09 April 2012

Abby's Farewell Talk

       This is a copy of Abby's farewell talk she gave in Short Hills Ward on March 18th: 

       Good morning brothers and sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Abby Clark. I’ve grown up in this wonderful ward; I graduated Summit High School in 2008, and am a student at Brigham Young University studying Art Education. I have been called to serve a mission to the Brazil Salvador South Mission and I leave for the Sao Paulo, Brazil Missionary Training Center on April 10th
        The importance of sharing the gospel and my reasons for serving a mission are what I am here to talk about with you today. 
        The purpose of a missionary is to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” Each aspect of this mission statement I have a strong testimony of. 
        Joseph Smith restored the church to the earth when he read the scripture James 1:5, did as instructed, and asked God which church to join. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York. Through this first vision and other occurrences we now have the restored truth, the Priesthood, and the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that this indeed happened. I have walked through the Sacred Grove, I have been healed though the power of the Priesthood, I have asked God to know if the Book of Mormon is true and through the Holy Ghost I came to know its truthfulness. 
        The Plan of Salvation, Plan of Happiness, or Plan of Redemption is perfect and it can be applied to all people. Once we understand the questions, “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” and “Where we are going?” (Questions that are answered in the Plan of Salvation) we can bring joy, love, and purpose, to our lives. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The key part to this Plan of Salvation is Christ’s Atonement; He suffered on the cross for me, He went through everything I have gone through and have yet to go through in this life where I am being tried and tested. Through the Atonement we can have eternal life and dwell in heaven with Heavenly Father.
        In “The Plan of Salvation: A Flight Plan for Life,” a talk by Elder Duane B. Gerrard, he likened life and the plan of salvation to flying a plane. He said in his talk, “Are you familiar with your flight plan of life—the Lord’s plan of Salvation? If not, then do as we do in the airlines—enroll yourself in a refresher course, the Lord’s recurrent training. These refresher courses, as he says are:
                -Become more actively involved in Christ’s teachings
    -Always attend Sacrament meeting, and keep the Sabbath day   holy
                -Pay tithes and offerings more frequently
                -Give more of yourself to others.
                -Show more love to family and friends
                -Be an example. 
        These bullet points are so simple, and proof that the gospel is not a complicated list of rules and traditions that are hard to follow.  
        Elder Quentin L Cook gave the last Church Education Fireside to the young single adults. He said to stop wearing a mask, stop being someone who doesn’t reflect who you want to be. Be someone who represents God and be proud of it! This reminds me of the “I AM A MORMON” campaign. In this campaign, people define themselves with their heritage, background, and hobbies and then proudly say: “I am a Mormon.” This is the best way to do as Elder Gerrard councils, being an example and showing love to family and friends. I still cringe at the fact that one of my good friends from middle school and high school found out my senior year that I was a Mormon. She just said, “I always thought you were a little different, a little weird, but it makes so much sense now!” The weird part is probably my personality. But differences in behavior is being a Mormon and sticking to those standards. After that incident, I have thrown in the phrase “I am a Mormon” into so many conversations without any effort at all. I do that so others may know, and so I can know who and what I am representing in my actions. 
        In the Book of Mosiah, Mosiah’s four sons Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni repented of their sins and wrongdoings after an angel appeared unto them to convince them of the power and authority of God. They could not dispute this power of God. They knew the gospel was true and then wanted to share it with others. In Mosiah 27: 36  it says: “And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.” I love the phrase “instruments in the hands of God,” it makes me think of individuals playing in an orchestra together to create one melody. Each part of this orchestra is crucial and the song wouldn’t sound the same if one of the instruments was missing. I used to play the french horn in elementary school. And if anyone has ever played the french horn they know what a difficult instrument it is to play, especially for an elementary aged pip squeek like me. Anytime we were all playing together, I would just make it look like I was playing and hum my part. I’m pretty sure the concerts would have sounded better if the loud humming had stopped and french horn playing had started.  
        These instruments of God were united in one purpose of bringing others to Heavenly Father. Mosiah continues in 27:37 saying, “And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.” This is missionary work: working towards peace, establishing good works, and testifying of the Lord.
        I was talking to my uncle Jamon recently on this very topic. He said that on September 11, 2001 Merrill J. Bateman was supposed to give the BYU devotional. It was meant to be a “Welcome to BYU address,” but instead, he talked about the gospel. My uncle Jamon says he remembers Elder Bateman stressing the fact that the gospel brings peace. It is a message of peace, and it unites all different types of people towards one cause of bring them unto Christ. As many of you were living in the tri-state area when it happened and witnessed first-hand the consequences of other’s actions, I can’t think of any more powerful of a reason to want to share the gospel. 
        Heavenly Father has indeed prepared me for this calling. As a sister in the church it is an option to serve a mission when you are 21. When I was putting in my papers to get this call I thought that over the past year was the only time I was preparing, and I regretted not preparing everyday of my life. But once I received my call and had A LOT of time to prepare for it, I realized that Heavenly Father had been preparing me my whole life for this opportunity to serve. Every righteous choice I’ve made can be connected to serving a mission.
        While in high school my family was able to serve in the East Orange branch. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Going from Short Hills where I didn’t have a calling (granted I was still in Young Women’s) to East Orange where I was kept busy every hour helping out, was a big change. It made me realize how important the fundamentals are in the church and how the gospel can turn people’s lives around for the better. 
A little while ago I became utterly obsessed with a group fitness class called Zumba, through that class I have become friends with many Brazilians, and even went to a Brazilian festival where I was in shock that I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying even though they insisted that it was similar to Spanish. I have been able to get a glimpse into Brazilian culture and the spirit of these people through this. 
        When my sister Elizabeth came home from her mission, Elder Bednar of the twelve apostles came to talk to the Young Single Adults in New York and New Jersey. Liz wanted to go to both. I made fun of her for wanting that, because I thought he’d be giving the same talk. Little did I know, it was a question and answer. The first night, in New York, Elder Bednar said that the young single adults of the church were not doctrinally grounded enough and that we hadn’t sacrificed the time to earn that foundation of the gospel. The second night, in New Jersey, I asked him, as he put it, “a follow up, reporter’s question” about what we needed to do to earn that foundation of the church.  
        While he was answering my question it felt like there was energy channeling from Elder Bednar to me, and Heavenly Father to Elder Bednar. To quote one of my favorite movies, “Tron”, it felt like “ribbons of light” connecting me to Elder Bednar, and Elder Bednar to Heavenly Father. Elder Bednar said we need to find themes in the doctrines of the church and connect important points all across the scriptures.  He said, “Don’t be an object in the scriptures; be an agent.” That statement resonated with me. Be an agent. Choose to represent the scriptures and the gospel. And that day I did.
Joseph Smith said, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” This is why I am so excited to serve a mission! 
        I know that God lives. I know that Christ atoned for our sins. I know that the church is restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the book of Mormon is true and that President Monson is a true prophet on the earth today. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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