Friday, September 11, 2015

Heather's Mission Farewell talk on August 31, 2015

Bishop Dyer asked me to read President Eyring’s talk, “The Comforter” and connect it with my preparation to serve my mission. So first I’d like to talk a bit about the spirit’s influence in my decision to serve and my actual mission call. After I’ll talk a bit about some of the ideas in this talk by President Eyring.
As soon as I heard President Monson announce the missionary age change, I knew I wanted to serve. There was no doubt in my mind that this was what I WANTED to do. The question was what the Lord wanted me to do. I knew a mission wasn’t right for everyone I knew the Lord’s timing was also important. So I pressed forward, seeking the answer of what He would have me do. I kept up my faith, I continued to build my testimony, I waited for that answer.
One day Senior year I was sitting at the foot of my bed, reading my scriptures. I don’t remember what scripture it was or what it said. I just remember that I suddenly had the clear and absolutely sure thought enter my head: “I am going to serve a mission”.
From that moment I knew. I changed my words from “if I serve” to “when I serve”. And eventually everyone else knew too. I was going to be a missionary.
I know the spirit guided me as I determined when to serve. Originally I planned to leave in December, after just a semester of college. Eventually I decided on a year of school before my mission, then to go after the summer had ended as well. It was the best decision to wait until the year of school had ended. School was so good for me. I grew and learned so much. I needed that time away from home and away from my family. I needed the growth that came from the callings I had in my student ward. I was called as a Sunday school teacher and then as the first counselor in the Relief Society. Those two callings helped me to grow and learn so much.
So I put my papers in just as school ended. I got my call in the middle of May. I just wanted to share some of what I wrote the day my call was assigned.

“I hoped they’d call me on a mission and now they have! I have yet to know where that will be, but the Lord has called me. I don’t know where I’ll be called to. It could be on the other side of the world in some obscure country, or it could be in Provo, Utah. But the Lord has called me where he KNOWS I am meant to serve. I know preparing to serve a mission is what the Lord prompted me to do. Yes I have fears. I know it will be harder than anything I’ve faced. I know I will have huge trials, fears, complaints, struggles. I will miss my family and friends, and probably have problems with investigators and companions. But it is such a HUGE peace to know that I have been called to serve as a missionary. I do know Christ lives and I want so badly to bring people to that knowledge. That eagerness overpowers any fear or worries. I know who I am, I know God’s plan, and I’ll follow him in faith.  I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. Over Mountain, or plain, or sea. I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord. I’ll be where you want me to be! I will go and do and be and serve wherever the Lord commands and calls me to go.”

My call arrived and I felt pretty overwhelmed as I looked at that huge world map. Where was the Lord going to send me? What crazy language would I be required to learn or what culture would I have to attempt to understand? I was nervous, worried about where that call might be. But I knew that the Lord would call me where I was meant to be.
And so, I was called to serve in the Canada Montreal Mission, speaking French. It was like receiving a huge hug from my father in Heaven. I knew this mission was for me. I don’t think I could have selected a mission I’d be happier with than this. I knew it was where I was meant to be called. I knew beyond any doubt that I had been called of God. It is such a tender mercy that I have been called to speak French. That wasn’t a coincidence decided by a bunch of old men in suits. The Lord knew what it would mean to me to be called to speak French. For those of you who don’t know, my family has some very close friends who live in France. This family is like an extension to my own family and I love them dearly. The opportunity to better learn their language, to really communicate with them, is the greatest blessing I could ask for. Only my Heavenly Father could have known what a gift of love it would be to be asked to learn the French language.  There was no doubt in my mind that this call was the right one for me.
And so I prepared for my mission. We felt the need to prepare nearly everything before our trip to Europe. I felt strongly that I wanted to go through the temple before our trip. Even if I could only go that one time. My family went on our trip to Europe. There I was able to spend 3 weeks in France, 2 of which were spent with our wonderful friends.
Yesterday morning I was called by President Jackson with a decision to make. The MTC found my French good enough to put me on a faster track. But as a result, I could either enter 3 weeks early or 3 weeks late. September 9th or October 21st. This was the hardest decision to make. My siblings all begged me to stay longer. Plans for the next month also seemed to nudge in the direction of the later date. But my heart just wanted to serve. September 30th had felt far enough away, and waiting another month sounded almost unbearable. I prayed, I read some scriptures, and I talked with my family. Last week studying Preach My Gospel, I read the scripture D&C 15:6. As I was pondering the decision of when I should leave, I remembered this scripture.
“And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father”
The thing of most worth will be to declare repentance. I had been so eager to get into the mission field, why not accept this opportunity to enter even sooner? So I decided that I would leave with only one and a half weeks of notice. I would put aside my plans for the coming month, and instead head out to do this thing which will be of the most worth.
It’s a hard decision. I had to change my mentality completely. But as soon as I voiced my decision to leave now rather than later, I felt the greatest peace. I felt such great comfort and I felt so happy, knowing that this was the right decision.
I have felt the influence of the spirit so much in my life the past few years as I have decided and prepared to serve as a missionary. I have no doubt that the spirit has guided me. It has comforted me in my times of trial or lack of surety. It has strengthened me to keep moving forward.

Now transition a bit to President Eyring’s talk. I just wanted to echo a few of the things President Eyring said about The Comforter.
Matthew 11:28-30
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
His way is the only source of TRUE comfort. He is the only way to find strength and rest from our burdens
President Eyring talked of our baptismal promise to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort. He said:
“You promised that you would help the Lord make their burdens light and be comforted. You were given the power to help lighten those loads when you received the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
I love this. Yes, we have the Holy Ghost as our comforter. But we don’t simply sit back and allow it to do its job alone. We are all instruments in helping people to feel of this spirit. We are responsible for helping to bring others those promised blessings of the comforter.     This applies to me as a future missionary and to each of us as members. We mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort. We are ALWAYS needed to stand as witnesses of God.
As President Eyring put it, each of us feel, at times, “uncertain of our capacity to move forward”.
To give us the necessary strength to press forward and endure, our savior gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost. The presence of a comforter to comfort us when the ways of the world fail to do so.
In John 14:16-18, 26-27, Christ talks of this promised gift of the comforter.
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be with you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.         But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The comforter is my source of peace. In times of worry or loss, temptation or sadness. He truly is our only source of true and lasting peace. This verse really does a lot to calm my heart in times of trouble.
“Peace I leave unto you, MY PEACE I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The comforter brings us peace and strength REGARDLESS of what we face in this life. Regardless of the hard times we face, the spirit gives us the strength to continue. It allows for us to get through trial which are necessary to this life.  President Eyring said:
“That is part of the great plan of Happiness the Father gave us. He allowed his son to provide, by his atoning sacrifice, the hope that comforts us no matter how hard the way home to him may be”.
The spirit allows for us to feel that comfort of the atonement. It gives us the strength and courage to continue on, the peace and love to do so in a Christlike way. He allows for us to live joyful lives despite great times of trial. He helps us to feel the truth of our father’s plan and have the strength to endure.
In closing I wanted to share the words of one of my favorite hymns. It became very special to me after some hard times this school year. At times when I felt alone or worried about what life had ahead, the words of this song would put me at peace.              (hymn 129, where can I turn for peace)

I bear testimony that he is our own source of true comfort and peace. He is the one who understands. He truly is our savior and friend and his truly is a love without end.
Atonement (words cannot express)
Excited to declare
Peace and revelation granted by the spirit
Share this comfort with those I teach. To comfort, mourn, and stand as a witness in ALL that I do.
Grateful for this gospel, testimony, joy in my life

Echo these words I wrote in my journal the day my call arrived:

“He is with me now, and he will be as he sends me off in his service. My Lord is with me. He knows me and loves me. This I know—that God is real. Christ lives. He is my source of comfort, strength, peace, and joy. In him I can find the strength to do ALL things he might require of me. I love this gospel with all my heart, and I am so happy I can prepare to go out and serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength."





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