In 1978, Christmas time found our small family among the palm trees in Suva, Fiji. My wife, Mickey, was spending her first Christmas far removed from her family in California. Our oldest daughter, Tricia, was two years old and we were expecting our second child.
We had moved to Fiji in January of that year to live among the friendly, gracious people of Fiji to teach at the LDS Technical College, the Church high school in Fiji. We lived in a small flat within walking distance of downtown Suva. We didn't have a car, so we walked or rode the bus.
Christmas day found us house sitting for a family who was in the U.S. for the holidays. That morning we exchanged a few gifts with each other and were generally feeling sorry for ourselves, being thousands of miles away from our families. We pondered what we could do that might lift the spirits of others. We chose the Crippled Children's Hostel operated by the Catholic Church.
The Crippled Children's Hostel housed children with physical or mental disabilities who could not be regularly cared for by their families. On Christmas day, we knew that the only children at the hostel would be those with no families to love them.
We returned to our home by bus, gathered a few small things from around the house such as toys, books and household items, and walked to the hostel on that very humid, hot Christmas day, still feeling a bit downtrodden.
We introduced ourselves at the door to the nun in attendance. She showed us to the children. We visited and played, then gave them our simple gifts. We didn't do anything special, only spent time. After awhile, we thanked the nun for the opportunity to visit and departed.
Our walk home up a steep hill was much different than the earlier walk down to the hostel. We had a wonderful feeling in our hearts. We knew that we had spent Christmas in a manner pleasing to our Heavenly Father and the Savior.
King Benjamin's admonition had added meaning for us. We learned again that, "... when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17).
We are so very thankful that we did not stay in our little flat nursing our pity, but consciously decided to do our little part in serving others.
Roy G. Bauer is president of the Hilo Hawaii Stake.