Monday, August 31, 2015

My Farewell Talk

August 30th, 2015

            I love hearing missionary stories. One of my older brother’s friends served a mission in Canada. He loved his mission but it was also very cold up there. He once said that the missionaries up there have a saying: The COLDER your mission, the HOTTER your wife! I have taken that saying and put it in my own words: the harder your trial, the greater your blessings. I feel like that is what they were trying to say.
            Today I will be talking about trials, specifically on being grateful for your trials.
I wrote this talk with this question in mind: Why do bad things happen to good people?
I began by taking a look at the most perfect person who walked the earth. The Savior.
Elder Holland explained that “The wounds in His hands, feet, and side are signs that in mortality painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect, signs that tribulation is not evidence that God does not love us.” (Christ and the New Covenant page 259)
This gives me comfort to know that no matter how hard life gets, God is mindful of me and He still loves me. And how can I complain about life when Christ did nothing wrong yet suffered the worst?
Sister Reeves of the Relief Society presidency said “The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him.” (Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants October 2013) It is during times of trial that I have prayed the most sincerely, and I have felt the comfort of the Spirit strongly during those times of trouble, and I have drawn closer to the Lord.
One thing I wanted to mention is the cutest couple ever: Elder Richard G. Scott and his wife Jeanene. Jeanene passed away about 20 years ago, yet Elder Scott talks about her as if she is still with us. He is still so in love with her, and it's the cutest thing. After she passed away, the first general conference talk that he gave was all about trials. It is titled Trust in the Lord (October 1995). He says: “[Trials] are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more…To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.”
We should be grateful that the Lord wants us to grow and He trusts us with trials that He knows we can overcome.
There are so many stories which illustrate this principle of the refinement that comes from trials, but I’ll just share one quick story.
My mom was baptized at age 26, and about 3 months later she was called to be a Sunday School teacher. As a new member of the church she felt scared and she felt like she didn’t know much, but with faith she accepted her calling. In her Sunday School class, my dad was one of her students and that is how they met. “For after much tribulation come the blessings.” (D&C 58:4) My dad does not consider himself to be a blessing, but of course he is.
I never thought I’d say this, but I recently saw a Disney Pixar movie which increased my understanding of the plan of salvation. Pixar’s latest movie, titled Inside Out, touched my heart so profoundly. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, basically it’s about this young girl named Riley, and you get to explore her mind. Her emotions are the main characters in the movie. Joy and Sadness are especially significant in the movie. I loved the way this film portrayed the importance of sadness. I’ll come back to the movie in just a second.
Most of us are familiar with the scripture 2 Nephi 2:25 “Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy.” In other words, we came to earth so that we may be happy. That is the purpose of our existence. In that same chapter, in verse 23, it explains that if Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden of Eden, they would have remained “in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery.” Elder Bruce C. Hafen explained that sin, misery, and other trials help create the context for learning what joy means. This is the message that Inside Out portrayed so beautifully!
I have since learned, that when we go through trials, whether it be sins or something we have no control over, the Atonement erases that pain and it also allows for human development.
“Christ’s sacrifice and the plan of redemption [gives] meaning and purpose to all of [Adam and Eve’s] opposition.” (Elder Bruce C. Hafen Ensign September 2015)
I also want to briefly discuss the character Joy from the movie Inside Out. For me personally, I found that Joy was very similar to the Savior, even though I know that’s probably not what the filmmakers were going for. Joy carried the weight of Riley’s past memories, and she carried Sadness. Like the Savior, Joy was willing to literally help carry this young girl’s burdens. Joy was willing to do anything so that this young girl could be happy. And unlike the other emotions, Joy glowed with light. She makes me think of Hymn no. 89 which says “The Lord is my light; He is my joy.”
Another reason that I love this movie is because, one of the hardest trials I ever had to endure was sadness. There was a time in my life where I was extremely sad all of the time. I always thought that sadness was something to be ashamed of, and that it was a sign of weakness. So I kept my sadness to myself. I admire this movie for showing that it is OK to be sad. This was a difficult time for me, but looking back I have noticed blessings that have come from that trial. For example, I have learned how to cope with those sad feelings, and I learned how to deal with rejection, and with rude people, and with feelings of embarrassment, among other things. This new knowledge is something that I will use on my mission and for the rest of my life. This trial has made me stronger. And for that I am so grateful. During this sad time, I felt completely worthless, but that trial gave me the chance to truly exercise my faith in the plan of salvation. For I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me, and that He had a plan just for me, and that Christ understood exactly what I was going through.
President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “The Lord works from the inside out. [It’s as if President Benson knew I would use this movie in my talk!] The world works from the outside in…The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” That is exactly what happened to me. My trials did not go away immediately. My environment did not change, but I changed and I grew both mentally and spiritually.
That quote reminds me of my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon which is Alma 36. That is the part when Alma the Younger tells his son about his own experience with repentance. He mentions how sorrowful he felt, and in this case, his trial came from his sins. He says in verse 21 “There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains…on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” I love that comparison that he makes between the sadness from his sins and the joy of repentance. In verse 24 he says “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” This is why we do missionary work, to let others experience the joy of the gospel. I am grateful for my knowledge of the Atonement and the plan of salvation, and on my mission I want to help others through their trials.
Alma testifies the following in verse 27: “I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.”
I know that Heavenly Father will support us under our trials, just as he helped Alma and all the other great prophets of the scriptures. I know the Church is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves each one of us so much. I know that President Monson is a prophet of God and like us, he is human and he has to go through his own trials. I am thankful for his example. I testify that, because of the Atonement, we can be perfected with the Lord’s help. I know that the Savior suffered for all of our pains and afflictions. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


 

A lovely sister in my ward sang a musical number after my talk. The song is titled Gethsemane written by Melanie Hoffman. Here are the lyrics:



Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

The hardest thing that ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He gives His gift to me
From Gethsemane



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Scripture Verses about Missionary Work

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Isaiah 52:7

How great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! …
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!
And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
Doctrine & Covenants 18:13, 15-16

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.
Doctrine & Covenants 4:2

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
John 4:35-36

For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.
I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
Alma 29:8-9

For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe.
Doctrine & Covenants 58:64

Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
Alma 17:2-3
 
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Alma 36:24

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Quotes about Missionary Work

The [Book of Mormon] tells us that those who completely devote their lives to the task of spreading the gospel experience exquisite joy.
Missionary Work Is the Lifeblood of the Church H. Verlan Andersen

We don’t expect them to be perfect, but they need to be anxious, willing, and committed to serve so they can reach new levels of spirituality as gospel teachers. They need to know the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach it with power in their own words under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit.
The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work M. Russell Ballard

Important is the humble nature of the people and their dependence on the Lord for the things they stand in need of, making them receptive to the promptings of the Spirit.
Missionary Work in the Philippines Augusto A. Lim

Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church. There is no greater work, no more important work. It blesses the lives of all those who participate in it…You might be asking yourself: How can I assist in missionary work? There are two fundamental truths to keep in mind as you embark on the work. First, have a clear understanding that God loves all His children and desires their salvation. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:13 we read, “And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth.” Second, our message of Christ and His restored gospel is the most important gift you have to give.
Go Ye Therefore Silvia H. Allred

Although our missionaries are strengthened, elevated, and magnified by their service, that is not their primary purpose, and neither they nor their families nor their leaders should regard a mission as the solution to unresolved problems. The Lord needs our best; He needs those who can run, not just walk—but to run physically and spiritually—those who can wield eternal influence with purity and strength and conviction.
Missionary Work—Our Responsibility David B. Haight

The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission…you can increase in your desire to serve God (see D&C 4:3), and you can begin to think as missionaries think, to read what missionaries read, to pray as missionaries pray, and to feel what missionaries feel. You can avoid the worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw, and you can grow in confidence in recognizing and responding to spiritual promptings. Line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you can gradually become the missionary you hope to be and the missionary the Savior expects.
Becoming a Missionary David A. Bednar

The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.
The Truth of God Shall Go Forth M. Russell Ballard

If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?
Raising the Bar L. Tom Perry

You cannot be responsible for whether or not those you teach will accept your testimony and join the Church. Do not feel that you must obtain a quota of baptisms to be successful. An old saying teaches that you can count the number of seeds in a single apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a single seed. The harvest is the Lord’s. Your responsibility is to thrust in the sickle.
What I Want My Son to Know before He Leaves on His Mission James E. Faust

When you extend to a friend an invitation to meet with the missionaries, you are offering to share something that is most valuable and cherished. Is that offensive? [My wife] Sister Oaks and I have not found this to be the case. In fact, we have found that when we offer to share the gospel, friendships are strengthened, even though the friends may not embrace the gospel message.
Consider that you are invited to a friend’s house for breakfast. On the table you see a large pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice from which your host fills his glass. But he offers you none. Finally, you ask, “Could I have a glass of orange juice?”
He replies, “Oh, I am sorry. I was afraid you might not like orange juice, and I didn’t want to offend you by offering you something you didn’t desire.”
Now, that sounds absurd, but it is not too different from the way we hesitate to offer up something far sweeter than orange juice. I have often worried how I would answer some friend about my hesitancy when I meet him beyond the veil.
Brothers and sisters, I pray that we may put our fears and our hesitancy behind us and no more keep secret the great treasure that is ours.
Sharing the Gospel Robert C. Oaks

No missionary that ever lived failed to influence the lives of many for the better regardless of the number of converts he may have gained.
With respect to his personal challenges, every missionary will tell you, as I tell you now, that as he presses on and exercises his faith there comes the most extraordinary spiritual sensation: a flow of confidence, courage and power to overcome, a knowledge that God is with him and that he cannot fail with God on his side—regardless of the nature of the problem or even the results.
The Blessings of Missionary Service James M. Dunn

Missionary work is not limited to proclaiming the gospel to … people now living on the earth. [It] is also continuing beyond the veil among [those] who have died either without hearing the gospel or without accepting it while they lived on the earth. Our great part … is to perform on this earth the ordinances required for those who accept the gospel over there. … I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line … between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!
The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy? Spencer W. Kimball

Asking every member to be a missionary is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a member! Thank you for living the gospel.
Thank you also for praying for the missionaries. Everyone prays for the missionaries. May it ever be so. In that same spirit, we should also pray for those who are (or who need to be) meeting the missionaries.
Witnesses Unto Me Jeffrey R. Holland

Until you know a person’s name and face, the Lord cannot help you know his or her heart.
“The Work of Salvation” Missionary Broadcast Russell M. Nelson

The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability.
 Preach My Gospel pg 176 Ezra Taft Benson

We love the Lord. We serve Him. We follow Him. We represent Him.
As we serve, we do not represent our families, our friends, our branches or wards, or our communities or nations. Rather, we represent Him. His purposes must be our purposes. His interests should be our interests. His work should be our work. His ways should be our ways. His will increasingly should become our will…
A release as a full-time missionary is a call to serve as a lifelong missionary…
Preach My Gospel missionaries know we do not teach lessons; we teach people. We do not merely recite or present memorized messages about gospel topics. We invite seekers of truth to experience the mighty change of heart. We understand that talking and telling alone are not teaching.
Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary David A. Bednar

What is a consecrated missionary? It is a missionary who is willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice and to hold nothing back. It is a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion to this work – to submit our will to God’s will whatever it may be. Every missionary who has been to the temple has covenanted to consecrate his all. The book of Omni records the depth and breadth of that covenant: “Yea, come unto me, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26)…
It’s not about what you want, it’s about what the Lord wants…
A consecrated nature will cause us to be obedient, not because we have to, but because we want to…
Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it. There is no magic pill that makes us courageous, no passage of time that strengthens us, no memorized approach that emboldens us. We are left only with the compelling counsel of King Benjamin: “And now, if ye believe all these things, see that you do them” (Mosiah 4:19)…
Sometimes we have missionaries who are so worried about offending people that in the process they never ever save them…
I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater than the potential strengths within him. Why? Because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls.
Becoming a Consecrated Missionary Tad R. Callister