My Farewell Talk

I gave a farewall talk in Church yesterday.  First of the mission posts.  It’s long, but believe me, I said it all in only a little over 15 minutes 🙂

Disclaimer: I write my talks in bullet-point form, so this isn’t word for word at all how I gave it in Church.  But I tried to remember 🙂

Good morning brothers and sisters!

October 2012.  A month I don’t think any of us could forget. I was sitting in my apartment with my huge fluffy down comforter.  President Monson gets up to announce some new temples.

And then he starts talking about 18 year old boys. We called it.  He’s going to change it! I remember thinking, oh my – Mark can serve now!  We were all freaking out. And then, President Monson says… “we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”

I shouldn’t have said this, but I said.. is he kidding? I couldn’t believe it. This is not real life.  I am 19. This is me. Is this what the Lord wants me to do? (I wonder what decision I made…)

When I look back over the events of my life, I know that the Lord has been preparing me for a mission. I have been raised by parents and been led by the examples of great grandparents who have taught me to be valiant to the faith. We have been taught in our youth, to be the Lord’s missionaries, to bring the world his truth.

I attended a high school that presented many challenges.  I was one of the only members of the Church in my graduating class.  Learning of the beliefs of many cultures and religions, I grew to appreciate, love, and have an open mind for all faiths.  I had friends that loved to ask me difficult questions, and friends that would bring me anti- mormon literature. From an early age, I realized that I needed to know, to really know, that what I professed was truth.

I sat in discussions at a school where we discussed the Bible.  Everyone in the room had a different conception about how the Bible should be interpreted.  I was quite active in these discussions – I had beliefs, and I wanted to share them.  At times, it was difficult. I felt that many people in the room’s comments were directed directly towards me and my particular beliefs.

I add my testimony to Joseph Smith’s, when no one would believe him and he felt so very persecuted.

Why persecute me for telling the truth?  I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand god, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen?  For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so  doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. (JSH 1:25)

I sought comfort in the scripture found in John 16:33 – when Christ is speaking to his disciples before he enters the Garden of Gethsemane, encouraging them and warning them of the persecution that is about to come:

 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Whenever I am feeling downtrodden or discouraged, I remember these words –  I have overcome the world. So BE OF GOOD CHEER!

Throughout many different experiences and conversations with people, I have learned what it means to be dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I know that on my mission, I will learn more of this dedication.

Of all the reasons that I chose to serve a mission were from the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love thy neighbor.

Dedication to the gospel begins with an understanding of who we are dedicated to.  Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ and what does he mean to me?

I think of the words to the hymn, Come Thou Fount –

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God

He, to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood. 

I am wandering from the fold of God constantly, but he died and gave His blood for me.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  No matter the trials I have gone through, or when I am home and I feel absolutely alone and abandoned –  I am not alone I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Because he died for me.  Because he loves me infinitely. (Philippians 4:13)

Accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior is the first step to accepting His gospel!

The first aspect of his gospel is faith.

When the announcement was made, I did not know what to do.  I prayed so hard – I wanted to hear a voice or see a vision.  I wanted Heavenly Father to say – Emma, go on a mission!  Or, Emma, I have another work for you.  But no answer came.

One night, after praying for a while, I lie in bed, my mind racing and tears streaming down my face.  I felt confused and frustrated.

The thought came to my mind – a quote, from Harold B Lee.  I didn’t even know where I had heard it or who had said it.  The thought was this:

Learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.

I needed more faith.  I was so consumed and stressed about everything, and I realized.  I just need to let go.  I need to let go in faith, and the Lord will take care of it for me.

 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

 After these thoughts came to my mind, I realized I needed to move forward in faith.  I asked my dad for a blessing.  I made an appointment with my bishop, and moved forward in faith.

What is true faith?  True faith is dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ – it is to have “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Ether 12:6)

Faith is the power to act.   “For ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

It was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego that saved them from being burned from the fire. It was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

They had to act in faith – they endured all sorts of persecution, but they had faith that the Lord would deliver them!


Faith requires action.  Faith is more than just saying, “I believe in Jesus Christ.”  It is doing.

I have this problem.  I like to take really random classes because I like learning really random things.  Throughout my freshman year, I contemplated learning a language. I had studied Latin and Greek in high school, I could keep going with that.  I loved Russian literature, so why not study Russian so one day I could read Crime and Punishment in the original language?

But, Italian is the most beautiful language in the world.  And almost on a whim, I signed up for it.  I fell in love with the country the first day of class.  I didn’t even know why.  Looking back, I realize I was acting on a prompting to learn Italian! I had faith, and I acted.

A couple of months ago, I came home to receive my endowments at the temple.  It just happened to be on the weekend of Stake Conference.  Our ward is supposed to go to this building to watch the broadcast.  But my family decided to sing in the choir, so I went to the stake center.

And then, what do you know, Elder Rhien from the 70 is calling me up to the stand, to give me my first referral – Guido.

Why was I prompted to take Italian? (Really, I didn’t need the credit for anything.)  Why did I come home that weekend? Why was I at the Stake Center? Coincidence?  I think not.  I acted in faith – and now, I am seeing what becomes of it.

When we have faith, we act by being baptized.

When we take that step of faith with baptism, we are taking upon us the name of Christ.

As Paul states in 2nd Corinthians –

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in the tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Paul also tells Timothy – Let no man despise thy youth.  Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I love my Savior.  I want to follow Him.  I am dedicated to Him. My Savior, my Redeemer, his name is written on my heart. What do I do with that?

We hear this all of the time – keep the commandments, come unto Christ. But how do I come unto Christ?  What does it mean to be dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ? THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS.

  • It means that we are willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.
  • It means taking the time out of our busy day to call a friend when we are prompted.
  • It means we are willing to mourn with those that mourn.
  • It means we are willing to comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
  • It means that we stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
  • It means turning off a song that comes on the radio that’s inappropriate.
  • It means standing up for what is right when the world mocks it.
  • It means you and your sister being the only girls at prom wearing a modest dress.
  • It means wearing knee-length shorts when it’s 100 degrees outside.
  • It means deciding not to click when pornography shows up on the corner screen.
  • It means sharing with the girl cutting your hair why you choose not to drink.
  • It means looking outside of yourself to serve someone.
  • It means turning off a movie that’s inappropriate.
  • It means using clean language, even when to the world it seems common and normal.
  • It means loving everyone despite their weaknesses.
  • It means speaking up for someone when others are saying mean things about them.
  • It means walking out during a movie.
  • It means sharing a Mormon message on your Facebook page.
  • It means inviting a friend to church or giving them a Book of Mormon.
  • It means standing a part from the world and raising our children in righteousness.


Yes, it is hard.  It is so hard to stand alone in this world, where pornography is commonplace and the definition of marriage is changing.

It is so hard to live in this world where we are a “peculiar people,” and where filth is at our fingertips.  Where modesty is mocked, swear words are a part of the vernacular, and there is no law of chastity.

Yeah, you might be the only one wearing a modest swim-suit at that birthday party.  Yeah, you might be the only one to not watch the rated R movie.  You might be the only one not drinking or the only one staying morally clean.

But, in the words of President N. Eldon Tanner,

But remember that the Savior himself was tormented, ridiculed, spat upon, and finally crucified because he would not waver in his conviction. Have you ever stopped to think what would have happened had he weakened and said, ‘Oh, what’s the use?’ and abandoned his mission? Do we want to be quitters, or do we want to be valiant servants in spite of all the opposition and evil in the world? Let us have the courage to stand up and be counted as true, devoted followers of Christ.” But be not afraid.  Stand ye in holy places.

 We can do this!  We can be lights unto the world!  The Savior is with you! Be not dismayed!

And no matter what mistakes we have made in the past, we can be made new creatures in Christ. He loves you!

He loves us. We have so much potential. For, as Paul writes to the Romans: We are

joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we might also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8)

How am I showing dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  I am serving a mission.  I know that this is the Lord’s path for me, and that He has been preparing me and giving me experiences to do this.   Why do I show dedication to the gospel? Because I love Jesus Christ.  I want to follow Him because I love Him.

 Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

{Bear testimony.}

I know that this is the true Restored Gospel on the Earth today. I want to tell the world that I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.  I know it!  Whenever I read it I am filled with love and conviction. I want to tell the people of Italy that they have a Savior who loves them and who died for them.

I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ’s Church on the Earth today.  I know that we have the priesthood on the Earth.  I know that Thomas Monson is a prophet of God.

I know that through the atonement of Christ all things are possible.  I know that through the atonement of Christ, I can be with my family forever.  A friend asked me what the most difficult thing would be for me when I left on my mission, and I told her, it will be not talking with my mom every day.  A little later she said, you know Emma, we’re giving up not talking with our moms every day for 18 months so others can be with their mom forever.

I love this gospel.  I cannot wait to share it with the world on a mission.  I love my Savior, and I am forever grateful for Him.

I want to close my talk with a powerful scripture found in 3 Nephi 5:13. I add my testimony to this:

 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. 

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