Man today has been pretty sick. I've been just chilling with the other Elders and waiting for the internet to work. It was really funny, the other two Elder's were waiting forever for their internet and mine worked before theirs. They had to wait five minutes longer than me. Mom you can't visit me on my mission before I'm even gone to the MTC! Any ways, P-day is going to be sick today, we are playing basketball with Nelson Missionaries and it should be fun. Miss you guys like crazy. Ha-Ha =)
Hello Brothers and Sisters. For my farewell talk I am going to be talking about the decision to serve a mission and the spirit that comes with it. This decision to serve a mission was a difficult one to make, not because I didn’t want to serve a mission but because of the influences of life. This decision though hard can be easier when the decision is made in your youth.
Young men, and women if you make the decision to serve a mission now it is going to be hard, BUT then when the time draws nearer to start your mission papers and submit them. And then doubts start going through your head like I don’t think I know enough or I’m not sure if this is for me. THINK BACK TO THE TIME WHEN YOU MADE THIS DECISION AND THOSE DOUBTS WILL LEAVE.
I speak from personal experience. I made the decision to serve a mission when I was fourteen. I went out on splits with the missionaries and Colten all the time. When I was fourteen nobody listened to us, and I got to see just how hard it was going to be. But the Elder who was with me, Elder Sowchuck always told me do not be discouraged when they refuse, because you will find the person who needs this message. Last July I was thinking a lot about my mission and whether I should serve or not and why I even wanted to serve a mission, and one day near the end of July my answer came to me, I should serve a mission, I wanted to serve a mission but not because that’s what my parents wanted or because it is a priesthood duty, but because I love the Lord and people need what I have to say. They need to know that the Lord loves them and that they can be with their loved ones for eternity. There were many more reasons flooding to me of why I wanted to serve a mission.
The desire to serve a mission is a wonderful feeling and I will share a couple that I have had. When I got my answer to why I should serve, as the reasons were flooding to me I was overcome with this burning desire and the motivation that I needed to carry me through to do it. Another time was General Conference, President Monsons now famous announcement of the missionary age changes. Not many of you now that I wasn’t there. I wasn’t able to attend that session of general conference, BUT the Lord always sends a messenger and this messenger came in the form of Cody Sloot. Cody came to Tim Hortons to tell me that the mission age had been lowered and when he told me the news I wanted to just shake his hand, leap over the counter and shout praise and I almost did haha but a coworker told me to get to work. But once more this overwhelming burning desire to spread the gospel was being testified to me by the Holy Ghost. I felt like I had the power of Heavenly Father with me. The most important time I had this feeling was when my call came, now some of you know that I HAD BEEN DILIGENTLY CHECKING THAT MAILBOX FOR 2 OR 3 WEEKS EVERYDAY and not just once a day three or four times every day, and you know what happened! haha my mom got to it before I did, I got home checked the mailbox of course and went inside disappointed and there it was on the TABLE, I was so excited. My call had finally arrived, but then came the dreaded line ‘we have to wait until tonight to open it so that everyone can be there and listen to it’.
After what seemed like forever, the time came. When you put your papers in don’t be thinking I don’t want to go to this place or I hate this food, weather, and so on, because now the secret is revealed, heavenly father sometimes will send you to that place, because it will be hard and it will teach you humility. So just keep thinking I will go where the Lord wants me to go and when you read that place you feel what I felt.
As I was reading my call the spirit inside me was burning stronger and stronger until finally I said where I was going and the desire to serve was just too much and I wanted to be set apart the next day enter the MTC and begin my mission. There was just one problem. Heavenly Father felt like testing my patience, or lack of it because I don’t enter the MTC until May 01, I had received my call around January fourth.
But I would try and work a way around that. I had created a brilliant fail proof plan the next day haha. My plan was simple, I would write a letter to Mission Headquarters, The MTC, Milan Mission Headquarters and the stake president all requesting that I was needed right away and that I was able, willing, and ready to serve. Also I called the bishop to request that he notify the stake president, I was going to call the stake president also to make sure that he got notified that I wanted to be requested earlier and I PHONED, actually phoned the Salt Lake Mission Headquarters and told them that I wanted to serve now, they told me talk to your stake president. Now these letters never got written but I almost wrote them. However, when I spoke to Bishop Redekop and explained my plan and its purpose and goal he was very kind and proceeded to thwart my fail proof plan in one question. What if you got sent somewhere else? I said ‘That wouldn’t happen (Sounding all confident) Would it (worried)’ and then I digested that in my mind and Bishop Redekop simply replied ‘I don’t know it might, do you really want to risk it.’ And so I learned a valuable lesson that night that I am sure I will always remember. The Lord knows best and he knows when, where and why you are needed at a place at a certain time and had I tampered with that It would have an effect on me, and the prospective person looking for the gospel. I know that I am meant to be in the Italian Milan Mission and that my entrance is planned for a reason on May 01.
Every decision you make has a consequence good or bad, being the youngest I got to see and make lots of decisions with good or bad consequences. But the best decision I ever made was to serve as a missionary for two years and I look at the changes that happened in my brother Christopher and I can’t wait to be like that. If you get a desire to serve a mission, hold onto that desire and pray about it then if the answer comes in any way that you should serve, then commit to it or the thought will leave and become difficult to make.
While I was preparing my talk I typed into the search engine lds decision to serve a mission. I figured Heavenly Father would help me and to my delight I found a talk titled ‘Missions, Only You Can Decide’ the talk is given by Devin Durant in the April 1984 General Conference he said some really good things but this is what I will share quote “Many of the obstacles we face are those within our own minds. For just a minute I want to talk directly to you—just you. You who might say, ‘I have this girlfriend’; or, ‘I’ve got a good job and a car’; or, ‘I’ve never been good at schoolwork, and I know I could never memorize scriptures and all those discussions’; or, ‘I can’t talk to people who I don’t even know’; or, ‘I couldn’t be obedient to all the rules missionaries follow’; or, ‘I don’t really know the Church is true, so how could I tell others about it?’ To those who have such thoughts and feelings: if you don’t now have a testimony, you can gain one on a mission. Your girlfriend will be all right. You can learn the scriptures and discussions well enough to be effective. You’ll have the courage you need to talk to strangers. You can be obedient. You can do it.” End quote.
I am going to share some things which might help you feel that desire to serve, and if you feel the desire pray about it and think about this true story I am about to share. A 19year old didn’t know whether or not he wanted to serve a mission but one night changed his life forever, he had a vision of the past from heavenly father. He was in the preexistence and he was rejoicing because he was being born into a family who was active in the church, in his excitement he noticed one of his best friends who was sad and upset, he turned to him and asked ‘whats wrong’ his friend replied I will not be born into the church, but am going to be brought up outside of it, promise me you will find me, promise me you will do all you can to bring me back to heavenly father.’ With much sorrow he promised he would and they went through the veil. That man served a mission because of that and near the end of his mission found his friend. Brothers and Sisters, Young men and young women that story helped me with my desire to serve because though I have not had a vision, what if I made that promise and chose not to serve. Who would I be letting down, and who’s salvation was I responsible for. What friend is being prepared for me to find them. Our friends are counting on us. We may not know them but god knows them and he loves them and we used to love them. The joy that I get out of this gospel is too much for just me and I must give it to others. I promise you that if you make the decision you will be strengthened by the spirit in your life, at the time I thought those experiences unique but nothing worth sharing, but the lord knows that someone needs to hear them and feel them. He prepares us throughout our lives for this purpose I feel I need to warn you as well. Beware of Satan and his followers, when you make that decision he will try everything to mess it up. Hold true to the church and read your scriptures, I know that it is repeated all the time but I never knew how hard Satan would try to end those plans any way he could but he tries. So prepare now and make the decision so you can build your faith and testimony that when Satan comes and tries you that you may stand victorious and not regret decisions. I know that if I had not made the decision or had the experiences I mentioned It would be less likely I would be standing here today. I know that serving this mission will make me change in the areas heavenly father wants me to change in order to be the best missionary possible.
Life gets difficult all the time, and its not just going to stop because you aren’t going on a mission. Now is the time to prepare, so prepare the best you can so that you can stand as a proud and loving son or daughter of god and say to the people you teach, I know this church is true and explain how you know. Become familiar with the spirit always listen to music that is uplifting and lets the spirit grow. Avoid movies with swearing and inappropriate matter whatever it might be. Keep the commandments, and be diligent in being temple worthy so that the spirit can make you grow. Always remember that your Heavenly Father loves you and that he has a personal plan of happiness for each of us.
In first Nephi when Lehi tells his sons that they need to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, the two eldest brothers murmur, Laman and Lemuel complain and Nephi says I will go and I will do the things the Lord commands and he goes on to say that he knows that the lord doesn’t give impossible commandments, that he always provides a way. Just as Nephi of old we too can trust in the Lord, as you make the decision to serve now he will strengthen you and give you the tools to strengthen you. You just need to learn to pick them up and use them. Some of these tools are the scriptures as I already mentioned and the Preach My Gospel, seminary, General Conference talks, and the missionaries can be useful in preparation. Young men go on splits with the missionaries, or go to lessons with them. The spirit you bring will make a difference and you will see how the Lord will bless you in time.
The spirit you can feel from missionary work is a marvelous thing. If you want to feel that feeling then go out with the missionaries, you will find a significant difference in the quality of happiness that you feel if you do. The Joy this gospel brings is enough for the whole world and the world deserves it, and it is our job to give it to them. The decision to serve will be one of the best things you ever decided to do because you will know that what you are doing is making a difference to people and to Heavenly Father and when you are asked how did you show love to others you will be able to say I gave them the best thing I had to offer, Eternal happiness and joy. The decision to serve doesn’t just effect you but it effects the investigators you would have met, and their children. If you have something holding you back, whatever it might be, whether it be a feeling of inadequacy or physical limitations, or sin. If you have the desire to serve, set your mind to it and do it. Pray for strength or forgiveness or healing, fast with a purpose to be able to serve, get a priesthood blessing if necessary. The Lord wants you to serve, so if you have the desire to serve but require a blessing ask a Melchezidek priesthood holder and if it is the Lords will you will be healed.
The temple will help you to understand of why you want to serve a mission, because the feeling you get when you do baptisms for the dead is the same feeling you can have with you as you serve the Lord by baptizing his sons and daughters who are living. It is important that you learn to recognize the spirit if you don’t already. For when the spirit prompts you to do something it is important that you do it, too many times during lessons with the missionaries did I feel a prompting to ask a question or say something but was afraid to do so. Luckily for me the Lord would give them the same promptings and the words would be spoken.
When you make the decision to serve a mission and the reasons why you are going are because you want to, there is a different spirit, a more powerful spirit. There are always reasons why not to serve but if you find one reason to serve it stands out amongst the rest. The people you meet, the places you go to, and when you are in a place is all for a reason. Heavenly father prepares us for this task. I found that throughout my life the experiences I’ve had the mistakes I’ve made have all had purpose. Though mistakes damage faith, when you bounce back from it and repent and go back to heavenly father, you will find your faith has grown. I hope that you have the desire to serve a mission, or are at least thinking about it. I know that if you haven’t made the decision but are thinking about it, go to the temple. Bring your scriptures and your patriarchal blessing and then pray about it. Read your patriarchal blessing and open the scriptures and find your answer. The Lord wants us to succeed and he wants others to succeed and one way to do that is through missionary work.
I cannot say enough that the time to make the decision is now, and not when you turn eighteen or nineteen. In most cases that isn’t enough time to fully prepare for a mission. There were plenty of ways I should have prepared more to strengthen my testimony and so if you have the desire to serve a mission then prepare now and don’t procrastinate for you will be joyful when you realize how effective you are.
Always be temple worthy and go there often, and be ever watchful, if you are struggling, pray for help and guidance and do as the spirit prompts you to. I know this church is true and I know that heavenly father will help me to grow and help me serve him to my full potential. I know Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon with the power of god and restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth. I know that as you seek an answer that if you turn to prayer and scripture Heavenly Father will answer you. I know that repentance is key for preparing and that the savior did suffer and die on the cross for all of us so we can repent and live Heavenly Father again. I know that if you seek a blessing of healing if it is Heavenly Fathers will you can be healed if you trust in god and truly want to be healed. I love this church and say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.