Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Farewell Talk

This was my talk for my Farewell that was on Sunday the 11th.  I was told I could talk about whatever I wanted.  So I decided to talk about Faith.  It is so important to our lives, and I just felt like this is what was needed to be said.

I leave in 10 days to the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission.  I am so excited, and yet so nervous at the same time. But I cannot wait to teach the people down in California.  There have been days, and moments these last 124 days where I felt as if I wasn’t ready, or that I wouldn’t even be able to help anyone while I was on my mission.  The thing that helped me get through these tough days was the first principle of the Gospel.  Faith.  It was having faith in our loving Heavenly Father that I knew that this was the best thing for me at this time in my life.  It was faith in Jesus Christ that he would be there with me through all of this.  It was faith, that my parents had raised me in a religion, where I would want and be able to share it with others.  It was faith that taking Mission Prep 3 different times, from 3 different teachers would benefit me during my mission.  There were so many times that Faith was used.

Faith, what is the definition of faith? The Bible Dictionary states that, “Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. […] Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith. Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants. [...]  All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. [...] A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.”

Everyone has faith; faith that they’ll wake up in the morning, faith that the sun will rise the next day, and faith that their loved ones will be safe throughout the day. But how strong one’s faith varies on what they do to strengthen it. Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree.

Luke 1:37 is a great scripture since it gives faith in following Him. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” It doesn’t mean that faith will make things easy, but it will make all things possible if it is God’s Will. We should trust in God’s will, He knows us and what is best in all areas of our life and it will help us understand His plan for us. Having faith in God includes faith in His timing.  Bonnie L Oscarson said, “As your faith is strengthened you will find that you no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities. But when God doesn’t solve your problems, he has faith in your abilities. I recently received an email from a good friend of mine, who talked about how his faith has strengthened while he has been on his mission in Florida.  He says,
“Faith is a funny thing. I think people freak out sometimes when they don't have this overwhelming confirmation or this earth-shattering immediate answer to their prayers, even though we know that by "small and simple things are great things brought to pass," and that "faith is like a seed." In looking at a little tiny seed, you don't have a lot of confidence that it's going to grow into something large and powerful. However, when you see a plant, you can't deny that this seed of faith has grown into something very substantial. I think a way that my faith has grown is simply by looking back on who I used to be. I used to have seeds, and now I have plants. I don't think I even noticed the seeds growing, but I cannot deny that as I have "experimented upon the word" and "desired to believe," the results have indeed been substantial, overwhelming, and earth-shattering. We cannot expect a full grown plant of faith until we have tested the promise of the seed: that it will grow, if given the proper help.
He continues by saying:
I think it is very rare to come out on a mission with a full and complete testimony. How can you have a full testimony until you have tried your faith and seen that the Lord does fulfill His promises? Just like Indiana Jones stepping out onto that invisible bridge, we cannot really gain full faith and experience blessings until we act on things that do not make sense to us, but do make sense to the Lord.”
Hearing him talk about the little seeds reminds me of a talk given by M. Russell Ballard.  In an April 2013 General Conference talk titled “This Is My Work and Glory” M. Russell Ballard, talks about a 7 year old granddaughter telling her grandfather how she was so excited to plant just one tomato seed. She knew that the seed would become a plant, and if the plant was cared for, it would grow into millions of tomatoes that would each have many seeds. But the granddaughter almost killed her plant because she left it in a dark room and forgot to water it. When she remembered the plant, it was all wilted and dead looking. She cried because she thought about all of the millions of the tomatoes that would never grow. Her Mom reassured her that the plant wasn’t dead; all that it needed was some water and light to bring it back to life.
He says, “Her small tomato plant, so full of potential but so weakened and wilted from unintentional neglect, was strengthened and revived through the simple ministration of water and light by the little girl’s loving and caring hands.” The tomato plant is like our faith, it needs constant attention, or it begins to weaken. Such as the plant, “we have unlimited, divine potential. But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant. If any of us feels like our faith is less than we know it should be, we should turn more fully to the Savior. We should let His light and His living water do for us and our family what little water and light did in bringing life back to the weakened tomato plant.” Close Quote.
Faith can be strengthen by many things.  It can be events, talks, scriptures, or just the actions of others.  One of my friends down at school sent me a little piece about how his faith was strengthened in the power of prayer and knowing that The Lord is always looking out for us. 
"One day at my home in Provo, my college buddies came over to hang out. We wanted to get something to eat out so I went to retrieve my wallet. I couldn't find it anywhere... I looked and looked but I still did not know where it went. I prayed to The Lord to help me find it. I felt more confident and looked again. Still nothing. But then, I went to my room and opened my drawers and found a visa gift card good for $25! I then went on to get food with my friends. But I still needed my wallet. The next day I prayed again and looked again and still found nothing. It was night time and at that point I just gave up. Then I walked past one of my unpacked bags from my college dorm, and found my wallet sitting on top of the bag! I was pretty shocked to find the wallet so obviously placed. I checked that bag like 100 times and found nothing. But there it was. I later thanked The Lord for helping me find what I needed. This was a great reminder to me of the tender mercies which The Lord bestows upon his children. This isn't an incredible story comparing to all those other miraculous accounts, but this experience was important to me. It let me know that The Lord does care for us and he is always watching…"
I know that this experience might have appeared small but, Yuta’s faith was strengthened after he was searching for something, and upon finding it, knew Heavenly Father is always there watching out for us.  As mentioned before, Faith can be gained in different ways, and one of those ways is from others. 
In the Book of Mormon, there is a line in Alma 56 that has stuck with me ever since I heard it.  It is “We do not doubt, our mothers knew it.”  This is in reference of the Stripling Warriors going into Battle against the Army of the Lamanities.  These 2,000 young men showed how much faith they had in the things that their mothers had taught them.
I have always loved this Story, and know that there is so much truth in the things that it teaches us. 
There had been much warring between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Finally, General Moroni and his Nephite legions won an important victory and took possession of the city of Mulek, a stronghold of their enemies.
Moroni and his people spent the next few months repairing their fortifications and providing food for their families. During this time of preparation, and because the Nephites’ attention was on other things, the Lamanites were able to capture some of the Nephite cities in the south by the sea. Then while the Nephites began to argue and scheme among themselves, the Lamanites became more bold and prepared to attack the larger cities of the Nephites.
Seeing the desperate situation their protectors were facing, the people of Ammon wanted to help the Nephites fight against the Lamanite armies. The prophet Helaman was grateful for their offer to fight, but he persuaded them that they must keep the oath they had made with the Lord to never again shed men’s blood.  They showed they had faith in their Heavenly Father, that he would protect them, as long as they continued with their end of the Deal. 
However, there were many righteous and courageous sons of the Ammonites who were not bound by the oath their fathers had taken: “And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they would never give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.”
Besides being young and anxious to serve the Lord and the people, these stripling young men were honorable and “… true at all times in whatsoever thing they were told to do.”
Altogether there were 2,000 of these valiant sons, and they asked Helaman if he would lead them in battle, to which he agreed. And in spite of their youth and inexperience, these young men proved to be good soldiers. Under the leadership of Helaman, the stripling warriors were successful again and again, and proved to be a great strength to the Nephite armies who had become weary with fighting.
Throughout the battles in which the Ammonites fought, many of their number were wounded, but not one of them was ever killed because, although “they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”
As I had mentioned before, they had faith in the things that their mothers had taught them.  They were taught to always trust in the Lord, follow the commandments, and do as the Prophets had instructed them to do.  Mothers teach their children many things, as children, we have faith that these things will help us become just like them.  My own mother taught me many things.  She taught me that No means No.  She taught me when we are asked to do things that we need to do them right away.  I learned from her, that there are times when events in our lives don’t make sense.  Not only did these young men have faith in the teachings of their mothers, they also had faith in Helaman.  Proverbs 3:5-6 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” A famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. reads, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith is having courage to let God have control, he sees the picture unlike we do.   They had trust in him, and knew that if they followed the things that he told them to do, that they would all be alright.  The 2000 stripling warriors did not know if they were going to live, or if they were going to die.  They trusted the Lord with all their heart, and didn’t lean unto their own understanding.  I believe that because of this faith, and also trusting in the Lord, they did not lose a single person.  Everyone was able to make it out of the Battles that they fought in. 
As I said before, my own mother taught me, that there are times in our lives when things do not go as we planned them to.
I still remember the day the announcement was made for the mission age to change from 19 to 18 for boys, and from 21 to 19 for girls.  I remember I was down stairs, and Kristin came running down asking if I had heard the announcement.  I remember thinking, well there goes all my friends on missions.  I didn’t think that I would actually serve a mission.  I thought I had my life planned out.  I was going to go to college, get a degree in teaching, and start a job somewhere, and then worry about getting married.  One day, Whitney Kramer invited me to go to mission prep with her.  I knew there wasn’t a reason for me to go, since I wasn’t serving a mission, but that I might as well go once.  I was mesmerized. It made the thoughts of me possibly serving a mission start to come into my head.  I would try to push them out with excuses.  I hated the role plays, and I’m pretty sure that I was the only one who would complain out loud that we had to role play being missionaries when all we were, were just high school students.  I was scared I would say something wrong, and mess up. 
I was scared maybe one day, I wouldn’t be role playing anymore, and that I would actually be out there knocking on doors, inviting others to listen to a message about Jesus Christ.  I gave pretty much every excuse in the book as to why I should not be a Sister Missionary.  As my friends would say, “I wasn’t just riding the struggle bus, I was driving it.”  I avoided praying about it, in fear of the answer.  Then the day came when there were sister missionaries that I could go to lessons with.  I went to one lesson with an investigator, and knew that I was only fearful because I was not using the faith I had.  I was not using faith, knowing Heavenly Father knew this is what I needed to be doing in my life.  I did not use the faith that my mother had taught me.  I started going to more and more lessons, and loved it all the time.  That was when I thought, maybe serving a mission, is not all that bad.  But there were times when I said, I will not serve a mission in California, and I will not serve a mission where I will have to ride a bike.  Low and behold, once again, Heavenly Father knew what was best for me.  He knew that I was needed in California.  He knew that the mission I was going to would need sister missionaries on bikes.  Once the decision to serve a mission was made, and I received my call it took a lot of faith on my part, to know that this was where I needed to be going.
Heavenly Father knows the things that we are going through.  A quote that I really love, and try to use whenever I can is, “you will never have to suffer alone. Christ suffered alone, so that you wouldn’t have to.” Using faith allows us to know that we are not the only one who has ever felt or gone through something.  If we use faith, we will be able to make the correct decisions, even when we do not think they are what we need.  Using faith, can help you get through trials, and road blocks that are present in our lives.  Using faith allows us to stay on the correct path of righteousness.  Using faith allows us to know that Heavenly Father will always be there with open arms ready to welcome you back after you have strayed away.  Using Faith allows us to know that Christ did die for our sins, that he did suffer for us, and that he wants the best things for us in this life.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland, states, “If you have faith, nothing will be impossible to you. Don’t let questions get in the way of your faith. You have more faith than you think. Be not afraid, just believe.”  Brothers and sisters, faith is and will always be an essential part of our daily lives. I would not be standing here today if I did not have faith that everything would work out in the end. I know that as we use faith in our lives, that we will receive blessings.  We will have more trust, and make the correct decisions.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I know this is true, because I have taken the promise in Moroni 10, and asked if it was true.  I know that Christ died for us, so that we might be able to return to our Heavenly Father again.  I know that there will be times when things will be tough, but that as I lean unto my faith and testimony, that I will be able to get through these challenges.  I know that at 14 years old that Joseph Smith was visited in the Sacred Grove.  I know the things my parents have taught me are true, and they are things I want to carry on in my own family one day.  I know that there are blessings from having family prayer and scripture study every day.  I have seen the blessings, and the peace that it can bring.  I know that the temple is the house of the Lord, and the things which occur there, are truly amazing, and wonderful.  I am so grateful for this ward.  I have spent the last 18 years of my life in this ward, and have so many close friends and many leaders that have helped me become the person that I am today.  I love my family.  I am so grateful to them, and love the opportunity that we have to be a family forever.  I will miss them so much, but know as I am in California, that they will receive blessings here as they continue being the wonderfully amazing people that they are.  Lastly, I am thankful for all of the mothers in the world.  I know that all of our mothers teach us how to become better people.  I know that as we use the faith of our mothers, just as the Stripling Warriors, that we will be blessed, and able to strengthen our own testimonies.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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