MISSION FAREWELL TALK
Good morning brothers and sisters…. For those who don’t know me, I am Olivia Huish but in three days I will be Hermana Huish, serving in the Santo Domingo West Mission in the Dominican Republic. Obviously a Spanish speaking mission would have been much easier if I had taken Spanish in school a little more seriously… but I am so thrilled learn the language and, in fact, serve in the same country my mom did 25 years ago!
Easter Sunday of 2009 I received my patriarchal blessing. At the time, I didn’t completely understand its worth, I just thought it was merely a vague forecast of what could or could not happen in my future…. But boy was I wrong. The sacred words written on those pages have, over the years, become more and more dear and personal to me as I have seen so many things in my blessing come to pass. I understand the sacredness of patriarchal blessings, but I would like to share a couple lines of my blessing with you today, It reads, “ Olivia while you are yet young, you will have the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary.” Ever since last October, when I heard the announcement in the Saturday morning session of conference about the missionary age change, I KNEW those words were for me and I knew that a mission is what I needed to do. I mean, my patriarchal blessing even gave me a small hint of the age change by saying while I was yet young. But those inspired words aren’t my favorite part of my blessing… it later goes on to say, and this is talking about those I will teach, “You will participate in their life experiences and witness their happiness as the gospel changes their lives.” What sticks out to me is happiness. I will be able to see people become truly happy through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think a huge part of this life is learning to be happy, or should I say decided to be happy. And not just happy when it’s convenient or when life is sailing smoothly, but happy through it all. My favorite talk of all time is by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, from October Conference of 2008. His mother taught him at a young age to “come what may, and love it.” Elder Wirthlin then explains, “I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result. “
In Phillipians chapter 4, Paul so beautifully says
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Three years ago I ran the Catalina Island Marathon off the coast of Southern California. After months of preparation I excitedly bounced to the start line with my uncle at 4 in the morning. The gun went off and I was filled with excitement, I felt invincible, and I had no care in the world. 17 miles later the excitement was completely gone, all I felt was pain, and I had too many worries to count. I remember looking up at the clouds and whispering at least 30 times, “If this is my time to come home, I am so ok with that…. Just take me NOW.” I was definitely not following elder Wirthlin’s advice and loving the many miles and hills that came my way. Luckily I had an incredibly patient uncle who pushed me through those last 9 miles and across the finish line, but I learned a valuable lesson that day… marathons are NOT easy. More importantly though, I lived through it, I survived and I wish I had not been so negative because it didn’t help! It just made those last few miles so much harder than they would have been if I were positive. I had to do it either way, so why not happily?
In the scriptures there are so many wonderful prophets and apostles who have experienced affliction and adversity. Esther fasted for her life to be spared as she helped to save her people from the king. Nephi had faith to obey all of God’s commandments even if it meant giving up everything he had and having brothers who would try to kill him on countless occasions. Abraham, Moses, Moroni, Daniel, and so many others experienced affliction and adversity that tried, fortified, and refined their characters.
Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is crucial. Although these experiences are difficult to bear at the time, they are what we need to build our character, stretch our understanding, and increase compassion for others.
It’s so easy to get discouraged in life, the world tells you that you have to be a certain way, have a certain style, make a certain amount of money, the economy is tough, standards are dropping, people are talking, loved ones are getting sick, addictions are rising. Life is hard. But aren’t we so blessed to have the gospel. The knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and of his atonement. The infinite atonement that knows all sorrows, feels all pain, understands all confusion. Christ has suffered it all, and he is the only way to find true peace and happiness.
Remember the words of the Savior to the Prophet Joseph Smith when he suffered in the darkness of Liberty Jail:
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”
I am so blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives me an eternal perspective. I can be happy and have peace through my trials because I know where I come from, I know that my heavenly father loves me, and I know that if I am living righteously I can overcome my trials and they will only be for my benefit. In D&C 122 the Lord continues to comfort Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. The end of verse 7 reads, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
I was talking to my brother in law the other day about mission things and if I’ll be homesick and I said, “well, I’m usually not the type to get homesick, but you know, every missionary goes through those phases that are kind of lonely and depressing.” Michael quickly said something along the lines of, “no, you don’t have to have lonely and depressing phases on your mission at all. Yeah there will be hard days, but you can still be happy and make the most of them.” Those words were so comforting, and SO TRUE. On my mission, and throughout life, challenges will most definitely come. And when they do come we need to be ready to face them happily.
2 Nephi 2:25 reads, “Men are, that they might have joy.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained what joy is. He said, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
While I was living in Los Angeles over the past year, I understood more than ever how the gospel of Jesus Christ brings me true happiness. I had roommates and friends who searched for happiness at all the wrong places. Although they might have had a couple hours of fun, they were never ever truly happy. Instead they were unhappy, lost, and they definitely didn’t know who they were, or what their purpose in life was. I had many instances where my roommates or friends would ask what is different about me, and why I seemed so at peace, happy, and confident about life. And I owe that all to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Richard G. Scott said, “Find a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and ask for the restored truth. Obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, ponder it, live its principles, and you will find happiness now and forever.”
I know that when we follow the gospel standards and live righteously we can obtain true happiness.
President Thomas S. Monson said, “I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.”
I know that we have a loving heavenly father who created the plan of happiness for us to be able to have true happiness…………