I had the wonderful opportunity of giving my mission farewell today. It was amazing and I’m so happy with how it turned out and how I was able to speak with the Spirit. I’ve got 17 more days until I leave, and I truly am excited and happy to be serving in New Hampshire! Here’s my talk for everyone to enjoy. 🙂 And a big thank you goes out to those who came to my farewell, and to those who support me even if they weren’t able to make it today. I love you guys!
From the very beginning of our education in the Gospel, we are taught a song. Well, many songs, but there is one in particular that has stuck with me. I have always loved this children’s hymn, but during the past few years, it has grown to mean so much more to me. Especially now that I’m serving a mission. This song almost never fails to bring tears to my eyes because I realized how much it applies to me and how blessed I am to live in this day and time. Almost everyone knows the first verse, but I want to draw attention to the second and third verses:
2. We have been saved for these latter days
To build the kingdom in righteous ways.
We hear the words our prophet declares:
“Let each who’s worthy go forth and share.”
3. We know his plan, and we will prepare,
Increase our knowledge through study and prayer.
Daily we’ll learn until we are called
To take the gospel to all the world.
We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord’s missionaries
To bring the world his truth.
The chorus in particular really touches me because we, as the youth of this church, truly are like the army of Helaman. As they put their faith and trust in God while they went to battle, so should we as we battle through the difficulties of the world. As hard as it may be, as long as we have the Lord by our sides and do as we have been taught, we can succeed in bringing the world His truth.
But oh! How wonderful it is to know that we – all of us in this room – were saved for these latter days! These days that are happening now, when Heavenly Father knew how difficult it would be to stand tall and strong as His Children? We were SAVED for this time to come and build His kingdom here on Earth, to show others the way.
We can all be missionaries, even without serving full-time missions. Russell M. Nelson spoke during April’s Conference and he took the time to address specific groups of people to let everyone know that there are ways they can be missionaries too.
Elder Nelson encourages parents and leaders to “catch the wave” by preparing the youth to be worthy of missionary service. The best way to do this, is by example. Be an example to your children both in and out of your home, both inside and outside of church. I specifically want to talk about the examples of mothers. I know that my mom’s example of diligently bringing three little kids to church every week for years, and as we grew older, continuing to show us how important going to church on Sunday’s and other church activities throughout the week greatly impacted how I am today. I have grown to love coming to church, not just to see the people in the ward, but to learn more about the Gospel and how I can apply it to my life. She also set the example of living the gospel principles. She is a kind, loving, respectful and wonderful mother. She touches the lives others and by living the principles she has been taught, she has become an example not only to her family, but to those she interacts with outside of our home.
Other wonderful examples that really have helped me become prepared for a full-time mission are the other mothers in the wards I have been in. Many of them were my young women’s leaders, but even some have just been an example to me by being an example to their own children. As I have watched them with their families, I can see the love they have for them and the way they quietly teach their young children to fold their arms and bow their heads for prayers; to read their scriptures and have family prayer before bedtime; to be kind to their siblings and learn to share their toys, even when they don’t want to; and so many more small things like that. It’s all of those things together that prepare you to be a missionary because all of those things are some of the building blocks of a testimony. Without a testimony it is impossible to effectively preach the Gospel.
Alma 56:47-48 says: “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
Mothers seem have a special way of teaching their children and making whatever they teach them stick. From my own experience, that special way is through their examples.
Elder Nelson mentions adults and how they should save every extra penny they find to prepare to serve a mission with their spouse as senior missionaries. He addresses those who have been called to preside over missions and the huge responsibilities they have as their calling brings them to “shape the destiny of generations born and unborn.” The local stake and ward leaders “catch the wave” as they help future missionaries prepare and become worthy to serve full-time missions.
Elder Nelson specifically draws attention to the ward mission leaders, and I have to agree that they are some of the most important people when it comes to continuing the missionary work that has been done already by the full-time missionaries. The ward mission leaders are the ones who help bring the less active members and the surrounding neighbors who might be interested in learning more. He says quote
**** “Along with others on the ward council, you identify less-active members, part-member families, and interested neighbors. You meet regularly with assigned full-time missionaries. You advise and assist the missionaries. Please help them to fill their daily planners with focused and meaningful teaching opportunities. This is your responsibility. Your role is crucial, truly crucial to the success of this work… You, as the ward mission leader, are THE connecting link between members and missionaries in this sacred work of rescuing God’s children.” End quote
Even though I haven’t even started my mission yet, I already know how true that statement is of how crucial the role of the ward mission leaders is. The full-time missionaries are only in an area for a small amount of time. They might have some success and baptize a few people, but they leave soon after that. Many times, those people who are baptized by the missionaries end up going inactive because the missionaries no longer work with them. Missionary work isn’t finished once someone is baptized. Their testimony isn’t completely grown. Mine isn’t even completely grown. Every day of my life, my testimony continues to grow. Not only do the ward mission leaders have the responsibility of helping to find people for the missionaries to teach, but they have the responsibility of CONTINUING that missionary work with those people. Without that help, those newly baptized members will not be strong enough to continue on their own.
Multiple prophets have said “Every member a missionary!” By living the Gospel, we become missionaries and it is our responsibility as members to share the Gospel with those who don’t have it. President Harold B. Lee said: “Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.” Even if the only people you spend most of your time with are members, you can still be a missionary to them because who knows? Maybe they haven’t received testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel yet, and you are the one to bring it to them.
Brothers and sisters, this Gospel is the most wonderful thing in my life. Without it, I would be completely lost and sad and miserable. Because of the Restoration of the Gospel, I have been extremely blessed to know the truth of many things, but most importantly, to know the truth about God. How awesome it is for me to know that there is a God, and even more awesome is the fact that He loves me. He loves me because I am His Daughter. It’s really as simple as that. And because He loves me, He wants me to be the best I can be. The Restoration has made that possible. Whenever I start to feel a little nervous or somewhat discouraged about teaching the Gospel to others and explaining everything about it, I just have to remind myself of a couple of things. First, God is real. He is with me at all times if I am worthy. He can help me through anything if I just ask. The second thing I try to remember is that Joseph Smith was called of God at the age of 14. He was called to restore Christ’s Gospel on the Earth. Through the Restoration we have received the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and revelation from living apostles and prophets. Ordinances like baptism and the Priesthood have been restored. We have temples once more on the earth where we can perform ordinances for both the living and the dead and also where families can be sealed to be together forever. This new knowledge and restoration of things is all wonderful and I know it all to be true because I have asked and received an answer. How amazing is it that God sent angels to restore the Gospel on earth so that we can know His truth and come back to Him? How wonderful is it that He loves us enough to provide a way for us to come back to Him? It is even more wonderful than anyone can even begin to imagine.
The historic announcement last October that changed the missionary ages for men to 18 and for women to 19 was truly a great blessing. Not just for me, but for other elders and sisters who will be serving earlier than planned and also for all the people we will be reaching through our 18-24 month complete dedication to preaching the Gospel to every corner of the Earth. Heavenly Father said He would hasten His work in time, and now that time has come. It is time to go forth and preach the Gospel. It is time to be an example to everyone around us. It is time for each of us to become a missionary. It is time to catch the wave.
There are many ways to be a missionary of the Lord – through your example and your actions, through serving others especially when it isn’t convenient for you, by sharing your testimony to your friends and family, by actually LIVING the gospel principles rather than just sitting and listening to them be taught at church, or by dedicating 18-24 months of your life completely to God. I’m not perfect and it won’t be easy, but I have chosen to become a full-time missionary. I will serve for the next 18 months in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission and I can’t wait to begin teaching and showing people about the Gospel. I love the Lord and I know that I have been called by Him through His servants, the Apostles, to do this great work. Though I may not see many people, if any at all, that I teach be baptized, and though I know I won’t be successful in persuading everyone I come in contact with to listen to what I and my companions have to say, I know that I am going to this particular mission because I am there to plant a seed of faith in at least one person, whether it be a companion, a member of a ward or a stranger I meet on the street.
I testify to you that this Gospel is true. I have prayed to God on more than one occasion about many different things and I have felt the Spirit confirm to me that, yes, this Gospel and everything that has to do with it is true. The prophets speak the words of the Lord. The temples we have are truly the House of the Lord. The Book of Mormon and the Bible are both true and they are both full of the knowledge we need and Heavenly Father’s words are written in them. I know it with all my heart and sometimes the Spirit is so overwhelming that I just want to shout from the top of a mountain for all the world to hear! I love this Gospel. What we learn every day and every week in church is good. It is only good. There is nothing wrong about it. Nothing! I love my Heavenly Father and my Brother, Jesus Christ. I love my family and my friends who I know love me and support and guide me in all that I do. I feel my Savior’s love every day of my life and I am so blessed to know how it feels. I love my life and the knowledge I have and I can’t begin to express just how much love that is. My life brings me joy and happiness and I know that I am doing good things.
I testify to you with all the energy of my heart and whole capacity of my being and my soul that this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that it really is Christ’s church. I testify, as much as is possible that He is our Savior and Redeemer. His love and our Father’s love is so great and pure and I am so grateful and happy and awestruck that they have given us the knowledge needed to make it back to them. I cannot wait for the day when I can see them again, fall on my knees and bathe their feet in my tears. I can’t wait to see the angels rejoicing that I made it back. I can’t wait to feel their arms around me, welcoming me home, with my family by my side. I can’t wait to hear my Father tell me how much He loves me. I can feel it now, and I know it, but I can’t wait to hear Him say it. I know this, ALL of it. I know it and I testify that it is true.
I say this all in the name of our Lord, Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Amen.