June 17, 2012
Good morning brothers and sisters!
I recently completed my first year of college at BYU and I want to share an experience I had one day during Fall Semester. At the beginning of the school year, I acquired a job at Subway in the Cougareat. My job was to be at the store by 8 in the morning so that I could bake and cut the bread necessary for the highest grossing Subway in the nation to function that day. The amount of bread needed to run the store on a daily basis ranged from 800-1,000 foot-long loaves. It was definitely hard work! Just like any good employee, my favorite part of my work experience was clocking out. But I also loved the walk home from work. It gave me time to think about my life and the direction that it was headed. One day, during one of those walks, I remember thinking how beautiful the weather was. It was chilly, slightly windy, and the leaves were changing into beautiful fall colors. I felt very present and very in tune with my Heavenly Father and this beautiful world he created. Suddenly, a scripture popped into my mind. It’s one that many of you are familiar with. It reads, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I received the impression that this scripture would not only be integral to me, but also to those that I would teach on the mission that I would serve. For the first time in my life, I knew that I would serve a mission. Even though I didn’t know where I would serve, or whom I would be serving, I knew that I loved them and wanted to ease their burdens by bringing them the “glad tidings of great joy” that Jesus Christ lives and is the redeemer of this world.
I want to please my Heavenly Father by serving an honorable mission. I know that I cannot serve a successful mission if I do not love the people that I serve. So how do we love someonethat speaks a different language and is part of a completely different culture? By coming to know my Savior on a more intimate and personal level, I have begun to truly understand what it means to love others without conditions. I have been given examples of how to serve others without expecting anything in return. I want to share personal experiences with you that have lead me to a greater understanding and love for my Savior. I hope that I will be able to share this Christ-like love with the people of México.
The next story I’m going to share with you from the New Testament and is very personal to me. But I think it demonstrates the love that the Savior has for his children. I want all of you to place yourselves in the Apostle Peter’s shoes and apply this story to your lives as I read it.
Matthew 14: 27-33: “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith,wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying; Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
Brothers and sisters, I know that my Savior lives. There have been times in my life where I have felt myself sinking due to trials and various experiences. But the moment we turn to our Heavenly Father and ask for his help…the moment we turn to him and say, “Lord, save me,” I testify that he will come. He will reach out, grab us by the arm, and pull us up again. We need only to ask and have the faith that we can and will be saved.
Because of my Savior’s love for me, he has seen fit to continually humble me. His goal is to make all of us teachable and realize that we are all COMPLETELY and totally reliant on him. We are all beggars. I think I believed this only in theory at first. I kept thinking, “Maybe if I try a little harder, make more goals, or discipline myself further I will be able to become the person Heavenly Father wants me to be.” I had to realize that with some things, my best simply wasn’t enough. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is kneel down before my Heavenly Father and say, “I can’t do this on my own. I just can’t do it.” I testify that at that moment, I felt the love of my Savior stronger than I ever had before. He became real to me. I could feel his words telling me to trust him completely and let go. By letting go of what I wanted and doing what he desired, I have never felt so much light and happiness. I want to share this light and happiness with others. I know that by trusting him completely I can be a powerful missionary.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, a senior tempter is instructing his nephew Wormwood on how to win the soul of a young British man for the adversary. He tells his nephew the following, “He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” I know that my Heavenly Father will be pleased with me if I stay loyal to him. I think sometimes we are a very forgetful people. We experience so much good and so many instances of the Spirit, yet, when hard times come and it seems like the Lord has disappeared, many begin to doubt. I want to always remember thegoodness of my Heavenly Father and the goodness of my Savior, and continue walking on during the hard times in the mission field.
Leading up to my mission, I’ve really looked at myself and my testimony. I’ve seen a lot of qualities that I love, and a lot of qualities that need a great amount of improvement. And some that I wish would just disappear. In my prayers I asked Heavenly Father to remove them. Get rid of them. Tear them out. It was hard for me to stomach the answer I received to those prayers. Heavenly Father loves us so much that he is not going to do that which we desire. Instead of tearing out our faults and leaving us broken and fractured, he enters into us like a surgeon, using knowledge, truth, and the Spirit to make minor adjustments and little changes of the heart. We may not always see them or recognize them, but if we are obedient, we are promised that those changes are taking place. Now, instead of being broken, we have the opportunity to be made whole. For me, this has been a long and difficult journey and I am definitely still a work in progress. But it has allowed me to grow closer to my Savior and rely on him as my confidant, my friend, and ultimately, the Savior of my soul.
Through my Savior, I have learned reliance, love, the power of the Atonement and forgiveness, service, and healing. Because of my gratitude for my Savior and his love for me, I see it as my duty to take that love and share it with others. Just as the Savior stated, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
I think the greatest and most meaningful example of pure love and service from the scriptures is in 3 Nephi Chapter 17. After he finished instructing the people, the Savior told them to go home and rest and that he would return the next day. But as he looked among the Nephites, he saw that “they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.” The Savior then replies, “Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.” He then proceeds to heal the people, pray for them in words that were so moving they could not be written, cried with them, and blessed and administered unto the children with the presence of angels. The Savior didn’t need to heal the people. He could have simply taught them and left. But he didn’t. He loved them so much that he could not help but bring them happiness and joy by healing and administering unto them. He wanted to serve them. Brothers and sisters, I know that I will be able to love the people of México by serving them with all of my heart. It isn’t about me while I’m out there. It’s about bringing the light of Christ to those that sit in darkness by losing myself completely and allowing the Spirit to work through me and change the hearts of those that I teach.
I want to bear my testimony that I know this church is true. I am so excited to serve a mission. I’m excited to see people’s lives change and to teach them about the man that has changed my life. This gospel brings so much hope and peace in a world plagued with violence and fear. I am grateful that my Savior died for me and atoned for my sins. I still can’t believe that a man lived on the Earth that was willing to experience my pains and sins because he loves me so much. I love him and I want to serve him. I want to take a moment to thank my Dad on this Father’s Day. He’s my best friend and has helped me more than he could ever know. I’m going to miss him a lot but I’m so glad he’s raised me and prepared me to be worthy enough to serve a mission. I love the scriptures. I know they are true and they have brought me so much peace during times of darkness and confusion in my life. I’m grateful for all my family, friends, and teachers that have shaped me into who I’ve become. I’m ready to go out and serve the Lord! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.