Here is my farewell talk as I had it written for my talk this past Sunday, August 14, 2011:
Hello everyone. It’s so great to see so many of you here today. I am so excited to be here and speak before I enter the MTC on Wednesday. I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous too but it’s all good. I’m not as nervous as I could have been though, I’ve gotten used to speaking in front of people all summer while working at The World Famous Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World in Florida. LOL For those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve been called to serve in the West Indies Mission. I’m one of the first North American Sisters to have ever been called to this mission. There is one sister who just arrived there, and there are seven of us going to be arriving in the next few transfers from the MTC. I’m really looking forward to this new experience and I can’t wait to serve the Lord with all my heart.
Today, the topic I was given to speak on is based on Chapter 4 from Preach My Gospel: How to recognize and understand the spirit. This is sort of a broad topic, (thanks Bro. Turley) so I’m sure I could speak for a few hours at least but that probably isn’t the best idea. (Smile)
First of all, what is the Spirit? I know most of us can come up with our own definitions, but this is what I found in True to the Faith:
The Gift of the Holy Ghost:
“All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel…
… The gift of the Holy Ghost is difference from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before… baptism, you could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time, and through that influence you could receive a testimony of the truth. [After baptism] you have the gift of the Holy Ghost, & you have the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if you keep the commandments…
… Full enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost includes receiving revelation and comfort, serving and blessing others through spiritual gifts, and being sanctified from sin and made fit for exaltation in the celestial kingdom… The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that the mysteries of God’s kingdom “are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him” (see D&C 76:114-116)…
…Remember that “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Helaman 4:24)… The Spirit will dwell with you only when you keep the commandments. He will withdraw if you offend Him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other sins. Keep yourself clean. Fill your life with goodness so you can be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.”
Roles of the Holy Ghost:
“The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help you live righteously and receive the blessings of the gospel.
He “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Ne 31:18) and reveals and teaches ‘the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5) you can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to your spirit carries far more certainty than any communication you can receive through your natural senses.
As you strive to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost “will show unto you all things what [you] should do” (2 Ne 32:1-5) He can guide you in your decisions and protect you from physical and spiritual danger.
Through Him, you can receive gifts of the Spirit for your benefit and for the benefit of those you love and serve (see D&C 46:9-11)
He is the Comforter (John 14:26). As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the Spirit can calm your fears, hush the nagging worries of your life, and comfort you when you grieve. The Holy Ghost can fill you “with hope and perfect love” and “teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom” (Moroni 8:26; D&C 36:2)
Through His power, you are sanctified as you repent, receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, and remain true to your covenants (see Mosiah 5:1-6; 3Ne 27:20; Moses 6:64-68)
He is the Holy Spirit of Promise (see Ephesians 1:13; D&C 132:7, 18-19, 26). In this capacity, He confirms that the priesthood ordinances you have received and the covenants you have made are acceptable to God. This approval depends on your continued faithfulness.”
I also found this in, Our Search for Happiness by Elder M. Russell Ballard
“The third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost—sometimes called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, The Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter—has a magnificent mission, one unique aspect of which is to testify of truth, particularly as it relates to the Father and the Son. If we believe in God with all our hearts, it is only because that significant truth has been confirmed upon our souls through the power of the Holy Ghost. If we love the Lord, it is because the Holy Ghost has moved upon us and spiritually introduced us to His eternal reality and condescending grace…
… Almost everyone has felt the influence of the Holy Ghost at some point in life. It is through the Holy Ghost that truth is confirmed upon our souls. But the special ministry of the Holy Ghost is to help people believe and follow the teachings of the Father and the Son…
… As noted earlier, moral agency is the key ingredient in Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal progression. Heavenly Father and Jesus gave us the right to choose; the Holy Ghost is available to all of us to help us make correct choices—if we choose to listen…”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I know it is easier to recognize and understand the Spirit once I have prepared myself to do so. I found a list that has seven steps to receiving personal revelation:
7 steps of preparation to personal revelation
1- Be obedient: 2 Ne 31:17-18
2- Be pure: D&C 50:29; Alma 13:12
3- Be humble: Alma 7:23
4- Be full of desire: Mosiah 28:3; 3 Ne 19:9
5- Be prayerful: Alma 17:3; Matthew 7:7-8; Alma 5:43-46; 3 Ne 18:20; Moroni 10:4-5
6- Be faithful: D&C 42:14
7- Be engaged fully in the work: D&C 68:2-6
There are also many different ways the Spirit can manifest:
- We can receive spiritual impressions
o See D&C 9:8-9
o Ex. “I had a feeling…”
o The burning the scripture passage in D&C signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.
o Personal revelations are received in both the mind and in the heart. These impressions come to the mind as thoughts and to the heart as feelings.
- We can receive a feeling of peace
o See D&C 6:22-23
o The peace brought by the HG cannot be counterfeited by worldly influences or false teachings.
- We can receive the still, small voice
o It is felt rather than heard
o A strong need to know what God wants brings answers
o The Holy Ghost will do things for us
Helps us choose to do what is right
Protects us from evil
o When you do good, you feel good and that is the Holy Ghost speaking to you… He is always there for you. – Pres. Ezra Taft Benson
- We can receive new ideas
o See D&C 8:2
Excerpt from Missionary Prep Study Guide by Richard J. Allen
“How to Recognize and Understand the Spirit – Key Points
…As you prepare through obedience, purity, humility, desire, prayer, faith, and action, the Holy Ghost will be able to work through you to achieve miracles in missionary work. Every part of your being can be engaged through the Spirit; your mind, ears, mouth, heart, conscience, eyes, inner eye, arms, hands, and feet. Some of the most important missionary counsel to follow is simply follow the Spirit. The scriptures are filled with counsel on this subject. If you follow the Spirit in all you do, you will be successful as a missionary. “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85; 100:5-8).”
I found a talk from Sister Vicki Matsumori from the October 2009 General Conference entitled “Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit” that was very inspirational to me when I was preparing my talk.
Quotes from Sister Vicki Matsumori
Quote #1 - “…There are places where it is easier to feel the Spirit…”
“As a young woman attending youth conference, I felt the Spirit bear witness to me of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. In preparation for a testimony meeting, we sang “The Spirit of God.” Now, I had sung that hymn many times before in sacrament meetings. But on this occasion, from nearly the opening note, I felt the Spirit. By the time we sang, “The latter-day glory begins to come forth,” I knew that these were more than nice lyrics; they were beautiful truths.”
*thoughts of my own based on Sister Matsumori’s words:
*We need to try and create an environment where the HG can guide us at all times, no matter where we are. Reading scriptures, saying prayers, etc. It is best to hear the still small voice in times of quiet in your life. Take time each day to have a quiet moment.
*I had a similar experience to Sister Matsumori’s from when I went on the Pioneer trek when I was 16. We sang “Come, Come Ye Saints” at the opening of the testimony meeting and I had never felt the Spirit so strongly before testifying to me of the faith of the saints who made the journey across the plains, and the fact that we had shared in a portion of the journey with handcarts just made it sweeter to me because I have several ancestors who came across the plains in the Willie Handcart company
Quote #2 - “…it is not always easy to discern [promptings] at first. The BOM tells us of some faithful Lamanites who “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” (3 Ne 9:20)…”
Quote #3 - “We can help other become more familiar with the promptings of the Spirit when we share our testimony of the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives…”
I’d like to do that here.
I have had many experiences in my life so far that have increased my testimony of the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. I’ve had to make really big decisions that would influence the rest of my life. The first major decision in that category was where to attend college. I’d been accepted at all 3 universities I’d applied to: BYU, U of U and Weber State. I was sure I was going to go to Weber State because I’d also received a huge scholarship so I wouldn’t have to pay for school. My mom convinced me to do a summer term at BYU first just so I could experience the Spirit of the Y. I went to the New Student Orientation and I instantly knew where I was supposed to be going to school. I went to my new apartment that night and withdrew from Weber State and signed up for classes that fall semester at BYU. I know that if I hadn’t come to BYU I wouldn’t have met some of the most influential people in my life and I wouldn’t have had many experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. I know that the Holy Ghost has been guiding me through my entire life to lead me where my Heavenly Father needs me to be. I never thought I would be here giving a farewell talk before a mission. I also know that my decision to serve a mission is the right thing for me to do right now. I had thought of serving a mission when I was 21, but something stopped me from pursuing the idea. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t supposed to serve yet, but I knew something in the future would let me know. I now know that it was because the timing wasn’t right for a North American Sister to be called to serve in the West Indies. I know that Mission Calls are extended for a reason and they are extended from God through a prophet. There is someone in the West Indies that I need to meet and I wouldn’t have met them if I had served a mission when I first turned 21.
Now to close I’d like to share some advice from current missionaries to all future missionaries out there:
Advice from missionaries to future missionaries:
- Practice getting up early.
- Share the gospel more frequently – start immediately. Especially share scriptures from the BOM as well as the New Testament
- Let the Spirit be your guide. You can do so by living your covenant promises, listening for and heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost, cleaning out the things of the world from your thoughts and actions, and following the spiritual pathway. The elders related a story of how they were prompted to approach a woman whom they observed watching them from her porch from time to time as they passed by. She rejected them at first, but the local bishop later sent them back to her, and she accepted the gospel message.
- Understand what “proselyting” means. It means teaching the gospel in such a way that people will accept and keep commitments as they become converted and prepare for baptism. Commitments include reading the BOM, praying, setting a date for baptism, living the WOW and others.
- Have courage. Does it take courage to ask people to become baptized? Not if you fear God more than man. Put your trust in God and fear Him and follow His counsel—then you will not have any fear of asking people to be baptized.
- Prepare. What is the best way to prepare for missionary service? Read the scriptures, especially the BOM. Find and learn the scriptures that you will need to teach the lessons and answer questions. Treasure up the word of God. Be flexible in how your present the lessons, adapting them for the needs of the people more effectively.
- Reach out with friendship and compassion. Respect the agency of people—while still lovingly, kindly, and boldly telling them what we believe. Help people build a circle of friendship by involving the local Church leaders.
- Be prepared to answer difficult questions. Examples: What does it mean when we way we believe the Bible to be the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly”? (Article of Faith 8) How do we explain the scripture “No man hath seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12—see the footnote to this scripture in the NT)? What is the difference between the influence of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost?
- Give your all. To avoid the onset of homesickness, keep busy and stay involved in the Lord’s work
- Be an example of patience and kindness. A story from an RM: his nonmember grandfather once observed the charity and long-suffering of the missionaries and was then years later willing to hear the lessons.
And finally here is some advice from my brother, Elder Giles Sims:
“My advice is hwag kang magalaala (don’t worry) The Lord will be with you every step of the way. My other advice is to pray always. More than you ever have! Study Preach My Gospel! (That’s [his] favorite) You are entering into the field when God is putting in his special forces…. Which means that includes you. Study, pray, fast, and pray some more. Never lose sight of the power that comes from your calling. Every house you ender God has put you there because you can change that person’s life. You were called by Heavenly Father through His prophet. Never forget how much power and authority you hold. But at the same time remain humble because the power and authority is borrowed and if you abuse it you lose it. People may be hard-headed sometimes but that is their agency and that agency is what we fought so hard for in the pre-existence… Go get ‘em! Kaya mo ‘yan!”
I’d like to tell everyone out there that if you are considering a mission, please make it a priority to fast and pray over the decision. Whether you go right when you are 19/21 or you wait a few years, the Spirit is guiding you all along the way and you will never regret the decision to serve when you do. “I know that if someone is ready for the Gospel and you are ready to share, the Lord will bring you together.” (Giles Sims)
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Amen.