There's a little tradition that Mormons do when they go on their missions: It's called a farewell. The prospective missionary speaks during sacrament meeting (the main meeting in a Mormon church service), and invites friends and family to come hear them. I gave my farewell address a few weeks ago. Here it is:
I first want to thank everyone for coming, and I particularly want to thank everyone who has made this difference in my life. I had never really thought I would go on a mission. There have been so many people who taught me: Primary teachers, college professors and my parents especially. They have all helped me to be here. I am so grateful to be going on a mission.
I would like to tell you the story of how I decided to go on a mission. I never really wanted to go, but four years ago I received promptings to go. I prayed about it, and I felt an incredible amount of peace. This peace was quickly dashed to pieces by an incredible amount of distress. I just did not want to go.
I continued to pray about it for a long time. Four months after my initial answer, I received an answer that I shouldn’t go on a mission if I didn’t want to go on a mission. Not that I shouldn’t go, but that I shouldn’t if I didn’t want to.
Over the following 4 years my testimony grew. As I was about to graduate college I began to think a mission might be a good idea. I’ve always had a strong desire to serve the Lord. It was always important to me.
I emailed a friend and told him I wanted to go. Instead of getting the “Good for you!” answer I was expecting, he challenged me and responded saying something more like: “Are you sure about that?”
This caused me to analyze my motives for going, and I’m very grateful for that. I had to think about it for a couple more months. I finally decided if I truly wanted to serve the Lord, for me, the right decision was to go on a mission. I now know this is the best way to show my love for God and for the Savior.
There is a certain story in the scriptures that I read before I made my final decision. It’s in three of the four gospels: John 12, Mark 14 and Matthew 26. It’s the story of Mary – Martha and Lazarus’ sister – when she anoints the Savior shortly before His crucifixion and before the Atonement was to take place.
Mary anoints the Savior with an expensive oil and wipes His feet with her hair. In John 12 it reveals that Judas complained against her saying her offering was a waste, and the oil should have been sold for 300 pence and given to the poor. The Savior corrects him and in Mark 14 it says:
“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me... She hath done what she could.” (Mark 14: 6, 8)
For the next few months I couldn’t stop thinking about this story. The more and more I thought about going on a mission, the more it stood out to me. What stood out to me the most is Mary did not just offer some oil as a polite gesture for the Savior. She offered her very best, and, by doing so she poured out her whole soul unto him.
While some complained against her saying it wasn’t what she should be doing, Mary knew it wasn’t enough to show her love and devotion. And it certainly wasn’t enough to pay the Savior back for what he had given her and what he would give her in the following days. Nevertheless, the Savior still accepted her love and desire to serve Him. There is no way that someone can do or say too much for the Lord.
Omni 1: 26 it says:
“And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.”
Also, in Mosiah 2: 17 it says, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” And that is my true desire: To serve our Father in Heaven by serving His children and to offer my whole soul as an offering to Him.
There are so many blessings that come from serving others and missionary work, and I know that all of my blessings come from God. My soul, my heart and my free will are the only things I can offer that are of any worth. I know it is not sufficient, but I know that the Savior allows us to give him these sacrifices.
In the remaining time, I want to discuss the scripture I chose for my missionary plaque. For those of you who don’t know about this, when missionaries leave, they often receive a plaque with their favorite scripture. My favorite scripture is Alma 26: 16:
“Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”
This scripture describes exactly what I feel about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will never be able to say in words about how I feel about Jesus Christ or how I feel about the restoration of the Gospel, but I can show how it makes me feel. I have the power to find people who are seeking the Gospel, and I can share the joy and peace that I have.
I would like to bear my testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know this is the full, restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this work, and I get to be a missionary. Despite how scary as it is and how unprepared I feel sometimes, I am so grateful that I can go out and bear my testimony, and I can share the joy the Gospel has given me.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.