Sunday, July 21, 2013

Katie's Farewell

Katie gave a beautiful farewell talk. The bishop asked her to speak about her ancestors and how they have strengthened her testimony and also about her preparation for her mission.  She talked about how she recently took a Family History class at BYU and learned that the majority of her ancestors are from England and many of them were converted to the church by the first Latter Day Saint missionaries there. She expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve in the same country that her ancestors were converted in. Here is her talk in her own words:

"My 4x great grandmother, Hannah Tapfield King, was raised in Cambridge, England in the early 1800's. She kept an incredible journal that I have been able to enjoy the past couple of weeks. She talks about the missionaries with great admiration.  She said that they served her in many aspects, not just in her conversion. They were truly concerned with her well being. They served and loved her family, though many of them were not interested in the church. At times they were her only friend. They never once judged her, her family, or anyone they came in contact with. 

In Moroni 7:47 it reads: "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever, and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

So that is the kind of missionary I want to be: one that has the pure love of Christ, which leads to true charity. I want to serve others, no matter their background, their religion, and develop true Christ like characteristics. I want to be a true friend and show my love for every single person I meet, whether they are interested in my message or not. 

I have another ancestor who has influenced my testimony of Jesus Christ and has inspired me to serve a mission at this time.  Today is my Grandpa Doug's birthday. He was incredibly service oriented and I always admired the way he lived his life through service to others. 

After I went off to college, my family moved to California and, as many of you know, I struggled for a long time without them. My family is my world  and I almost felt betrayed that they felt like it would be ok to leave me alone in Utah.  My grandpa knew this and let me know a couple of times that if I ever needed something, he would be there to help me. He seemed to know what I needed even before I did at times. When he and my grandma left on their misson to Washington D.C. I knew I would miss them so much. They'd become my second parents since my family left. I remember one afternoon when I was at their house my grandpa asked how I was feeling about them leaving. I told him that I was feeling a bit abandoned. I didn't really have anywhere to go home to now and I was struggling with the thought that for the next year and a half I wouldn't have them or my family. 

He sat there for a second and then smiled and said, "Isn't it neat that we know as a family that we can be together forever? See, the next little bit might seem like a long time, but that will be nothing compared to the time I can spend with the ones I love in the life to come." This brought me so much comfort. 
Before my grandpa left on his mission, he gave me a letter that I have kept. I want to read a small section from it:

"Dear Katie, I feel so blessed to have such loving and thoughtful grandchildren. Each of you with unique virtues, which reflect the love our Savior wants us to have for each other. It makes life here on earth feel like a bit of heaven. By our Savior, Jesus Christ, and only by Him, it is possible for us to return to our heavenly home and live together as family and with our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus knows and has experienced every kind of hardship, struggle, and pain we will ever have. I trust Him to know how to help me and I know His is the perfect example to follow."

These were his last words of counsel to me. When he passed away just a few months into his mission, I felt like I would never be consoled, yet, as I read his testimony again, I realized that the words he had said to me that afternoon were true. Now I have made a newfound goal to really get to know and understand my Savior and His life and sacrifice. To help me with this, I decided to take a New Testament class at BYU. There has not been a single class that has changed the way I think and act as much as this one. 

As we went through each part of the Savior's life, my professor pointed out that the last chapters of Matthew, Mark and Luke; the last two chapters of John; and the first eight verses of Acts contain the only New Testament accounts of the risen Christ. 

When he said that, I thought about how incredible it would have been if I had actually been one of his disciples at the time. I would have been able to experience His teachings first hand, I would have experienced the feelings that would have accompanied His crucifixion, I would have been able to behold the risen Lord. If this was you, can you imagine how attentive you would have been to His actual message? The overwhelming message in each of the accounts of the risen Savior was to preach His gospel.

In Matthew 28:19 Christ said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

As I read this passage I thought about my Savior and His perfect example of missionary work. I thought about my grandpa and how his Christlike attributes had blessed his family, friends and even complete strangers. I thought about other people who I look up to who had served missions. 

The more I researched, prayed and fasted, the more I wanted to follow their example and serve; however, I still felt nervous just thinking about it. I realize that at times the world does not view the church very favorably and I have always been afraid that I would offend someone if I said too much. Because of this, I've been hesitant to share things pertaining to the gospel that are so sacred to me with someone who might not want to hear it. I had a great desire to share the gospel but felt inadequate to do so. 

The gospel is something that has defined who I am and what I want to become. It has given me joy, happiness and peace and sharing it with others while serving them and loving them seemed like the perfect way to do that. 

We can all be missionaries in our own way. Doing so may seem daunting, but I have a strong belief that if we cease to judge or criticize others and start doing simple acts of kindness, regardless of background or circumstances, that we can do more good than we have ever imagined.  

I am so excited to finish what my grandparents started when they set out to serve a mission a few years ago.  

I know that there is a God in heaven. I know that He wants His children to be happy. I know that God would never create us and love us, yet separate us from the things that have brought us the most joy, therefore, I know without a doubt in my mind that I can be with my family for eternity. 

I love the gospel, and if you get nothing else from this talk, I want you to know that I would NOT be serving a mission if I did not know that the things I will be teaching are true. I would not be sacrificing 18 months of soccer, 18 months of being with my family and friends, 18 months of Cafe Rio, 18 months of my life if I did not know that what I am doing is the true work of God. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. I have read it and prayed about it sincerely and know it to be true. There is no way that any single person can genuinely read this book, want to understand it, and give time to study and ponder it, and then pray about it and find that it isn't true. Anyone who reads this book with absolute pure intent, with an open mind and heart, wanting to know if the contents are true will find that they are. 

I know above all that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that He died for me. I know that throughout my mission I will rely on Him for much of my strength, just as I have done since I was a little girl. I cannot wait to share this testimony with the people that I meet in England.

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