This is a copy of my mission farewell talk, given on 8/9/15
Goodmorning brothers and sisters. I feel so very honored and privileged to speak to you today. I am speaking today because I have been called to serve in the Portland Oregon mission for the next two years and I am leaving on Tuesday and reporting to the Provo MTC Wednesday. I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord in this calling. I also want to extend my gratitude to those that have mentored me and taught me, you are such a blessing in my life. To all my friends and family that have sacrificed their time to be here and share these moments with me, I am so very touched and humbled and so deeply grateful to you all.
I was called to speak today about my mission call and why I choose to serve a mission. I’d like to briefly talk about that but the First Presidency has asked us to keep our mission farewell addresses more centered on Christ. And since that is what I will be doing on my mission I would like to shift the focus of my talk to that I couldn’t think of anything better to talk about. The missionary purpose for all missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. So that’s what I will be trying to do for the next two years. The first way the missionary purpose mentions people coming unto Christ is by faith. The most common definition of faith is “things that are hoped for which are not seen but are true.” The Bible dictionary also says “that strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel and is a principle of action and of power” meaning that it is not enough for us to believe. We have to be able to act in faith also to strengthen it. The missionary purpose states that the way we help others receive the gospel by faith in Christ through his atonement. Russell M Nelson said in a 1998 BYU devotional “during his relatively brief sojourn in mortality, the Savior accomplished two overarching objectives. One was his work and his glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men the other which he stated simply as I have given you an example ye should do as I have done.” Christ’s first mission was to perform the atonement on our behalf. He told the Nephites 3 Ne. 27:13 “I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. (14) And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me.”
So Christ purpose was to atone for the sins of all mankind and my purpose and ultimately our purpose collectively is to invite all others to come unto to him so they can receive those blessings from the atonement just as we have and return to him someday.
I’ll tell you why I said our purpose in a minute, D&C 18:10 states “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” And verse 13 says “And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” Verse 15 “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” The main thing I want you to take away from this that the Lords joy is full when we repent and come unto him and also he promises us eternal joy and happiness if we help others come unto him. I don’t really know about y’all but eternity is a really long time and I would rather be happy than miserable.
The missionary purpose goes onto to tell about how others receive the gospel through baptism, confirmation which most of us know about but the tricky one is enduring to the end. To me enduring has a negative connotation, when I think to endure, I think endurance which reminds me and makes think of running and I … hate running. But there is merit to what enduring to the end means Neal A Maxwell said “we tend to only think in terms of our endurance but Gods endurance is patient long suffering which provided us with our chance to improve affording us urgently needed developmental time and space which means our own time here in our mortal journey. Think of all the things Christ endured for us for each and everyone of us.
And if we endure faithfully we become more Christ like, which is Christ other goal to provide us an example. One of the greatest advertisements ever written can be found in the scriptures. And most of us don’t even know it, I’ll explain. It’s found in Doctrine & Covenants 4:1 “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.” Marvelous work? What kind of marvelous work could he be talking about? (v. 2) “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” Well I would like to stand blameless before God at the last day and I think most of us do as well. So how do we get called to do the service that they are talking about? (V.3) “ Therefore if you have a desires to serve God you are called to the work.” This to me is very simple and easy. If we want to stand blameless before God in the last day all we have to do is serve Him. We don’t have to go through a lengthy job application or get all gussied up to have an interview all we have to do is have a desire to serve. Brothers and sisters, I know we are not supposed to gamble in the church and especially not missionaries but if I were a betting man I would say that this might be the easiest job you or I have ever gotten.
What I love about this verse is the Lord says I have gotten everything ready for you all you have to do is work as hard as you can and you will have success. And it holds us accountable because it says our blessings are affected by how hard we work. And Finally it says we can bring salvation to our souls. Brothers and sisters the Lord offers the greatest benefits to us, who needs government healthcare or a dental plan when you can have salvation for your soul. Now to get hired is easy but there are some qualifications here so listen to verse 5, “And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” We have talked about faith earlier but why do we need it for this capacity? 2 Nephi 26:13 says “And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.”
So for us to have the spirit manifest unto us we need to have faith. When we have faith we can truly testify, and when we have faith we can be effective servants of the Lord. The next is hope, hope is defined as the confident expectation of and desire for promised blessings that come through righteousness. Hope is often the anticipation of eternal life through faith in Christ. Faith and hope work together. Charity is the pure love of Christ, it is the kind of love we should strive to have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, strongest love and most joyous for the soul. And the fourth is actually love. The best example of love is shown by the infinite and eternal atonement that Christ preformed for each one of us. Disciples of Christ are to love God and love their fellow man, again charity and love work together just like faith and hope do. If we teach others about the atonement, we are showing them our love by helping them repent so they can return one day.
Lastly, it says we should have an eye single to the glory of God we should not strive to gain glory or position for ourselves while we serve, but rather give all the glory to God just as Christ did. So we know what qualifies us and we know the things that we need to remember. D&C 4:6 “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
If we apply these to our lives we can find true happiness and last it gives us a wonderful blessing in D&C 4: 7 “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
This is our job training essentially, if we are struggling or find an area in which we lack we can just ask and He will give unto us, just like He gave unto Joseph Smith. Gordon B Hinkley said “the world is our responsibility we cannot evade it.” Jacob from the Book of Mormon had been made a priest and a teacher over the Nephites and also his brother, Joseph. Quoting from Jacob 1:19 “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence;”
I have found a verse in the D&C 88 that speaks of the importance of sharing the gospel. D&C 88:81”Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”
Think about it, every man that has been warned needs to warn his neighbor. Because we have been blessed with knowledge of the gospel, whether we have grown up in the church, or whether we have found it later in life. It is our responsibility to share the gospel with others. For young people the best way to do this is to serve a mission. If by some certain circumstances prevent you from serving a full time mission we can do everything in our power to help the missionaries. Give them referrals, go with them when they teach a lesson, have them over for dinner because if you do the Lord will bless you. You feed them physically and you feed them spiritually they need your support and I know they appreciate it.
The missionaries can’t find everyone alone. Just think right now there are currently 85,000 missionaries and that may sound like a lot but in order for them to reach everyone on the planet they would have to teach 15 people an hour, each day of their entire mission that’s a total of 140,000 people per missionary. However if every member of the church reached out and shared the gospel with one person it would only take 524 people for each number if you lived to be 75 years old that’s only 6 people a year, which is much more manageable that 15 people every hour.
The missionaries need your love and support and they are here to help you. Elder Russell M Ballard said Remember brothers and sisters we’re not marketing a product, we’re not selling anything, we’re not trying to impress anyone with our numbers or our growth. We are members of the restored church of Jesus Christ empowered and sent forth by the Lord himself to find nourish and bring safety to the church…and help those who are seeking the truth. And viewed from that eternal perspective what we do seems so simple and clear but I know that member missionary work can be challenging and sometimes frightening. Please allow me to suggest three simple things you can do in this divinely commissioned responsibility.
First we should exercise our faith and pray individually and as families asking for help in finding ways to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, ask the Lord to open a way, prayerfully set a date with your family to have someone in your homes for the missionaries to teach. Remember brothers and sisters this is the Lords church let him guide you through your constant prayer with a prayer in your heart talk to everyone you can, don’t prejudge, don’t withhold the good news from anyone. Talk to everyone and trust in the promise and power of the spirit to give you the words that you should say. Let them make the decision to accept or reject your invitation overtime the Lord will put people in your path who are seeking the truth. He’s the good Shepard, he knows his sheep and they know his voice and through you they will follow him. President Gordon B Hinkley said “It will be a great day when our people not only pray for the missionaries throughout the world but ask the Lord to help them assist the missionaries who are laboring in their own ward”, which we are starting to see today.
Secondly, leaders must lead by example. The spirit will prompt and guide you to find people to
teach and inspire you with the message they need to hear. Your personal worthiness will give you the courage and the spiritual power to inspire you to actively help the missionaries.
Third member missionary work does not require the development of strategies. It does require faith though real faith and trust in the Lord. It also requires genuine love. The first great commandment is “to love the lord thy God with all heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might”. The second is like unto it,” Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” So let the power of love guide us share the gospel with family members, friends, neighbors, business associates and any other people we encounter as we go through this life. Most everyone wants to enjoy peace and happiness it is a natural human desire. People want to find the answers to problems that they face. This is becoming increasing true in the world we live in now. I just want everyone to help the missionaries out because they need it. I’ve been out with the missionaries’ several times and I know they get really excited when I tell them I can come with them. Whenever I’m busy they always send me this sad disappointed text I be like aww I can’t come out with you today that makes me feel guilty.
I wanted to talk about what inspired me to serve on my mission. Growing up in the church everyone expects you to serve a mission and I had seen people go before me that served and I never thought that I would get to that point to where I’m standing here today. I always just said yeah I’ll serve a mission but the real time that I had to think about it was about 6 or 7 years ago our stake in Georgia had the opportunity to be lead and guided by Elder Holland and he came and spoke to our stake and one of the things that he said stuck with me today. He was talking about tithing and in Malachi how it talks about tithing and how we are commanded to give one tenth to the lord. What he said really struck me was not only do we pay one tenth of the income that we get, that’s good we need to do that, we’ve been commanded to do that but we also need to tithe our time and he gave the example to say if we live to be 100 years old, one tenth of 100 years is 10 years. Then we need to make it our goal to give ten years to the Lord and just be in the service of him. He said if you go on a mission and serve him then 2 of your years are already taken care of so you can mark that off then you can worry about the other 8. That was really when I decided that I needed to serve a mission. And ever since then, I’ve gone back and forth, as you grow older you go “wow maybe I should go to school for a year, maybe I should do this or that or have other important things. You think I’ve got a scholarship that I need to do if I don’t go to school then I forfeit that. I’ve had those feelings too and I know that it’s the adversary trying to convince us because he knows what we are doing is right were on the Lords errand and we are hastening the work. If we can make it over that hump and overcome that. It’s so much easier to go after you overcome that. I had been really worried and stressed about my mission call. Kind of leading up to getting my papers done and we had some troubles the dentist lost some of our papers. It was a really struggle for us to get my papers in. But once I did my final interview with President Shurtleff on Trek, I felt this sense of relief and I was waiting on my call and people kept asking me if I got my papers in and I could finally say yes I got them in. Then when I got my call, everyone always ask if I was nervous to serve. I was at first but I know now that there’s no need to be nervous because I’ll be doing the Lords work and I’ll be in the service of Him, and I have faith He will take care of me and He’ll be able to enlighten my heart and my mind to teach those people who are out there to teach. So, I’m not as nervous as I used to be. I’m so very grateful for my family and for all the love that they have shown to me over the years. My parents are amazing, they have such wonderful testimonies and I wouldn’t have been able to develop in the gospel if it wasn’t for them. Also my friends that I have met in the church that have strengthen my testimony and examples that I’ve had that have served missions before me. The past couple of weeks have been such a peaceful and calming time for me since I got my call I’ve been able to receive the Melchezidek priesthood, and go to the temple. Before I used to think, I don’t need to go to church anymore I’ve learned everything I need to know. I know the primary songs, I am a child of God yeah I know that, there’s no more room for me to grow. If there anyone out there feeling like that you are dead wrong, Because I was and I know that there is so much more that we have to learn, we can always grow. I know that we can take part in the atonement and repent. The missionaries challenge people to repent so they can come unto Christ and learn about the gospel and we can all take part in that as well. I know this gospel is true I love it with all my heart. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and I know it’s true as well. One of my favorite general conference talks was given by Elder Holland October 2009 in that talk he bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon it was a while ago so you may not remember but he spoke about when Hiram and Joseph were getting taken to Carthage jail where they would be ultimately be slain as martyrs. He said that no man would be able to write this book unless he was divinely inspired by God. No man would have given his life if he would have just made it up. There’s no way that a simple poor farm boy from New York could have been able to make up all the things in the book of Mormon unless it was true. I know it’s true. I’ve been to the places. I’ve been to where Joseph Smith grew up. I’ve been to the sacred grove several times. The spirit that is there is amazing. You can’t deny it. I know we have a prophet here today that leads and guides us. Thomas S Monson He has blessed my life and part of the reason why I’m serving now after the missionary age was lowered to 18 they saw such a surge of missionaries. It’s so much easier now to serve a mission rather than going to a school for a year and getting distracted. I’m so very grateful for that Devine inspiration from our heavenly father especially now at this time that I can be able to serve. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel and the Book of Mormon is true, it’s the only true completely true book on this earth. It’s the keystone to our religion and if we read it, study it and pray about it everyday, we can gain a testimony of it. Brothers and sisters if you don’t have a testimony now I exhort you to get one by praying and reading the scriptures. If you are thinking about serving a mission there is a general conference talk that says doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. Don’t let the adversary talk you out of doing anything in the gospel. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. I know that if we do the Lords errand we will be blessed. I am so very grateful for this opportunity, for everyone that inspired me and helped me grow in the gospel. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen