terrified of him. Families often exchange a few modest gifts and may even have an ironwood Christmas tree decorated with tinsel, ornaments, and balloons. On Christmas or New Year’s day, families hold a sumptuous tamaaraa, or feast. The missionaries manage to get in on the festivities and feasting, but as usual, their time is mostly spent in doing missionary work. In this picture Elder Jones of the Tahiti Papeete Mission teaches the Louis Anuanu family; o. Elders Roger Bird and Manuera Riwai of the New Zealand Auckland Mission go tracting in a rural area of the mission; p. Christmas day in the Japan Tokyo Mission is mostly spent explaining the meaning of Christmas to curious non-Christians. Here Elders Victor Bostrom and Daniel Hadfield teach the Takiguchi family about the birth of Christ. They are sitting on tatami mats; q. Elders Richard D. Childs and Lamont McMurtrey of the New York New York City Mission share a few quiet Christmas moments with some new converts; r. Elders Alan Nielson and Dale McQueen of the Brussels Belgium Mission get in some street contacting; s. Elders James LeCheminant and Kim Hyum Shin of the Korea Seoul Mission share the message of Christ’s birth with a young Korean family

[photo] t. The missionaries in Singapore are forbidden by law to tract door to door, so they meet people in public parks and other public places. Here Sister Cynthia Foong is telling the Joseph Smith story to a young lady she contacted

[photo] u. Two elders in Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission call at the home of an investigator on Christmas day

[photo] v. Missionaries of the Switzerland Geneva Mission, working in Lausanne, Switzerland, approach an old folks home where they will present a Christmas program for the patients

[photo] w. Elders David P.S. Mack and Bruce R. Pugmire of the Italy Rome Mission contact a shopkeeper in a booth at Piazza Navona. For hundreds of years people have come to these booths to buy and sell Christmas gifts

[photo] x. Elders in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission visit a family during the preparation of Christmas dinner

[photo] y. Members of the Korea Inchon Ward and the missionaries in their area go caroling to the patients in a Christian hospital. Afterwards they will visit several members and investigators

[photos] z. Elders Richard D. Childs and Lamont McMurtrey of the New York New York City Mission open presents from home. Most missionaries around the world receive few presents but report that the gift of serving is the best Christmas gift of all; aa. The Hong Kong Third Ward Christmas Eve program provides a perfect opportunity to fellowship investigators. There is a traditional Chinese dance, food, and Santa Claus. When the Chinese Santa Claus failed to show up, Elder Dale Ash of the Hong Kong Mission was recruited to pass out toys to all the children

[photo] bb. Elder Nuñez of the Chile Santiago Mission joins in the singing at a family home evening

[photo] cc. Elder Tim Price helps a child decorate a Christmas tree in the Canada Nova Scotia Mission

[photos] dd. Missionaries of the Paris France Mission open a present in the ward mission leader’s home. The missionaries are often invited to the homes of member and investigator families to help eat the bûche, or French yule log, a traditional Christmas pastry frosted to look like a real log. They also munch on chestnuts, a traditional French Christmas treat. Unlike French children, most missionaries do not leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve to be filled by Père Noël, but they do sing the beautiful French Christmas carols and decorate trees; ee. Santa Claus (alias Elder Dale McQueen of the Belgium Brussels Mission) distributes goodies to Bishop Daniel Denis of Namur, Belgium, his wife, and Elder Alan Nielson

[photos] ff. and gg. Christmas in the Netherlands gets underway every year in late November when Sint Nicolaas and his helper, Zwarte Piet, arrive from Spain by steamboat. The old Saint, mounted on a white horse, leads a parade through the streets. His helpers pass out pepernoten, a small gingerbread cookie, to the eager children. Finally, on December 5, Sint Nicolaas and Zwarte Pier leave presents for all the good boys and girls. Bad boys and girls run the risk of being stuffed into a sack by Zwarte Piet and carried away to Spain. Missionaries in the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission enjoy the happy mood of the people during the Christmas season and work harder than ever teaching the gospel

[photos] hh. Beneath the bright Christmas flowers of a jacaranda tree, Sisters Emmalee Jackson and Pamela Marles of the Australia Perth Mission leave a Christmas message in the mailbox of investigators who are not at home. After lunch they will go about contacting new investigators in the 102-degree sun. They talk to a father and daughter flying a kite and some amateur sailors rigging their boats for an afternoon on the river. Later they go to a wildlife sanctuary with investigators and say hello to kangaroos and koala bears; ii. In Finland on Christmas Eve, graves are lit with candles by the Finnish people as a sign of love and respect for their deceased loved ones. Elders David Johnson and Kurt Schnieber observe such a grave. Another Finnish custom brings Joulu Pukki (Santa Claus) to each home on Christmas Eve with gifts for family members. Before leaving, Joulu Pukki joins the family in singing traditional Finnish Christmas carols

[photo] jj. Elders Childs and McMurtrey talk to passersby on the breezeway in the Rockefeller Center in New York City