My Farewell Talk

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Here is le talk since people have been asking...(but let's face it, I would have posted it even if people didn't ask XD). 


Good morning brothers and sisters,
I asked for today’s topic months ago so I could start preparing early. But of course, I left it to the last minute because apparently that is when the inspiration starts to flow. So instead of retelling and explaining the Great Apostasy and the Restoration, I will give you the gist of the missionary’s first discussion in rap form!

A lot of people wonder about stuff like this
Like where's the true church and who God is
That's why we're here, to explain these things
To talk about the Gospel and the truth it brings
God's only begotten, His name is Jesus Christ
We talk of His mercy and atoning sacrifice
Amos chapter 8 talks about a great apostasy,
After Christ there was a famine which fulfilled his prophecy
Many years passed and time fell on 1820
Now doctrine show that in churches there were many
"Which church is true", asked the boy named Joseph Smith
"And how shall I know which sect to side with?"
So he headed to the woods to do as James direct
To ask the father and the son which one was correct
Jesus descended with important things to say
The boy was called to be a prophet in the latter-days
Joseph Smith acted without any hesitation
And with the Lord's help brought about the restoration
What happened here changed the world, let it change your life
The Book of Mormon, another Testament of Christ.

Today’s topic is “How can I liken the events of the Apostasy and the Restoration to my life”. As I was pondering this topic the only thing I could think of were trials! I was a little iffy at first because I am so repetitive with the topic of trials and overcoming them. Like, that is what my blog is based on; this is what I'm always talking about. As I started to ponder more about trials I thought of those who I thought are the biggest examples to me about enduring their trials.

For me, it has always been Joseph Smith and those first members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am obsessed with The Work and the Glory, and over the past few years as I have been reading them, I’ve gained a greater appreciation and love for the early saints of the church. When you hear about the tragic events like the Massacre at Hauns Mills, or the extermination of the Mormons in Missouri (which is where I am going BTW!), or even their long, treacherous treks across the wilderness...It just makes me think, "suck it up, princess!!" Nothing I’ve been through can even compare to what the early saints had to go through. I don’t have to wake up scared every morning that I might get killed because of what I believe; I don’t have to leave everything behind to build a new life somewhere; and I don’t have to bury any loved ones in the middle of nowhere and continue on by myself. The amount of faith these saints had just blows my mind.

There’s a song by Jenny Phillips and I think the chorus describes the early saints perfectly: “Hold on to the yearning, and wherever you are on the journey, live like you believe, live like you know, its one sure way your faith will grow. Listen to your heart, searching your soul, and you’ll find the strength that you need: His light, the gift of His peace. When you live like you believe.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from Joseph Smith and the early saints it’s to be steadfast and immovable in the faith.

That used to be so easy for me. When it came to preparing to serve a mission, I had just finished my 3rd year at York and I’ve been applying to places for a job but with no real luck. I distinctly remember getting off the bus one day and as I’m walking to my apartment I had a brief chat with Heavenly Father about two things. I was like, “Heavenly Father, I am going to serve a mission but I don’t have a job. I’m not worried and I know you’ll provide me with one, but I am just saying that it needs to come soon because I want to start saving up.” And then I said, “Heavenly Father, also, if it’s not too much to ask, I’d really like to be asked on at least one date before I leave. Like please.” I may have also selfishly added that I didn't want to be the only sister missionary who has never been on a date before. So a few weeks pass and lo and behold I end up with a job which was way more than what I asked for. Everything that I’ve ever had concerns about with finding a summer job, were all diminished. I loved my boss, I love the people I worked with, it fit perfectly with my schedule, no evenings, no weekends, and enough flexibility for me to still be able to carry out the projects I had planned for that summer. As if that wasn’t big enough of a blessing already, a couple days later, I kid you not, Stan started talking to me. And we all know that that has lead to more than just one date. So I never really had trouble knowing that Heavenly Father listens to my prayers whether it be on my knees or through my heart, no matter how serious or ridiculous my requests are. He may not answer them all right away, but I know He’s there listening.

And so when the time for processing my papers and receiving my call came, more and more people kept warning me to be careful because Satan is going to try his best to stop you from serving a mission. He doesn’t want you going out there to do the Lord’s work. Me being me I just nodded and my head and agreed that I knew that it was going to happen. But you don’t really know until you’ve experience it yourself...which ended up happening. The Adversary had taken my weaknesses, my pet peeves, and just every little thing that would bug me and magnify them by 100. That’s what Satan does: he takes the bad things in you and uses them against you. So I had feelings of depression, and contention, and hatred growing in my heart. So it’s one thing to have the adversary take the bad things in you and make them bigger, but the one thing I didn’t think Satan could do was to take one of my strengths and have me question that I am a daughter of God. And that is one of the things I have the most surety in: I know that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who listens and answers my prayers, I know that I have Divine potential, and that I am on earth with a divine purpose. So to have him make me question my testimony of that absolutely scared me. So I can actually say that I was at my lowest and that I felt like Satan had me in the palm of his hand so ready to crush me. But even though I know now that Satan does have power, I have a testimony and know that God’s power is stronger.

When Joseph Smith was in the sacred grove, the power of the adversary had strongly overcome him. He records, “But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.”

I know God’s power is stronger. And like Joseph Smith I know that I can overcome the adversary through prayer. God may not appear to me like he did to Joseph, but I know He is there listening. I have never before gotten on my knees to pray and cry and beg my Heavenly Father to take pain away or to just show me a sign that He was there and still cared. And over the past 5 months I did more than I ever had in my entire life. And even though things were still chaotic, I knew that God was there because of the slightest glow of comfort and peace that came to my heart. I felt the comfort to know that things would be ok.

And that comfort, that "light and gift of His peace” that Jenny Phillips sings about...that’s the comfort and peace we can only receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

There is a song by Julie Yardley and the lyrics say:

Just have the courage to take one step, someone's going to be there to help with the rest. To start is the hardest, but it's something only you can do. Have faith to pray for the strength to finally see this through. There's one who knows you perfectly. He can take the hurt away. The healing starts within- just let Him in. And let it begin.”

I don’t think Joseph Smith or any of the Saints could endure the trials and tribulations they had to go through without the knowledge that there is a Saviour; that he died for our sins, he suffered all pains and afflictions so that He can succor us when we feel like we are at our lowest. And I have felt that succoring. We don’t need to be sinning for us to access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We just need to allow it to help make that change in our life.

And that is why Joseph Smith and the early saints went through what they went through. It would have been so easy for them to say “hey, I don’t want to do this anymore” and stop trying and believing. But they didn’t. And they didn’t because the Gospel needed to go forth. Joseph Smith said, 

The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, ‘The work is done.' 

Can you imagine? The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ started with Joseph Smith and such a small body of Saints. They held their first church meetings in a small log cabin. But look at how far and wide the gospel has spread! We have over 14 million members and counting! And I am privileged to be one of the 20,000 called missionaries to join the 65,000 already currently serving to help spread the gospel. I may not be sacrificing as much as the early saints did, but putting my life on pause and leaving school, my loved ones, and everything else behind is not an easy thing to do. But like the early saints, I’m doing it because I know the Gospel is true! I want to be able to touch people’s lives and bear testimony that I know of the blessings that come when you center your life around Christ and His teachings. It has blessed my life immensely and I just want others to have it as well. The best way to describe a missionary is someone who leaves their family for a short period of time so that others may be with their families for eternity.

The gospel is true brothers and sisters! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is here to help us progress in the gospel so we can be reunited once again with our Father in Heaven and be with our families forever. And what a glorious, happy day that will be. The Lord loves each and every single one of you, whether you know it or not. He does.

And I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

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