Farewell Talk

February 22, 2015

Good morning! As I was preparing this talk, I thought a lot about what it’s taken me to get to this point; that is, standing at the pulpit and giving my farewell talk a week before I leave on my mission. For those who don’t know, I have been called to the Canada Montreal mission, Spanish speaking, and I am leaving in just over a week from today. As I was pondering the events that took place that brought me here, and the decisions I’ve made, the theme that stood out to me was personal revelation, so that’s what I’m going to talk about.
            Let’s start out with a basic definition. Revelation, simply put, is the making known of something that was previously unknown. The principle of receiving revelation is a simple one. When the Savior visited the Nephites, He said, “Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened”(3 Nephi 27:29).The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on revelation. The Restoration began when a young boy received personal revelation. Most often, when we think of the beginning of the Restoration of the Gospel, we think of that precious moment in the Sacred Grove when Joseph Smith offered up a prayer, and God Himself came down from heaven, along with Jesus Christ, to speak to him. But it actually began a little while before that, with a strong prompting from the Holy Ghost. In his own words, Joseph said,
While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know” (JSH 1:11-12).
                        Joseph would later learn that this intense feeling came from the Holy Ghost. He would also later tell us that, “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, but is different from the other two because the Holy Ghost does not have a body. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us”(D&C 130:22).
            When it comes to receiving revelation, here is what the Lord said to Oliver Cowdery in the eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants: , “…surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge… Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. “Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” This is what I experienced when I prayed to know whether or not I should serve a mission. Growing up, I had never wanted to serve a mission, but I figured that that was a pretty big decision, and I should probably pray about it. It took several months, if I remember correctly, of pondering, studying, and praying about it, until one day I thought, “That’s it. I just need to know.” So I got down on my knees and prayed until I felt the warm peace of the Spirit testifying to me that I should serve a mission. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” I felt those things – love, joy, peace, goodness, faith – and I knew that I had received my answer.
            But that was four years ago, when I was only fifteen. I have needed a LOT of guidance since then to keep me on the right path. 2 Nephi 2:27 reads, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” In other words, God has given us the gift of agency. We are free to choose good or evil, right or wrong, every single day. Unfortunately, we don’t always make the best choices on our own. Thankfully, the Holy Ghost can steer us away from bad decisions and towards better ones. Through revelation, we can learn what to avoid and what to seek after. The scripture I just read in 2 Nephi continues to say, “And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit.” Having the guidance of the Spirit in our lives is a huge blessing. “Without revelation, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion” (Bible Dictionary).
            We are so blessed to have church leaders who can receive revelation in our behalf. I would, in particular, like to express gratitude for a particular seminary teacher I had in my last year of high school, for being so in tune with the Spirit that he was able to say exactly what I needed to hear one morning. I had woken up feeling sad and confused. My brother had left on his mission a few months earlier, and I missed him. I realized that if I followed through with my own plan to serve a mission, it would be more than two and a half years before I would see him again. I knew I needed to serve a mission, but I realized I had never prayed to know when I should go. So that is exactly what I did. But by the time I said Amen, I still had no idea what to do. I trundled off to seminary, and it wasn’t until the very end of the class that my teacher added, “The other thing that we can learn from Alma in this chapter is that we need to answer the call to serve immediately.” I was shocked, because it was as if God was speaking to me directly through the mouth of my seminary teacher. The Spirit impressed upon me that this was my answer.
When I submitted my mission papers several months down the road, I listed January 7th as my availability date. It was the earliest I could possibly leave, and I just wanted to get going. When I actually opened my call and read that I wouldn’t report until March 4th, my heart sank. That was two months later than when I wanted to leave. And wasn’t I supposed to go “immediately?” But let me testify to you that the Lord’s timing is perfect, He really does bless our leaders with divine inspiration, and He does have a perfect Plan. If I had had my way, I would have left on an early morning flight from Kelowna on January 6th to report to the MTC the next day. Little did I know at the time that my brother, Wesley, would be returning early from his mission that same afternoon. I hadn’t seen him for a year already, and it would have been another year and half before I would have seen him again. I would have missed him by just a few hours. Instead, I have had nearly two months to spend with him, for which I am incredibly grateful.
            Along with feelings of warmth and inspired words of others, personal revelation can take many forms. Patriarchal blessings, for instance, are special revelations given directly to you from Heavenly Father, through a patriarch. Once I had made the decision to serve a mission, I reread my patriarchal blessing and was astonished to find that nearly every part of my blessing supported my decision and seemed to point me towards serving a mission. I wondered how I hadn’t noticed that before – but that’s the power of revelation.
            Another powerful way that I personally have received revelation is through the scriptures. When I was waiting for my call to come in the mail, I thought I was going to die. Anyone who has gone through this understands the pain of getting your hopes up day after day only to be repeatedly disappointed by the absence of a big brown envelope in your mail box. The wait was torture, and after more than two weeks, it was beginning to interfere with other aspects of my life. I was late for my college classes more than once because I refused to leave the house until the mail came. I think some of my friends started to avoid me because it was the only thing I talked about. I wasn’t taking it very well.
            However, I have come to learn that when I don’t get what I want, it’s usually because Heavenly Father is trying to teach me something. Often, that lesson comes as more like a brick over the head than a still, small whisper. That’s just the way I learn, I guess. So this time, I thought, “Okay, fine.” And I pulled out a copy of Preach My Gospel, turned to the chapter on Christlike attributes, and began studying patience. My study led me to read Mosiah 24:16. “And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.”
            The Spirit touched my heart, and I knew. [[[I was so certain, that I went so far as to whip out my phone and text one of my friends from the YSA branch, “The scriptures just told me my call is coming tomorrow! Get ready to come to Vernon!”]]] And the best part is that is actually DID come the very next day.
            Brothers and sisters, God hears our prayers. He knows our hearts and knows how to communicate with each of us in a way that makes sense to each individual. Revelation is a heavenly gift from a loving God who wants us to return home. In the Bible Dictionary, it says, “Continuous revelation from God to His Saints, through the Holy Ghost…makes possible daily guidance along true paths and leads the faithful soul to complete and eternal salvation in the celestial kingdom.”

I would never have made the choice to serve a mission on my own, but through the experiences I’ve shared with you and many others, I have come to know with certainty that this is right. I am so delighted to have been found worthy and able to serve the people of the Canada Montreal mission, and to share with them the beautiful message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’d like to thank my family, along with all of the leaders, friends, and acquaintances who have influenced me and helped bring me to this point. I know that…. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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