Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sister Mason's Farewell Talk


     Although I am not in the Young Women’s program anymore, I have noticed the 2013 Mutual Theme found in Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 that says.. 
     “Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.” 
     I have seen this theme “stand ye in holy places” many times online or in LDS bookstores and it has stuck with me over the past couple months. I have reflected on this theme many times and I have found how important it is in my life to stand in holy places and keep my mind focused on the truly important things in life. One song from the EFY 2005 CD has been inspirational and has taken become more special to me as I have been preparing for a mission. It says, “I stand in holy places, protected from the storm. Anchored safe in harbor though my sails are ripped and worn. I stand in holy places and I will not move until the Captain comes and says well done. He is the hope I hold on to.” I love how this song is a variation of the theme “stand ye in holy places”,  but it emphasizes the storms and trials ever raging in our lives. Many times with everything going on in our lives, it is easy to place importance on silly or meaningless things instead of dedicating our lives to the gospel. Jesus Christ is truly the hope we have in our lives and we should focus on living as He did and living in such a way that would please Him. Standing in holy places is important because it helps you keep yourself away from temptations of the world and keep your sights focused on Christ.
     President Thomas S Monson in the October 2011 conference talk “Stand in Holy Places” spoke about the changes in society, technology and morality over the span of his life time. He cautioned “Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change… In this world where nearly everything seems to be changing, God’s constancy is something on which we can rely, an anchor to which we can hold fast and be safe, lest we be swept away into uncharted waters.” The most devastating change that has occurred is the world’s view of standards and morals. I know that although it may not always be the most popular thing to do, it is crucial to remain firm and steadfast on the gospel of Jesus Christ. By doing so, we can remember what is important in this life and pass through our life’s troubled waters. President Monson in this address promises “The storms will still beat at our doors from time to time, for they are an inescapable part of our existence in mortality. We, however, will be far better equipped to deal with them, to learn from them, and to overcome them if we have the gospel at our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts.” What beautiful promises to hear from the mouth of our prophet. How grateful I am to know that if I set my sights on things of eternal importance, I will be better able to deal with the unavoidable struggles in my life.
     My favorite thing about the mutual theme “Stand Ye in Holy Places” is how I have always seen the Salt Lake temple depicted along with the theme. I have had a special love for the temple and my love for this holy place has grown as I have dedicated myself to frequent temple attendance. Even as a young child, I set the temple as my goal even though I did not yet understand its importance. Over the past year, I have made a goal to attend the temple once a week. For at least the first 9 months, I would go at around the same time every Friday morning to do baptisms for the dead. What a sweet experience it was to so frequently stand in this holy place, to do the ordinance of baptism for those who have passed away and to feel the spirit that resides in the temple. I could not help but feel a huge difference in my life as I was able to set aside a small amount of time a week to forget about the world and focus on eternal matters. The temple is truly a sacred place where we can seek refuge from the storms of life and be reminded of what is truly important. Setting my sights on the temple has truly helped me get to where I am today. Receiving my endowment in the temple has been something I have been looking forward to for a long time. Frequenting the temple, for me has strengthened my testimony of temple work and has prepared me to be able to make sacred covenants with my Father in Heaven. What I blessing the temple has been in my life and what a change can occur as you set the temple as your goal.
     Another thing that I have learned that has been very special to me is the importance of being led by the Holy Ghost in my life. It is definitely something that I have learned over time. I will admit that too often I try to tell my Heavenly Father what I really want and remind him how desperately I want or think I need something. This is basically the opposite of being led by Heaven Father through the Holy Ghost. Over time, I have learned that I cannot plan too far in advance and that He knows better than I do. When I was younger, I thought I had everything planned out of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be in my life. Let me just tell you that I have learned that Heavenly Father has better plans for me than I would ever come up with on my own. For example, in High School, I planned on going to a culinary program to learn more about baking and pastry arts and to further my very small cake decorating business. My dream school did not end up working out for me and I ended up getting a scholarship to ASU. That scholarship helped me decided to change my plans and attend ASU although I was somewhat reluctant to do it. At first, I was kind of upset to go to ASU because that was not what I had in mind but I know that my Father in Heaven is aware of my needs and knows what is best for me. It turns out that I have done well at ASU after all and I have had the opportunity to do so much more with my cake business while working other small jobs to get me through school. Sometimes I still do not understand why I could not simply have things the way I planned, but I know that as I have been led by the spirit, I have been able to do things and go places that I would never imagine.
     The biggest example of being led by the spirit to go places I would never imagine was my decision to serve a mission. I never thought in a million years that I would serve a mission. My dad would always tease me when I was young about serving a full-time mission and I would always tell him “no way”. For me, that was never a part of my plan. In October Conference when President Monson announced the age change for missionaries, I had the first thoughts about serving a mission. I even remember jokingly asking one of my friends if she was going to serve a mission now. She said “no way” and asked me if I would. I surprisingly replied that maybe I would, but I soon brushed that thought aside. I do not even think I mentioned the serious possibility of a mission to any of my other friends or family. One interesting thing about promptings is that some are received instantly and intensely while others come gradually. I was shocked by the response of many young sisters to serve missions. Even though I had the slightest thought about a mission, I did not automatically feel the need to go or the need to go right then like some of my friends did. So instead of pursuing it, I left that idea aside. The biggest change happened when I realized that I was really close to graduating from ASU and that I still hadn’t decided what I wanted to do after I graduated. I started stressing over what I wanted to do and I again remembered the possibility of serving a mission. I soon decided that I wanted to serve a mission after my graduation this December. Not long after that decision, I realized how badly I wanted to serve a mission and that I wanted to go as soon as I could. Deep down, I knew how intense my feelings were to serve a mission and I knew that if I did not take this opportunity while I had the chance, there was a huge possibility that I would regret it. Let me just tell you that being led by the spirit brought me to the decision to serve a mission and that it could not be more perfect for me. I would have never ever thought I would be at the place I am today but I can honestly say that this is the best decision that I have ever made and I have never felt so good about something in my life. I cannot wait to serve the people of Ventura, California and spend the next 18 months on the Lord’s errand.
Because of situations like these, I have learned to fully put my trust in the lord. Although it can be very hard, I know that being led by the spirit has brought the most happiness in my life. I would like to read a scripture that gives me comfort in times of unexpected change. It is found in Isaiah 41:10 and says…
      “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
      My favorite part is “fear thou not… I will strengthen thee yea I will help thee” because it reminds me that if I am following the Lord, He is bound to help me and bless me along the way. In my life, I have found how important is it to have a great relationship with my Heavenly Father. I try to counsel with him with changes in my life. The most important thing I have learned is that I many times have to go forward in faith along a path and God will help me along the way. Although I have tried many different options throughout my life just to find obstacles completely blocking my path, I have learned to allow myself to let the spirit guide me and then change my goals and work towards something else.  This was definitely the case with my decision to serve a mission. I had many different goals and dreams that I had tried but time and time again nothing seemed to work out. Although it has been very frustrating at times to work so hard for something that ends up in disaster, it is comforting for me to remember that there is a higher plan for me and that I will be happy if I just do what my Father in Heaven would have me do. I have found that recognizing, trusting, and following the promptings of the spirit are essential to reach your full potential and weather the storms of life.
Although there are many things going on in the world today and many hardships that many of you face, what a blessing it is to stand in holy places and receive personal revelation from the spirit. Although there are trials that may seem to never pass, I know from experience that standing in holy places and setting your sights on important things in life can help you overcome them. Not only can you overcome hard times, but you can learn and be better prepared for the things life may throw at you. Personal revelation can also bring you hope as you allow yourself to be lead by the spirit through these times and into situations where you can learn and grow. I know that standing in holy places and setting my sights on the temple from a young age has prepared me to be able to serve a mission. It has reminded me of the eternal perspective and has given me the strength I need to prepare for this time in my life. I also know how important it is to allow the spirit into your life to lead and guide you. Looking back on my life, I am glad the spirit has guided me along this crazy path of life but that these opportunities have led me to where I am today and my decision to serve a mission.