Sunday, January 25, 2015

Farewell Talk

Jan 25, 2015

Good morning brothers and sisters. For those that did not hear I have been called to serve in the Cape Verde Praia Mission speaking Portuguese. And for those that don’t know where that is, don’t worry neither did I when I got my call. It is about 350 miles off the coast of Senegal in West Africa. Cape Verde is made up of 10 islands but only 9 are inhabitable. If you put all the islands together, it is about the size of Rhode Island with a population of Utah County. When I got my call I was completely shocked, scared, excited, and every other emotion you can think of. I know that is where the Lord needs me and I cannot wait to be a full time missionary serving the people of Cape Verde.

But getting to this point has not been easy. I watched all my friends leave and now some of them have returned from their missions. I could have left 2 years ago but decided to stay and finish school. That was a difficult choice for me to wait to serve a mission because ever since I was 8 I have had the desire to serve and when I was 12 started telling my family that I was going to go on a mission, nothing would stop me from accomplishing that. When they lowered the age, my decision become real, my dream of serving a mission was 4 months away or I was 18 months away from graduating College. I decided to wait those 18 months and graduate before serving a mission. I would not change my decision for anything. In the past few months, I have learned more about myself that will benefit me greatly in the mission field. The Lord has helped prepare me to be a better missionary and today I want to help prepare each of you for your individual journeys in this life.

I am going to read a poem by Leona B. Gates called In His Steps. 

The road is rough, I said
Dear Lord, there are stones that hurt me so.
And he said, Dear child, I understand,
I walked it long ago.

But there is a cool green path, I said
Let me walk there for a time.
No child, He gently answered me,
The green road does not climb.

My burden, I said, is far too great,
How can I bear it so?
My child, said he, I remember its weight,
I carried my cross, you know.

But, I said, I wish there were friends with me
Who would make my way their own.
Ah, yes, he said, Gethsemane
Was hard to face alone.

And so I climbed the stony path,
Content at last to know
That where my Master had not gone,
I would not need to go.

And strangely then I found new friends
The burden grew less sore
As I remembered—long ago
He went that way before.

No matter where life has put us, Jesus Christ has walked our path. He knows what we are going through. The journey is not over so do not give up and do not get off the path. If you have wondered off the path there is always hope for you to return to it. If you can change one thing at a time to get back to the right path the journey will be easier. I want to help Prepare you for your journey. I broke the word Prepare into an acronym. I challenge you to pick one part and work on it this next month or year so you can have a more manageable journey.

The first P in the word Prepare stands for our Personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Think about your personal relationship with your heavenly father. When have you felt the closest to him? What were you doing that allowed you to feel closer to him? How can we get closer to him in this life?

In Mosiah 4:9-10 it says  “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask insincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.”

 We must believe in Him. Without God, life would end at the grave and our life here would have no purpose. In john 17:3 it says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” We must know that he is the true and living god today and the he sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. Joseph Smith has seen God the Father and His son Jesus Christ face to face and testifies that he has a body of flesh and bones and that He lives.

Once we recognize His influence in our lives growing closer to him will feel like going home. The simple way to get closer after we have faith in him is to pray to him. The Gift of prayer is available to all no appointment is needed.  Do not worry about how little or too much, you have to say just say it in prayer. He cares about you and wants to bless you but you have to be willing to let him in.

 He knows the end from the beginning and knows where our life journeys are taking us. Pour your soul out to him, ask him the questions and he will answer you. The answers might not always come as direct as we want or the answer we want but trust in him. He knows best. The more you pray and understand how the Holy Ghost gives you answers to your prayers the closer you become to your heavenly father. I know prayer works if you sincerely ask and are humble. I know Jesus Christ lives and wants to bless our lives but we must be willing to let him.

R stands for Read the Scriptures. I have a quote from Howard W. Hunter that was given in the October 1979 General Conference, it says, “When we follow the counsel of our leaders to read and study the scriptures, benefits and blessings of many kinds come to us. This is the most profitable of all study in which we could engage.” The scriptures are powerful. We have been counseled in 2 Nephi 32:3 to Feast upon his words. Which is more than just causally reading the scriptures. It means to really know and understand them. As you feast upon the words and pray to God for understanding, the Holy Ghost will let you know they are true and what you need to personally do in your life, which will help increase your personal relationship with him. I have seen my prayers being answered over and over again when I study the scriptures and truly asking for help.

As we meaningfully study the scriptures, we will grow closer to our Heavenly father. We will learn many things within its pages, stories of miracles, hardships, love, war, sin, and the list can go on and on. These stories can help us become like Jesus Christ. The scriptures also give personal counsel, for example, here is some counsel I have personal received from the scriptures since I have received my mission call.

It is from Doctrine & Covenants 11:21 “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” I feel that scripture was for me probably just like every other missionary. As I have been preparing for my mission I have had so many doubts that I don’t know enough, How can I a girl from Utah who struggles with English go preach the gospel in Portuguese. That scripture gave me comfort to know that the knowledge I have gained of this gospel will be sufficient to preach the gospel in another language I have never studied before.

That was personal counsel from the Lord telling me that I will be a successful missionary. I know each of you can receive your own personal counsel from studying the scriptures. I know your testimonies and relationship with Heavenly father will strengthen as you study the scriptures. I know the scriptures will bring joy, hope, and understanding into your life. I know the book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.

E stands for Engage in church activities & temple service. I have a quote from M. Russell Ballard given in the October 2012 General Conference before I read it I want to give a little background about it. Elder Ballard was talking about how the honeybee has to work together and work hard to produce enough honey. Then he says, “Brigham Young chose the beehive as a symbol to encourage and inspire the cooperative energy necessary among the pioneers to transform the barren desert wasteland surrounding the Great Salt Lake into the fertile valleys we have today. We are the beneficiaries of their collective vision and industry.

The beehive symbol is found in both the interiors and exteriors of many of our temples. This podium {refereeing to the General Conference Podium} where I stand is made from the wood of a walnut tree grown in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s backyard and is adorned with carved beehive images.

All of this symbolism attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We all must be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” Even if the cause is a small act of kindness each day or a large act like missionary work. No matter the act, we must engage. The more we engage the closer we will grow to our heavenly father and others around us. If you ask Him each morning how you can serve, He will give you opportunities to serve. Which is the best way to engage in being Christ like.

P stands for Patriarchal Blessing. What is a Patriarchal blessing and how can it help me? Well according to President Ezra Taft Benson, a patriarchal blessing is “personal scripture to you.” It is the only blessing given to you that will be written down for you to read and study over and over again.  Imagine yourself going along a narrow road with a white line down the middle. When it is dark or foggy, it’s easy to veer off the road, but you can look to that line to keep you on track. As you study your patriarchal blessing, think of how its counsel and promises give you direction, safety, and peace when you face trials or 
difficult decisions. Now your patriarchal blessing will not have all the answers to life’s problems but it should help steer you in the right direction to help you find those answers so you can fulfill God’s journey for you.

A stands for the Atonement. According to Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the plan of salvation, which we are called to teach. The Prophet Joseph Smith once declared that all things ‘which pertain to our religion are only appendages’ to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In like manner and for the same reasons, every truth that a missionary or member teaches is only an appendage to the central message of all time—that Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Holy Messiah, the Promised One, the Savior and Redeemer of the world; that He alone burst the bands of death and triumphed over the captivity of hell; that no one of us could ever have those same blessings without His intervention in our behalf; and that there never shall be any ‘other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, [except] in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.(Mosiah 3:7)’”

Jesus Christ suffered and paid the price so we could have our own empty tomb so our bodies and souls can and will be reunited once again so we have power over death and that our souls can be pure and live with our Father in heaven again. To make his atonement fully effective in our lives we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We must also obey his commandments and strive to become more like him. He has paid the price and all he asks in return is very little to what we actually owe it is the least we can do for all he has given us.

R stands for Repentance. Which if we use the atonement and repent of our sins we will be forgiven. How blessed are we that each Sunday we can feel clean and have our sins be forgiven? When we take the sacrament, we are renewing our covenants we made at baptism. The past few months I have been able to teach and watch two 8 year olds get baptized. Both of the kids knew the covenants they were making and as they entered the waters of baptism, you could see they wanted to follow Jesus Christ. I wish I could bottle up their excitement, happiness, and purity into a bottle and give it to the world. However, I cannot do that we can however partake of the sacrament each week and have those same feelings. Each Sunday we can be forgiven of our sins if we truly desire to and have made the proper changes in our life. Repentance is not scary, at times it may be hard and may be scared of the steps it takes but it is worth it. I have a quote from David A. Bednar that says, “Some has said those who resist temptation really understand the Power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly he understood it perfectly: hence he can help us!” Repent and use the atonement to clean your soul. The truth will set you free. Jesus Christ can help, he understands it perfectly. He has walked our path before and will not ask us to go through or do something he has not done or been through himself.  

E stands for being an Example. What does it mean to be an example? A quote from C.S. Lewis sumps up the answer beautiful. It says, “Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that, through you, others can see him.” Being an example can come in many shapes and forms but the most important example you can be is one that lets your light shine so others come unto Christ. You never know who is watching you so always be an example.

Being Prepared for our journeys means Having a Personal relationship with Heavenly father, reading our scriptures, engaging in church and temple services, studying our Patriarchal blessing, using the atonement and repenting of your sins but most of all being an example so others can follow Jesus Christ. I know Christ will bless you as you come closer to him. I am so excited to go serve a mission in Cape Verde. I am prepared to bring this gospel and my light to wonderful people of Cape Verde. I say this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this!! You have such a sweet testimony! The people in Cape Verde are very lucky!!