Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farewell Sunday

On Sunday, I gave my farewell talk. For those of you who missed it, here it is!

My brothers and sisters, Aloha.
             My talk today is on “Lessons learned throughout my life in preparing me to serve the Lord as a full-time Missionary.” For those of you who may not know, I have been called to serve in the California San Jose Mission. This means that for the next 18 months I have made the decision to serve the Lord by sharing the gospel with His children every day. I am assigned to labor in the San Jose area and my mission extends all the way up towards Palo Alto and includes the coast all the way past Monterey and I am so excited to serve!
Looking back, many things in my life have prepared me to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. But, I was actually having a very hard time writing this talk because while I was going to through many of these experiences, I didn’t know that those were the times that were preparing me to serve a full-time mission. There have been many instances and people in my life who have taught me numerous things that I would’ve run out of time before talking about all of these lessons.
So I kept thinking about what I could say. I thought of one part of my life that was an seemingly unlikely place to find lessons to prepare me for a mission. Hula. Hula, has been a huge part of my life. Dancing hula is something that I really enjoy and learning and performing has really taught me so much.
            As a young girl, I was taught this ōleo no‘eau, “Kuhi no ka lima, hele no ka maka.” This means “Where the hands move, the eyes follow.” I was taught to do this so that the audience would know where to focus. My kumu would tell me and my class that if we werenʻt focused on the dance then how could we expect our audience to do so. I think that this can apply to missionary work as well. In Doctrine and Covenants Section 4:2 it says, “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” I learned to focus on my hula so that others could do the same. Likewise, how could I expect those I meet and teach to focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ if I can’t do the same?
Then when I was a little older, I was taught to look past my hand so I could engage the audience I performing for better. I have tried to do this while I dance so that I could include the audience in the hula I was dancing instead just performing for them. Continuing in Doctrine and Covanents 4:3, it reads, “if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” In hula we look past our hand the same way my desire as a missionary is to serve God and it is not just something for myself. I try to look past myself and go to work, the same way my hands perform hula motions, my hands will be in the service of God.
On my mission, I will be on the Lordʻs errand, I will be acting as a servant to the Lord doing His work on this earth and because I have a desire, I am called to this work, missionary work. My desire to serve is what people will see when I am out in the mission field similar to the way I look past my hand when dancing hula, I can better engage the people I meet by sharing this desire with them.
            I have never met a returned missionary that has told me missionary work is easy. It is hard. But with a desire to engage those I teach and to include them in our path back to our Heavnely Father, I hope that I can be successful in helping them have a desire to get there.
The most frequent conversation I’ve had in the past few weeks has been, “When do you leave on your mission,” and when I reply they say, “Wow, that’s soon. Are you ready?” And as many of you know I’ve replied back, “Well yes, I think so.” Up to this point, I’ve been learning lessons all the way from Primary, through Young Women’s and as I’ve been at BYU. In our church, I’ve heard lessons on faith, prayer, tithing, the atonement, and the plan of salvation too many times to count but I’ve never failed to gain something new each time I sit through a lesson being taught. I think this is one of beautiful things about this church. Just in the way that you can read the scriptures and learn something new every time, you can learn the same lesson and glean new insight into a gospel priniciple. Added experience in our lives and added preparation on our part makes each of us more receptive for the Spirit to teach us valuable and timely lessons.
            In my own life, a few scriptures have popped up recently that have really made an impression on me. One was shared with me from Noelani, and I’m sorry I hope I’m not cutting into her talk for next week. But she shared the scripture from Alma 26:12, and it reads, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”
            At first, this scripture didn’t mean that much to me. I thought it was a great scripture and I thought it was wonderful to acknowledge that I can do all things through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who are there to continually strengthen me. But, I pondered this scripture for a while and as my report date became sooner and sooner my overwhleming excitement turned into anxiety. Then, I recieved a letter from a friend who is also serving his mission. He told me of his experience so far and shared with me the same scripture, Alma 26:12. He gave me some advice in preparing for a mission and said “to get rid of all the expectations you have for your gain and let those become Heavenly Father’s and Jesus Christ’s expectaions. Through Jesus Christ we can do anything He wants us to do.”
            Hearing this scripture from both of these people, I was reminded of what is says in Ether. In Ether 12:27 it reads, “And if men come unto me I will show them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Without knowing, I have been preparaing to serve a full-time mission for my entire life. Learning gospel principles, applying them to my life and having a willingness to serve God have prepared me for this next step in my life.
            Though I know that I am weak, I know that Heavenly Father will bless my life and strengthen my weakness. I know that through the atoning sacrfice of our savior Jesus Christ I will never be alone. One of my favorite quotes from President Thomas S. Monson is when he says, “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” I have done all the packing and buying all my missionary clothes. I have turned in my forms and turned in my driving record but even though those things are important, those are not the things that make a missionary. All the lessons that I have been taught by many of you, lessons of faith, of perserverance, of courage, of obedience, of the importance of prayer, and of the importance of family are the lessons that will carry me through my mission. My heart is so filled with gratitude for the wonderful things I have learned from you all that have helped qualify me for this work. And I know that with the Lord’s help, he will make my weak things become strong.
            I think it is so wonderful that in this gospel we continue to progress. We gain more light and knowledge through everything we do to draw nearer unto Christ. We all work towards our eternal exaltation to live with our Father in Heaven again. As we work towards this purpose, we can only keep improving our lives. Just as I have worked to draw nearer unto Christ while preparaing for my mission, I will continue to do so throughout my mission and hopefully I will be able to get to share the joy I feel through this gospel with others and help them work towards the same goal.
            Another friend who is out on the mission field shared this with me. She quoted from our letter that has our mission call. She said “most importantly remember, ‘you have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel...As you do these things, the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of truth.” I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord for the next 18 months. I hope that I can be can effective platform to the Spirit to teach through me. I pray that the Lord will help me on my mission and continue to bless my life as I try to bless the lives of others.
            Last night, I came home to fix some things in my talk and as I was working I got a phone call from one of my friends from high school. He wasn’t able to be here today and he is not a member of our church but he wanted wish me well and told me to be safe. He asked how I was doing and if I was ready. I explained to him how I was feeling like I mentioned earlier in my talk and what he replied has been such a blessing to me. He said, “everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared for this. You are ready.” It was such a reminder and testament to me that the Lord is mindful of each and every one of us. He truly works in mysterious ways and is wants to bless our lives. I am so grateful for my wonderful friends and for that phone call that helped reassure me that this is what the Lord wants me to do.
            I know that this is the restored gospel here upon this earth. I know that the fulness of the gospel resides here and it is the true church of Jesus Christ on this earth. I know that it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of the Lord and recieves revelation for everyone.
I know that the atonement is real because I have seen it work in my life and in the lives of others. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and the sacrfice He made so that I can return to our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for that opportunity and I hope to remain worthy of it. I am so grateful for the completeness of the Plan of Salvation and the sense of purpose it brings me. I am so excited to serve the Lord and to serve the wonderful people of California. Thank you for helping to prepare me to serve a mission and thank you for all the love and support you have shown me. I know that I wouldn’t be the same without all of you. I am especially grateful for my family and for the examples they have been in my life. I love you all so much and I am so blessed to have you all in my life and to have learned from you. I am so grateful for this gospel and the eternal joy and sense of peace that it brings me and I am so humbled that I get to share that joy and peace with others I will come into contant with in the next 18 months.
And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

In a few days I'll be checked into the MTC and then my mission will really begin! Whooo hoo! Here's some pictures with my family. I'm so grateful to everyone who came to support me!

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