Sunday, August 10, 2014


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:

A woman named Christa once worked for a small seed company. She loved her job. It was a source of immense wonder that each tiny seed she sold had the capacity to transform itself into something quite miraculous—a carrot, a cabbage, or even a mighty oak tree.
Christa loved sitting at her computer taking orders and answering questions. But one day she received a complaint that puzzled her.
“The seeds don’t work,” the customer said. “I bought them two months ago and still nothing.”
“Did you plant them in good soil and give them enough water and sunlight?” Christa asked.
“No, but I did my part,” the customer replied. “I bought the seeds. After all, they are guaranteed to grow.”
“But you didn’t plant them?”
“Heavens no. That would mean getting my hands dirty.”
Christa thought about this and decided that planting guidelines would have to be written. She resolved what the first guideline would be: “You must follow planting instructions for the seeds to sprout. You can’t set them on the shelf and expect them to grow.”
It wasn’t long before another complaint puzzled her.
“The seeds aren’t producing,” a customer claimed.
“Did you plant them in good soil?” Christa responded. “Did you give them the appropriate amount of water and sunlight?”
“Oh, yes,” the customer insisted. “I did all that―exactly as it says on the package. But they don’t work.”
“Did anything happen at all? Did they sprout?”
“Nothing happened,” the customer said. “I planted them just as directed. I was hoping to have tomatoes for dinner. Now I am very disappointed.”
“Wait,” Christa replied. “Are you saying you planted the seeds today?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” the customer replied. “I planted them a week ago. I was not expecting to see tomatoes on the first day; I was patient. Let me tell you, there has been a lot of watering and waiting between then and now.”
Christa knew she would have to add another guideline: “These seeds conform to the laws of biology. If you plant the seeds in the morning and expect to eat tomatoes later that week, you will be disappointed. You must be patient and wait for the work of nature to unfold before you.”
All went well until Christa received another complaint.
“I’m very disappointed in your seeds,” the customer began. “I planted them just as the package recommended. I gave them water, made sure they had sunshine, and waited until finally they produced their harvest.”
“Sounds like you did everything right,” Christa said.
“That’s all very fine,” the customer replied. “But what I got was zucchini!”
“My records show that those were the seeds you ordered,” Christa said.
“But I don’t want zucchini; I want pumpkins!”
“I’m not following.”
“I planted the seeds in my pumpkin patch—the very same soil that produced pumpkins last year. I praised the plants every day, telling them what beautiful pumpkins they would become. But instead of large, round, orange pumpkins, I got long, green zucchini. Tons of them!”
Christa knew then that guidelines might not be enough and that it was necessary to state a principle: “The seed you plant and the time of the planting determine the harvest.”
To further explain the Law of the Harvest, the apostle Paul taught in Galatians 6:7-9. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”
In recent times, the Lord has given us additional insight and wisdom into this immutable law in D&C 130: 20-21. “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicateddicated"
In the talk by President Utchdorf, I found 3 guidelines for the Law of the Harvest. The first principle of the Law of the Harvest is : 
1. You must plant the seed in good soil and give enough water and sunlight. 
A seed can mean many things. It can mean a desire, our faith, or our testimony. We need to plant this seed in good soil. Jesus taught in a parable about sowing in good soil. In Matthew 13: 3-9 "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
The soil can be our environment, are we in a good environment? The soil can be our hearts, are our hearts good and fertile? 
We need to give the seed enough sunlight and water. If it is our testimony which we are trying to grow, are we nourishing it? Water and sunlight is having Christ in our lives. We have Christ in our lives by reading His words, studying the scriptures, and praying. "you can't set your seeds on a shelf and expect them to grow". 
Principle 2: Seeds take time to grow.
One of my most favorite quotes is "We are eternal beings trapped in a time bound world". Time can be very hard to manage. And it can also be very hard to wait and be patient. But something I have learned is that the Lords timing is not our timing. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 it says,  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;"
I love the scripture in Isiah 55: 8-9 which reads, " ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my wayshigher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
We need to trust in the Lord, and in His timing. I have learned that the Lords plans are always much better than my own plans. And the Lords timing is always perfect. We need wait for our seeds to grow.
Guideline 3: The seed you plant and the time of the planting determine the harvest. 
Basically, you cannot plant a zucchini seed and expect a pumpkin to grow! 
I believe that the Lord will often put good seeds in our path, and it is our responsibility to plant those seeds. This seed can be the seed of our true great potential, it is the seed of what Heavenly Father wants us to become. Are we nourishing that seed? Are we patient with ourselves? Are we helping that seed to grow and become it's true potential? 
In closing, I will read some more from the First Presidency's message. 
"God’s harvest is unimaginably glorious. To those who honor Him, His bountiful blessings come in “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. … For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
Just as earthly seeds require effort and patience, so do many of the blessings of heaven. We cannot put our religion on a shelf and expect to harvest spiritual blessings. But if we plant and nurture gospel standards in the daily life of our family, there is a high probability that our children will grow up to produce spiritual fruit of great value to them and to future generations.
God’s answers to our prayers do not always come immediately—sometimes they do not appear to come at all—but God knows what is best for His children. Assuredly, one day we will see more clearly; and on that day we will recognize the goodness and generosity of heaven.
In the meantime, our goal and great joy is to walk in the footsteps of our Master and Savior and to live good and refined lives so that the promised and precious harvest of God’s priceless blessings can be ours." 
I bare my testimony that the Lord absolutely loves His children. He wants us to be happy! We need to look for those good seeds, and plant them in our hearts. If we let him, he will help us to grow our seeds. I know this is the true gospel, and that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know the Book of Mormon is true! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lets start at the beginning... how did I get here??

     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 Lord 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.