Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mission Farewell

As I have prepared to share the gospel with the people of Guatemala over the last few months I have thought a lot about what the gospel means to me and what I am most excited to share with them. And as I have been reading in the Book of Mormon I have really noticed a theme that is repeated many times over and over again and that is central to the gospel. And that is that we can all find hope in the Atonement. And that’s what I want to focus on today.
In True to the Faith it says, “the word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty. For example, we may say that we hope for a change in the weather or a visit from a friend. In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active.” In addition to this Neal A Maxwell said “Our everyday usage of the word hope includes how we “hope” to arrive at a certain destination by a certain time. We “hope” the world economy will improve. We “hope” for the visit of a loved one. Such typify our sincere but proximate hopes. Life’s disappointments often represent the debris of our failed, proximate hopes. Instead, however, I speak of the crucial need for ultimate hope. Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call “a perfect brightness of hope”.
This ultimate hope is what allows us as members of the church to look forward to each day. Knowing that we can have a fresh start and that we can always have something to look forward to. When I think of hope and having hope in the future my thoughts immediately turn to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement has become so real to me in the last few years of my life as so many things and changes have occurred. When thinking of this there is a quote from Harry Potter that comes to my mind. In one of the books Albus Dumbledore says “happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Often as we go through life we get so caught up in the mundane things of the world and we find ourselves distracted from our true purpose and distracted from the things of the gospel. We forget to turn on the light of the gospel and soon we find ourselves facing dark times. These dark times often are some of the most trying times of our lives. For me one of these times in my life occurred at the beginning of my senior year. My life was in a little bit of turmoil with lots of changes going on and I was finding it really hard to deal with. But I still remember the day that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. That day I remember falling to my knees and just praying for help. Praying for tomorrow to be just a little better. Praying for even the smallest of all things to help me. In my darkest time I remembered that I had grown up being told that when we have dark times in our lives that we can fall back on the gospel. And so that’s what I began to do and almost immediately I began to see light in my life again. It started with some of the smallest things in the world but as I continued to rely on the Gospel and on the Atonement I felt my life turn around. That’s the amazing thing about this gospel. It is light. It brings happiness during the darkest days of our lives. And because of the Atonement that happiness is everlasting.
In preparation for this talk I was reading an article from the New Era entitled ‘Why is Jesus Christ Important in my life?’ and I was struck by something that it said. It said “Sooner or later, all of us will need the Savior. We all make mistakes we cannot fix, experience losses we cannot recover, and face pains, persecution, tragedies, burdens, and disappointments we cannot handle alone. The good news is that we don’t have to handle them alone. ‘In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens,’ said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy.”1 When we face serious challenges, sometimes we find it difficult to trust in the Lord. But trusting in Him brings us the hope we need in order to face our challenges.”
Because of the Fall none of us is perfect. But that was part of Heavenly Father’s plan. So eventually we are all going to need the Savior. We all make mistakes. None of us is perfect. And sometimes these mistakes seem like they are too immense, too great for us to handle and we just want to give up. We feel as if no one understand us. But Heavenly Father knew that none of us would be perfect. He knew that we would get down on ourselves. And he knew that as we went through this life we might feel alone at times. So he provide the Savior for us. He allowed for his beloved son to be sacrificed so that when the hard times come. And they will come for each of us. Then when they do we will have someone who we can fall back on. Someone who has felt every single pain, sorrow and frustration of our life. Someone who wants to help us to overcome our challenges. And as we turn to the Savior, Jesus Christ he allows us to feel of his love and he will help us through everything that we are going through. And that knowledge for me is something that helps me get through every day. Whenever life gets hard that’s what I fall back on and it has never let me down.
Along these lines President Boyd K Packer said, “The Savior wrought the Atonement, which provides a way for us to become clean. Jesus Christ is the resurrected Christ. We worship and recognize Him for the pain He suffered for us collectively and for the pain He endured for each of us individually, both in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He bore all with great humility and with an eternal understanding of His divine role and purpose. Had He not accomplished the Atonement, there would be no redemption. It would be a difficult world to live in if we could never be forgiven for our mistakes, if we could never purify ourselves and move on. The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent. If we are not aware of what the Savior’s sacrifice can do for us, we may go through life carrying regrets that we have done something that was not right or offended someone. The guilt that accompanies mistakes can be washed away. If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior. A testimony of the hope of redemption is something which cannot be measured or counted. Jesus Christ is the source of that hope. Each member serves as a testimony of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We are at war with the forces of the adversary, and we need each and every one of us if we are going to succeed in the work the Savior has for us to do.”
I love that he says each member serves as a testimony of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. How amazing is it that we have this knowledge. A knowledge that allows us to be free from the burdens of sin. A knowledge that allows us to find hope in the better days. A knowledge that allows us to look forward to the future. Knowing that with the Lord is on our side we can truly accomplish anything. Jesus Christ will always make up the difference for us after we have done all in our power and still fallen short. And for me it is this knowledge more than anything else that makes me so excited about my mission. I want everyone to obtain this knowledge. And I hope that I will be able to share this message with the people of Guatemala.
I hope that each of us can work to share this knowledge each and every day with those around us. As we live the Gospel each day we are examples to those around us of what it looks like to have a Christ center life. People notice that we are different. They notice that often we seem happier. It is the knowledge of the Gospel that allows us to have this happiness. And it is a knowledge that is so easy to share in simple ways. We can make simple posts on social media, try to be examples to other, and we can serve in any way possible. These are simple ways for each of us to be member missionaries. And we should never be afraid to share the gospel because even though it makes us stand out sometimes as we live the gospel the Lord is on our side. And with the Lord on our side we can truly do anything.
I want to thank everyone in this ward that has helped me to get to where I am today. Especially all of my young women’s leaders. You helped me to learn so much about the gospel and you encouraged me in all that I did. I had no idea that I was going to serve a mission when I was in young women’s but because of the guidance and teachings of my leaders I am ready and able to serve. To all the youth in the ward that are considering going on missions, especially the young women. I encourage you to pray about it and to study it out. The decision to serve or not to serve is between you and the Lord and it truly is a very personal decision. Heavenly Father will help you to know what is right in your life and he will bless you for following the promptings that you receive. And most importantly I want to thank my parents. You guys have helped me to get to where I am today. You have been the greatest examples of how to live the gospel in my life and you have been my best friends. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father put me into your family and that I get to be with you for all time and eternity.
I know that this church is the true church of God restored in its fullness to the Earth. That the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that by reading it daily Heavenly Father will bless us and help us to draw closer to him. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he was called of God to restore this church, the true church of the Lord to the Earth. I know that Thomas S Monson is the prophet today and that he leads the church under the direction of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and that he will help us in all things. And I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That he died on the cross for each of us so that we could be made clean and return to live with our Father in Heaven again. I am so thankful for the Gospel in my life and for all that it has done for me and I am so excited for the opportunity that I have to share it with the people of Guatemala.

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