Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mission Farewell Talk

Mission Farewell Talk on August 24, 2014

How to Find Peace

Hello brothers and sisters, I'm really glad to see all of you here today.  I want to take some time to thank all of you for everything that you've done for me.  I have really good friends that have helped me through hardships in my life, an amazing ward that I've been able to feel at home in, and a supportive family who I love, and I'm blessed to know they love me too.  For those of you who may not know, I have been called to serve in the Canada, Halifax mission.  My area is right above Maine, and covers all of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and a tiny sliver of Maine.  It's crazy, because there are some parts of my mission where the church is so small that they don't even consider themselves a branch of the church.  So they call themselves "The Sticks".  So luckily for me, even though I am a little nervous to speak to you today, this is probably the biggest group of people I'll have to speak to over the course of my mission.

While I was thinking of my topic for my farewell, I really wanted to talk about something that I've had experience with these past few months.  I'll be honest; it's been a pretty hard summer.  Sometimes I'd be feeling happy and confident in myself, while other days I felt really down.  We all have times like this in our life, and it is especially important that we seek for guidance and help during these times.  When we ask Heavenly Father for help in faith, we can feel a Spirit of Peace overcome us, and know that we are not alone.  I feel that everybody needs to know how to find this peace and love of God at some point in their life, and when they seek, they will be able to find.

Finding peace can be easier said than done.  Sometimes our trials can seem so tough that we can't handle them ourselves.  Luckily for us, in these times of struggle, we do not have to face these challenges alone.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome all things through him as long as we believe that we can.  Christ's Atonement doesn't only help us recover from sin and death, but it can help in all things that we may need help with.  In one of my favorite hymns:  "Where Can I Turn for Peace"  It says:

"Where is the quiet hand, to calm my anguish?"
"Who, who can understand? He, only One."

Jesus Christ knows each and every one of us individually, and knows our feelings, our thoughts, and our hearts.  He suffered for us because he loves all of us, and wanted to help all of us return to our Heavenly Father to become more like him.  In D&C 6:36, the Lord tells Joseph Smith, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."  If we do this knowing that our Savior loves us, then we will be able to find peace through the Atonement.

We can also find peace by following Christ's example using the three main attributes of Christ: Hope, Faith, and Charity.  Hope assures us each day that Jesus Christ's atonement will be able to help every single person.  Faith in Jesus Christ gives us knowledge of the truth, and Charity offers us a chance to act as Christ would.  The best witness one can receive of a gospel principle is by acting on it first, and then seeing the blessings that come from them.  If we ever feel discouraged or troubled, the best way to fix that is to help somebody else who is going through a trial of their own.  If we constantly seek to follow Jesus Christ's example in this way, he will be able to grant us blessings of peace.

One of the best places to go when you feel you need guidance and peace is the temple.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a temple week.  Early on, I had the opportunity to go to the Ogden Temple Open House and see the new temple with my family.  It was a really cool experience, and it was a nice start to my week.  The spirit was strong, and you could tell that it is a place where amazing things will take place.

In his 2011 General Conference "The Holy Temple-A Beacon of the World" Thomas S. Monson said this regarding temples:  "My brothers and sisters, temples are more than stone and mortar.  They are filled with faith and fasting.  They are built of trials and testimonies.  They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."

I again had another temple experience a couple days later.  I'm a Primary teacher, and all the Stake Primary kids and teachers got together to walk to the Bountiful Temple.  Even before the walk started, the spirit was invited with hundreds of kids singing "I Love to See the Temple".  We couldn't see the temple over the mountain, but we could feel it in our presence, and when we made it, the peace there was amazing.  Sometimes we can't immediately feel peace that we need, but when we exercise even a particle of faith, and keep moving forward in our lives, Heavenly Father can grant us anything that we desire.  It will all be worth it.  Two days after that I had the opportunity to receive my endowments in the Jordan River Temple.

Some days we may not be able to make it to the temple.  However, that does not mean that we can't feel the spirit in our home. You can invite the spirit by reading your scriptures, listening to happy and good spirited music, learning more about the gospel, or simply praying to your Heavenly Father daily.  If you do these things consistently, you will feel a gradual strengthening of the Spirit in your life, and be stronger against trials and adversity in your life.

One really cool thing that I got to do in preparation for my mission was study some of my genealogy.  I had wondered for a while if I had relatives from my mission because my ancestors were Scottish and English, and Nova Scotia means New Scotland.  Well, I figured out that on both sides I have relatives that lived in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, both areas that are in my mission.  I'd like to talk specifically about my Great Great Great Great Grandfather who was born in Halifax, Daniel Starke.  Daniel Stark became a member of the church early on in his life in 1843 at 23 years of age.  He was a carpenter, and a very hardworking man.  A few years later, about the same time many of the Latter-Day Saints walked the plains to Zion, Daniel and his family, as well as 238 other members got on a boat headed to California.  On the boat, they had a room where all of them would gather for morning and evening prayer and devotionals.  They were to travel all the way around South America.  Later on in their travels, a really bad storm started to freeze the sails of the boat, and the strong wind prevented the ship from being controlled easily.  The captain of the boat, who was not a member of the church, went down to the room to warn and prepare the Saints for the worst.  However, rather than panicking, he found them singing hymns and praying with the utmost peace and composure.  They eventually made it to Hawaii, and then traveled to California after staying there.  Even in this possibly perilous storm, my grandfather and the other members of the church put their trust and faith in the Lord, and made it safely.

I have another story which is one of my favorite examples of peace.  It's in D&C 121.  Jospeh Smith and some of the Latter-Day apostles had been taken to Liberty Jail, the Saints were being persecuted and forced to leave and abandon their belongings in Missouri, it was a dark time for the church members.  While he was still in the jail, Joseph Smith prayed to God, saying:
"O God, where art thou?  And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" D&C 121:1.
He asks God for how much longer this torment of the Saints will last.  Surely, this was not a peaceful time for any of them.  Sometimes we may feel this way in our own lives, and may want to ask the same things.  However, after 6 verses of Joseph Smith pleading, Heavenly Father responds to him:

"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.  Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

The Lord is always beside us as long as we live righteously.  However, sometimes God will allow trials to impact the righteous because he wants us to become stronger, he knows we can handle them through the Atonement, and he knows that as long as we put our faith and trust in him we will have peace in the end.

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