It came and went. I remember when I thought the day would never come but I did it and it’s over! I can’t believe how stressed I was for 6 months about giving my farewell talk. When I was up there, I felt more relaxed than I ever have giving a talk in sacrament. And I didn’t even need to use my barf bag I packed in my purse. God is good. 🙂
It was such a great day. I’m so grateful for every single person that was there supporting me. Even if you couldn’t make it, I still felt your support in spirit. It’s so overwhelming to think how many people are cheering me on. It moves me to tears to think about. I have such great people in my life and I will be forever grateful for each one of you.
I thought (hope) my farewell talk turned out great. I had been working on it for over three weeks. I was really struggling writing it because I felt it was all just a jumbled mess and it wasn’t coming together like I wanted it to. But when I got up there and read it, I felt it was just how it needed to be. I just hope I got the message across through my manly sounding cries. Haha! For my family that couldn’t make it to my farewell, I’ll post my talk at the end of this post. ßßß I also think the farewell gathering turned out awesome besides the lack of seating. I’ve never seen more people in my kitchen and living room than I did on Sunday. But there was so much love also.
It seems so unreal that I will be leaving in eight days to go preach the gospel to the people in Brazil, but I’m ready to embark on this journey and see the miracles unfold in my life by serving Jesus Christ. Every person deserves to know about this gospel. I’m so grateful for the testimony I have and I know that through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, all things are possible to them that believe. “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” (D&C 68:6-My mission scripture.)
Keep believing and keep the faith. 🙂
“I was given the topic “Being Converted and Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ”. I would like to split my talk into three different sections. First, gaining a testimony. We need a testimony in order to be converted. Second, being converted to the gospel. And third, being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
What is a testimony? A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. Dallin H. Oaks said: “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration”.
We know what a testimony is; now how do we gain one? We must have the desire. Alma 32:27 says: “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” We gain a testimony by acting. For example: If you want to lose weight, you aren’t going to start by sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser. You need to take action. By eating right and exercising. The same can apply to gaining a testimony. We need to act. And the way we can take action is by studying the scriptures, praying to Heavenly Father, going to church each Sunday and attending all of our meetings, and so on.
When on a quest to gaining a testimony, we must ask by praying. “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
So first, we need the desire. Second, we need to act on that desire. And third, we need to pray and ask Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost will confirm truth to us.
I would also like to add another step in gaining a testimony. Just like growing a plant, our testimonies need to be nurtured of they will wither. Obedience to the truths you know is what will keep our testimonies alive and growing. We need to nurture our testimonies. If we do not feed our testimonies, they will die. Elder Bednar said: “Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced.” We must always be true to our testimonies and continue to strengthen them because testimony is a point of departure; it is not an ultimate destination.
Jeffrey R. Holland in his conference talk “Lord, I Believe”, shared an example of a young boy. He said: “A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, “Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.” I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for “only believing.” I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase “We believe”.”
I would like to echo the words Elder Holland said. Belief is the start. If you feel you don’t have a strong enough testimony or it’s lacking, keep doing the things necessary to gain and strengthen your testimony. When you gain a testimony, be true to it and always “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”
We must always continue to strengthen our testimonies because strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established.
Conversion is a deepening base of a testimony. True conversion brings change in someone’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God. In the Bible Dictionary under conversion it says: “Conversion will change a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person—a new creature in Jesus Christ.” In order to be new creatures in Christ we need to honor our covenants and ordinances we have made, be steadfast in Christ, and endure in faith. By being converted, we give of our self to Heavenly Father for the gratitude we have for the gift of our testimony. As taught in 2 Nephi 28: 30, conversion comes line upon line and precept upon precept as we continually give ourself and our loyalty to Heavenly Father.
Samuel the Lamanite described five ways in the Book of Helaman we can become converted:
- Believe the teachings in the scriptures.
- Exercise faith in Jesus Christ.
- Experience a change of heart.
- Be firm and steadfast in your faith.
If those five ways are followed, it will lead to conversion.
Elder Bednar gave an example of the Ten Virgins and used that parable to describe the relationship between testimony and conversion. I would like to also. When I read the story of the Ten Virgins, I want you to think of the lamp as the lamp of testimony and the oil as the oil of conversion.
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps [of testimony], and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps [of testimony], and took no oil [of conversion] with them:
But the wise took oil [of conversion] in their vessels with their lamps [of testimony].
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps [of testimony].
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil [of conversion]; for our lamps[of testimony] are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Elder Bednar then posed the questions: “Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.”
Our conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be borrowed, it cannot be given, and it surely cannot be transferred.
Our testimonies are not enough to keep us from the storms of Satan. Like from examples in the scriptures, we know that if we have a few great moments of spiritual power, it will not be enough. Peter denied Christ even after he received confirmation that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world. The Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon directly had testimony given to them that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, but still it was not enough and they faltered. While testimonies are the basis of conversion, we need to be converted to withstand Satan. Just like Helaman 5:12 says: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” The rock we are built upon is our testimony but the foundation we must build is conversion. Being converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring us safety in times of trial.
A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who lives according to Christ’s teachings. There are many different ways we can be disciples of Jesus Christ. President Uchtdorf gives 10 ways we can become disciples. He says: “You and I can walk in the path of discipleship today.
- Let us be humble; let us pray to our Father in Heaven with all our heart and express our desire to draw close to Him.
- Have faith.
- Serve the Lord by serving others.
- Be active in your ward.
- Strengthen your family by living gospel principles.
- Adjust your lives to be able to have a temple recommend AND USE IT.
- Have family home evening, read the scriptures, and pray earnestly to Heavenly Father.
- Fill our hearts with gratitude.
- Embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and walk in His way.”
He then continues on and gives a promise, he says: The lord will bless your life, endow you with knowledge and joy beyond comprehension, and distill upon you the supernal gifts of the Spirit.”
What an amazing promise he gives each one of us. Joy beyond comprehension. Don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want those things he promises us? We can start today by walking in Jesus Christ’s way. It’s never too late to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who learns to be like Him; by learning to think, act, and feel like He does.
D&C 41:5 says: “He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you.”
The time is now. It’s time that each one of us strive to follow in Christ’s footsteps. It’s never too late to start, but I ask you to start soon. We cannot delay any longer. “I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” We cannot procrastinate any further. We have been sent to this earth at this time because we were valiant in Heaven. “He has walked alone once” and may He never have to walk alone again without our aid. We can aid Him by following in His ways and being converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and being disciples.
As we fill our lives and hearts with the teachings of Jesus Christ, our faith grows and our desires change. Our desires begin to align with Jesus Christ and we start the journey on the road to discipleship. Our walk on the road of discipleship will take time. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—it’s through endurance that we acquire it. We need to apply and reapply the teachings of Jesus Christ and gospel principles everyday in order for it to be a normal part of our lives. We need to be diligent and continue to walk the path even when it’s hard to do so. The eternal rewards we will receive as we dedicate our lives to Jesus Christ will outweigh any earthly joy we can experience in this life.
Before I end, I thought it would be appropriate to share why I want to serve a mission.
I want to serve a mission because of the sweet blessings it brings in each one of our lives and I want everybody to feel the happiness, the true happiness that comes with being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I want the people in Brazil to know that someone loves them always, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know them, and that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal the deepest wound and forgive the broken hearted. I want to share the gospel because I have seen the miracles and blessings it brings in my life, and I want others to feel of that.
But I also know how hard it’s going to be. When I first opened my call, I remember thinking: “Are you serious. Did they mix up my call with someone else’s and put my name on everything of theirs? Because you’re sending the queen of dehydration and heat stroke 8 degrees south of the equator AND I am going to be sharing the gospel in Portuguese, not French but Portuguese.”
When people would ask me before I received my call where I wanted to serve I would tell them: Anywhere but Mexico, Africa, anywhere in Asia, or South America. So pretty much keep me in the United States or Canada. One word of advice for future missionaries. Never voice out loud where you don’t want to serve.
I know that may sound selfish, but before I received my call, I prayed that the General Authorities assigning my call that day would know exactly where I needed to go and would be filled with the spirit. I prayed so hard for those men to be inspired and when I received my call I was so disappointed. I was disappointed because I thought I knew where the best place for me to go was. I thought I knew what language I needed to speak. Sadly, I thought I knew better than Heavenly Father. But I have come to realize over the past 4 months that those men were inspired. They were inspired to send me to the Brazil Recife mission. I have no idea why I have been called there, but I do know there must be a pretty good reason why because Heavenly Father has called me to serve in a place I never thought I would be able to handle. I know that I am “in the hands of the divine potter” and He is shaping me into the person I need to become.
There have been times along the way where I wanted to turn back. Times when I didn’t want to leave my family and leave my comfort zone. There still are times when I feel those feelings but I have to remind myself why I chose to serve. Why I chose to leave my family for only 18 months. There are souls to save and those people in Brazil deserve to feel the happiness that the gospel has brought me in my life. “I cannot let my selfishness deprive someone of happiness.”
It may be the hardest thing I’ve done and I know there will be days when I wonder why I’m out, but I know the eternal blessings and rewards others and myself will receive because of my choice to serve will be worth every minute of it.
I want each of you to know, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know you individually. They know exactly your circumstances and the things you are going through. Heavenly Father hears your prayers. I know that from personal experience, that he truly does hear our prayers. He is there. I know with everything inside of me that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They will not leave you to walk alone in your trials. If you don’t have a testimony of them, I challenge you to go home and kneel down in a quiet place and pray to know that they are there and that they love you and I promise you, if you have faith and listen to the promptings, the Holy Ghost will confirm it to you…… Because it has been confirmed to me.
I’m so grateful for this gospel and the hope it brings in our lives. In a world full of turmoil, the gospel is what will keep us safe. I hope that we can all try our hardest to be converted to the gospel and be disciples of Jesus Christ. “If in the end you have not chosen Jesus Christ, it will not matter what you choose.” I know this church is true and I know the Book of Mormon is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”