Here it is, finally, my farewell talk that I gave last Sunday, posted below.
Down to less than a week! *ACK!!!* I fly to the MTC on Tuesday (with a layover in L.A. - what the what?), getting on the plane at 8am!
All set to go, at least materially. Giddy excitement and heart-pounding anxiety are having a power struggle in me right now. I'm not worried about anything at this point, though. Getting on the plane will be the hardest part, but I'll power through it and I'll be fine. I'll have a blast, in fact. I've never ever traveled outside of good ol' N.A. since I was two (but I don't remember that, so that doesn't really count) so I'm excited to go and see the world outside of the little bubble I live in that is the beautiful Okanagan. I'm excited to learn a language that is going to sound like absolute gobbledygook to people around here. AH! The funny moments that I see coming!
But anyways, I'll see if I can't get another post up here before I go. Here's the talk, though, hope you enjoy it!
Last September, I went on a trip with my friends down to the USA. We went to some of the national parks; namely Yellowstone, and Zion Canyon, where we enjoyed the different landscapes and features and hikes that the parks had to offer.
We also went to the Salt Lake City area, where we went to see places like BYU, and Temple Square. In Temple Square, while we were trying to decipher some of the symbols on the organ in the Assembly Hall, a pair of sister missionaries approached us. We conversed a little, and they were slightly disappointed to find out that we were already members. But nonetheless, we talked for a while, and of course, the topic of missions came up, and I told them that I was called to the Korea, Seoul South mission. One of the sisters then asked me a question that caught me off guard: “So, why did you decide to go on a mission?”
I paused, and then fumbled for words as I realized that I had no real answer for that. For me, a mission had always been the plan. And the answer I managed to blurt out was almost exactly that:
“I grew up in the church, so, it’s always been the plan to go on a mission.”
The sister’s response was simple: “Well, that’s a lame reason.”
And it was. We talked with the two sisters some more, and then they left us with a spiritual thought and a commitment each, as all good missionaries should, and we went our separate ways. That encounter, while pleasant and uplifting, left me with a serious problem. Here I am, prepared to give away two years of my life, in a place that I have never been and in a culture I have never even come close to experiencing, speaking a language in which I had never known a single word or phrase, with minimal contact to my family and friends, and I didn’t have a SINGLE. SOLID. reason why.
I realized that I could think of more reasons to stay here and go to school and start a career and a family. After all, that’s what most people my age outside of the church do anyway. I had plenty of money to do just that. I had just seen BYU in Provo, and I liked what I saw. But I wanted to serve a mission. After all, it’s "always been the plan." But right then, after having been asked that question, my desire to serve felt unfounded, and I began to wonder to myself: Why am I doing this?
It took some soul searching, and prayer, but eventually the answer came to me in the form of a well-known passage of scripture. 1 Nephi, chapter 3, verse 7.
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
At face value, that might not make too much sense, but let me explain my train of thought: When I read that scripture, a series of connections and thoughts came to my mind. But they all came down to this simple truth.
God gives us commandments because he loves us. For example, He gave us the Word of Wisdom because He wants us to avoid the poor health that can come from disobeying it. He commanded us to study the scriptures, because he knows that it nourishes out spirits and instills in us a resistance to temptation. He wants us to go on missions, because He knows that by the time we get back from them, we will have become stronger, better, and more Christ-like people than when we had left.
The Prophet, Joseph Smith, declared that "the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel."
All my life, I have strived to live the commandments. While I have never been perfect, I have always been blessed for my efforts in ways that I can see, and probably in a lot of ways that I can’t yet see. But let me get to the point: I am going on a mission because the Lord has asked me to. I know that he has prepared a way for me, in Korea, to serve him at my full capacity and I know that he will bless me generously for my efforts there. I know that he would never ask me to do anything except it were for my benefit, and I know that despite what doubts I have and what the world may think: He always knows best.
If there is ever a doubt in my mind: I simply remember the story of Abraham, when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I can hardly imagine what kind of grief and sorrow that Abraham surely felt when he bound and prepared his own son on an altar, ready to offer him up as a sacrifice. Thankfully, that story has a happy ending, with an angel stopping Abraham at the last moment, and Abraham and Isaac going home together with blessings from the Lord for their trust.
I can also think about the story of Job. Job was a man who had everything a man could ever want. He had land, he had a large, and loving family, good health, flocks, and wealth. But when it was all taken away from him in a series of dreadful, terrible events; Job’s trust in the Lord never faltered. Even when his body was covered with boils, even after his friends had left him and the adversary tempted him; his trust in the Lord never faltered. Even though it seemed that Job might have had every reason to curse the Lord, he never once doubted the Lord’s good intentions. The result of that was that Job was blessed to the point that his life was even better than it had been before his trial.
I cannot imagine myself being tested in such ways. When put into perspective, two years of missionary service seems like nothing. If Abraham and Job were willing to endure that much, then surely I can serve my loving Savior for two years. I might have doubts, but I know that if I persevere; I will be blessed.
And not only I will be blessed, but those whom I teach will also be blessed. This is a second reason that has encouraged my decision to go on a mission. This reason was always in the back of my head, but I had never given it the consideration that it deserves before that encounter with the sister missionaries in Temple Square.
To reference the scriptures again, D&C 18: 15 specifically, we read;
"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!"
If you spend your entire life doing missionary work, and only succeed in helping one person accept the gospel, your joy will be great. To help someone discover the truthfulness of, and the blessings that come with the gospel, is to give them the greatest gift they will ever receive for it is the gift of eternal salvation for them and their families so that they can live together with our Heavenly Father forever. This is a tremendous promise and blessing that we already have, and the Lord has commanded us to spread his word so that everyone can have the chance to accept the gospel, so that they can all have the opportunity to partake in the same promise and blessing.
People everywhere need the gospel. They might not know it, but they desperately need it. Every person of every circumstance needs to have the chance to hear the gospel and the opportunity to accept it. They need the chance to repent and be baptized, or, to quote the Savior in 3 Nephi, "[they] can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."
Now is the time for us to give them that chance. The Lord has declared to us in Section 4:7 of the D&C; "Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that the field is white and ready to harvest; wherefore thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind, and strength."
The work of the Lord has been hastened, we know. There are now over fifteen-million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints around the world. Since last year, the number of missionaries serving now is approximately 80,000. Members are taking increasingly vital roles in missionary work as the focus on member-oriented missionary work becoming increasingly successful. In Moses 1:39, we read God's words: "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." We are His instruments in bringing about that work. He is trusting us with this duty. We must do the best that we can.
To everyone planning on going on a mission, especially the young men and young women here, I’m talking directly to you. If you are struggling to find a reason to go out on a mission: You are more than welcome to use mine. I cannot tell you the blessings of going on a mission yet, but anybody that is or has been a missionary can, and they will all certainly tell you that it was worth every minute. If you encounter obstacles; your family and your priesthood leaders are there to help you get around, through, over, or under them. If you ever have doubts; all you need to do is ask Heavenly Father, and I promise that if you are sincere, He will clear up anything that you’re not sure of.
It is my testimony that everything I have said is true. God loves us and he wants us to be the best people we can be so that we can be the happiest people we can be. He doesn’t tell us to do anything if there isn’t something in it for us. He will never let you down.
I know that the Restored Gospel is true, and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God called to bring back all the truths that were lost to us in the Great Apostasy.
I know that the Book of Mormon is absolutely true. I know that it is another testament of Jesus Christ, and that with it, we can be sure of all things relating to the Gospel.
I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and his Atonement, and that without it, nothing that we know about today would have ever been possible. Not this life, not the next, and not Eternal Life. Above all, I know that he loves us beyond our own comprehension. He loved us enough that he took upon Himself all of our own sins and suffered for them in the Garden of Gethsemane, and soon after gave his life for us on the cross so that we can be saved in the end to live with our Father in Heaven again. And I am so grateful for that.
ONE LAST LITTLE NOTE THAT IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE!
The D&C 4:7 quote is completely off. I have no Idea what happened there, because it should be verse 4, BUT, the quote still doesn't match the reference. I'm flabbergasted, and sorry for that mix-up. It fits nicely, though. I just wanted to point out that I made a boo-boo, so as to avoid the confusion of others. That's all.