Serving February 2013-2015

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Farewell Address

Farewell Address – February 17, 2013
It seems like just yesterday I was in Primary singing I Hope They Call Me on a Mission. Time has flown by. It’s hard to believe that it’s already here and I’ll be leaving in three days.
Brothers and sisters, friends, and family, it’s great to be here with you to speak before I leave.
             I just want to begin with letting you know that our Father in Heaven knows each of us and loves us very deeply. I have always loved and longed to go to the Washington D.C. temple, and now I get that chance. Heavenly Father knows our desires and is ready to give us to them if we do as he commands.
I’ll be focusing my talk on having faith and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
These two subjects are some of the most important things a missionary should have and understand.
In the book True to the Faith, it reads, “Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him – trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing his teachings.
Would we study and learn if we did not believe we could obtain wisdom and knowledge? Would we work each day if we did not hope that by doing so we could accomplish something? Would a farmer plant if he did not expect to harvest? Each day we act upon things we hope for when we cannot see the end result. This is faith.
Paul taught that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Hearing, reading, and learning about the promises of God are important steps in increasing our faith because it naturally creates hope. A reason for this is because the scriptures and words of the prophets are full of promises for the faithful. Jacob wrote, “We search the prophets… and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken”. As you and I search the scriptures I know we will find promises that God has made to us – promises that create hope.
Joseph Smith understood how the scriptures can create hope. During his time of confusion regarding which church was true, he came across James and read this now-famous verse: “If any of you lack wisdom , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”. Reading the promise in that verse created hope for Joseph – hope that his question would be answered. This was a critical step for him, and for all of us, toward increasing our faith.
There is a story of a famous tightrope walker who walked on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls. The story goes that crowds gathered around to watch the man, who not only made it across the rope, he also did it blindfolded! Then he walked back along the tightrope, across the Falls, but this time, wheeling a wheelbarrow. He said that for his next stunt, he would cross the rope with the wheelbarrow again, but this time he would safely carry a person in the wheelbarrow. “Do you think I can do it?” he asked the crowd. The crowd cheered and shouted, “We believe you can do it!” “Okay,” the man said. “Who will be willing to get in the wheelbarrow?”
The moral of this story is obvious – we can say that we believe, but true faith requires action. Do we believe enough to “get in the wheelbarrow” and experiment on God’s word?
A friend of mine let me lend a book of hers called The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. What a fantastic book! President Kimball said some really great things on Faith and I had to share them with you.
He begins with…
            It takes faith to observe the Sabbath when “time and a half” can be had working, when sales can be made, when merchandise can be sold. It takes a great faith to pay tithes when funds are scarce and demands are great. It takes faith to fast and have family prayers and to observe the Word of Wisdom. It takes faith to do home teaching, stake missionary work, and other service.
But know this – that all these are of the planting, while faithful families, spiritual security, peace, and eternal life are the harvests.
            Remember that Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others could not see clearly the end from the beginning. They also walked by faith and without sight.
Remember again that no gates were open; Laban was not drunk; and no earthly hope was justified at the moment Nephi exercised his faith and set out finally to get the plates.
Remember that there were no clouds in the sky, no evidence of rain, for the deluge when Noah built the ark according to commandment. There was no ram in the thicket when Isaac and his father left for the sacrifice. Remember there were no towns and cities, no farms and gardens, no homes and storehouses, no blossoming desert in Utah when the persecuted pioneers crossed the plains.
And remember that there were no heavenly beings in Palmyra, when the soul-hungry Joseph slipped quietly into the grove, knelt in prayer on the river bank, and climbed the slopes of that sacred hill.
But know this, that just as undaunted faith has stopped the mouths of lions, made ineffective fiery flames, opened dry corridors through rivers and seas, and brought heavenly manifestations at the instance of prophets, so in each of our lives faith can heal the sick, bring comfort to those who mourn, strengthen resolve against temptation, relieve from the bondage of harmful habits, lend the strength to repent and change our lives, and lead to a sure knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with a willing heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered, with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God.
            End of quote. Just reading that gives me greater faith!
To close on faith I would just like to say;
It’s important to center our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To have faith in Jesus Christ means to have such trust in Him that we obey whatever He commands. As you and I place our faith in Jesus Christ, becoming His obedient disciples, Heavenly Father will forgive our sins and prepare us to return to Him. We cannot have faith in Jesus Christ without also having faith in our Heavenly Father. If we have faith in Them, we will also have faith that the Holy Ghost, whom They send, will teach us all truth and will comfort us.

Please sincerely answer the following question in your mind: When was the last time you remember really feeling the Spirit or having been inclined by the Holy Ghost?
            So when was it? How long ago was the event that you immediately thought of? What was the occurrence? Some common answers might be; “When I received my patriarchal blessing” or “I really felt the spirit on the trek”. However, it’s less common for us to answer this question by saying, “I really felt the spirit this morning when I prayed” or “About ten minutes ago when we sang the opening hymn.”
            Each week when we partake of the sacrament we are promised to “always have {God’s} Spirit with {us}.” Did you notice the word always? The promise is not that we will have the Holy Ghost with us sometimes, or just in Church buildings, or during key life events. No, we are promised that the Spirit will be with us always – in our homes, at practice, at school, with our friends, at work, and at play. Always. So why then do we sometimes have to search back months or years into the deep of our memories to recall the last time we think the Spirit influenced us?
            Elder David A. Bednar said, “Sometimes as Latter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event” when the reality is that “the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time – and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not.”
            Perhaps the problem is not that we aren’t being influenced by the Holy Ghost in our day to day lives, but simply that we don’t recognize it or are overlooking it.
            Maybe we are even like the Lamanites who “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” If we are missing the delicate, daily guidance of the Spirit because we are looking for something more remarkable, we might even mistakenly think that we aren’t feeling the Holy Ghost at all! So how can we identify and understand when the Holy Ghost is speaking to us? In Doctrine and Covenants, section 8, verse 3, it says. “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost will speak to our minds though our thoughts, and to our hearts through or feelings.
            Let me explain a little better…
            Have you ever had an idea burst into your mind to do something? Maybe you saw your mom clear off the dinner table and thought, “I should help her,” or perhaps driving home from work and thought, “I should go visit Sister Smith.” Maybe you’ve had a clear warning voice of coaching in your mind, such as, “This movie isn’t good… turn it off” or “I should get out of this situation now.”
            The Lord taught us, “As often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit”. These instructions in our mind often come in the form of “Do this…” “Don’t do that…” “Go here…” Don’t go there…” “Look into this…”
            Elder Richard G. Scott testified that “sometimes the direction comes so clearly and so unmistakably that it can be written down like spiritual dictation.”
            The spiritual instructions that come to our minds will direct us to follow Christ, obey his gospel, and draw nearer to him. If we obtain an instruction in our mind to do something we know is damaging, we can know it is not of God.
            Have you ever been going through a hard time or having an awful day and then as you studied the scriptures, or prayed, or heard a gospel talk or lesson the thought came to you, “I’m going to be okay,” or “Everything will work out,” or “Stay confident,” or “God is aware of you and your situation. He loves us and will help us.” Comforting thoughts similar to those are another way the Lord speaks to our mind through the Holy Ghost.
             When we are filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, we simply cannot sin. That’s why the Nephite nation, in 3rd Nephi 19:9, prayed “for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.”
            Why would the Nephites desire the Holy Ghost so fervently? Elder Parley P. Pratt answered this question when he described the extraordinary characteristics of this remarkable power”
            And I quote; “The gift of the Holy Spirit . . . quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use . . .  It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feelings. It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.”
End quote. Brothers and sisters that is why we cannot deny the Holy Ghost and still live with our Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost is a major part in our lives and it’s impossible not to see that.
To close; We have been promised that the Holy Ghost can be with us always – each day of our lives, not just each huge event in our lives. I testify that this is true, and that we all can be spiritually influenced and led each day – multiple times each day. The next time somebody asks, “When was the last time you felt the Spirit?” you want to be able to respond saying, “Well, what time is it?”

Brothers and Sisters, I end with my testimony to you.
Without a shadow of any doubt I know that having faith and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit is super important in the mission field and in our personal lives. We must have faith in Jesus Christ and rely on the Holy Ghost to guide us to eternal life and to live with God forever. I can’t help but think of President Uchtdorf words in the February Ensign, “The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn’t ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit.” I know that to be true and cannot wait to share the amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ to God’s children in the Northern Virginia area.
I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ speak to us through the Holy Ghost and they will never let us down or leave us behind. We must just listen to the still, small promptings that are just a listen away.

I know God lives

I know with all my heart and soul that Jesus is the Christ.

I have come to know a greater and deeper understanding of the amazing work and person Joseph Smith was. He truly is a prophet of God.

I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is meant especially for this day and age. All it takes is some faith and the Holy Ghost to speak to you to know of its truth and its amazing wonders.

I love going to the House of the Lord. What amazing places of spiritual insight we have. I had the chance to attend 5 different temples, and went 11x’s before departing. I testify that if we go there regularly we will find a greater happiness we have never experienced.

I know President Monson is a prophet today and does and will always lead this church in the correct path.

I am so very thankful for my family and all they have blessed me with, especially my mother.  I will miss them so much; I love them, and know God will protect them.

I know with all my soul that this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I say these things, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.