My farewell talk
given: Sunday August 22, 2010
given: Sunday August 22, 2010
Standing up here in front of you today, I am immediately filled with a sincere love for each one of you and thank you for your support. I have prayed intently that the message I deliver this day, through my words, will be sent directly to your hearts through the divine power of the spirit testifying of its truth. A profound quote I once read states; “Love is the most noble attribute of the human soul”. What is it about true love that touches every heart? John Grohberg said, “Every person that comes to this earth is a spirit child of God, since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved.”
In a well-known Broadway Play, there is a song that shows the transforming power of love from one person to another. In this story, a woman who has sad and difficult circumstances in her life is surprised and overcome when someone she admires shows her love and friendship.
Oh, if someone like you
Found someone like me,
Nothing would ever be the same!
My heart would take wing,
And I'd feel so alive -
If someone like you
So often, when we feel loved by someone in our life, it lifts our spirits and opens our heart, as we realize how very much God loves His children. Because of the love I have received from so many people throughout my life, I believe this has helped me to transform, and I am so thankful for these individuals. I feel so blessed to have such a clear understanding that I do have a Father in Heaven that loves me unconditionally, and with this knowledge, how could I not take this opportunity to share this with others and make them “feel so alive”. This is what we, as missionaries, are called to do in this great work: Exemplify God’s love for them through us.
My personal decision to go on a mission has come from quite an interesting journey and today I would like to present that to you.
Through the years, I have seen so many friends and family members come and go on missions. As I attended their farewells, I admired them for the selfless commitment to embark on a two-year mission learning foreign languages and experiencing new cultures so they could bring souls unto Christ. Two of my closest guy friends who are twins invited me over to be there to open their mission calls. I will never forget that spirit that filled the room as their closest friends and family were gathered for this occasion. As they opened their calls tears filled their eyes as they both read that they were serving in Ecuador, but in different cities. After congratulations and hugs with friends and family they explained to all of us that they had been praying and had a strong feeling they would both be sent to the same country. I will never forget that experience as I had a glimpse of what it would be like to open a call and have the chance to be a witness for Jesus Christ. I felt such a strong desire to go myself.
A few months later my family traveled to Uruguay, where my brother served his mission, to pick him up and see the places he served. As we got off the 12 hour flight to the city in which he was serving, I remember seeing my brother for the first time and embracing him, I felt his warm and spiritual presence as a missionary. For a week, we traveled all around the country visiting the people’s homes he had taught and converted, while enjoying the sights and culture. The whole week we were there, I observed the way my brother talked to these wonderful families of Uruguay and how much they appreciated and loved him for the things he had done for them. Although I did not speak the language (Spanish) that they did, I could feel a deep love for every person I encountered while in this country just by looking into their eyes and feeling a sincere and loving bond with them. One of the families that we met wanted to be with us all night and fed us all the food they had to offer. As we said our goodbyes, the mother of the family hugged my mom for the longest time and told her how much she truly is grateful for my brother Nick and will always think of him like a son because of the joy and light he brought to their family that will change them forever. I couldn’t believe all the neat and amazing things my brother had learned and accomplished in those two years serving a mission. He had become a whole new person and I desired to be like his example and wanted to someday finish the work he started. This trip was a glimpse of what a mission is like and it pushed me to one day follow my brother’s footsteps and do as he had done.
Another one of my close friends, Robert, got called to serve in Chile and he asked me to sing in Spanish at his farewell “I believe in Christ”. All of my family and friends were there and after the meeting my brother approached me, without any hesitation, told me that he believed I would serve a Spanish-speaking mission someday. This comment from my brother stuck with me overtime and really motivated me become close to my Savior, and to consider preparing to serve a mission in the future.
With a mission in mind, I thought it would be a good experience for me to go on a study abroad. That month that I was in Ghana, Africa my life completely changed as I knew it. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the service that I did while I was there. That was one of the happiest and hardest times I had ever gone through being on my own. I learned to love, to serve, and work hard. I developed a passion for the beautiful and diverse people of this country and provided them with all the love in my heart I had to offer. These people inspired and changed me in just one month. The last night I was there, three young African boys stood in front of me with tears in their eyes and sadness in their hearts. I found these three boys not just by chance and had treated them and loved them as my own sons. It was hard to get in the cab and look back at those three boys standing in a row, wishing I did not have to leave them. I promised them that night that I would pray for them by name daily and keep them in my heart always. Not knowing if I would ever see these beautiful faces again; I received peace in knowing that could be reunited in the heavens again, remembering our love for one other that we found on earth.
A few weeks after I got back from my trip, my friend Scott got home from his mission and I was able to attend his homecoming talk. I sat front row and listened tentatively to the words that he poured out of his heart about how much he loved and enjoyed his mission. Aleida Wakefield also spoke that day, and talked about her life, her journey, and how she served a mission herself. I was overwhelmed by the spirit that day and was so moved by the stories that had been shared. After the talks I went right up to the stage to tell my friend how happy I was about his experience. Before I got there, Sister Wakefield gave me a sincere and long hug. I had only met her a few times, but she told me she felt inspired to hug and speak with me. She said that she could not help but notice the look I had as I listened to the talks that day about missionary work and how she could tell how touched I was by the stories. She said that when she was about 20 she attended friend’s homecoming talk as well and felt the exact same passion and desire I had that same day during the meeting. She told me to not waste anytime and to put in my papers as soon as I could because she knew, just like she knew when she was my age, that I felt the same and wanted to encourage and act on this desire.
This summer as Camille and I traveled to Guatemala to work in an Orphanage, I had a strong desire to seek out and find someone specifically to connect with, and give extra love to. I prayed to my Father in Heaven and had strong faith to be guided by the Holy Spirit to find them.
When I first met this cute family in the park, I did not think much of it and just said hi to them a few times. Every time we would pass through central park where they worked, I would get this strong impression to be with and help this particular family. The mother Maria, her six year old son Danny, and her three year old daughter Vikki, just had the most clear and vibrant light about them that made me feel such a connection to them and longing to form a friendship and show them kindness and love.
I spent all of my down time visiting this family in the park and goofing around with the kids, bonding with Maria, taking them out to eat, bringing them to church, and most importantly just enjoying their company and showing them my love. Right before I left Guatemala, I got pictures developed of Maria's kids and I, and I wrote messages to them in Spanish that I would miss them and be praying for them. When I gave them to Maria, she was just so grateful and her eyes filled up with tears. It was one of the hardest things saying goodbye to this beautiful and wonderful family I had met, but I know they will be protected and filled with God's love as I have prayed and thought about them from that day on. I am not sure if Maria read the book of Mormon that I gave to her, and I am not sure if they will ever go to church again, but what I do know is that I was lead to this precious family by the Holy Spirit to introduce them to the gospel and to shower them with Christ's perfect love and light.
After looking back on all these different and life changing experiences I have had all around the world, I will never forget the people I met, the feelings I have felt, and the understanding of my divine purpose on this earth, which is to feel and share Christ-like love. Brothers and sisters I stand before today to testify that we are to feel of God’s love for us and willingly seek out and share it with others. In doing this, we will have peace, calmness, comfort, light, relief, and will be motivated to do more good.
In Luke 10:27 it talks about the intensity of love, and that we are to love God with all our heart, our soul, and our strength. God’s love fills the immensity of space, so there is no shortage of love in the universe. There is only shortage if we are not willing to do what is needed to feel it. In order to feel this sacred reward, we need to be prepared to seek it.
“When we understand who God is, who we are, how He loves us, and what His plan is for us, fear evaporates. When we get the tiniest glimpse of these truths, our concern over worldly things vanishes”.
In Moroni 7:48 we find this instruction:
“Wherefore, pray unto the father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with his love”.
The missionary manual that is used to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ is titled “Preach my Gospel”. The first principle in the opening lesson is that we are God’s children and that he loves us. Every gospel principle that is taught after that, supports this one truth. God loves His children, he gave us the gift of His son and the Atonement. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and every lesson points to this. The knowledge of God’s love and the gift of His son is what motivates members to get up early and go to seminary or church meetings, it motivates people to sacrifice time, money, material things, to serve members and serve in their ward, in the community and to serve their fellow men. It motivates thousands and thousands of young people to give 2 years of their life to share this love with God’s children all over the world. It is truly the underlying power and force of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since so many souls are searching for answers about life and about God, this is the perfect way to begin teaching. Especially if people are confused or experiencing hard times or sorrow, when they realize this pure, unconditional, cleansing, healing shining love of God and Christ is available to them, they are comforted and feel joy. Pain and sorrow can literally be melted away with this pure love. After a time of confusion and soul searching that I experienced myself, I can confidently state today that I have found this perfect love and will carry it to Argentina on my mission to the souls who are seeking for it.
I want to express my gratitude to the many people in this room that have inspired and guided me to where I am today. Every single one of your bright spirits has taught me what unconditional love is, and have driven me to follow that example. I want everyone to know that I am answering the call to action and will strive with everything I have in my soul to serve my Heavenly Father. I want to show the people of Argentina what the Atonement of Jesus Christ-the ultimate act of love, can do for them in their lives. Because of the influence you have all had on me, I know that I will carry a piece of each of you in my heart as I represent the church and the principles that are taught.
To anyone that is pondering a mission and have felt a desire to serve, I encourage you to press forward with your faith, seek out God’s counsel, and he will give you an answer. To the sister missionaries before me (Rique & Derian Carroll, & Ashley) and to all of you missionaries that have gone out into the world and done your part, I would like you to know that I have immense faith, I am completely committed, and I am more than ready to go out for a year and a half to continue the work that you have begun.