Today was the day I spoke in church and gave my farewell talk. I will post the talk below, but the above scripture with the scripture I chose to accompany my picture on my plaque that will hang on my home ward’s wall.
Alex’s Missionary Farewell Talk
To begin, I’d just like to thank my family and friends for coming out and supporting me by listening to this talk. I am truly blessed to have all of you in my life and am greatly humbled.
In primary, you learn the basics. Jesus loves me, my family loves me, and I love them. And then you turn 12 and you’re super cool and you start going to Sunday School. You learn more in depth about prayer, scripture study, service, etc. When you start high school you also have the opportunity to attend early morning seminary. Here I learned my scripture masteries and how to apply the stories from these sacred books to my life. Then on Sundays, I went to something called young women’s. Here, I was taught by women who were mothers, who had careers, and I learned to apply the principles of the gospel to become the best woman I could be.
When I graduated from all of that, I was 17 years old. I moved far away from home for a little bit and learned to work really hard and deal with some really tough stuff. I grew so much though and became so independent while learning hard about endurance.
Everything I had been working toward finally paid off when I arrived in Rexburg Idaho. Here I learned a lot about people. Not just about people as a whole, but individuals who come from different lifestyles and cultures. I learned how to truly love but also what I did and did not want to become.
These experiences from 8 years old, the time I chose to be baptised, to 18, the age I was finally a grown up, and the people and experiences in between, have shaped who I am, and helped me get where I am today. They’ve prepared me to become the best missionary I can be.
Back in 1938, President Anthon H. Lund, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, said to a group of pre missionaries, “The people will love you. Now, don’t get lifted up in the pride of your hearts and think that they love you because you are better than other people. They will love you because of what you bring to them.”
We constantly hear, “Every member a missionary.” But how seriously do we take it? How selfish of us to keep this eternal joy and knowledge that we have if we are not constantly sharing it with others? While we don’t need to shove it down our friends throats or send our coworkers Books of Mormons for Christmas, we can sure be an example of Christ, which after all, is what our church is founded upon. As the scripture says, “Stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.”
I think people make this harder than it needs to be. We constantly are clarifying that we are Christians and the biggest way to prove this is to serve our fellow men and love one another. As the song ‘Called to serve’ says, FAR AND WIDE HIS LOVE PROCLAIM.
General Authority in 2000, Robert C. Oaks said, “We have heard all of this many times. Why don’t we do better in providing referrals? It is not laziness, because Latter-day Saints are not lazy people. I believe that the fear of rejection or the fear of hurting a friendship are the more common restraints to sharing the gospel.
But are these fears valid? When you extend to a friend an invitation to meet with the missionaries, you are offering to share something that is most valuable and cherished. Is that offensive? In fact, he said, [my wife and I] have found that when we offer to share the gospel, friendships are strengthened, even though the friends may not embrace the gospel message.
Consider that you are invited to a friend’s house for breakfast. On the table you see a large pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice from which your host fills his glass. But he offers you none. Finally, you ask, “Could I have a glass of orange juice?”
He replies, “Oh, I am sorry. I was afraid you might not like orange juice, and I didn’t want to offend you by offering you something you didn’t desire.”
Now, that sounds absurd, but it is not too different from the way we hesitate to offer up something far sweeter than orange juice. I have often worried how I would answer some friend about my hesitancy when I meet him beyond the veil.
“A story related by Elder Christoffel Golden, of South Africa, refreshed my concerns. He was recently in Lusaka, Zambia, attending a meeting of new converts. A well-spoken, well-dressed stranger with a Book of Mormon in hand walked in. He stated he had driven past the chapel many times and had wondered what church met there and what they taught for doctrine.
At the conclusion of the meeting, this gentleman stood up, raised his copy of the Book of Mormon high in the air, and asked, “Why have you kept this book hidden from the people of Lusaka? Why have you kept it a secret?”
As I heard this story, I flinched that one day some friend might ask me, “Why have you kept this Book of Mormon, with its message of truth and salvation, a secret?”
Elder Holland said “An invitation that is born from our love of others and Jesus Christ will never offend others.”
I’ve realized that we keep our testimony by sharing it. I try to be the kind of person that those who don’t know God will want to know Him because they know me. A close friend of mine, and return missionary advised me in saying that we need to realize that if someone doesn’t accept the gospel, we must maintain friendship with them so they don’t feel it was bribery or fake. Just remember that the spirit is everything in missionary work. The Holy Ghost serves as our divine companionship.
Spencer W. Kimball once said that “Missionary Work Is the LIFEBLOOD of the Church.” And that “were it not for missionary work, the Church would wither and die on the vine.”
I feel like a underrated tool that we can use in missionary work is the 13 Articles of Faith. It’s a simple, self explanatory summary of what we believe in, usually printed on a note card. Someone asks what we believe in? Hand them that! Next to simplicity, people also like technology. The missionaries are required to make a Mormon.org account before they leave for their mission. It takes 5 minutes. Why don’t we do the same?
Mormon.org is an amazing campaign created specifically for people who are discovering the church. LDS.org is great for talks and things more directed towards members, but the real people that Mormon.org interviews, such as Brandon Flowers from the Killers, Elaine Bradley from Neon Trees, Alex Boye- these are people IN the world, but not OF it, and who many investigators can relate to. The people this website features shows that members don’t live these perfect lives. This site features mothers of children with disabilities, rocker chicks and motorcyclists. The list goes on and on. You can be on there too.
If you’re a social media geek like me, get on Twitter during General Conference. It’s always trending as #2 or #3. I had an opportunity to introduce the topic of eternal families to a lady on Twitter while tweeting during General Conference. Hashtag LDSGenConf was trending and I had quoted a speaker about families being together forever. She found the tweet and replied asking for more information. I referenced her to Mormon.org, she found the missionaries and now she’s sealed with her family in the temple for eternity.
For any of you young men, young women, whoever, that are thinking of serving a mission- don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great. We’ve been told time after time, “Forget yourself and go to work,” but when the world is telling you that this is the time to be selfish, it’s hard. Certain things can wait. However, DO PRAY to ask Heavenly Father what things are important. Each and every person is different. An individual should ONE: be ready and TWO: want to go.
Once you are called, you may never feel 100% adequate to put on the name tag representing Jesus Christ and His church, but just know that you have been called of God. President Eyring says, “They will grow steadily in their capacity to help all they meet feel His love for them. Those they speak to and teach will feel the Lord’s love through your missionaries. They will feel that love not only from what the missionaries do and say but by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost that testifies of the reality of God and allows us to feel the joy of His love. That is how your missionaries can know they are approved of the Lord.”
It’s obvious I’m very passionate about missionary work. I always have been, so I guess it’s good I’m serving a mission! I’ve had a testimony of this since I was seven years old, and have never felt so strongly about anything my whole life. I’m excited to serve the people in the Lansing mission for a little while, and am anxious to see where I end up!
I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.