Monday, May 20, 2013

Farewell Talk

On Sunday May 19, 2013 I spoke in my ward sacrament meeting and gave the following talk!  Feel free to read...

It was an average day for most people in the world on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at around 10 o’clock in the morning.  Whether it was sleeping in, working in the yard, or playing in a soccer game, however it definitely was not an average day for me.  Little did I know that going over to my friend’s sister’s house would be the location that my whole life would change.  I remember waiting at my friend’s car who was running late and then hurrying over to her sister’s house to watch the Saturday morning session of General Conference.  For those who may not know what General Conference is, it is a live internationally broadcasted church meeting with the leaders of our church.  I was excited with my notebook and pen in hand to eat some eggs and bacon and listen to the prophet’s voice.  As we walked into the house a couple minutes late we sat down as our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, walked up to the podium and made the following statement, “we have given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve [a mission]. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”  As he was speaking those words, my jaw dropped and my eyes watered.  The church had changed the age of missionary service from 21 to 19 for women.  I turned to my friend and we both said at the same time, “I am going.”  The spirit had immediately confirmed in our hearts that this is what we were to do at this point in our lives.  In that moment we knew we should go and now each of us both have our calls.  As the first 19 year old sister missionary from the Mountain View ward to leave, with many more to come, I have been asked to speak on missionary work today.  For those who may not be aware, missions are a significant part of the LDS faith.  The Apostle Paul taught in Second Thessalonians 2 that the second coming of Christ would not come until there was “a falling away first” (v3).  In the book of Acts it speaks of a “Restoration of all things” (3:19-21), this Restoration took place in 1830 and the Gospel was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Ever since the time of Joseph Smith we have been known as a missionary Church and we send out missionaries across the world as unpaid volunteers to teach the message of the Christ and his atonement for either a year and a half for women or two years for men. After Christ’s Resurrection, the Lord commanded His disciples to “go … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” as stated in Matthew 28:19. In fulfillment of this command, able young men and women are called to prepare spiritually, physically, and emotionally to serve as full-time missionaries.  Their purpose is to invite all people unto Christ.  We knock on doors, talk to people on the street, and find people who desire to hear the message of the gospel and the joy it will bring to them.  It is prophecy from Christ that His gospel is to reach every corner of the World, and as missionaries, it is our responsibility to make that happen.  Members of the church who desire to serve a mission must go through a detailed application process, which includes interviews with the Bishop and Stake President.  Part of the application process is also receiving a medical clearance that you are fit to serve a mission.  Missionary work is both spiritually and physically demanding.  It is important to meet with the Bishop and Stake President as they interview the applicant to make sure they are worthy to become a representative of Christ and take upon the calling of being a missionary.  Once that is completed, the application is sent to the church headquarters, where an apostle will assign the missionary to their mission.  Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Seventy told his experience in the priesthood session of General Conference when he observed President Eyring assign mission calls.  He explained how before assigning any mission calls, they began with a prayer “to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned.”  When the leaders of the church make these assignments, they do not send people based on where they think they should go or where they need more missionaries, but they are in tune with the spirit and direction from the Lord and assign calls based on where the Lord wants them to go.  A mission call is a divine blessing and a personalized letter stating your mission and it’s details is mailed to every newly called missionary.  Since being called to the Philippines San Pablo mission, I have been called to learn the Tagalog language.  I will report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah this Wednesday to study and learn the language for 6 weeks. Following that I will go to the Philippines and begin working as a missionary to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ.  Mission calls are so special and I am so grateful for my mission call, and I know without a doubt that this mission is the exact place where the Lord wants me to serve His children.  I am also very grateful to be apart of this new influx of missionaries.  As I mentioned before, in October, the church changed the age standards for missionary service from age 21 to 19 for women and 19 to 18 for men.  I am grateful for this opportunity because in my own personal life, it could not be better timing to serve a mission.  I have one year of college under my belt, experience living on my own, and have not begun any serious life ventures.  I am at a perfect point where I am ready to devote my time and energy to serving my Savior and sharing His message of his life, the plan of salvation, and how families can be together forever with those who have not heard it yet.  With this new inflow of missionaries, there will be many more in each mission.  The number of missionaries has substantially increased.  In the Arizona missions alone, there were 3000 serving and soon there will be nearly 5000.  With this many missionaries in our area, it is important that the ward members help them to find people who may desire to learn more about the church.  The job of missionaries have grown more difficult because they are expected to teach more people in a smaller area; with the help of the ward members giving them referrals, their abundance will be lighter.  It is our responsibility to help the missionaries serving in our ward to know anyone and everyone who wants to hear the message of the church.  I am so excited about my calling to be a sister missionary to perform my sacred duty as Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”  Missionary work is so important to me because I want to share the joy this gospel brings me.  The Church of Jesus Christ has brought me comfort, insight, and answers.  It has taught me that I can pray to a Heavenly Father for my needs and concerns and I have a Savior who I can thank for the opportunity to repent of my sins and be forgiven of them.  I have received confirmation of what the purpose of life is and why I am here on this earth.  I have received answers to my questions and concerns about the many questions all of us have about the world.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true!  One of my favorite aspects of the gospel that ties into missionary work is the atonement.  Missionary work is so special because we are sharing how His atonement has given the world the opportunity to have eternal life.  Jeffrey R. Holland made the great point by saying, “Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.  Salvation was never easy.  We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, He is our eternal head. Why would we believe, why would we think that it would be easy for us when it was never ever easy for Him?”  Christ’s atonement should be a very meaningful reason as to why one would serve a mission.  Because of the atonement, every single person on this earth has the opportunity to be able to have eternal life.  But to have this privilege, it will not be an easy path.  This past semester while in my New Testament class at BYU, my professor explained more details of Christ’s crucifixion than many may comprehend.  Just sitting in that class while he explained the gruesome details that I had never understood made tears come to every student’s eyes.  Missionary work is allowing the atonement to be used.  We cannot let such a special gift to the world go to waste.  I want to show my respect for the Savior by sharing His message after all the pain and agony he suffered for God’s children.  Throughout all the rejection, confusion, and pain I may experience while serving, I know that looking to Christ and having the knowledge that he has experienced everything I have been through is a blessing to help me continue.  Elder Holland also said, “As missionaries we are proud to say we are Disciples of Christ, and we are, but… that means you must prepare to walk something of the path he walked.  To feel something of the pain he felt.”  Missions are not necessarily all fun and games, they are a time to work hard to teach people of a different culture what you know to be true no matter if they accept it or not.  I also desire to serve a mission because I have been personally converted to the gospel.  Understanding the gospel does require formal education, it merely requires faith.  It does not matter how learned or prestigious a person is, it takes their willingness to understand and desire to obey gospel principles thus allowing them to be converted.  Brigham Young, the second prophet of church, has an amazing story of how came to learn of the LDS faith.  He was attending a meeting where testimonies of the gospel were being shared, and the testimony that impressed him so strongly came from a simple and unimpressive man with a very humble, yet strong, testimony of how he knew the gospel was true.  Brigham Young said this of his experience, “when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.”  I am grateful that the people I will teach in the Philippines will learn to love the message of Christ’s gospel on their own with the guidance and the sweetness of the Holy Ghost and will come to love it on their own.  Missionaries are simply the liaison in the relationship of the person and the Christ.  We are simply the messengers to share with them the glad message that the Savior lives and wants us to return to live with Him.  I know that missionary work is called of God.  I am prepared to be His servant as stated in 1 Nephi 3:7 in the Book of Mormon, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”  Similarly, I decided to have a quote that will help guide me these next 18 months abroad, “Do not work for God, but work with Him,” as stated by Brad Wilcox.  I know that each of us, if we humble ourselves to hear the promptings of the spirit and pray to our Heavenly Father, can come to the knowledge for yourself if this gospel is true.  I have prayed and fasted to receive an answer of if was the true church, and it is.  I, like Joseph Smith, have seen truthfulness in other churches, but what sets our church apart is we have another Testament of Christ, called the Book of Mormon, which is a true and additional book of scripture from Ancient prophets of Christ.  I am tremendously grateful to become a representative of Christ to share his message with the Filipino people. {end with testimony}

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