Farewell Talk

Good morning brothers and sisters. I wanted to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for being here today and thank you to my family and friends who have traveled both near and far to support me.

The decision that I have made to serve a mission has been one that I have thought about for many years now. The most common question I have received since I decided to submit my papers and get my call was “What made you decide to serve a mission?”

A mission is something I always knew I would do. It was never should I go, am I supposed to go? It was I’m going to go when the time is right for me. I remember one day I was getting ready to make a dream broad and I was sitting in my room making a list of everything I wanted to achieve in the next few years. I remember writing many things including “serve a mission” It made me scared at first but it was almost if that should have been the first thing I wrote on the list. At the time, I felt as if it wasn’t the right time but Fast forward to now and I’m standing here today getting ready to set my life aside here in Utah and become a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints.

I feel as if I’m in a dream, I feel as if this isn’t real. But in just a few days my life will change forever, forever in the best way possible. I can’t think of any greater blessing at this time of my life than to serve a mission by serving the people of Omaha Nebraska. Not only that but to have the opportunity to serve in the Mormon trail at the winter quarter’s historical site. I feel so blessed for this amazing opportunity, and even more blessed for the things that brought me to this point in my life.

I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the life lessons I have learned, the relationships I’ve had, but most importantly my family and gods timing.

I had just bought a contract and was moving to Provo, I was working full time, going to school part time, and doing photography almost full time so my life was busy to say the least. But then I sustained an injury at work, which put me out of work for two months. In those two months was when I had the time to slow down, take a step back and really think about what I truly wanted for myself. It was then I knew I needed and wanted to start my mission papers. I soon came to find out that this injury just like most things… happened for a reason.

I sat down with my mom one night and told her I knew I wanted to go on my mission. I will never forget my mom’s response when she said. “ You would be an amazing missionary and I really think you should go.” My dad had told me the same thing when I had talked to him a few months earlier. Having them be the strong ones at the time they gave me the love and support that I needed. I had small talked about a mission to my parents for a long time and knew I had not only my mom and dads support 100% but also friends and family as well. I’m so grateful that my parents have never put pressure on any of us to serve a mission, but that they have only been a support system. If I could give some advice for anyone wanting to serve a mission, It would be to go when you’re ready to go and to not to go for anyone but yourself, also that if you do make that decision when the time is right that it will change your life forever in the best way, starting from when you open your call. I know how much it has meant for my parents to let me figure out when I would serve on my own and I truly know that although I am 22 and an “older” missionary this is the perfect time for me.

As I’m sure many of us in the room have had experiences where we’ve had to have faith in gods timing. These past few months I have gained an even bigger testimony as I have had many instances happen day after day. I feel like I just sit down and think to my self… if this wouldn’t have happened, then that wouldn’t have happened and so on. But I can honestly say that it has helped me gain a better understanding of patience. Not always will everything work out how we want it, but it will all work out the way it’s supposed to in the end.

Since I have received my call I have come to find so many connections with my mission. It’s amazing how a place I wouldn’t have even thought of serving has become so close to me and will only become closer. My mom was a Deseret book a couple weeks ago and called me to tell me to meet her there so we could get my scriptures. I hadn’t been feeling good those past few days so I slowly made my way over. When I got there and walked back to where she was, this sister came up, said hello and gave me a big hug. Still not knowing who she was she than introduced her self and told me that She just got back from serving in Omaha the day before. She began giving me advice and answering some of my questions that I had about the mission. And at that point I knew she was there for a reason and I was grateful to my heavenly father because we were both in the right place at the right time.

Brothers and sisters. I promise you as you come closer into Christ. As you forgive the people that have done harm, as you come to church more often, or read your scriptures, have faith, pray and love the people around you that you will feel his presents in your life. You don’t have to be going on a mission to have these experiences.  
There are people in the world who don’t understand the importance of the family in God’s eternal plan.  They don’t know that they will ever see their loved ones after death. People who have addictions, heartache and need heavenly father, the scriptures and this church in their life for guidance and comfort, they need to know that they can be forgiven, They need to know the truth of this church and most importantly they need to know that they are loved. This is why I’m serving a mission. Not only is it people in Omaha but people in this room today that need these things.
I loved the talk given by President Uchtdorf titled The Merciful obtain Mercy. He talks about many things but I love when he talks about Loving One Another. He says
“Brothers and sisters, there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.
We are not perfect.
The people around us are not perfect.19 People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.
Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.
Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.
Lay your burden at the Savior’s feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ’s Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another.”  
I feel like this is exactly the purpose as missionaries, really the purpose of why we are here on earth Is to love one another, to be a friend to each other and to not judge one another as we do it.

Life is not about how many likes you have, on instagram or facebook, who’s the better student, life isn’t about if you are skinny enough for a guy, or a girl, if you have the nicest car, the nicest house, Life isn’t about envy or comparing yourself to others. We need to be grateful that we are alive. That we are able to be here today.
Life is about FAMILY, Its about loving yourself first than loving others. Its about finding people who love and care about you for who you are. To inform friends, love ones and strangers of who they can become and who they are deep down inside already. We are all brothers and sisters. Each of us have no idea how many people who are even so close to us that feel lost, confused and need to feel loved. I challenge each of you including myself to do one kind thing for someone in the ward, someone at your work, or someone who you feel needs a little boost. I challenge you to love before you judge someone by the mistakes they have made, the way they look or what you have heard about them.
Be the change you hope to see in this world. Teach your kids to love every kind of kid whether they be short, tall, shy, loud, outgoing, or quite we all could focus on judge less and loving others more. I’m not perfect at this but as I serve a mission I know that I will meet every kind of person and I will love them no matter what.
President Uchtdorf said
“I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?
Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven? Is this difficult to do?
He continues saying forgiving ourselves and others is not easy. In fact, for most of us it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking—even a change of heart. But there is good news. This “mighty change”8 of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives How is it done? Through the love of God. “ Love. Love one another, love your self and feel gods love for you. I cant wait to share love and happiness with Everyone I come across in Nebraska.
My mom send me a link of a blog post posted by a sister missionary it was titled The Honest Truth about missions. In this article Sister Parker wrote

“Here's the honest truth: missionaries hide a lot. Sometimes it's behind a smile as someone slams the door in our face after cussing us out. Other times it's behind closed doors when we fall to our knees, sobbing and begging for the help of The Lord to carry us through. And at other times, it's only disclosed in a simple journal entry reading, "Why aren't we seeing more success?" or "Why is this so hard??" Investigators don't see the tears we cry the night they've told us they're no longer interested in meeting with us. The strangers on the street don't see our hearts sink when they refuse to listen and instead call us names. The family members back home don't see the long sleepless nights when we can't think of anything but the faces of those we miss. The members don't see our pain when ten minutes before church, an investigator calls to say he won't be able make it. And even our companions don't always see our exhaustion after a long and difficult day.”

I thought of that and was sharing it with a few of my friends who have returned from a mission. And they replied with that article is dead on what a mission is like. For most that might worry but for me it does the complete opposite. I know a mission is going to be hard. Every person I talk to says it will be the most difficult thing you do. But there is always the BUT….. It will be the best thing you ever do. There are going to be times that I miss my family or have a difficult day and wish I could call home for advice, but for me I believe that’s what a mission is all about. It’s about the sacrifice you are willing to make to even touch one person. To even bring one person the happiness they need, the love they need.
When we went to pick up Paige from her mission my parents and I had the opportunity to go to her church where she would be singing that day. We were so excited when we found out that was something we would get to do. I remember her sacrament meeting being one of my favorites. The speakers were amazing and then the missionaries in the ward got up a sang the most beautiful song. I remember looking up at my sister and thinking I’m so lucky to her in my life. “Look at the amazing person she has become.” I tried holding back tears as she sang in the most beautiful voice but it was so hard. After she sang with the other missionaries she sat down and there was one more speaker left. Will, got up with not much time left and shared a story. He told a story about when he served a mission. He talked about going to a conference where they arranged for a man to speak with the missionaries. This man was actually ready and about to become an NFL football player. He told the missionaries about a time in his life where he fell away from the church. He had a girlfriend and had worked his whole life to achieve playing for his favorite college football team. His life was going so good and as planned, but it was at that time when he blew out his knee at one of the first games of the season, and lost his chance to play. With that he lost his girlfriend and what he felt was everything. He said he was so upset. He didn’t know how something he worked so hard for just got taken away like that. He lost faith in Jesus Christ he lost faith in really everything. And He fell away from the church. But soon he realized that this was a trial he would have to face and he wanted to make it positive so he decided he would start praying more, thanking heavenly father for what he had and reading his scriptures. Soon he found him self-serving a mission.  This man had to have so much faith in gods timing. Heavenly father had another plan for him.
After sacrament my sister came up and told me that her and her companion had a couple lessons that day and that they would like me to come. I remember I was so nervous because I wasn’t trained. I felt like I wasn’t ready but I was so excited. At one of the lessons, were siblings. The older brother had invited the missionaries over but wanted his little brother and sister to be there. Soon the older brother starts to tell us that he believed in god. His life was going as planned. But then he blew his knee out and couldn’t play football anymore. He said it was then that he lost all faith.
I sat there are thought to my self….. We just heard this same story in sacrament. We can help him to understand that with faith, it can bring him the happiness he needs in his life. Paige, her companion and I started to teach him and his brother and sister and it was an amazing opportunity to see what missionary work is really like. How we are used as instruments in this wonderful work.
I love all of you and I love my family so much. I want to thank my parents for their constant love and support. I’m so blessed to have amazing parents like you. I want to thank my sister Paige for her example. Writing her every week on her mission was an amazing experience for me. I missed one week so I told Paige she only gets one free p-day but other than that I expect a letter every week ;) thank you to everyone who got me to this point in my life. And thank you to everyone who is here today. I know this church is true. It has brought so much joy into my life. And I can’t wait to bring that joy into peoples home and lives. I loved when my sister gave her homecoming talk and said, “ we are apart of something BIG” because it’s so true. This church is something I wouldn’t be able to live without. For me the church and its teaching brings so much peace into my life. We can all share it with others. I love the quote that says
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.”
I’m making the smallest step in the direction to serve but it will change me in the biggest ways. For all of you that small step may and can be many things. But with faith those steps can change your life forever.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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