Monday, January 20, 2014

Karissa's Farewell Talk

Farewell Talk January 19, 2014
Have you ever had a question in your head and had to figure out the answer? Usually in today’s society we turn straight to google, type in our question, and instantly get a million different responses from all over the internet. While this can be great, we know that we have an even greater source to turn to to find answers to our questions.
One thing that sets The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints apart from any other church on this earth is that we know we can receive revelation from our Heavenly Father. He is mindful of each of us individually and we can receive guidance and direction from Him when we ask because we are His children and He loves us. 
In Matthew 7:7-8 it says,
 7 ¶aAsk, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find; dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:
 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that aseeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
 In order to receive the answers we seek, we must exercise action first. And unlike google, our answers will take a little more work and time but we WILL receive our answers. We are so used to instantly receiving our answers without putting forth much effort. Heavenly Father works in a different way. I have learned these principles of receiving answers and guidance as I have decided to serve a mission and I am still learning them. 
What must we DO in order to receive revelation?  
First, as it is instructed in Matthew 7:7-8, we must ask. We can ask by praying to our Heavenly Father and specifically seeking for answers to our questions. We must have a strong desire to know answers and faith in Jesus Christ. In James 1:5 it counsels “ 5 aIf any of you lack bwisdom, let him ask of God, that cgiveth to all men liberally, and dupbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
True to the Faith says, “In order to find and receive, you must seek and ask. If you do not knock—praying to your Heavenly Father for guidance—the door of revelation will not be opened to you. But if you approach your Father in humble prayer, you can eventually “receive revelation.”
My decision to serve a mission took longer than most. I began to have a desire to know if a mission was the right path for me clear back in November 2012. It had nothing to do with the age change, because I was already almost 21, but a spark of desire began to grow within me to know if a mission was really what God wanted me to do next. I began praying frequently to know. But like I said earlier, God’s answers are not always as fast as a google search, but they DO come when you need them in the proper timing. 
The next step to receiving revelation is to make sure we are clean and worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us at all times. We must be using the atonement. In the talk, Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets by Elder ROBERT D. HALES, he says, “We know that the pattern (of receiving revelation)  centers on the Atonement.14 We receive the blessings of the Atonement when we repent of our sins and keep the commandments. This we covenanted to do when we were baptized, and we renew that covenant each week as we partake of the sacrament. As we continue in righteousness, we qualify ourselves to say with Samuel, “Speak, [Lord]; for thy servant heareth.”15 And the Lord answers, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.””
As I began my process of decision making about a mission, I realized that in order to get my answer, I needed to make sure I was living my life the way the Savior wanted me to live. I realized that a few elements in my life were not in accordance to what they should be. Over my first semester at BYU-I, I gained a stronger testimony of the atonement and the power it has to change lives. Particularly the power it has to change me. I grew closer to my Savior and slowly began to realize more what my purpose is and what I needed to do with my life next.
As I was praying to know what to do, I also exercised the next step that Matthew 7:7 outlines, to seek. To seek I would study my scriptures, preach my gospel, attend missionary forums, talk to my returned missionary roommate, do visiting teaching, talk to my bishop, anything I could think of. As I began to seek and study it out in my mind, my desire to serve a mission grew and I wanted to serve but me, being the stubborn person I am, I was still not sure if that meant a mission was the right path for me. In Doctrine and Covenants, 9: 8 it says, “ But, behold, I say unto you, that you must astudy it out in your bmind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your dbosom shall eburn within you; therefore, you shall ffeel that it is right.” 
I have seen this scripture come to pass so many times in my journey to serve a mission. One of those times was one day I went to the weekly Tuesday devotional at BYU-Idaho. I can’t even remember who spoke or anything about it expect a moment at the very end. I was sitting and we were singing the last hymn after the speaker, totally unrelated to anything about missionary work, and suddenly the spirit hit me strongly. And in my head I remember thinking, “I’m supposed to go on a mission.” That feeling filled me up and was a strong answer for me. Up until that point I had been dragging my feet, waiting to know if it was right, but after that strong feeling, I set up my appointments with my bishop and started my papers.
The next important lesson that I have learned about personal revelation is that we receive answers one step at a time. Often times we expect to know right away every single little thing about our answers. But God does not give things to us all at once because He wants us to learn to trust Him. In the talk Ask, Seek, Knock by Elder RUSSELL M. NELSON he quoted 2 Nephi 28:30 and said, “Revelation need not all come at once. It may be incremental. “Saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more.” 14 Patience and perseverance are part of our eternal progression.”
Elder Bednar compared receiving revelation, to a sun rising after a dark night. He says,” In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun (does) not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light (increases), and the darkness of night (is) replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light.”
As I began to act upon my first answer to go forward with my mission papers and finished filling them all out, I found that some decisions were still unclear to me. I didn’t know when would be the best time for me to go. I decided to work for a summer to make some money and then go after. As I got home, I began to feel like the timing wasn’t right. I didn’t understand why, but I didn’t feel ready to go yet. As I started my summer job, I began to push the thought of a mission further to the back of my brain. I still remembered that moment of enlightenment that I had had at the devotional a few months before but began to feel like timing was off. My family had decided to make a big move after living in Wyoming for 12 years. We were moving to St. George, UT. I felt like I needed to go with them and then I would figure out where to go from there after I worked for a couple months. I did not understand why a mission stopped feeling right after I had strong feelings before. But I felt like I was making the right choice to move with my family and live at home for a while. 
The next lesson about personal revelation that I have found is that we need to act on what we receive until we receive the next piece to our puzzle. I moved to St. George and started a new job. I did not know what I needed to do in life but I once again started praying and exercising all of the steps that I have talked about above. I was convinced that a mission was not in my plans anymore and continued to live life. After about a month of living in St. George, I had come to think I would just go back to school at the start of the next semester, when little by little, thoughts of a mission started to prick at my heart and mind again. People would mention it to me in passing and I wouldn’t know what to tell them about if I was going or not. 
One day in the mail, I received a letter from a dear friend of mine. She had felt like she needed to write to me and encouraged me to reconsider going on a mission. She also included a talk, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” by Elder Holland. Which has a quote, “Once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts.” I knew that a mission had been right when I had prayed about it, but the timing had seemed off, and I also probably was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I had retreated, but I knew it was time to ask again to be sure. 
God works in many ways. We need to wait on the Lord’s timing but still take steps forward into the unknown. Elder Bednar “In many of the uncertainties and challenges we encounter in our lives, God requires us to do our best, to act and not be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26), and to trust in Him. We may not see angels, hear heavenly voices, or receive overwhelming spiritual impressions. We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps.”
I still did not feel absolutely assured about my decision and I was not sure if I was following God’s will but I began meeting with my bishop and the process went really quickly since my papers were already filled out. I turned my papers in and received my call to serve in the Colorado Fort Collins mission. Since taking my steps into the unknown, the Lord HAS assured me so many times that I am making the right choice. After meeting with my stake president, I remember feeling like this choice to serve a mission was more right than any decision I had ever made. I felt the spirit testifying strongly of that same truth as I opened my mission call and found out where I am going. I hold on to those feelings of peace and joy on the days when I get nervous, start doubting myself or my decision, or start thinking about how much I will miss everyone. Once we take steps forward, we will be lead to the right path. 
As Matthew 7:8 says, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” The Lord DOES answer prayers if we have a strong desire, we ask in faith, live worthily for the spirit to guide us, and we seek and study out answers. Then we must realize that we will not receive answers all at once but little by little. We must wait on Lord’s timing but still take steps forward into the unknown acting upon what we have received. The Lord loves us so much and wants us to turn to Him and trust in His guidance. Although my journey of deciding to serve a mission was long, my testimony has been strengthened so much in how my Heavenly Father is mindful of me and that He is guiding my life. His timing is the proper timing and everything happens for a reason. People have been placed into my life that needed to be there to help me. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ atoned for each and every one of us, and we can turn to Him in whatever trial or sin that we are struggling with and He will make us a new person. I know that Joseph Smith restored this gospel back to the earth, the true church of Jesus Christ, the same church that existed back when He was on earth. I know that President Monson is the true and living prophet on the earth today, being guided by the Lord, for what we need in our day and time. I am so excited to share this testimony with those people in the Colorado Fort Collins Mission. 
In the name of Jesus Christ,

My lovely friends!

Grandma Larson

Uncle Todd
Young Family
The Ballards

So grateful to everyone who was able to make it, and for the prayers and thoughts of those who couldn't make it. You all are so great! I love you all!

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