Monday, February 1, 2016

January 31, 2015- Farewell Talk!

Mission Farewell Talk
When I reflect back on the many experiences in my life, I can’t help but think about all the small pieces that have lead me to where I am today. The people, the places, and even the trials in my life, have truly shaped me into the person I have become. One important lesson I have learned, and that I would like to speak about today is that Heavenly Father truly plays a huge part in our lives, and it is up to us to recognize His hand. Because He loves us so much, He blesses us daily, sometimes without us even realizing it. It is necessary that we strive to become more observant and aware of Him so that we can see evidence of His power and influence in our lives.  By doing so, our testimonies can be strengthened and we will be reassured that He lives, and is with us always. Today I hope that the spirit will help each of recognize the Lord’s hand in our lives.
In a talk by Elder Kim B. Clark he says, “We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts.” By living the plain and simple truths of the gospel, and receiving the Savior into our lives, we will be able to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Once we do this and receive, truly receive, the Lord Jesus Christ, His doctrine, and His Church into our lives we will be blessed. I have found that as I speak to Heavenly Father daily through prayer, I am comforted that He IS there and that He knows me personally. I feel His love and guidance more than ever when I acknowledge His presence.
In Henry B. Eyring’s talk “O Remember, Remember” he urges us to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness in order to build our testimonies. But it is important to not only to think about these things, but also to write them down. As he says, “the Lord isn’t giving us these experiences just for ourselves, but to share”. Elder Eyring asks us to ponder the question, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch me or my children or my family today?” As I have asked myself this very question over the past several weeks, I have grown closer to my Heavenly Father because I recognize Him in my life more than ever. As I have prayed to the Lord he has made it more clear for me the things I should do. For example when I was praying about how I can better prepare for a mission, a prompting came to me at night when I was quietly laying in bed. It was that I should turn my mind to Him and to study more in the morning instead of at night or it most likely wouldn’t get done. Not only did it answer that prayer but it was yet another reminder that He was there and guiding my life. I think it came at that time because He knew it was when I would be ready to listen and not have any distractions.
When life gets hard and trials trouble us, it can be difficult to remember the Savior. I have experienced this many times where something in my life takes over my thoughts and even actions and I forget that my Savior is there. When my parents were going through a divorce it was difficult for me, but through pondering the scriptures, prayer and fasting, I was able to draw closer to the Lord and to my family in that trial. Through this I learned things about myself and was able to grow from a hard experience. Although, we may go through trials and tribulation, Heavenly Father wants us to overcome them with courage, faith and steadfastness, so we can learn from every trial. I could have made choices that would have lead to me being miserable, distant, and unhappy. Instead, I learned to pray to the Savior, asking Him to show me where the hand of God intervened in my life. By praying and examining my experience for the blessings that He is giving me through this hard time, it has given me confidence that He is there. It is important to remember that we are never alone; the Savior is always there for us, because He loves us. By always reaching out and opening up to him, the Holy Ghost will bless us to see the Lord working in our lives, strengthening our faith in Him with assurance and evidence. Next time you encounter a trial, instead of dwelling on the bad, look for the lesson. Look to be taught and see where the Lord is guiding you. Like the Hymn says, “Count you’re many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” As we begin to “count” our blessings and physically write them down, we will come to see the hand of God more clearly and come to love Him more.
Sue Clark gave a devotional at BYU-I and told a story of a family who had twins. One of the babies was born with a disease that threatened to take his life at a very young age.  Through many surgeries and lots of prayer and faith, Brian, the baby, survived; but was left blind and handicapped. Brian’s mother and father had to work very hard and spend lots of time and effort to help him as he grew and developed.  They had other children and other pressures in their lives, and taking care of Brian could have been a burden and trial for his family.  But it wasn’t.  It did take a lot of effort, but they recognized the Lord’s hand in their lives and looked to Him for help.  They came to see their son as a great blessing in their lives. Some families who have these kinds of trials become bitter.  They dwell on what might have been and regret the reality of their lives.  They feel the burden and the heartache; and they become angry with the Lord.This family can be a great example to us of how when hard times come and we think that everything is going wrong, if we look to see the Savior helping in our lives, he will make us stronger.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” There is a great example from this in the Book of Mormon. In 2 Nephi 18, Nephi is asked to build a ship but he had never built a ship before. Nevertheless, the scriptures say that he would consult with the Lord often about how to do it and that when he was working on it the wood it was of “curious workmanship.” Nephi didn’t always know exactly what he was doing but he trusted in the Lord and was able to build a ship that sailed his family to the promised land. God is constantly trying to direct us, but if we are prideful we often can’t acknowledge His hand. When we follow His teachings, and are willing to listen, He will lead us in the way we need to go.
As I have strived to center my life on Christ, I have been able to see the hand of the Lord more often, especially when I left home for college.  I was so against going to BYU-Idaho but for some reason, I received an answer that it was where I needed to be. Throughout my time there, I saw the Lords hand in one way or another everyday. One remarkable blessing that the Lord placed in my life was my roommate, which also happened to be my best friend and cousin. I have come to realize that Heavenly Father places people in our path for a reason, to bless, guide, and to strengthen us. Because of her example and exceeding faith, I was able to become closer to my Heavenly Father than I had ever been. Funny story, so before going to college we had each decided not to serve missions. We actually made a deal, and even shook on it that we wouldn’t go. We felt that everyone was going and that we would go against the grain and just stay home together and we thought, at least we’ll have each other. Well as we continued to get closer to the each other and to the Gospel, our once steady agreement began to fade, and the unimaginable started to become real. We then changed the agreement to helping each other serve the Lord in the mission field. She was the first to make the commitment. Seeing her prepare for a mission definitely encouraged me to continue feel out this mission thing. Through prayer, fasting and weekly temple visits, I became more and more confident that I too needed to serve a mission.
I thank my Heavenly Father for placing this special person in my life, to help me recognize that the plain and simple things are what can bring you closer to Heavenly Father. In Idaho, I believe that I was able to look effectively with spiritual eyes and recognize the Lords hand in my life. My cousin got called to the San Jose, California mission where she will be speaking Spanish, and I will be in Brazil speaking Portuguese. I have come to realize that my cousin was a miracle in my life, as through her example I found joy in coming closer to Christ. I am the happiest I have ever been, because I feel close to the Lord and to the gospel.  Through the experiences and trials in my life, I am so glad that I had the church and Heavenly Father guiding me though. I can’t wait to teach the people of Porto Alegre and share with them this great happiness that I have felt. I hope to be that little miracle for someone else, to help get them on the right path and to change their lives for the better.
This quote by Elder Jeffery R. Holland has been a great help in my preparation to go on a mission. He said, “I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our great eternal head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it never was easy for Him?” Like he stated, a mission is not easy, but I know that it is a sacrifice that I can make to Heavenly Father because of all He has done for me. I am ready to accomplish the impossible and to seize every opportunity to become an instrument in the Lord’s hands.
I just wanted to say how grateful I am for those people, experiences and even trials that have lead me to where I am today. I’m especially appreciative of my stake president, several bishops, young women leaders, seminary teachers, friends, and my family. You have all influenced my life in more ways than you know. I can say for fact that the Lord has worked through all of you to help guide me on the right path. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for all of you, so thank you. I’m grateful for my family members for coming all this way to send me off, I love you all dearly and although 18 months is a long time, it will be so worth it. To my mom, dad, grandparents my eight siblings, their spouses, and my 13 nieces and nephews, thank you all for making each day a special memory for me. I am so fortunate and blessed to have all of you; you make me so happy.
I want to bare my testimony that I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and restored the gospel upon the earth. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to preach the word of the Lord. The gospel has brought so much joy and happiness into my life, and I can’t wait to share that with those I will be teaching. I love my Savior and I know that He is always there for me. Although at times we may feel alone, discouraged, and feel like no one understands us, there is one person who knows exactly what we are going through. Jesus Christ felt our pains, afflictions and sorrows both physically and mentally. I know that by letting Heavenly Father in our lives, he will comfort us and give us peace even in our hardest and darkest times. I pray that each of us will strive to put our complete trust in the Lord, show humility, acknowledge His hand daily, and try our hardest to be more obedient and Christ-like. By doing our part and living a righteous life, the Lord can bless our lives and use us to accomplish his purposes. I can’t wait to be constantly led by the spirit and be a tool for the Lord to spread the gospel to all His children.
In closing, I would like to liken a scripture that is found in 3 Nephi 5:13 “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among in my case the Brazilian people, that they might have everlasting life”.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN

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