Monday, December 9, 2013

Speakin' in Church

So, yesterday, I was asked to speak in church about my mission and such. I know that many of you (cough, Grammy, cough) wanted to know what I said! :) So, below is the blog-ified version of my talk. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to speak! :)
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            Last year ago this time, I was living in Logan, Utah going to Utah State and beginning my mission papers. I remember the day that I met with my bishop and decided to start the process. I remember literally skipping home to my apartment that night in the dark, absolutely elated that I had been so blessed to have been able to begin the first steps toward my mission.
            A couple of weeks later, I had an experience that very suddenly and strongly impressed me that I needed to transfer to BYU-Idaho. I had been accepted into both schools and had gone to Utah State because I couldn't start at BYU-I until January. I hadn't thought much of it. I really liked Utah State and had no intentions of leaving. However, I soon learned that the Lord had different plans in store for me. So with that began the insane whirlwind of packing my things, desperately trying to find housing at the then-crowded BYU-Idaho, and calling teachers begging them to let me into their already-full-with-a-zillion-students-on-the-waitlist-classes. And on top of that, this was all happening during the week before finals at Utah State.
            So in January, I started at BYU-Idaho. Everything miraculously fell into place. I was incredibly blessed and had a wonderful semester filled with new adventures and new friends. I took an incredible mission-prep class, with an even more incredible teacher. I learned so many things that semester and became much closer to my Heavenly Father. In February I was able to fly home to open my mission call and I found out that I would be going to Cleveland, Ohio. I was beyond excited and the next months went by quickly.
            In April I came home and I spent the next few weeks preparing for my mission. I also was able to go through the Denver temple, which was an incredible experience. I gave my farewell talk at the end of April the day before I turned nineteen. I can honestly say that was one of the very happiest days of my life.
            In May I left for the MTC in Provo! It was a whirlwind twelve day experience. I couldn't believe that it had been less than two weeks, it felt like much longer and never in my life had I grown so much in such a short period of time. We flew to Ohio near the end of May and the real fun began. I met my companion, Sister O'Driscoll, and found out that I would be going to an area called Massillon. The whole time I was there I was keenly aware that my friends and family were at home calling it Mass-ih-lawn.
            As soon as I arrived in Ohio, I felt like I was home. I could feel the spirit in the air and the energy in the ground. Northeastern Ohio is a very sacred place, filled with so much Church History and spiritual revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. When I began to meet people there, especially those in my area, everything just clicked. I loved being a missionary and I had a great companion. There were many days when I felt like we could conquer the world, and share the gospel  with everyone, everywhere with no trouble at all. It was wonderful. One of the greatest things that I was able to experience was seeing the Light of Christ, given to all men, in the eyes of everyone that we came in contact with. Doctrine and Covenants section 84, verse 46 says, "And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit." Everyone has goodness in them, and everyone needs the Savior, Jesus Christ. Some people are quick to accept His gospel, others take more time. But every single person on this planet at one point chose to follow Him, to follow His gospel, and chose to be here. The most incredible feeling in the world is reminding others that they are a child of God and that He loves them infinitely. Helping them remember and getting to see the joy that it brings to them when they do, brought so much joy to me and I am so grateful that I had that opportunity.
            Though most of the time things were wonderful, there were also many challenges. My companion, Sister O'Driscoll, had a lot of trouble breathing that came back a few weeks after I had arrived. It was scary watching her frequently gasp for air and not knowing what I could do to help her. Eventually, after many doctors visits, she got better. It was only a few days after she had started feeling well that I got sick. It started out mild and then got much worse until I was completely debilitated and in constant pain. After many Priesthood blessings, a couple of trips to the E.R. and many doctors appointments, I still was not getting better. I had been sick for a few weeks when those around me stopped nudging and started practically pushing me to go home. I wasn't having it. I absolutely loved my mission, even through the struggles and trials, and there was absolutely no way that I was leaving. They even let me call my mom one day, something that a couple of months earlier I would have begged to do. The conversation was short and it consisted mainly of me tearfully insisting that I would not come home. My heart was in Ohio. Many pieces of my heart are still there.
            Through all of this protesting, I was quietly noticing the nudge from Heavenly Father, telling me that it was okay to go. That it was the right thing to do. That I needed to go home. Finally, one day after another conversation with my mission president and her wife , I went in my bedroom alone and got down on my knees and prayed to know if I should go.  The answer came as a peaceful, powerful, and resounding YES. I knew the answer before I was hardly into my prayer at all. I accepted it and then felt so much peace. That decision did not come easy, it was a decision one hundred times harder than choosing to leave all that I knew for a year and a half to come to Ohio. Leaving was hard. But it was the right thing.
            Though I know that I have not lived long on this Earth, I have learned in ways that have solidified it to be completely absolute in my soul that I will trust God and his will always. Even if that means going to a school in a state that I have rarely been in, knowing not a soul. To packing up and leaving to spend a few short months at a different school, knowing very few people. If it means traveling across the country knowing no one and serving a people whom I know nothing about. And even if it means picking up my heart that had become attached to those very people and going back across the country to battle an illness that has still gone undiagnosed, I will do it. No matter what it is, I will always do it.
            From a talk given in November 1995, Elder Richard G. Scott said, "When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.
            This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.
            To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love."
            When we face our trials with the attitude of Isaiah who says, "Also, I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here Am I, Send Me," trusting in and following God's will becomes easy and nearly second nature. By doing so, we bring blessings upon us and  those around us. I have never once regretted an unexpected or uncomfortable decision that I made because I knew it was what God wanted me to do. Everything has always turned out much better than I could have possibly imagined.
            Each of us has different paths in life that we must take. Through trusting in the Lord and praying for guidance, then frequently taking a leap of faith, often into something that seems like a cloudy pool of frigid water, we become closer to God. We learn to rely on Him and we come to learn and remember our purpose here on this earth. He knows of paths for us that will bring us many blessings that we could not obtain on our own. He is always on our side.
            In 3 Nephi, right before Christ appears in the Americas, chapter 11 verse 3 says, "And it came to pass while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn." What comes to mind most often when reading or talking about this scripture is that the voice was a small voice. However, I think that this scripture is also a perfect example of how you can hear promptings from the Holy Ghost, but nothing will happen until you take that leap of faith, trust God, and allow the prompting into your heart.
            I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world; He is the Savior of each one of us. Each day that I come closer to Him, my joy and love for life and others increases. I am so grateful for Him and I am grateful for our loving Heavenly Father who allowed Him to come.  I know that His gospel has been restored in its completeness and perfect truthfulness on this earth today and Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet of God. I am grateful for the living prophet Thomas S. Monson who leads and guides Christ's church through His guidance today. I am grateful the many blessings that I have in my life, and I am grateful to have been blessed with so many wonderful friends and family. Most importantly, I am grateful for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.