Farewell Talk

9:49 AM

Here is my farewell talk for those of you who missed it or would like to read it again. 

Hola hermanos y hermanas. When I first received my call, to say my family and I were in shock, was an understatement. To be honest, I laughed a lot, when I read the words Utah Salt Lake City Mission, at least it said Spanish speaking. My dad and best friend didn’t believe it until they read it for themselves. Shortly after a friend messaged me, wishing me congrats and informed me that my mission is the top three choices she wants to get called to, for she was putting in her papers shortly. I thought to myself, Salt Lake wasn’t even in my top 50 missions at the time I wanted to go to, let alone my top three. However, at one point of my life it was THE place I wanted to serve. A year after my mom, sister, and I converted to the church, we, along with my dad, went to Salt Lake City to go to general conference. I had never been to Salt Lake, so to a new convert, going to church headquarters was pretty amazing. We went to temple square, the visitor’s centers, and even met the prophet at Nordstrom’s . Before we left, at one point of our trip, I turned to my mom and said “If I were to serve a mission (I hadn’t decided yet) I would want to serve here…” Well Heavenly Father has a sense of humor, because that is where I’m going… I guess you could say I’m His favorite because I got the exact mission I asked for. I would like to clarify a few things about my mission. No I am not serving in temple square, that would be cool though. No my family is NOT going to visit me, I think they are going to avoid all of Utah for the next 18 months as much as they can. Yes I am speaking Spanish, I know that sounds crazy but we shall see how much I will actually speak when I return.

I didn’t always want to serve a mission. I mean with the age being at 21, I thought it was too awkward of a time to leave school. Even with the age being at 21, a mission was always a possibility for me. It wasn’t until I received a text from my aunt, the day after the church announced the age change, asking me if I was going to serve, that I had made my decision. I answered that I was going on a mission, and since then I haven’t changed my mind. Trust me I have had my doubts about serving, and getting my call to SLC didn’t make it easier, but I know that this is the best decision I could choose in my life. It is because of the missionaries that my life is the way it is today. Missionary work has always been important to me. Why wouldn’t I want others to have what I’ve been given?

Today I am not going to be talking solely about missionary work, but about 5 Christlike attributes that can help us all to be better missionaries and church members.

Imagine this.

You’re driving home Monday night when you hear on the radio of a mystery flu that has killed 4 people in India. You think nothing of it, people die every day. Within the next week more than 30,000 people have died from this flu. The disease has hit all of the Middle East and Northern Africa. France does something that shocks the world, they close their borders, but it is too late, a man is dying in a French hospital from the flu. Britain attempts the same, but it is too late again. Then the US shuts their borders and cancels all flights to and from the US. However, it envelops the country, from California to New York. They finally find a cure. To make the vaccine they need the blood of someone who hasn’t been affected. Everyone needs to get their blood tested. Your family gets tested at the nearest hospital to you, then waits with hundreds of people. A gentleman is running around yelling a name. Your son grabs your shirt “daddy that’s me.” They grab your son and you yell “that’s my son.” They test his blood again and say “your son’s blood is perfect. It’s clean. It’s pure, we need it to make the vaccine.” Everyone erupts in applauds. The doctor presents you a form. You notice that the number of pints needed is empty. You demand “how many pints do you need of my son’s precious blood?” The doctor answers “all of it.”

What would you do?

Could you tell your son you love him as he asks, “What’s going on? Why are you abandoning me?”

A ceremony is held for your son and your family. People sleep through it or don’t bother to come because they have better things to do, or they come with fake smiles and yawn “this is boring.” Wouldn’t you want to say “excuse me, I’m not sure if you are aware of it or not, but the amazing life you have, my son died so that you could have that life. My son died for you. Does that mean nothing to you?”

Perhaps this is what Heavenly Father wants to say to us sometimes.

The first attribute to becoming more Christlike is that we must all learn the power of sacrifice. Heavenly Father sacrificed his Beloved Son for us. In a mission you are sacrificing 18 months to 2 years of your life to do work for your Father in Heaven. Sacrifice can come in many forms. For Christ it was the act of the Atonement that was His ultimate sacrifice. I know that I am so very grateful for His sacrifice for me. For church members, it might be paying tithing, or cleaning the church on Mondays, or having a calling they might not want, but accepting it anyways. For some missionaries it is leaving on a mission to preach about Christ and to work hard to help others learn about this glorious gospel. Once we are able to accept something that is hard or we may not want to do, but we do it anyways, we are slowly learning the power of sacrifice. In Alma 26:32 it says “For behold, they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.” The Nephites were willing to sacrifice their lives by not fighting because of their love for Christ and their brethren. Sacrifice can come in many forms, but it is essential to becoming more Christlike.

The 2nd attribute is patience. I would always joke around saying that me waiting to submit my mission papers until after school, and then waiting for my call, and then waiting to leave, was that Heavenly Father and Christ needed me to learn patience. Learning patience takes patience. It can be extremely hard at times, trust me. According to Preach my Gospel, patience is doing God’s will and accepting His timing. Patience is the capacity to endure opposition without becoming angry. Our house can be short-tempered at times, but we all strive to be patient with one another, as hard as it may be. As a missionary I will have to be patient with people. Right now I can’t get angry when my primary class doesn’t understand a topic, even if I want too. Just like I can’t get mad at investigators when they want to stop taking the discussions. Heavenly Father and Christ are so patient with us. If they weren’t, imagine how much harder life would be if they gave up on us. Heavenly Father and Christ never give up on us, and we can’t give up on them. We can be patient by recognizing what Thomas S Monson once said “Life is full of difficulties. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting frequently the Heavenly virtue of patience is required.” Everything has its own timing, we need to learn to recognize when that it. Whether it is being patient with receiving the answer to a prayer, or being patient with your Sunday school class, remember that patience is a virtue, one that we need to become more like our Savior.

The 3rd attribute is humility. Richard G Scott taught that “humility is essential to the acquiring of spiritual knowledge. To be humble is to be teachable. Humility permits you to be tutored by the spirit… and be inspired by the Lord…” Sometimes it is really hard to be humble and realize that you might be wrong or realizing that you are being prideful. Humility is also being grateful. When you humble yourself down, you get to open your eyes to all of the many blessings that you have in your life, whether that be a car to get to church every Sunday, or being only 30 minutes away from a temple, when some people, like a missionary friend of mine, are over 13 hours away in a car ride to the nearest temple.  In the scriptures we are commanded to become “like unto a child.” I think that Heavenly Father wants us to be childlike because children are some of the most humble people on earth. Think about it, a child wants to learn and be taught. They want to become better and they are innocent with their actions. Being like a child and humbling ourselves will help us become spiritually strong and will lead us closer to Heavenly Father. It will allow us to do His will. Just like Christ when He said “Thy will be done.” Being humble will also allow us to be better with the next attribute I am talking about.

Obedience. I have heard from many missionary friends, that being obedient, especially exactly obedient, is the only way you will succeed while you are away. Whether that means I won’t use my ipad to imessage family and friends, or I won’t stay too long at member’s houses when I should be teaching, or I will be timely with everything I do. One missionary I know wrote in her email that “Christ is the perfect example of obedience” and that “obedience brings blessings.” Another friend said that “exact obedience brings miracles.” In 1 Nephi 22:30 it says “That a man must be obedient to the commandments of God…. And in 31 if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day…” A friend of mine made a comparison of keeping the commandments with wearing a seatbelt. Sometimes keeping the word of wisdom, or following other commandments, seems meaningless.  You might think, what will a little cup of coffee do to me? Or drinking doesn’t seem too bad, I should try it… Likewise wearing a seatbelt 24/7 might seem stupid. I’m just driving down the street, what’s the most harm that could happen? Even though it may not seem like it while you are driving, a seat belt is a life saver, just like keeping the commandments are spiritual lifesavers. I know that being obedient can be extremely difficult and will take diligence. If we can all recognize what Heavenly Father wants us to do, and we follow it with exactness, we will become more obedient. I don’t want to always do everything I’m asked too do, just ask my dad. However on a mission I will promise myself that I am going to try my hardest to be exactly obedient. If we as church members all strive for exact obedience imagine how much more our lives would be blessed?

The last Christlike attribute I would like to talk about is charity, and also love. To me, charity is the pure love of Christ. In Matthew 22: 36-39 it says “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Christ taught that we must open our hearts to all types of people; people of different races, sexual orientations, political views, or religions. None of those attributes matter. They are all Heavenly Father’s children and they all deserved to be loved by everyone. Yes our church has been persecuted for our beliefs, but we can right the wrong by loving others. Being charitable isn’t always about donating money or gifts, it can be giving your time to someone, reaching out to someone who might not expect it by letting them know you are there for them or by simply, accepting people for who they are. You can be charitable in your daily actions, and not just your monetary ones. Ezra Taft Benson states that “The final and crowning virtue of the divine character of Christ is charity. If we should truly seek to be more like our Savior, then learning to love as He loves should be our highest goal. Charity never seeks selfish gratification. The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth and joy of others.”
Learning to be Christlike is a lifelong pursuit. We can follow Christ’s examples and develop His attributes, one action and one decision at a time. The rest will fall into place. In 3 Nephi 18:16 it says “Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.” Christ is our greatest example. He is the perfect example for all of us and we need to achieve to develop His attributes daily.
By going to church and seminary and institute and truly striving to live like Christ we will be able to get closer to being with Him again. I know that if we do the things we are supposed to be doing, like praying, reading scriptures, and participating in church activities, becoming Christlike will get easier.
I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to speak to you all today. I am so blessed to call this ward my home for the past 6 years. I love all of you so much. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned from great leaders, teachers, and fellow members. I am grateful for my family, those who are members, and those who aren’t; who have helped shaped me to become the person I am today. I am so blessed to live with such goodly parents and a wonderful sister, who is the greatest example to me. Thank you all for helping me prepare for my mission. A mission might not be the best 18 months of my life, but it will be the best 18 months for my life.
I know that if we rely on Christ, we can do anything. I know that this church is the true church, and that it was restored by Joseph Smith through the power of Christ. I know that through the Atonement we can make mistakes and then be forgiven, and I think that is wonderful. I know that families can be together forever and that we will all be able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again one day. I know that the book of Mormon is true and that it can teach us the most powerful of lessons, as long as we open it up.
A wise friend once said to me a mission is a mission, it doesn’t matter where you serve. I know that it’s not about where I serve, but how I serve. To me a mission is sacrifice, but I also look at it as the least I could do to thank my Heavenly Father and Christ for all they have given me.
 These are cute sisters of a dear friend of mine who is serving a mission in Romania. Their family came to my open house and is always there for me. Love the Cressmans!

 I have known these girls since I was born. We were crib-mates. They grew up Mormon and kinda introduced us to the church.

 The lovely girl is a convert to the church and I have loved seeing her grow! She is going to SUU for the next year then wants to prepare for a mission!
This is my English teacher from Senior year. She is an amazing example to me. Love my B-low!

Handouts that I gave at my open house

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