On Sunday, I gave my mission farewell talk in church. I also sang a medley with my dear best friends.
Thank you everyone who attended the farewell. It meant the world to me. I cannot express how blessed I am.
My friends and I sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing / If You Could Hie to Kolob.
I would like to give a HUGE shout out to Ashley for arranging and writing the music so we could perform the piece. I know she spent so much time on it, and I greatly appreciate it! Also, thank you Karin for playing the violin. It sounded great!
Lastly, huge shoutout to Alyssa for coming out of her shell and singing with me. You killed it girl.
Here is a link to the song we sang:
I apologize for the somewhat sketchy recording. I just placed it in a pew!
I also gave a talk. If you would like to read it, I have posted it here!
Mission Farewell Talk
Good morning Brothers and Sisters.
It feels like time has flown by so quickly. I remember going to mission farewells and thinking, “wow, they’re so old!” And now I’m giving my farewell talk and thinking there’s no way I can already be off on my way. As many of you know, I have been called in serve in the London, England mission for the next year and a half. In addition to my calling there, I will be serving in the Hyde Park Chapel visitors’ center. I am filled with extreme amounts of excitement as I cannot wait for this new adventure, but also as I am about to serve others.
As I have pondered on the idea of serving a mission, there is one thing that motivated me most to serve. I love this Gospel and I love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Today I would like to talk about love, and how love can motivate us to serve others.
To begin, what exactly is love? Love is a feeling of deep devotion, concern, and affection.
When I think about the topic of “love”, the first scripture that comes to mind is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God loves His children so much that he sent his one and only Son to die for us. Because He loves us, He sent Christ to feel our burdens, atone for our sins, and understand each of us individually. Romans 5:8 reads, “but God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Because He loves us, He created the plan of happiness, allowing us to come to earth and receive bodies. Because He loves us, He created a way for us to experience life here on earth and then return back to Him. Love was His motivating factor and why He did everything he has done.
What more perfect example of love is there for us than God’s love for his children? In addition to creating a plan and sending his son, God then loves us regardless of our flaws, mistakes, sins, misdoings, and shortcomings.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said, “though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.”
It is incredible to think that God loves each of us so much, and that He knows every single one of us individually, better than we know ourselves. President Uchtdorf also said, “think of the purest, most all consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount. That is the measure of God’s love for you.” I think we are so blessed to be loved so greatly by such a supreme being. The way He accepts us and loves us as we are is so comforting to know.
In addition to having a Father in Heaven who loves us more than we can comprehend, we have a beloved brother who has paid the ultimate sacrifice and shown his love in ways beyond measure. Revelation 1 verse 5 reads “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” President Monson said, “love is the very essence of the gospel and Jesus Christ is our exemplar.”
There have been so many times in my life when I have felt Christ’s love for me. A most significant experience when I felt His love was when I was near to death. I was eleven years old, and had events which had me in the hospital 3 times in 3 months. The most impactful event was when my appendix burst.
The week prior to knowing my appendix burst, I spent countless moments crying for comfort. Eventually I was unable to walk, bathe, or have any type of movement. In my ultimate moments of weakness, I can remember feeling immense amounts of love and comfort overcome me. It was in those moments that I knew I could endure anything because Christ had already felt it. I knew He understood my pain. I became a witness to many personal miracles at that time as well. Christ was there for me at every moment.
David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said, “you and I in a moment of weakness may cry out “no one understands. No one knows.” No human being perhaps knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands for He felt and bore the burdens before we ever did.” Knowing that Christ had already endured my trials brought so much comfort during my painful struggles. At times when my mom would look at me struggling, wishing she could take away my pain, I was able to look at her and continue on because even though she didn’t truly understand my pain, Christ already had. Even as an eleven year old, I could already feel that Christ was there and I wasn’t alone.
After days of sickness, I went to the ER. There the doctors told me I was sick with only the stomach flu. I was about to go home when a doctor ran into my room exclaiming he felt a prompting to do a CAT scan. After the results came back that I had a burst appendix, I was rushed into surgery. All went well in the long surgery and afterwards, my doctor explained how my case was the worst case he has ever seen, and how if I would have been sent home, I could have passed away soon after. I am so blessed that the doctor felt the need to investigate my sickness a bit more.
However, the impacts of my closeness to death left extra emotional impacts. I had now developed a fear of dying. I had a difficult time falling asleep and would overthink the smallest situations into the worst. This also led to many nights praying to feel safe and fall asleep. In these moments, I could feel Christ’s love for me, as I would sing Primary songs and Hymns. I could feel the closeness of Christ, as I was comforted through his love.
Eventually my fear of physical death turned into a fear of just being alone. I think my siblings can tell you about all the times I’ve forced them to just go to the grocery store with me. For those who think I didn’t actually go to my freshman year of college due to seeing all the pictures of my constant adventuring, first I can promise you that I did go to school, but a main reason for me looking like such a busy person is because if I’m alone at any point, I have a difficult time coping with it. This fear of being alone has brought me to become closer to Christ and understand that He is always there. If I begin to feel sad, alone, or afraid, I know that Christ is there for me. He has felt what I am currently feeling, and He is only a prayer away. It is when I turn to Him that I am able to feel comforted and feel that I am always loved by Him. Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 apostles said, “Because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to.” We are so blessed to constantly have a friend, brother, and companion there for us.
In addition to bearing our physical, emotional, and mental pains, Christ loves us so much that He took upon himself the sins of the world.
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the ultimate act of love. Each of us are so immensely blessed in our lives if we use the atonement. Our burdens can be lifted off our shoulders. We can feel and be clean and whole. President Uchtdorf said, “The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret and remove the burden of our sins. His atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.”
We are blessed to be able to use the atonement in our lives if we only accept and act. I can only imagine how much love it must take for one to accept all our sins and take them upon Himself. Then through His mercy, His love allows our sins to be forgiven. In Doctrine and Covenants section 6, Christ says, “be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.” This scripture is so comforting to me to know that despite my mistakes, as I am faithful and try my best to keep the commandments; Christ loves me and will hold me in His arms.
One scripture I found extremely interesting while preparing this talk is 2 Corinthians 12 verse 15. It reads, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
Christ is saying that He will freely love us at all times, though He knows that the more he does, the less we will love him in return. How often when things are going great in life do we forget Christ? He is pouring blessings upon us, yet we forget to thank and love Him. And regardless of all of this, He STILL loves us.
As we are so incredibly blessed to be loved so much by our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, it is important for us to show our love for them. 1 John 4 verse 19 says, “we love him, because He first loved us.” There are many ways we can show our love such as keeping the commandments. In the book of Matthew chapter 22, Christ explains the first two great commandments.
“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
First we are to love our Lord, and then we are to love our neighbor. We can show our love to God and Christ by loving our neighbor.
We find in the scriptures many more times where we are reminded to love our neighbor. John 15 says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Our expressions of love for others may include being kind, listening, mourning with them, comforting, serving, praying for them, and being their friend. Our love for those around us increases when we remember that we are all children of God. That we are spirit brothers and sisters.
Jeffrey R. Holland said, “True love blooms when we care more about another person than we can about ourselves.”
One of my favorite quotes is one President Hinkley’s father said to him when he was struggling on his mission. “Forget yourself and go to work,” he said. We are to forget ourselves and love others. Christ showed this by giving his life for us. He showed the ultimate act of service, love and sacrifice, and He asks us in return to love our neighbor.
As I have been out shopping with my mom in preparation for my mission, many people have noticed me buying things such as suitcases, and having a list in hand. This then leads them to say something like “oh you must be going somewhere. Where are you going?” I then explain that I will be going to London on a mission trip. Then I’ll share that I’ll be there for 18 months. Immediately they look at my mom and go “oh that’s a long time! I’m sure you’ll miss her. At least you’ll have Skype and you can visit her.”
That is when we explain that no, I actually won’t be Skyping home besides Christmas and Mothers Day and that no, she will not be visiting me. It is then when you can see their hearts almost break just a bit. But in all reality, this mission isn’t about me and it isn’t about my mom. It is about those who need my service. I’m going on a mission to help others. Therefore, that is why I need to forget myself, which even includes separating myself from friends and family besides email once a week, so that I can stay focused on those in London that I need to serve.
A missionary is someone who leaves their family for a short time so that others may be with their families for eternity. Serving a mission is just one way I can love my neighbor, even if they are across an entire ocean right now!
As I have been preparing for my mission, there is one thing I have come to understand. Even though we are doing what we are commanded to do and we are doing what is right, that doesn’t give us an exception for things to be all happy and wonderful. In fact, when we are doing what is right, typically Satan will work against us to try to stop us. He is constantly trying to stop us from accomplishing the good.
I witnessed Satan working against me when I was just trying to go to the temple to receive my endowment. I’m a bit stubborn and wanted to go to the Nauvoo temple, which is a 5-hour drive, rather than the hour and a half drive to the Chicago temple. As we looked at the schedule of the Nauvoo temple, it just so happened to be closed until the beginning of May.
We then started thinking of going to the Chicago temple. I needed to get my temple recommend interviews from the bishop and stake president, but had to do them quickly as President Elbert would be going out of town for awhile. We had it all planned out. I would meet with Bishop Chaplin on a Wednesday and President Elbert the next day, right before he left to go out of town. Well, it just so happened that the day before my interview with Bishop Chaplin, I got my shots for my mission and got very sick. My arm just got extremely fat with a huge red rash, and immensely painful to move. I had a fever and flu symptoms. This caused me to miss my interviews.
We were now back to planning for going to the Nauvoo temple, but then a bunch of things came up with my dad at work where he had to go out of town. Suddenly time was not in our favor. We luckily found a day, Thursday in fact, that we got to drive down to Nauvoo. Well, Satan still wasn’t giving up. While driving there, we ran into construction, closed freeways, got pulled over and minutes later hit a poor opossum. It was difficult not to get frustrated with all the simple things that just seemed to keep going wrong when all we were trying to do was something right!
Now this is only a small experience, but it still showed me how real Satan is. However, this was in just the past few weeks. Ever since getting my mission call in February, I have felt the powerful influence Satan has been trying to place on me. At school, as I was preparing to serve others which is a good thing, I began to ask myself why did it seem that bad things began to happen?
It was in these moments that I would grab my flour, sugar, and chocolate chips and start making cookies. It might seem like a silly thing, but I would then deliver them to friends. I wasn’t going to let Satan get me down. I wasn’t going to let him put negative thoughts into my mind. I was going to continue to do that which was good. Ultimately, I felt happier.
David L. Beck said, “as you love his children, Heavenly Father will guide you, and angles will assist you. You will be given power to bless lives and rescue souls.”
As I would stop thinking on myself and serve others, things once again seemed to be going well. But as I mentioned earlier, Satan is still very real and will continue to work with all his power to stop us from doing that which is good. He doesn’t want us to love our neighbor. He wants us to feel misery, sadness, sorrow, and at some points just feel bad for ourselves.
There was one point when I was at school that these feelings were overcoming me. Then that weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Provo City Center and Salt Lake City Temple. While in the temples, I was reading in 2 Nephi Chapter 2 in the Book of Mormon. It read:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”
“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not, there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”
“And now my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.”
It was in that moment that it hit me. I need to know sadness in order to know happiness. I need to know the bad in order to know that which is good. I needed to experience sorrow and misery in order to enjoy pleasure and gladness.
I then had the opportunity on the same weekend to attend General Conference in Salt Lake City. I was at the Sunday Afternoon session when Dallin H. Oaks gave his talk which is now titled “Opposition in All Things.” When he began to speak, everything I had experienced in the temple was once again testified unto me.
He said “all of us experience various kinds of opposition that test us. Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt. Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become.” It is all part of a plan. God allows Satan to tempt us so that we can have agency and choose right from wrong. He allows us to be put through trials for us to become stronger, grow closer to God, and so that we can ultimately know happiness.
President Monson said, “some of you may at time have cried out in your suffering, wondering why our Heavenly Father would allow you to go through whatever trials you are facing.”
“Our mortal life, however, was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”
So don’t get discouraged. Even when you know what you are doing is right and things seem to go wrong, push forward. Know that you are just making Satan’s job more difficult!
Let all your things be done with charity and love. Love and serve your neighbor and continue loving and serving those who may not love you in return.
Christ said in 3 Nephi 12, “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Don’t be afraid to love and serve them, because as 1 John 4 verse 18 reads, “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.”
Don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep believing, and most importantly, keep loving.
We are so blessed to be loved by our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Let us show our love for them by loving others.
As I am about to leave to serve others, I have learned that I am just one person and I will not change the world. Christ will do that. I can however, change the world for one person, and if that one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute.
—Conclude with my testimony—