This is my Farewell talk I gave in my ward today. It is of course not exactly the same as I presented it. But here is the gist of it :)
My message today comes from the First Presidency's message from the August 2014 Ensign, it is called "Gods Harvest". I'm going to start by reading you a little story:
Thursday, July 31, 2014
I have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Argentina, Buenos Aires West mission. I report to the MTC on August 13th. That day seems to coming up a lot faster than I thought it would. I have often been asked, "why did you decide to serve a mission?"... and to tell you the truth, there are many reasons! So, I will share with you my story of how I got to this point in my life, and I will share some reasons why this girl CAN'T WAIT to share the restored gospel with the people of Argentina!
My story starts in the spring of 2012. I had finished 3 semesters at BYU-Idaho, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, particularly which major to choose. I remember having some previous thoughts about doing something in the medical field, maybe nursing. But I had never thought seriously about doing that. One day I was having a conversation with my cousin. She had asked me if I had ever made a firm decision about what I was going to do, and I answered "no" because I didn't know what I wanted yet. I was just waiting for the Lord to tell me what to do. She told me that it doesn't always work that way. Heavenly Father cannot direct you if you don't do your part. You have to act first. Think of a car. If the car is not on, and if you are not driving anywhere, you can't steer the car. So most of the time, you have to use good judgement and follow simple promptings of the Spirit, then take that step of faith and make a decision. It is then, when you are moving in a direction, Heavenly Father can direct you.
During this conversation, a distinct thought came to my mind, "do nursing". This startled me with it's clarity and force. Just the idea of doing nursing as a career absolutely terrified me! I'm not that smart! And that would be a lot of hard work. The thought came again to my mind, "do nursing". I thought to myself, "Okay... I will just look into it." As I began to do some research on the Nursing program, and after talking to someone in the Department of Nursing office, I could feel the Spirit testify to me that this is what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. So, I decided to do it. I started to work on my Nursing application and eventually completed the necessary requirements. I applied in June of 2012, and expected my answer in the Fall of 2012.
At the time I was waiting to hear back from the Nursing Department, I was starting to seriously think about going on a mission. My testimony had grown so much being at BYU-Idaho, and I loved the idea of being able to share the Gospel with the World. I had decided that if I did not get accepted in the Nursing Program, I would put in my mission papers. Well the time finally came that I got my letter from the Nursing Department, and sadly I was not accepted into the program. It stung a little bit, but I was also excited. To me, this was my answer to go on a mission! So, I began my preparations, and within a couple weeks I had my mission papers completed. But something interesting had been happening throughout the process of doing my mission papers. The more I prayed about going on a mission, the worse I felt about it. As I continued to work on my papers, I continued to feel worse and worse about going. But I did not understand why. I felt like I was stuck... I had previously felt that Heavenly Father directed me to do the Nursing program, yet I was not accepted. Then I had felt the need to go on a mission, was I now not supposed to? What did Heavenly Father want me to do?! My prayers began to be more frequent and had a bit more urgency and feeling in them. I desperately needed to know what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.
I remember an experience I had while talking to one of my good friends. He asked me, "Leah, why do you want to go on a mission?" I answered by saying something like this, "I know that it will help me to build my testimony. I will be able to learn a lot more about the church. It will help me to grow as a person. And it will probably help me to be a better wife and mother." My friend then responded boldly, "Going on a mission is not about YOU, it is 100% about the people you serve." This pierced me to the center. Maybe I was not going for the right reasons...
Well the time had come, I was going to officially submit my papers in two days when I got a phone call from the Nursing Department at BYUI. It was then I was notified that I had been accepted into the Nursing Program! Someone had dropped out, and I was first in line to move up. I felt like my world turned up side down! After much prayer and contemplation, I decided to go ahead with the Nursing Program, and to not go on a mission.
"Trust in the with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. " Proverbs 3:5-6
This has become my motto in life. If I put my trust in the Lord, He will direct me. So, I put my trust in Him, and He helped me through the Nursing program. In January of 2014, I started to think about going on a mission again. I was going to graduate soon, and this time I needed to know for sure if this is what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. The Lord had been preparing me for the last year and a half with many growing experiences and wonderful callings. I had learned so much, and my testimony has grown tremendously. After many weeks of pondering and praying earnestly, I received my answer. One day while praying, I had a distinct thought come to my mind," Leah, if you really want to go on a mission, now is the time to go. It is okay to go now." I had a very warm feeling come over me, and I felt peace.
On April 24, 2014 I received my mission call to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires West mission, with my primary assignment to be the Mission Nurse Specialist. Now I can see why Heavenly Father directed me on the path I had traveled. I have learned that Heavenly Father's plan is always a lot better than our own plans. :) Even though at the time you may not understand why Heavenly Father has asked this of you, if you remain faithful and follow Him, you will eventually see why.
I want everyone to know that I am going on a mission because I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love them so dearly, and I owe everything to them. I want to do whatever they would ask of me. I know that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children! He wants them to know Him, and He wants them all to have the opportunity to learn about and accept this Gospel. I want everyone to feel the way I have felt; the love, peace, comfort, and happiness that this Gospel brings into your life. I cannot wait to share the message of the Restored Gospel with the world! I know that Jesus Christ is my brother, my Savior and Redeemer, and the Son of God. And I know the Book of Mormon true, it is the pure word of God. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true Prophet, and he leads and guides this church under the direction of Jesus Christ. Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.