Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016.05.22 Farewell Talk

                         Hello Friends! I regret to inform you that although I am speaking today I will not actually be serving a mission; It’s just really not worth wearing slacks. (kidding!) Through lots of prayer I have come to accept the decision and have decided that I will still report to Argentina, regardless of how ugly everything I wear for the next 18 months ends up being.
          Today I would like to share with you the main reason for me serving a mission. Family. Somehow I have been blessed with the most amazing family this side of the Mississippi, and since I have such an amazing family I cannot imagine moving forward without them. Throughout my life my family has been a constant support and annoyance to me. There are endless hilarious stories about my family that are really only funny after the fact. So here are a few behind the scenes moments from my childhood for you.
1.    Broken glasses were a very common occurrence, some scenarios, basketball to the face, door slammed on face, and various other high-speed objects in the direction of my face. Let's just say we used our Shopko free warranty glasses to the fullest.
2.    Quarterly dreaded sock days. My Dad giddily requires all of us to bring our sock drawers and any socks on our floor to the family room. We then spend what feels like hours returning all of the stolen socks to each other and throwing away giant piles of socks with no partner. #superfun
3.    We all lose teeth one way or another. Some ways it has happened at my house, kicked out, Lego bin thrown at face (tooth falls out), pillow thrown at face, classic slam door method, pliers, etc. Pulling teeth is really just inefficient after all.
4.    Me, my siblings, and nameless cousins decided that we cannot spy on the neighbors very well so we gather hammers and other heavy objects and pound multiple large holes in the cinderblock fence. Clearly this was the logical thing to do.
While all of these things are funny and come with the territory of having many siblings, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything. Not only are all of the times I was a horrible child vivid memories in my mind so are weekly family home evenings, daily scripture studies, family prayers, Sunday game nights, weekly temple trips, countless siblings sports events, breakfasts with my Dad, learning to sew from my Mom, discussions about life with my parents, midwinter beach vacations, hours of driveway basketball and many other fantastic memories. My family is my entire life and my main source of happiness. So even though it will be extremely hard for me to leave them for eighteen months, I know it is what I want to do because of the knowledge I have about families.
What is a family? I think we all know the answer to this question. A family consists of the people you love and are related to in some way or another. The first family that we are all a part of is God’s family. Before we came to this earth we were all God’s children, and we continue to be his children now that we are here. In Moses 1:39 it states, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This means that first, God truly loves us as our Father, and he also loves everyone else as his children. Because we are all part of this heavenly family and truly are God’s children we need to remember that everyone we know is also God’s child, and they deserve our love, no matter how much we want to hate someone, they are still a child of God. We learn in the bible that the first great commandment is to love God, but the second great commandment is to love our neighbor. We are all a family here on earth, and we should all try hard to treat each other as such.
Not only are we each a part of a humongous heavenly family as children of God. God has also given each of us the opportunity to be part of a family on this earth. In a talk by L. Tom Perry he reminds us of a teaching of Brigham Young. “President Brigham Young explained that our families are not yet ours. The Lord has committed them to us to see how we will treat them. Only if we are faithful will they be given to us forever. What we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.”  In a world that is constantly degrading the family and changing the definition of what it is, it is truly wonderful to have a church that fully supports the family, and reminds us of the importance of loving them.
     Thanks to the gospel I have been raised in I have spent my whole life learning that families are forever. This meaning that in the next life we will have the opportunity to stay with our family, when we lose someone on earth we will have the chance to see and be with them again. I cannot think of anything more comforting. We are all blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to be happy and knows that our families are some of our greatest opportunities for joy. So he also provided us with the opportunity to stay with these families forever. This knowledge is something that can make us excited for the future, but also comfort us now when we lose those that we love. We can know that we will see them again. I want to go on a mission so that I can spread the news of families to everyone, because everyone can be with those they love forever.
     There have been rare moments in my life when I am sure that I did not want to spend forever with my family. But one key belief about heaven is that we will all be made perfect through Christ’s atonement. Often when I think of the atonement the focus is purely on me. I will be perfect, I will be clean, I will have endured to the end. Honestly it never really occurs to me that others will be afforded this same opportunity. We will not be in heaven with a bunch of losers. While we will be perfect, so will everyone around us. This includes our families. If I want to be with my family even now when we are all imperfect and occasionally people are annoying, imagine how great it will be when we are all perfect.
     This opportunity for forever families is not just stuck with those in our family who we currently know. Think of all those who have passed before us and existed in order to get us here. Just think, if even one person in your family line had decided not to have a child, YOU WOULD NOT EXIST. That’s millions of people who had to exist in order for you to come to be. We can also have the opportunity to be with and meet these people through temple work. We go to the temple to perform ordinances for the dead so that they can be with their families forever. I would not want to be the one to take that opportunity from someone. Temple work and missionary work both in essence accomplish the same thing. Both options provide the opportunity to those who would not otherwise receive it to be given the option of a forever family.
     So in the end, I am going on a mission because I want to share the gospel with those in Argentina. I want them to know that there is a possibility to see those they love after this life. I think that this gospel is all about happiness. Families can make us happy here on earth, and also in the future. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who created a plan that provided us the things we need to be happy here on earth and also later when we return to live with him.
     Lastly, I would like to thank you all for the influences you have had in my life. This is an amazing ward and neighborhood, I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without many of you. I have learned so much from the leaders and teachers I have had here. I am also extremely grateful to all the friends who have been so supportive. I would also like to thank my family, if I hated you I probably wouldn’t want to spread this message, but you are all amazing, especially my parents. I know this church is true and that President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet on the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith restored this church to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon and I am grateful for his faith. Most importantly I know that God loves each of us and because of that, he has provided the opportunity through his Son for each of us to return to live with him. I hope I will be able to spread this message of love throughout Argentina, even if I am wearing slacks. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.