Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Farewell speech to the Annandale ward

Thank you Grandma for sharing your beautiful voice and talent with us, and to making a wonderful invitation for the spirit to be with us. I also would like to thank my friends and family who are here today, thank you for coming and supporting me in this new chapter of my life.

I am so delighted to be able to speak to you today, and I pray that the spirit will continue to be present and aid me as I attempt to speak to you and also that your hearts and minds will be receptive to the spirit.

My comments for this talk come from two main sources, President Eyring’s talk titled, “let us raise our voice of warning”, and from Doctrine and covenants chapter 88 verse 81 which states, “behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  
 Speaking about this scripture President Eyring stated, “The Lord would not use the word warn if there is no danger. Yet not many people we know sense it. They have learned to ignore the increasing evidence that society is unraveling and that their lives and family lack the peace they once thought was possible. That willingness to ignore the signs of danger can make it easy for you to think: Why should I speak to anyone about the gospel who seems content? What danger is there to them or to me if I do or say nothing? Well, the danger may be hard to see, but it is real, both for them and for us. For instance, at some moment in the world to come, everyone you will ever meet will know what you know now. They will know that the only way to live forever in association with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, was to choose to enter into the gate by baptism at the hands of those with authority from God. They will know that the only way families can be together forever is to accept and keep sacred covenants offered in the temples of God on this earth. And they will know that you knew. And they will remember whether you offered them what someone had offered you.”

President Eyring shared this story: "Years ago I worked for a man in California. He hired me, he was kind to me, he seemed to regard me highly. I may have been the only Latter-day Saint he ever knew well. I don’t know all the reasons I found to wait for a better moment to talk with him about the gospel. I just remember my feeling of sorrow when I learned, after he had retired and I lived far away, that he and his wife had been killed in a late night drive to their home in Carmel, California. He loved his wife. He loved his children. He had loved his parents. He loved his grandchildren, and he will love their children and will want to be with them forever. Now, I don’t know how the crowds will be handled in the world to come. But I suppose that I will meet him, that he will look into my eyes, and that I will see in them the question: “Hal, you knew. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Now that we realize the urgency in warning our neighbor how do we go about doing this? To answer this question President Eyring gives a story of his mother,
“I can still remember my mother speaking softly to me one Saturday afternoon when, as a little boy, I asked her for permission to do something I thought was perfectly reasonable and which she knew was dangerous. I still am amazed at the power she was granted, I believe from the Lord, to turn me around with so few words. As I remember them, they were: “Oh, I suppose you could do that. But the choice is yours.” The only warning was in the emphasis she put on the words could and choice. Yet that was enough for me. Her power to warn with so few words sprang from three things I knew about her. First, I knew she loved me. Second, I knew she had already made correct choices and been blessed by them. And third, she had conveyed to me her sure testimony that the choice I had to make was so important that the Lord would tell me what to do if I asked Him. Love, example, and testimony: those were keys that day, and they have been whenever I have been blessed to hear and then heed the warning of a servant of the Lord.”

Let us further discuss the three keys of Love, Example, and Testimony president Eyring has given us.

The first is love. One of my favorite sayings is, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Our ward mission has taken this idea and established it as the foundation for our ward mission plan. The first step in the plan is letting your non-member friends know that you are a Latter-day Saint who cares about them. The second step is much the same, that there are other Latter-day Saint members who also care about them. If it is so important to show love what is the best way we can demonstrate this?  Barbara Thompson of the General Relief Society presidency gives us an answer to this question, “Serving others is the way to show love. Perhaps love and service are one and the same.” It is through service that hearts are warmed and people become receptive to the gospel of Christ. I would like to share a story that exemplifies this idea from two missionaries.

“Pablo came regularly to our weekly English class. He was a retired gentleman who was learning English to help keep his mind off his concern for his ailing wife. One week he quit coming. No one seemed to know why. About a month later, he came to class again. He looked different. He had lost weight, and he looked depressed. He didn’t participate in class as he had before, and he left class before we could talk with him. During the following week, my companion and I prayed that Pablo would come back to class so we could talk to him. Our prayers were answered as he came to the next class. As we talked with him after class, he shared that his wife had died. He told us a little bit about the experience, and we expressed our sympathy. We told him that we wanted to help him understand how he could be with his wife again. He raised his head, looked in my eyes, and with tears of anger and sadness said, “If you really want to help me, you would come over to my house and help me get my life back in order. Isn’t that what missionaries do?” We were surprised and humbled by Pablo’s comments. We offered our help for anything he needed. I think that was the point he started trusting our intentions. He told us to be over at his house the next day to help him prune his trees. We went to his house at the appointed time and began working at his side. In the months he took care of his wife, he had neglected chores around his yard and home. There was plenty of work for the three of us to do. This became a weekly service experience at his home. We pruned trees, pulled weeds, and picked fruit. We didn’t start teaching—whenever we tried to start, he quickly ended our conversations. He was most comfortable as we spoke about his life and family. Mostly, we just listened. After about a month and a half, Pablo surprised us by asking, “Will I really see my wife again?” We joyously responded that he would. We testified of eternal families and did our best to answer his questions. We taught Pablo the plan of salvation. He was moved by the doctrine. Before we left he had a list of questions he wanted answered, such as, “Will my wife have a body when I see her again?” and “Will we be free from illness and pain?” We answered his questions and set up another appointment to discuss the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Shortly thereafter, Pablo’s countenance changed. He smiled more often and seemed more at peace. He actually had hope.”

Once our friends know that we care and love them, then we can begin to make use of president Eyring’s second key, be an example. Paul tells us in Timothy 4:12 “Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  Christ encourages us during the Sermon on the Mount to, “let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.”   I have lived in this wonderful ward my whole life; I have had many teachers and leaders in the past 19 years all of whom have been examples to me. You have taught me the gospel, you have strengthened my testimony, you have shown me the path of righteousness that I strive every day to follow, you have been an example of the believers. And I thank you all for that, for helping me get to where I now stand, as a willing servant of the lord ready to give two years of my life into his hands.

 The final key is Testimony.  Even if we have loved with all our heart and been the best example we can be, the bearing of a testimony leaves no doubt in the mind of your friends what you believe and stand for. When prompted by the spirit we need to remember to act quickly. In D&C 107:100 it states “He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.”
President Eyring states, “The duty to warn our neighbor falls on all of us who have accepted the covenant of baptism. We are to talk with nonmember friends and relatives about the gospel. Our purpose is to invite them to be taught by the full-time missionaries who are called and set apart to teach.” 

Do not be afraid the lord has promised in D&C 84. “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of god…And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.  And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

In preparing for this talk my testimony has been further strengthened that missionary work is for each and every member of this church, every member a missionary. And the best way to be missionaries to our friends, neighbors and family is by Loving them, being an example to them and by bearing testimony, that the gospel is restored and that God once again speaks to us though his prophets. I am so grateful for these next two years that I have to bring the people of Brazil the joy that comes with the knowledge of their savior Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters it is my testimony that this is the same organization, even the same church that Christ established on the earth during his ministry. We have Prophets, apostles, and quorums of seventy just like he established. We enjoy the restoration of this gospel after centuries of religious confusion in the world. This church and its gospel was restored though the prophet Joseph Smith in the 1800’s. Joseph Smith, wondering what church to join went to the lord in prayer and was visited by out Heavenly Father and his beloved son Jesus Christ. Over the next few years he received the priesthood, the power to act in God’s name, and its keys, the authority to use that power from Peter, James, and John. He also translated the Book of Mormon, which is an ancient account of gods people on the American continent written for us today. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It has been made known unto me by the power of the Holy Spirit and all who have a desire may also come to know of its truth as I have. All you need to do is read and ask the father with real intent.  The Book of Mormon is the key stone of our religion, with it comes a knowledge of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. If the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith is a prophet of god, and if he is a prophet of god then this is the true Church of Christ.
I know that this church is led by a Prophet of God, and he receives daily revelation on how to lead this church. You can also receive revelation in your everyday life. Questions that you have, and problems that you face every day. Ask your father in heaven and he will guide your steps as exercise faith in him.

I know that Christ is our savior, he atoned for our sins. It is only though him that we can again live with our families and Father in heaven again. Christ suffered everything, all pain and suffering, he sunk to the bottom, the lowest of lows so that no matter how much pain, sorrow, or trouble you have gotten into the lord knows what you are going through, he knows your suffering and your pain, and he will always be there for you. Any wrongs that you have done are covered by the atonement of Christ just repent by confessing and forsaking.

I know that the temple is a house of God, we are so blessed to have them dot the earth. In them we make promises with God that allow us to return to his presence. In them we can be sealed to our families for all eternity. There is no greater joy then knowing you are linked to your family for all eternity. I love this Gospel and I love my savior Jesus Christ. I Hope that your prayers will be with me and those I teach, that I may have the spirit with me and that those I teach will feel the spirit and know the truth. Living the principals of the gospel brings joy to all those who live it, So why shall we not go on in so great a cause?  This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ amen. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh Alex,Your talk is so beautiful, inspiring and testimony building.You delivered it so well. I'm so proud of you and you will be a terrific Missionary. I love you so much, Grandma