Today exceeded all of my expectations. For the past couple weeks the reality of leaving on a mission had began to sink in and I suddenly became overwhelmed, rethinking if I would be able to serve a mission well and if it was really the right decision for me. Deep down I knew that the decision to go on a mission was right but it was still a hard concept to process. However, today while giving my talk I was embraced by the power of the spirit, and I am not a cryer but the spirit was soo strong in that room and while I was giving my talk the spirit confirmed to me that I was doing exactly what was right. I felt so much love coming from all those that came to support me, and I was completely touched by all the amazing people who love and support me that have been blessing in my life and have seen me grow up.
I feel that going on a mission is exactly what I am supposed to do, I know that I have been commanded to go. I feel that with out making the decision to go I would be missing a part of myself I need to reach the potential of the person I am supposed to be. Now I know that it will not have the same spirit by just reading it, because the spirit it what really made that moment special but here is my talk for those who were not able to be there.
MY FARWELL TALK-Recognizing the Spirit
My brother has learned from an early age that he can receive answers to his prayers. One day Scott related to us that when our dogs, big dog, runs away he prays that we will be able to find him and sure enough we always do. Later my dad exclaimed that every time Scott’s prayer is answered, his prayers of our dog not being found are must be getting ignored.
Our church is unique to every other church because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost and can receive answers to our prayers. This is one of our most precious gifts that will help us in every aspect of our lives. It is important to have faith when receiving revelation and listen to each prompting, recognizing that Heavenly Father knows what is best for us.
I remember the first time I encountered a strong prompting from the Spirit. I was about nine years old, and my family and I were at the Fourth of July carnival at the Laguna Hills community center. In the mist of all the fun and food little Scotty got lost in all the action. We began to panic, because Scott was only a little guy, and there was a very large crowd. As we split up to search for him I got this feeling that I should check back at our blanket. I remember thinking there was no way little Scott could have found his way back to our blanket, there were hundreds of blankets spread all over the fields and it had already began to become dark. I kept on searching for him until I had another feeling to check back at the blanket, once again I thought that there was absolutely no way that little three year old Scotty could possibly be back at our blanket. However, as the search became hopeless I finally gave into the feeling and went back to the blanket, where sure enough little Scotty was sitting alone on our blanket waving his little fourth of July Flag telling me that I was going to be late for the fireworks and that they were about to start.
We must always put our full faith and trust in the Lord. As simple as it sounds, this is not always easy. We live in a day and age where most of us are well educated and independent, leading us to believe that we know what is best. However, in Isaiah the Lord declared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Last summer I made the decision to move to Indiana to install security systems for a summer job. My friend had invited me to go with him and after praying about the decision I felt like it was a good idea to go. I sold my apartment contract for the summer and packed everything up and was ready to go. However the day I was supposed to leave to drive up to Indiana I received a call from my manager telling me that since I was the only girl they could not find housing and they no longer needed me for the summer so I would not be able to go. This was extremely hard for me because I was now homeless and jobless, and upset that I had misinterpreted the answer to my prayers. I was sure that going to Indiana was the right decision so why did my plan fail? However, after talking to a one of my wise friend he explained to me that maybe Heavenly Father did actually want me to make the decision to go to Indiana but it wasn’t the exact plan that I had in mind. As I continued on with my summer I found that this was true. The company ended up paying me $700 for doing nothing to make up for my “pain and suffering”. And I ended up finding an extremely cheaper apartment than the one I had before which saved me money, I finally found a good job which paid well and met some friends that have been a large influence and blessing in my life.
Even though we accept God’s answers to our prayers and follow the spirit, once we made a decision we still need to trust and have faith in our decision and know because we have trust in the Lord’s answers we will be taken care of. We may not always understand why we are taking a certain path, and understand our answers to our prayers but by having faith in the Lord we will not regret following the Spirit.
All of us came down to this earth with a specific purpose. We live in one of the most testing and trying of times. Living in the last days requires us to be strong and have the Holy Ghost be the guidance in our lives. We must always keep the Spirit close. Living in the day and age leaves no more room for fence sitters, sometimes it is easy to go through the motions, going to church each week and participating in our callings. However, we live in a time where we have and will be asked to do more and fight for righteousness and the Gospel. Living during this time has given us large responsibilities to represent the Church and to defend it. So many other things of the world will try to convince us that our ways are wrong, but if we follow the promptings of the Spirit we will know and remember God’s ways.
The spirit is a gentle voice that is sometimes difficult to hear over the shoutings of the world, President Boyd K Packer describes the voice of the Spirit “as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh;. It is ‘ not a voice of thunder, neither…voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper.’ And it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘ cause [the heart] to burn.” With everything going on in the world the Spirit cannot compete for our attention, these worldly voices will easily drown out spiritual impressions if we are not aware and careful.
But how do we know if our promptings come from the Spirit?
President Gordon B. Hinckley answered this, “That’s the test when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is the Spirit of God…and if you are doing the right thing and if you are living the right way, you will know in your heart what the Spirit is saying to you.”
If you are living a life that is righteous and in tune with the Spirit, you will know when you are receiving a prompting of the spirit. One of the most important ways to feel the Spirit is to have humility and trust in the Lord.
Going on a mission was a difficult decision for me. At the time no girls I knew were going. My whole life I had wanted to go on a mission but as the time came for me to decide to go, I began to have strong reservations. I loved my life at BYU, I had a lot of friends and I was close to graduating. If I didn’t go I would still be happy and content with the way my life was. I thought about going on a Mission and it was scary. I was leaving alone, and I would come back at 23 years old still not graduated with all my friends graduated, married and gone. However, going on a mission never left my thoughts. As I prayed about leaving I would feel a sense of happiness and light. I knew deep down that going on a mission was the right decision despite all my reservations. I knew that God would take care of me if I followed the path he wanted me to take.
Waiting for my call was difficult, I prayed every night that I would go wherever the Lord desired me to go as long as I was able to receive revelation that it is where I am supposed to go. For three weeks I stalked the mail man, almost to the point of him needing a restraining order, until finally I found him on his route and asked him if he had gotten any mission calls that day, obviously by now he knew what apartment I was in and got out that precious envelope, which I carried around campus as if it were my baby until I was finally allowed to open it. When I opened my call with my roommates and family, I have never received such a strong witness of the spirit. As I read the words Philippines, Cebu mission all my anxieties and fears about going on a mission disappeared. I knew with all my heart that there were people there for me specifically that I am supposed to touch and they will in return change my life. Although, going on a mission is still somewhat scary, I know I am doing exactly what the Lord wants me to do. It has been the biggest blessing in my life and I believe whether or not a person is going on a mission they must prepare as if they are.
Live your life as if you were preparing for a mission because we are all missionaries our whole lives and my preparation for a mission has changed my life and brought me closer to the spirit than I have ever been before. I have been reading the scriptures more diligently and have received answers to my prayers through the scriptures. I have felt a stronger presence of the spirit in my life and worldly cares no longer sustain importance in my life. I testify that if you are having a hard time with something in your life, the more you read your scriptures and pray sincerely to God, you will receive comfort in the spirit and your problems and trials will become second to the things of the Gospel and spirit. Even now people and things of the world continue to convince me not to go on a mission. I’ve been told how terrible the Philippines will be and how hard it will be, and how weird sister missionaries are when they return off their missions. However, as I remember back to those feelings of confirmation and comfort I received from the spirit, I know that God will take care of me and those previous concerns and thoughts become lost.
I know that God answers our prayers. Maybe not always the way we want, but he answers our prayers in the way we need him to. While waiting for my mission call I wanted to go Spanish speaking, I said I would go anywhere, but my biggest desire was to be able to learn Spanish. Instead, I am learning the language of Cebuano, something I had never even heard of before. But God knows better, he knows that I am needed in the Philippines and my mission is not for me, its for the people and for giving back to a Father in Heaven that has given me so much and with knowing that, I would never want to go anywhere else.
Like I said before, our church is a unique church, because not only are we the only true church, but we can receive revelation for ourselves. We can talk with God on a personal level and confide in him with our hopes, dreams, fears and weaknesses. No matter where we are in our lives we will always have someone who will love us and listen. However, it is up to us to make this connection with our Heavenly Father, we can achieve this through our morning and nightly prayers and meditations. If we can take a few minutes every morning and night to read our scriptures and pray to the Lord we will have the Heavens opened to us and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit more fervently in our lives.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once talked of opening the heavens: “The manifestations of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels, or the development of the power, majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly, … but most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed Himself, it has been to individuals in private, in their chamber; in the wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult.
Unfortunately, modern life is filled with noise and tumult. Our society provides so many distractions that unless we make the time and effort to extract ourselves from them, the voice of the Spirit may not get through to us. That is why on a spring day in 1820, Joseph Smith left his home early to enter a grove of trees so he could pray in quiet seclusion about a question of religion. The answer came with astonishing clarity when both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him, ushering in the dispensation of the fullness of times.”
It is important to be able to have that personal time everyday with the Lord. Making an effort to personally meditate and talk to the Lord has given me the renewal and regeneration of the Spirit I have needed as I have felt of the Love of God while on my knees. It has helped me know the Savior on a more personal level and gain the strength I need from him.
When asked to choose a scripture for my mission, I prayed about which one I should choose and while I was searching my scriptures 2 Nephi 22:2 hit me with a special importance, it exclaims, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.” This scripture should be a theme of our lives and it will be how I want to serve my mission. If we trust in the Lord then there is no reason to be afraid, because he will take care of us if we are choosing the right everything will turn out for us in the end. Everyday as we pray and receive confirmation of the spirit we will have a renewal of strength and confidence and I will be preaching his Glory to the people of the Philippines and then to the people around me for the rest of my life.
Thanks to everyone who made this day special that I will always remember.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I went to my friend Gil's baptism today and the spirit was so strong. Almost everyone who had been with him from the beginning in high school were able to be there (except for Andrew who is on a mission). There was so much love in the room and Gil was glowing. I feel lucky to be able to see a success from missionary work and I feel privileged that am able to participate in similar events for the next year and a half. Although I have been nervous about going on a Mission, today I was reminded that nothing beats the final products of missionary work and it is by far the greatest work we can do in this life. I cannot wait, only 2 1/2 more weeks!!!