Saturday, March 9, 2013

Four Days. . . . 4 4 4 4 4 :)

Four days left.... I can hardly believe it! Starting tomorrow, I will be in the WEEK OF my mission report date.  When I opened my call, it was a 4 1/2 month wait and now it's only 4 DAYS!

This is my last weekend at home for the next year and a half--it's definitely bittersweet.  But I am so excited for this amazing opportunity and for the growth I know that will come along with.

I just wanted to write 4 of the things I will miss and 4 things I am looking forward to about this new adventure in my life.

I will miss......

-my wonderful family and our game nights accompanied with junk food, or sitting around the TV and watching the Biggest Loser, or harmonizing to songs on the radio in the car

-my bed buddy (aka my sweet kitty)

-working out for at least an hour

-my brother's senior year of track, his graduation, and weddings of friends/family

I am looking forward to......

-being on a spiritual high

-meeting the Australian people and coming to love them

-accents accents accents!

-working along side other amazing Sisters and making many new friends

Also, here are 4 photos from my mission photoshoot that I like:

Oh my gosh! I can't believe the time is nigh at hand.  Tuesday night at 9:00 pm I will be set apart by my awesome Stake President as a new Sister Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I am ready .

(I just need to pack)   ;)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Farewell; this isn't goodbye forever!

Farewell (noun): an expression of good wishes at parting;  a party given to a person who is about to embark on a long journey, retire, leave an organization etc.

I'm not dying! This isn't goodbye forever! :) 

In just 11 short days I will be starting my journey as an Aussie Sister missionary! I can't believe how little the numbers are getting.  I opened my call 4 1/2 long months ago.....and now I'm down to a week and a half. WOW!
Me and my good friend, Krystal, who is currently serving in the Australia Melbourne mission!

My farewell was this past Sunday.  First I just wanna thank everyone who came for your love and support!  And I know there were those who really wanted to be there, but weren't able due to the horrible weather and other circumstances....thank you for your love and support as well!  It was truly a great of the best!  I have honestly not felt that cared about in a long time.  It was overwhelming to see so many faces from my past, present, and maybe even my future!  

The spirit I felt in that meeting was so strong.  My family actually did the musical number; it was beautiful.  During the song, I don't know if there was a dry eye in the congregation!  It was powerful. So by the time I got up to speak, I was already a blubbery mess! 

So for those of you who weren't able to be there, or for the many of you who have asked for a copy of my talk: I am going to post it here :)  It was roughly a 20 minute talk, mind you. But I hope you enjoy it! It is on a very important topic in my get ready!

Every Member A Missionary
 Farewell Talk February 24, 2013

G’day mates!  Thank you all for coming to listen to me speak this morning J 
                I would like to start off with a quote given by President Brigham Young: “There is neither man or woman in this Church who is not on a mission.  That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life.”  ­
                As you might have gathered, today I am speaking to you on the topic of missionary work….and I am SO very excited to do so! But I am not just speaking about the full time, name-tag wearing, walk around everywhere on the other side of the world type of missionaries… Rather, the fact that everybody is a missionary, an “Everyday Missionary.”   
                I want to share a story with you to show that missionary work can also be little things.  My mother tells this story better than I do, but I will give it a shot.  It takes place back when I was a little girl, around the age of nine:
                “When President Hinckley was our living prophet, do you remember when he asked the men not to have earrings, and the women to only have one pair if they chose to have their ears pierced?
                At the time this talk was given, my mom had about 3 pairs of earrings in one ear and 2 in the other.  She had had them since she was a teenager.  She loved them, too, mind you. When I heard this talk, I kept pestering my mother about taking out the earrings because "the prophet has specifically asked women to only have one pair." She always replied and argued in defense saying, "No, because he's talking to rebellious teens who are piercing weird parts of their bodies......and I love my earrings. I never take them out. I sleep in them, even. They are a part of my face! I don't have them because I'm being rebellious."
                Anyway, one day I decided to try, yet again, while my mom was minding her own business relaxing in the bathtub.  I sat on the floor very upset with her. This time I took a difference stance. Instead of lecturing her, I came to her with "those big brown eyes, brim full of tears" and asked her to "please take them out." I was basically afraid she was going to go to hell for not taking out her earrings and listening to what the prophet asked.  I was concerned for her well-being and felt she was being rebellious.
                If you can believe it, she remained resistant until I uttered these words......."Mom, you know it's not just the prophet saying this. It comes from God."
                What could a good mother do? I mean really. She couldn't argue with God in front of her own child....and she could really see that it was important to me. So she said, "Ok, Kelsie.  I'll take them out." Then she proceeded to take out the earrings, placing them in my little hands. I was thrilled beyond belief! Grinning from ear-to-ear, I wrapped my arms around her neck and said "Thanks, Mommy." Then I was out, lingering no longer.
                And that was that. I am proud to say she still only wears one pair today! ;)
So really, follow the prophet 'cuz no matter how small the thing is he asks of us, it still comes from God.

Even a little 9 year old knew that.”

                I want to make sure you understand a definition I like to associate with being a missionary so that you’ll be able to understand my message today a little bit better.  A missionary is simply someone that brings another closer to Christ.  You can be a missionary every day of your life.  You don’t have to be an adult to be a missionary.  And you don’t even have to travel to Australia, Madagascar, Brazil, Mexico, California, or Idaho to be a missionary.  Being a missionary starts within yourself and then with those right around you!
                President Howard W. Hunter once said, “A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.”  Pretty straightforward, huh?  Some of you honestly may not be ready to do this, for you have to work on fully converting yourself, first.  In D&C 11:21 it reads, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.”
                In a talk given by M. Russell Ballard he says, “But as we raise the level of expectation for the performance of our missionaries, we must also raise the level of expectation for the performance of all of the members of the Church in fulfilling our missionary duties. We need your help, brothers and sisters, to support and assist our missionaries in finding and baptizing many more of our Heavenly Father’s children. We need you to watch over, protect, and inspire the missionaries, who are servants of the Lord.  If the standard is to be raised, it is raised for all of us. We must be more faithful. We must be more spiritually in tune. We must prepare ourselves to assist the missionaries in finding those of our Heavenly Father’s children who will embrace the message of the Restoration.
                Remember, brothers and sisters, we’re not marketing a product. We’re not selling anything. We’re not trying to impress anyone with our numbers or our growth. We are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, empowered and sent forth by the Lord Himself to find, nourish, and bring safely into His Church those who are seeking to know the truth.”
                President Gordon B. Hinckley also taught, “So many of us look upon missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church.  Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend.  He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel.   The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service.  He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change….The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.”
                In a great book I recently came across and bought, entitled “The Power of Everyday Missionaries”, by Clayton M. Christensen (let’s call him Clay for short for future reference!), he gives what he calls fundamental principles for being able to find people for the missionaries to teach.  I would like to discuss and give examples of a few of them.  The first one he talks about is:    

       1.       Don’t predict who will or will not be interested in the gospel.  We can’t know that, so don’t pre-judge.  Talk with everyone!  Become their friend!  And if they end up not being interested in the church, don’t just drop the friendship. Always show unconditional love.  The only way all people can have the opportunity to choose or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ is for us, without judgment, to invite them to follow the Savior.  We need not and should not alter our relationships with others in order to invite them.  In Clay’s book he says: “You succeed when you invite, regardless of how it turns out.”

                With permission, I would like to share the following:  When I was a senior in high school I got my license to be a CNA.  The summer after my senior year, in 2010, I got my first job at a nursing home in Springville.  That summer I met someone who is very dear to my heart.  My experiences with this person have forever changed me.  A few months after getting my job I had the opportunity for some great missionary work.  At the time, Irma was one of our newer residents.  Her husband Ruben would come to see her every day.  He missed her, and the change of her being at the nursing home was hard for him. Whenever I worked I got to see him, and we became the best of buddies!
Irma, Ruben and myself

                Whenever I took my dinner break I would go and sit by Irma and Ruben because they were usually chillin’ out in the dining room at a table.  Ruben­ would say he always looked forward to the times I worked, and he dreaded when I would go off to college because he was really going miss me, and the help I gave his wife.
                So… it all started when one day, Ruben and I got talking religion. Somehow I knew Ruben wasn't LDS and later found out he was Catholic. He was inactive in that religion because he felt something was missing.  We got talking a lot, and I told him about the plan of salvation and that families can be together forever, and I explained the purpose of baptism.  I told him about patriarchal blessings and the temple.  I also explained a little about temple work.  He asked questions here and there and I did my very best to answer as correctly as possible.  
                The next night we got talking about more gospel topics, and I had him read some scripture verses that I brought with me; he seemed interested and said he thought what it said is true. He promised me he would read the Book of Mormon (or at least try starting it). I gave him a Book of Mormon that I had marked up with some of my favorite scriptures and things I had learned in seminary. I also wrote my testimony in the front.
                Another night Ruben and I were talking he said lately he was having a hard time with his wife being gone and that he could hardly ever eat from being upset over it. He just was having a hard time understanding WHY all of this was happening to him. I told him about Joseph Smith, and the scripture found in D&C 122 about how all of our challenges are for our good. The Lord has a purpose for everything.  I told him maybe, just maybe the reason his wife was in the nursing home, is so he'd get the chance to meet me; maybe the Lord wanted him to hear the gospel from me because I could reach him and teach it to him in a way his family, who are members, hadn't been able to.  After we talked he thanked me, and sweetly said "I think you're my angel." Then he gave me a big hug.  It was an emotional, sweet experience.
My last night of work before college.
                So that is the beginning of my missionary experience with Ruben.  And it doesn’t end there!  Over the 3 years I have known him, we have become really close; I consider him my adopted Grandpa.  He knows, and loves, my whole family as well.  (Oh! And something you should know about Ruben is that he is strong in character; if he doesn't want to do something, he won't.)  The biggest "battle" the past year was for about 7-8 months I had been trying to occasionally invite him to come to church with me.  He would agree, but then back out and say he couldn't come because he was scared and didn’t like not knowing what to expect.  On a side note, he had started going to the MTC sometimes during this time period and volunteered as an investigator for the missionaries being trained.  Since he's Argentine, he'd help out by speaking Spanish with them.  After going a couple times, he actually finally attended church with his daughter and their family, and it wasn't as bad as he thought, just like I kept telling him!
                Well.....I guess what I'm trying to get at is, after my family arrived home from our vacation this past July, Ruben told me he DECIDED TO GET BAPTIZED!!!  You can imagine my excitement when I heard this.  I have loved watching Ruben's faith grow over the years, and seeing that he was ready even before he knew he was. I just had to patiently and lovingly wait until his fear subsided and he allowed himself to realize what I think he knew for a long time.  I never could have predicted when I first met Ruben that he would give me the opportunity to share something I dearly love with him, and that he would even come to accept it for himself!  Just the other day I was talking with him, and he says he can’t wait for when he’s allowed to go to the temple! I’m truly grateful for Ruben and the experiences we have shared.   I’m happy to say that Ruben is here today, so I hope I haven’t embarrassed him too much.  I just wanna say:  te quiero, Viejo! Gracias por todo.  
After Ruben's baptism :)

                The next principle Clay gives is:
     2.       Create conversations about the Gospel.  Use Mormon words in every conversation.  In a recent talk entitled “A Word for the Hesitant Missionary” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, he brings up this very thing!  He says: “Bringing up the subject of religion—particularly to our friends and loved ones—can seem daunting and challenging. It doesn’t have to be. Mentioning spiritual experiences or talking about Church activities or events in casual conversation can be easy and pleasant if we invest a little courage and common sense.

More often than not, the people who hear this want to know more. They ask questions. And that leads to opportunities to talk about the gospel in a natural, confident, non-pushy way.”

        This last summer my family went on vacation to Eugene, Oregon where we got to watch the Olympic trials of Track and Field!  Talk about an awesome experience!  If you know my family, you know we love track! While we were there we met many, many wonderful people.  One of them was our motel desk clerk.  He was a tall and somewhat awkward fellow. Very nice, though. Well... You know how I am: I befriended him.  I would stop in on my way back to our room sometimes and we would visit almost every night for a little bit. 

        One of the nights when I was talking, he found out I was a Mormon. He mentioned he had only ever met a couple other Mormons before, but never really talked with them. Anyway, the next time I came in to visit I saw him at the computer. When he heard me walk in, he quickly exited out of the page he was on, but not before I saw what was on the screen: “Mormonism”….he was doing research.  I asked him what he’d been up to, and he said shyly, “Well…..actually, I’ve been learning more about your church.” 

        From the start, I told him I am open and for him to feel free to ask me any questions about my church that he wanted. I told him that it was also probably better and more accurate to ask me rather than searching on Wikipedia, because you never know what the truth is these days. He took that offer and asked many good questions, some I wasn’t even sure how to answer. 

        By the end of our stay there, I had given Mark a Book of Mormon with my testimony in it, and he had accepted my invitation to attend church there in Eugene with my family and I on our last day.  It was fast and testimony meeting, too. My mom, brother and I all got up and bore our testimonies.  Mark ended up enjoying his time with us at church, and the missionaries were there that day, so we introduced them to him and he took a card with their number.
In Eugene, after church with "Marky-Mark"

        A few months later, some of you may remember this, Mark came out to Utah to visit and stayed with my family for a few days and even attended church with us in this ward.  Later we had the local missionaries over for dinner and a little discussion.   Unfortunately since that trip, I haven’t gotten to speak with Mark much, so I don’t really know where he’s at in regards to the church, but I know that it has had an impact on him.  When my dad and I dropped him off at the airport, Mark told me that my family was kinder to him than he’s ever had someone be before, and that we had forever changed his view of Mormons. He was very grateful to us.  And to think this whole thing started because I made mention about my church in our conversations!

      3.       The third principle given in Clay’s book is: Ask for help when the winds of prosperity blow.  Basically this is saying that we should show those not of our faith that we need their help.  Like it states in Mark 8:35 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”  In other words, we need to give the chance to others to lose their lives for the sake of the gospel not just to the humble of the earth, but to prosperous people too.  Even though many prosperous, comfortable people don’t feel like they need religion, almost all of them have a need to help other people.

                Almost every calling that we undertake in the Church can be reframed as a missionary opportunity when we invite people who are not yet members of the Church to join with us in serving the Lord. And we can do it with confidence that, just as we feel the Spirit when we serve, our friends can feel the same Spirit—and realize that despite their prosperity, there has been something missing from their lives. 

An example from Clay’s book is the following story:  (“The Best Samaritan” on page 43)

                “Some time ago I called my friend Susan, who is not a member of our church, and asked, “I teach a class of nine-year -olds at our church.  In two weeks I’ve got to teach them one of the most important lessons of the year, about the good Samaritan.  Susan, you are the best example of a good Samaritan I have ever known. Is there any way you can help me prepare and teach this lesson?”  Susan felt that she didn’t merit such praise, but she said that she’d be happy to help.

                After Susan and I met to plan the lesson, I said, “One of the practices in our church is that when we deliver a talk or teach a lesson, we close by giving our testimony, or a statement of our personal belief, about the topic.  So I will probably express a simple testimony of my personal feelings about the principle of the good Samaritan.  Don’t feel like you need to do this too, but if you feel inclined, I’m sure it will touch some of the kids.”

                Susan replied, “If you think it will help the kids, I’ll try to do it.”

                The lesson went beautifully.  After I bore my testimony, Susan tearfully described how she felt whenever she helped another person.  When we were putting the room in order after the children had left, Susan thanked me for the chance to help, and then said, “I never show my emotions like I did just now. And I’ve never felt inside the way that I feel now.  Does this happen to you too?”

                “Yes.” I responded.  “What you feel is the Spirit of God. It is the way that God tells you that what you just said is true.”

                Susan offered, “If you ever need anyone to help you with another lesson, would you please let me do it? I’ve never felt like this before!”

                Overall, when we help others to do God’s will, they learn far more about what the Church and the Spirit feels like than they ever could through a conversation or from attending a ward social.

                 I would like to make mention that not only are those you share the gospel with blessed, but you are blessed as well!  There are many promises the Lord makes to us in the scriptures pertaining to the power and strength that we will receive as we share the gospel.  Before I close, I would like to share some of these blessings with you.  They are found in the Doctrine and Covenants in various sections:
1.       Section 24:12: “You shall receive strength such as is not known among men.”
2.       Section 44:5: “Your enemies will not have power over you.”
3.       Section 68:6: “The Lord will stand by you.”
4.       Section 68:4: “Your words will be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, and shall be the voice of the Lord and power of God unto salvation.”
5.       Section 21:9: “You will be given a testimony of the words of the prophets.”
6.       Section 44: 5: “You will be able to keep God’s laws.”
7.       Section 18: 14-15: “Your joy shall be great.”
                (And these are only naming a few!)

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “Sometimes we take upon ourselves too much credit or too much blame when it comes to others accepting the gospel. It’s important to remember that the Lord doesn’t expect us to do the converting.
                Conversion comes not through our words but through the heavenly ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is one single phrase of our testimony or about an experience to set in motion the softening of a heart or the opening of a door that can lead others to experience sublime truths through the promptings of the Spirit.
                President Brigham Young said he knew the gospel was true when he “saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord.’” President Young said when he heard that humble testimony, “The Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me.”
                Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn’t ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit.”

                I want to bear testimony that I know how important missionary work is, and it isn’t just set aside for the full time missionaries.  The Lord needs all of His children to help one another to become closer to Him. That is what this life is about.
                I know that the things that are important to us, no matter how small, are important to our Heavenly Father, and that if we show our love for Him and our willingness to put Him first, things will fall into place and we will be blessed in return.
                I know this church is true, and I’m grateful for this opportunity I have to grow and to serve the Lord’s children.  I am grateful that I have such supportive parents, who are willing to give me up for a time and allow me to go on the opposite side of the world as a missionary. I cannot wait to teach the people of Australia about God and how much He dearly loves them and wants them to come home to Him. I know it is going to be hard to leave my family for this time, but I know it is so that others can be with theirs for eternity. 
                I am overwhelmed by how many family and friends’ faces I see here today for me.  It is truly amazing to feel so loved and supported in this event in my life, so I wanna thank you all!

I leave these things with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!  I hope you were able to feel the Spirit of Christ pushing you to do better!   Have a great Sabbath day!