Monday, August 12, 2013


Good Morning brothers and sisters!  Today is a happy day because I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten to speak in front of so many people I love, so many people who have played pivotal roles in shaping who I am.  It such a blessing and a miracle to me.

Yesterday my dad told me that if I referenced skittles and unicorns in my talk that he would give me 50 bucks.  I couldn’t find a way to organically fit it in, so I’m hoping this counts.  I accept cash.
These past few days I have been very overwhelmed—with running errands and seeing people and getting everything together before I leave.  I have felt unprepared, afraid, and anxious, but more than anything, I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of love.  Love from and for all the people here supporting me and love from my Father in heaven.  And ultimately, that is why I am here, and why I am leaving my home for 18 months.
          I have had the desire to serve a mission since I was a child.  I was probably nine years old sitting in a pew in this very chapel singing along to the hymn “I stand all amazed.”  I remember how the words of the song pierced my heart.

  I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me; I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding to pay the debt
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no! I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
O it is wonderful that He should care for me
 Enough to die for me!
  O it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I think I started to understand at that moment exactly how much I was loved by my God and Jesus Christ. 

As I grew up I continued to learn about the life of the Savior.  I learned that He performed many incredible miracles.  I learned that he was kind, forgiving, and non-judgmental.  I learned that he endured pain and loneliness and ridicule beyond comprehension.  I came to understand that any hardship or tragedy that I would ever go through, Christ endured it first.  And He endured it for us.  He gave us everything so that we could find happiness and peace with our Father in heaven someday through Him.

This is the strongest kind of love there is and it is called charity, which is the pure love of Christ. 

 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

 The knowledge that we are loved by Jesus Christ is powerful.  It has pulled me through many hard times, and is why I want to serve a mission.  We are told: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I know that the Lord loves me.  I am serving a mission to show that I love Him back.  If I can tell just one person who has forgotten their worth that God loves them infinitely and completely, then I will consider my 18 months in Brazil a success. 

Let’s cross our fingers that I surpass that goal by at least a little bit. 

Any time I have had a discouraging thought about not being able to learn the language, or be an effective teacher, and anytime you feel you are inadequate to do good, It is helpful to think about Doctrine and Covenants Section 4:5

“And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”

If I have a love for the people I am serving, I will be qualified for the work. 
The same goes for all of us, whether we are missionaries or not, if we love the people we are trying to help and serve, we will be capable of doing so. 

One of the biggest examples of this to me is a man from the Book of Mormon named Ammon.  Ammon is perhaps one of the most incredible missionaries in all scripture.  He traveled alone to a land where his people were hated.  He was captured and bound immediately and brought to the king whose name was Lamoni.  When King Lamoni asked why he had come into his territory, Ammon responded “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die” (Ama 17:24).  He also promptly told the king, ”I will be thy servant” (Alma 17:25).  King Lamoni was impressed at his sincerity and Ammon proved to be a loyal servant and risked his life for the king.  He earned his trust and taught him of the redemption that comes through Christ. 

Although there are many fearsome parts to this story, my favorite part is when they run into Lamoni’s father, who is king over all the land, and ask him to release Ammon’s brethren from his prison.  All at once, Lamoni’s father is angered and tries to slay his own son.  But Ammon protects him.
“And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly…” (Alma 20:26).
Ammon served these people well because he loved them and became one of them.  His love for Lamoni changed the heart of a wicked king forever.

When we show others that we genuinely love them and reflect the perfect love of Christ, they will open their hearts as well. 

It is clear that this is what Christ asks of us

The last thing the Savior did in His life with the apostles was not teach them about resurrection, which they did not understand completely, or the atonement, or even church organization.  What he did was poignant… He girded Himself and washed their feet.  A perfect man and the son of God, served his apostles.  And the last thing He said was: A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you. 
Elder Deiter F Uchdorf shares a story about this as well.  A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.

Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”

Jesus Christ no longer literally walks this earth, He doesn’t heal people on the streets or raise our loved ones from the dead.  But that does not mean that we are left alone and that we cannot be healed.  We are the Savior’s hands.  We are his heart.

 Christ said in John 15:13… "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). This doesn't mean we have to die to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else's needs before our own. 

Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” 12

Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.
If we are His hands, should we not do the same?

Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the 
source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope.
In a world where discouragement and hate can be seen on the streets, the airwaves, and all over the internet, this kind of fountain of hope can surely be put to good use.

Last semester at BYU I was taking a New Testament class and my professor told us a story that changed my heart.

It was about his experience serving in South America.  He had taught people in slums and the area was very poor.  There was one woman who was a widow and lived on the cheapest land you could buy—she lived in a shack on a dried up river bed, a river bed that annually flowed with water, so only the poorest of the poor resorted to living there.  He visited her home to teach with her and noticed how poorly she had it off.  Her bed was a simple mat on the dirt ground below.  He observed that her kitchen table was made of two pales and some scrap pieces of wood overtop.  He left her home and met with the bishop, telling him that something needed to be done to help this poor widow.  They decided the first thing they would do was try to get her some real furniture.  The next Sunday, the bishop announced to the congregation that someone was in need of a table, and that if anyone had one to spare, they should bring it by his office.  The bishop waited and the clocked ticked on by and nobody came with an offering.  Until much later that same widow unexpectedly walked in.  She told the bishop how sad she felt that someone didn’t have a table.  She said she didn’t have much, but she did have some stands, and two simple pieces of wood she would give him.  

The bishop, with tears in his eyes, told her that the table was meant for her.
When we are serving those around us, we are serving our God.  This story humbled me so much.  A mission had been my desire for a long time, but when the time came for me to act and to make a decision of whether I would serve or not, I can’t say I was like the widow from this story who answered the call for help immediately.  I let doubt and fear enter my mind for a long time.  I was not sure how I would ever have the means or support to serve.  I often felt I would be unqualified for the work.  I am no gospel scholar and I’m not convinced I ever really learned my scripture masteries.  But that poor widow living on a dried river bed didn’t have much either, but she offered what she did.  And I knew that I needed to as well.  I knew that I was loved by Heavenly Father and that because of this fact, I would be taken care of.

And I have been.

John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Whatever fears we may face in this life will disappear when we truly understand how much God loves us. 
We can all be instruments in the hands of the Lord for good.  We can lift each other up and we must learn to reflect Christ’s love to everyone around us.  This was Christ’s final commandment to us.  To Love each other as He did.

Spencer W. Kimball, a former prophet, explained: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs" 

Loving someone else and treating them as you would like to be treated seems like a simple thing, but I believe we would all be happier if we tried this a little more.  If we opened our hearts a little bit more to those around us.  If we listen sincerely about someone’s day, and show them that we are interested in how they are feeling and who they are, miracles could happen.  WE will be happier as a result, because we will be thinking less of ourselves and more of others. 

We are all needy people. We all have failures and we all fall short.  God sees our hearts perfectly and all our flaws and yet, He loves us anyway.  He provided us a way to become clean again through the loving atonement of Jesus Christ.

There is a great quotation in the book entitled A Heart Like His.  It says, “The love of God truly is the most joyous and delicious thing we can experience on this earth. It is so good that when we are filled with it, we are consumed with a desire that others should feel too.”

And this is what I want!  I want others to feel the happiness and love that I have felt. 
  My Heavenly father’s love is what made me want to go on a mission.  I have been blessed with so much.  A family, amazing friends, a place to call home, and most importantly, a knowledge of his everlasting love.  I owe everything to my Savior Jesus Christ.  And that is why I am willing to leave behind my home, my loved ones, and my schooling.  Because I know without a doubt in my mind that it will still never measure up to the sacrifice he paid for me.  Serving a mission in Brazil is how I feel it is best for me to show my love.  But we can all act as the Saviors hands and lift one another up.  If we can open our hearts a bit more and let His love change them, I know we will have lasting happiness.

I know that God lives and I know that He loves you.  I know this church is true and that Jesus walked this earth and died for us.  I can feel His love all around me and I know that because of this, we are never alone.

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