Farwell Talk

I am very humbled to be here today to speak to you. As I look out amongst you I see so many faces that have been a huge part of my life the past 14 years.  I thank you for teaching me and helping me grow. I truly feel it a blessing to have known you. Im grateful to my friends and family who have come today to show support and to share this moment with me. I wouldn't be who I am without you.

I have to admit, I didn't really ever think I would be old enough to stand up here and be giving my farewell talk and preparing to serve a mission.  When I was little I always knew that I would serve a mission, but I never really thought the day would come.  And now its here, and I must say, I could not be more excited to serve the people in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango mission. I leave for the Guatemala City Missionary Training Center in just two days.  For my friends out there that have no idea what a missionary training center is. basically I will be in classes from sun up to sun down, seven days a week, learning how to speak Spanish and converse with the people. I will be in the missionary training center for 6 weeks and then be sent out into an area in Guatemala. 

A little about my missionthe mission home is in Guatemalas 2nd largest city, Quetzaltenango. The population of the city is around 230,000. At its lowest; the elevation is 7,640 ft above sea level. Although Spanish is the official language, my mission covers a large geographical area that includes several indigenous tribes. There are 21 different Mayan languages in use. There are 247,000 LDS members in all of Guatemala. 6 missions. 2 temples- one in Guatemala City and the other in Quetzaltenango.

Throughout high school I have had several instances when someone from school would ask me if I was going to serve a mission and why I would serve. Why I would put my education on hold for 2 years go somewhere where I knew nobody and possibly cant even speak the language. The first time I was asked this, it really took me by surprise and I found it really difficult to answer. I had never really thought of why I was going, just that I was going.  I had a testimony of the gospel and of the Book of Mormon and was excited to share it with others, but I couldnt think of a missionary response. I was determined to figure it out and to identify why I was going.

I kept the question in the back of my mind for quite some time and would ponder over it as I read the scriptures. I was reading the Book of Mormon and was just starting Mosiah when I found what I had been looking for in chapter 2 verse 17. It reads, And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God”.
It became very clear to me after reading this verse over and over again that I was going on a mission to serve our Heavenly Father. 

I have grown up with so many great examples of service.  Whether it be my parents, who have been perfect examples to me of selflessness and putting others needs before their own

Many years agoback in the days that all my siblings were still at home, we took a family vacation down to Disneyland. I cant remember the majority of the trip because it was so long ago but there is one thing that I have never forgotten.  Most of you know my dad and know that he very comfortable in his own shoes. Hes very funny and isnt afraid to do things that would normally be seen aswellcrazy. So we decided on a day off from the park that we would go to a movie. Before the previews started, my dad stood up and went down to the bottom of the theater and in a very loud voice, went on to introduce himself as well as our whole family and explained why we were in California and went on to say a bit more. He ended his rant with an invitation to go and purchase goodies for everyone. I think most people were confused and a little uncomfortable with his invitation. But I will never forget the women on the fist row who raised her hand and said that she had wanted a hot dog but didn't want to get out of her seat. So we went down to concessions and got her a hot dog. When we got back to deliver the dog, she quickly thanked us and as we were walking away, said that there was not ketchup or mustard. Without delay, my dad ran back down and got her her ketchup and mustard. I appreciate the way that he shares his blessings with others.  Thanks dad for being that example to me.

One of my familys favorite scriptures is found in the Old Testament in Joshua 24:15. It says,  “…choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

Another example of service to has been my young mens leaders, whom I have never heard complain about spending countless hours on campouts, hiking 50+ miles in sweltering heat, sleeping in snow caves or helping us extinguish spontaneous explosions at scout camp.  From their example, I have learned what it is to have unselfish service as they serve us as Young meneven when they themselves did not have a son in our program.
Clearly our youth leaders have followed the Saviors example to serve others.

Those have been only a couple of my examples, but the Savior himself has clearly set the path for serviceThe Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others. Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  A disciple is willing to bear other peoples burdens and to comfort those who need comfort. 

One of my favorites of His teachings is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Let me read it for you.

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

WE may never have to stop along the side of the road and carry a stranger, but there may come a time in our lives when we need to make our lives available to help someone who is in need physically, emotionally or spiritually. Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through us. 

Our current Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson has said:
We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindnessbe they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lords hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.
The lord said-
“‘… Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these , ye have done it unto me[Matthew 25:40].

Will we respond with love when an opportunity is before us to make a visit or a phone call, write a note, or spend a day meeting the needs of someone else?

Jesus Christ continues to extend the call Come and follow me.He walked His homeland with His followers in a selfless manner. He continues to walk with us, stand by us, and lead us. To follow His perfect example is to recognize and honor the Savior, who has borne all of our burdens through His sacred and saving Atonement, the ultimate act of service. What He asks of each one of us is to be able and willing to take up the joyful burdenof discipleship."

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma said, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” We are here to help by doing small and simple things for people that the Lord puts in our way.

In a General Conference talk entitled, To the Rescue, by President Monson, he said, the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants”.

I appreciate that as a young Cub Scout and on to Eagle Scout that we started on the road of service.,,, and that same spirit of service continues through today...though our goal was always focused on others I feel like I have been the real beneficiary.  Serving the widowed sisters in this ward has been one of my greatest blessings!

Now my road of service takes a much bigger step in serving the Lord.  I will go as his representative and I will be on His errand.  My responsibility to serve is summarized in Elder Bruce R McConkie’s Missionary Commission.

       “I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His Place, to say and do what He himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts, my words are His words and my doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done, to say what He wants said, to be a living modern witness in word and deed - of the divinity of His great and marvelous latter day work. How GREAT is my CALLING.”

I have prepared to serve a mission for as long as I can remember. I cannot wait to get out in the field and serve the people of Guatemala.  

I love this Gospel and cannot wait to serve the people of Guatemala.
I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.


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