Good Morning Brothers and Sisters. I am going to try my best to keep myself together during this talk, but if you really know me you’ll know I cry. A lot.
I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have been assigned to labor in the Philippines Angeles Mission and I enter the MTC on Wednesday the 27th. I will be speaking Tagalog and as of right now I am very anxious, nervous, excited and every other emotion you could think of.
I have been asked to speak about seminary. And how it has prepared me for this time in my life. But I have chosen to not only include seminary, but the programs of the church for the youth and what they have done for me.
-Seminary is an education program for students in high school in order for them to learn more about the gospel, scriptures, and Jesus Christ on a daily basis that has been around for 100 years. In 2012 seminary has been Available in 134 countries and territories worldwide, with around 375,000 students enrolled. In Las Vegas, seminary is early morning, starting at 6 AM every day before school and is 45 long. Each year we learn about either the Old Testament, New Testament, Book Of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants. I was able to learn about these in order from the bible to the book of mormon and it was a huge blessing in disguise. I had awesome seminary teachers. They not only had so much knowledge about the gospel but were there for me throughout the years. Seminary has a very special place in my heart. Although I didn’t make it there every day, and rarely made it on time, having the spirit throughout my day was a huge blessing.
When I first started thinking about how seminary has prepared me for a mission I couldn’t think of how, why and what exactly I wanted to share about my experience with seminary. I loved seminary. Each year I was with a group of my best girl friends and we definitely made seminary fun at 6 am. We either screamed scripture mastery rock songs, read in accents, or tried to memorize scripture mastery faster than anyone in the class. Missions were brought up often in seminary. I had multiple Returned missionaries substitute my class, returned missionaries come and speak to us during a morningside, or teachers bring up mission experiences. I have always secretly had the desire for a mission but I never thought it would happen. When the age was lowered I actually had the chance and felt as though so many of my prayers had been answered at once. I didn’t realize until I really started pondering that seminary has not only prepared me for a mission, but also prepared me to be a wife, mother, and better member of the church. In April of 2012 an article was published in the New Era called The Blessings of Seminary and it said this :
Attending seminary requires sacrifice, but youth throughout the world are finding that seminary participation is worth every effort. And those who participate have something in common: their seminary experience brings them closer to the Savior and to our Heavenly Father.
Two reasons why seminary is important:The first says, “Your knowledge of the gospel will be increased, your faith will be strengthened, and you will develop wonderful associations and friendships. -gordon b hinckley
The second says: It is “one of the best preparations for a mission. -elder ezra taft benson
There were plenty of times that I wanted to sleep in an extra hour, go get food instead of sitting in seminary, take an extra long shower, or just go sleep in the parking lot at school- and multiple times I did, but each day I didnt go to seminary I can honestly say there was a huge difference in my day. More things seemed to fall out of place. I wouldnt go to seminary and I seemed to forget my homework. Or I wouldnt go and oops, forgot my cheer clothes. Seminary taught me that sacrificing one hour a day to learn about the lord is not hard. It is a huge blessing. I may have had a handful of make up assignments when it came time to graduate from seminary but I am so happy that I made that a goal and accomplished graduating.
Seminary taught me how important prayer is. The lord is waiting for us to pray. He knows what we desire, what we think, and what we need. He is literally waiting for us to get on our knees and pray to him. Seminary opens and closes in prayer. By the time I was heading to school I already had 3 prayers under my belt. He wants to you pray about everything. Big or small. Pray for help on a test, courage to stand up to a friend, for the spirit to accompany you, pray for safety at school. Anything and everything is possible with the lord by your side. There are multiple times in my life where my prayers have been answered and it has truly strengthened my testimony. Prayer has become one thing that I have used in order to not only speak with the lord daily but also for me to understand what it is he would have me do. When the prophet spoke in conference this past October and said this:
-As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, 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.
Immediately after I heard that I felt an overwhelming feeling that I was to serve a mission. Although girls do not have the same requirement as boys and it being a priesthood duty, my desire was still there. I met with my bishop soon after and started my paperwork. I prayed fervently to heavenly father. I needed help. I needed reassurance that this was what I needed to do at this time in my life. Prayer became one thing that I used in order to better rely on the lord. Praying has become one of the most important parts of my day. I not only need guidance and help, but always feel the need to thank the lord for all that he has given me. A few months ago my friend and I were talking during a difficult time in my life. She advised me to stop praying for blessings, but instead pray for one day and simply thank heavenly father for everything he has given me. Plenty of times I say my prayers and ask for things and just thank heavenly father for my day and blessings in general. On the day that I only prayed and gave thanks I was completely overwhelmed. Heavenly father has blessed me so much. With a family that loves and cares for me. With a boyfriend who supports my decisions and loves the gospel as much as I do and is willing to help me whenever I need him. With friends that listen and advise me. With the gospel. With happiness. With a car, a house, food, and clothing. The little things like clean water, clean underwear and a flushing toilet. He has truly given me everything and here I was asking for more. Heavenly father knows that we need things from him, but how many times have you sat back and thanked him for the things that he has already given you? My prayers have changed many times in my life, but one time I can remember so vividly. We had an elder in our ward that was awesome. He seemed so happy to be serving and often visited our home with his companion. When they were about to leave he was asked to give the prayer and I can remember the spirit I felt when that prayer was said. I asked him later on why I felt that way while he prayed. He told me that he made it a habit to pray as though heavenly father were standing in the room right in front of him rather than in heaven just listening. Since then I have tried to do the same.
Seminary taught me to love the scriptures and apply them to my life. Throughout my life scripture reading was not a huge habit. I read the BOM once through before I got to high school but never really feasted upon the word like I should. Seminary helped me to not only want to read but understand better the things that are in the scriptures. I started to love other books in the bible, really understand the Doctrine & Covenants and read the BOM two more times through. The scriptures have been one way for me to get answers to prayers. My favorite scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants section 45 verse 62- it reads: For verily I say unto you, that great things await you. My mission is one experience that will truly change my life for the better. I know it will help me to be a wife and mom that teaches the gospel in my home, and support my husband in his priesthood duties. It will bring me closer to my heavenly father and bless my life in many other ways. In seminary each year we are asked to memorize 25 scriptures that are found in that section of the scriptures. My sophomore year we studied the New testament and those were my favorite scripture masteries. I loved to hear and learn about the lord and the works and miracles he performed. My favorite verse is this: 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
This was probably my favorite because I loved to sit and sing this song. Along with a few others. 6 am might seem early, but when I am sitting in the front row with my 3 best friends- singing scriptures as loud as possible and as many times as our teacher would let us helped me to love the scriptures even if it was just because I was having a good time with my friends at that moment. But it was also my favorite because of the message. God is faithful. He will not tempt you if you cannot endure.
Richard G Scott: now is the time to serve a mission!
It was not easy. The Lord gave me many challenges that became stepping-stones to personal growth. There I gained my testimony that God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, did in fact visit Joseph Smith to begin a restoration of truth, priesthood authority, and the true Church on earth. I gained a witness that Joseph Smith is a singular prophet. I learned essential doctrines. I discovered what it meant to be led by the Spirit. Many a night I got up as my companion slept to pour my heart out to the Lord for guidance and direction. I pled for the ability to express effectively in Spanish my testimony and the truth I was learning to a people I had come to love. Those prayers were abundantly answered.
I know that my mission will be one of the hardest things but also very rewarding. I know that prayer and the scriptures will not only get me through hard times but also help me to teach and serve to the best of my ability. The language will be something that I will struggle with but I know that if I pray and study the lord will bless me.
Seminary is one easy way to invite people to hear about the gospel. I invited a few friends to seminary and watched one of my best friends lives change because she was invited to seminary her freshman year. The gospel is true. No matter where you are being taught. It could be at church on Sunday, at seminary during the week, on the way to class while youre walking with a friend or a quick text to let someone know that heavenly father is there for them. In any instance the church will always be true.
Another program from the church that has prepared me for this time is personal progress. It has strengthened my testimony in so many ways. This program teaches about faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. In each value I was able to use scriptures, make commitments, and do projects to help me to become a better young woman.
This program has helped me to realize my true goals in life. To enter into the temple to be married to a worthy priesthood holder and become a mother and raise my children in the gospel. Throughout my life I have been prepared to be called by heavenly father for whatever endeavors he may want me to do. Sister Elaine S Dalton, the general young womens president said this about missions for the young woman of the church:
This is an incredible time to be a young woman and a member of the Church. The young women have been preparing for this time. They are virtuous. They are worthy to receive and use their own limited-use temple recommend, they are taking the names of their ancestors to the temple and they continue to participate in camp, Personal Progress and class presidencies. The opportunity to serve a mission will be one more way that a young woman can spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, become an articulate advocate for the family and assist in hastening the Lord's work on the earth. It is indeed an honor to serve these precious daughters of God at this time. It is humbling. Heavenly Father loves and trusts His precious daughters and now, as never before, is the time to flood the earth with their virtue, their strong spirits and their light. They are worthy and prepared to serve the Lord. They are incredible. And they are changing the world.
The young womens program is soo important to me and has not only shaped my testimony but also helped me overcome so many obstacles in my life through the knowledge I gained there. My third year at girls camp I had one AMAZING leader. Her name is sister davis and she has since been one important lady in my life. I remember one scripture study that she taught that has always been a lesson I will never forget. It is found in ephesians chapter 6. Verse 11- 17, it reads:
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The reason this stuck out to me is because I never would have considered myself a soldier of christ. But each and everyday I put on my armor of god to withstand the temptations of the devil. I pray. I read my scriptures. I attend the temple as often as I can. I try to be a good example. I am truthful, and righteous. The lord provides so many things for us to not only stand strong against temptation but to receive celestial glory.
N Eldon tanner in general conference of 1979 said this about putting on the armor of god:
It is important that we make up our minds early in life as to what we will do and what we will not do. Long before the moment of temptation comes we should have determined that we will resist that cigarette, that drink of whiskey, that act of immorality, or anything that will keep us from enjoying the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord. We all have different weaknesses and temptations, and we should examine our lives to find out what those weaknesses are and where we should put on extra armor so we can do what is right and not submit to temptation.
Although I am not perfect, I have tried my best to continue to put my armor of god on in order to resist the temptation that I am faced with. This scripture study helped me at so many times in in my life so far. It has helped me with dating, high school, preparing for my mission, and I know it will help me while I am serving the lord and continue to help me throughout my life.
I have thought about why it is that I am serving a mission. It isnt for the blessings. It isnt to be an example to my siblings or my family. It isnt required of me as a girl to serve a mission. All of these things are great and I am excited that these things will come from my mission, But, I am serving a mission to gain a better relationship with my heavenly father, and share the gospel to people in the philippines. This gospel is the only thing in my life that is constant. I have seen it bless my life each and everyday. It brings me complete joy. The knowledge that I have because of this gospel has not only helped me to overcome hard trials in my life but has also brought me happiness. I want to share that with everyone. I want to end by reading this, My missionary commission by bruce r mcconkie,
I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and he has chosen me to represent him. To stand in his place, to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is his voice, and my acts are his acts; my words are his words and my doctrine is his doctrine. My commission is to do what he wants done. To say what he wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous latter-day work.
I know without a doubt in my mind that this is the only true church on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith through with the help of heavenly father translated the book of mormon and restored the church in this time. I know that heavenly father hears and answers our prayers no matter how big or small. I know that in the temple we can be sealed for time and all eternity to our families and that our families can be forever. I know that this gospel can bring you joy and help you in any trial that you may face in your life. There is no doubt that I have been called to the philippines for a reason. I know that heavenly father knows the true desires of my heart and has his hand in my life on a daily basis. He blesses me and loves me beyond measure.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.