Farewells and Flashcards
The day is almost here and I am so ready to report! Preparation has been hectic but satisfying. As far as I know everything needed has been bought, but I have a strange complex where I can’t pack until a day or two before… strange I know. I still am powering through the Book of Mormon (I’d like to have it read again before I leave), I also am delving into Preach My Gospel and as far as Portuguese is concerned… I am trying… but I have to admit that my motivation in learning the language right now is second to my eagerness to learn and gain a further testimony in the doctrines I will be teaching. Preach My Gospel states, “First study the doctrines and the lessons in your native language. That understanding will strengthen your testimony and your capacity to teach and testify convincingly” (127). This is so true to me right now. Portuguese is essential, but I’m taking advantage of my resources here and now to focus on the lessons and the scriptures in my own language mainly. I do have flashcards ALL over my bedroom walls though! My favorite thing to do is turn the fan on and watch the walls dance with Portuguese!
This last Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to deliver my farewell in church and thought it would be a great opportunity to post as much as I can here. FYI I was given a topic, so the farewell is not simply about missionary work!
Faithfully Fulfilling Callings
“The call of duty came to John E. Page when the Prophet Joseph Smith extended to him a call to serve as a missionary. John E. Page ‘murmured” and responded, “Brother Joseph, I can’t go on a mission to Canada. I don’t even have a coat to wear.’
The Prophet Joseph removed his own coat, handed it to Brother Page, and said, ‘Here, take this and the Lord will bless you.’ John E. Page went on that mission to Canada and, during a two-year period, walked five thousand miles and baptized six hundred people. ” –Thomas S. Monson
The call of duty also came to the sons of Mosiah. In alma 17 The Lord called for them to “Go forth among the Lamanites, their brethren and establish His word; that they shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.” They received a call, and went forth with an attitude of righteousness. “The hearts of the sons of Mosiah took courage to go forth…for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken” The world would be a much different place if we all took up the same devotion as the sons of Mosiah in all of our callings. Ammon in particular is my missionary hero. With the true purpose of his calling in mind, Ammon went among the Lamanites with the pure intent to serve them . One of my favorite lines of scripture is when King Lamoni offers Ammon riches and he responds “Nay, but I will be thy servant”. Ammon gets it; he is called, he knows what he is expected to achieve in this calling, and he knows the Christ-like manner in which all righteous ends are met.” Ammon fulfills his calling so devotedly that King Lamoni exclaims “Surely this is more than a man“. In the New Testament Jesus and his disciples are on a boat at sea. Christ is sleeping when a tempest arises and in fear the disciples go to Him. Christ calms the sea and the men aboard ask “What manner of man is this?” We could answer them simply by saying He is not a man, but a son of a God. Ammon is a reflection of Christ, and we can be too. If we recognize our callings and enter into them reflecting Christ then men will ask what manner of men are we that serve in such a divine manner. If we serve with Christ reflected in our countenances, men of the world will look to us and wonder what power we have.
Ammon goes on to preach with boldness and the people are converted. Lamoni, the once wicked king, admits that “in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things”.
Brothers and Sisters, do we recognize the gravity and the number of callings which we hold? Our callings are personal and numerous. To illustrate my point I have made a list of recent church callings and lifelong callings that still impact my life. These callings, although they may have been short in duration, will stay with me my entire life; they have made me lifelong friends, they have taught me lessons and I will undoubtedly reap rewards later in my life from the service rendered. I am called as a: daughter, sister, granddaughter, student, mentor, choir director, Relief Society president, visiting teacher, friend, best friend, sacrament speaker, missionary, future wife and mom, Tribe of Ephraim, Disciple of Christ and as a Child of God. These callings I currently wear.
Every calling issued to you by the church is a direct issue from Heavenly Father. Come to know and accept that truth and no matter the calling you will be determined to serve with an Ammon like passion. There is no insignificant calling in this church and I testify that you have been called to this position for a reason. Mordecai remarks to Esther “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this” Just as Esther, who knows if in this calling you will render a defining service to the life of someone else. Ammon and his brothers “fasted and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God.” I challenge you to earnestly pray now to be an instrument in God’s hands and be ready for the callings you will receive; be ready to take them up and to magnify them for they will be a service to the Lord as well as an answer to your prayers and that is a beautiful promise.
Like Esther, in Luke, Christ remarks, “but for this cause came I unto this hour.” Christ is the ultimate example and the ultimate teacher. He is the perfect role model for fulfilling our callings. I’d like to read a story very close to my heart that illustrates Christ’s calling.
In order to practice what I preach, I wish to share a parable of Christ’s life. Parables were a tool in the Master’s hand and I have two objectives in sharing this story. 1) We can see Christ’s call 2)We magnify our callings once we recognize Christ’s sacrifice:
Brother Christianson taught Seminary. He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson’s Seminary class.
Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the class was over.
One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Bro. Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “You think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?”
Steve’s answer was, “Yeah, I do.”
Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many push-ups can you do?”
Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”
“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”
Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”
“Do you think you could?” Again asked Brother Christianson.
“Well, I can try,” said Steve.
“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said. Steve said, “Well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”
Brother Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday.”
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.
When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited-it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend.
Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?”
Cynthia said, “Yes.”
Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”
Steve said, “Sure,” and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Bro. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk..
Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe do you want a donut?”
Joe said, “Yes.” Bro. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.
And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut. And down the second aisle, till Bro. Christianson came to Scott.
Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When Bro. Christianson asked, “Scott, do you want a donut?”
Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”
Bro. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”
Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”
Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”
Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”
Bro. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Bro. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.
Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”
Jenny said, “No.”
Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.
By now, the students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was also having to really put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.
During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the sides of the room. When Bro. Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Steve asked Bro. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”
Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups. You can do them any way that you want.” And Bro. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”
Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”
Bro. Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”
Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.”
Bro. Christianson said, “Okay, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”
“Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.
The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?
Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”
Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”
Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda. Then Bro. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?”
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Bro. Christianson, can I help him?”
Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, he has to do it alone, Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”
As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Brother Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, pleaded to the Father, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”
Christ is the perfect example of fulfilling our callings; He is the ultimate teacher and I promise that if you turn to his example in fulfilling your callings (both church assigned and life assigned) you will have joy.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, he plays a huge role in our calling as children of God. We are called children of God, rather, we are called to be children of God, with such a great position comes great expectations. It is a calling we are expected to live up to. Our brother died for us and He calls us to be like him so we may return to the arms of our Loving Heavenly Father. This is perhaps the greatest calling of all, I pray that your call to be a child of God is reflected in all of your other life callings.
In your callings you are called to provide service. When you are in the service of your fellow beings ye are in the service of your God. Do you serve the Son of God the way the Son of God deserves to be served?
I pray that the love of Christ will fuel your devotion to serve in every calling extended to you, but I issue a warning as well, President John Taylor cautioned us, “If you do not magnify your calling, God will hold you responsible for those you might have saved, had you done your duty.”
If we know Christ, we will learn not to simply serve out of fear or duty, but out of a pure love of our fellow man and of Christ.
In closing I want to bear testimony to my callings in life. They have been many and they will continue to be many. I have recently been called as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I have been preparing for this calling my entire life without knowing it. Ever since I was young I have prayed that the hearts of my brothers and sisters may be softened and come to a realization of the Light of Christ they hold within them. Now that I have a mission call I pray for them specifically that their hearts will be prepared to hear the message of redemption and everlasting life. I look forward to meeting them in person and praying for them by name. How powerful will it be when I tell them I have been praying for them my entire life and I have been preparing for this calling. I love this gospel.
—- That is the jist of it! I apologize for any mistakes. When I delivered the talk my notes were bulleted and this is me adding meat to it as if I were delivering it again, there may be many mistakes!