Sunday, July 28, 2013

Farewell Talk

This is a copy of my farewell talk that I gave in Sacrament. I was incredibly nervous,
 but I think I did alright :)

Hi everyone. For those who don’t know me, my name is Jessica Cannon. I've been in this ward for about two years now, and I am leaving for my mission next week. I will be serving in the Colorado Denver North Mission, for 18 months, and I am so incredibly excited. When Brother Rees told me I got the wonderful chance to speak in front of everyone, I was pretty apprehensive. I know it’s pretty standard for someone who is about to leave on their mission to speak in sacrament, but I really didn't want to because I get so nervous speaking in front of people. My mom helpfully told me that I better get used to it, since I will be doing it all the time on my mission. What a huge comfort.

As I prayed about what I should talk about today, I kept going back to the topic of Faith.

Richard C. Edgley, First counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke in the October 2010 general conference. He said "Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. The Savior said, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Knock, and it shall be [given] you” (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.
Alma’s discussion on faith, as recorded in the 32nd chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon, is a series of choices to ensure the development and the preservation of our faith. Alma gave us a directive to choose. His were words of action initiated by choosing. He used the words awake, arouse, experiment, exercise, desire, work, and plant. Then Alma explained that if we make these choices and do not cast the seed out by unbelief, then “it will begin to swell within [our] breasts” (Alma 32:28).
Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours.
In Preach My Gospel, which I've heard is going to be my new best friend while I’m on my mission, says the following about faith.
The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son’s grace and mercy. When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son.
Faith in Christ leads to action. It leads to sincere and lasting repentance. Having faith causes us to try as hard as we can to learn about and become more like our Savior. We want to learn what His commandments are and then obey them. Even though we will still make mistakes, we show our love for Him by striving to keep His commandments and avoid sin.
Since we were in primary, we've been taught that Faith is believing in things that you cant see but you know is true. But Faith is so much more than that. Its not simple believing, its acting upon that belief. Its always paying tithing, even though you might be going through hard times. Its accepting a calling that seems unbearably challenging for you. Its knowing that you have a father in heaven, and that he has a plan for you, and that we are all called to share the gospel, even though It might be hard to talk to others about your religion.
Jeffrey R Holland in a talk given in April General Conference of this year said something that struck me. He said honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.
We all come upon a point in our life where we question Why Me. Instead of saying why me, maybe we need to look at it in a new direction, and ask what am I to learn from this? What is it that our heavenly father wants us to know? How can I learn from this trial of faith?
On one occasion Jesus came upon a group arguing vehemently with His disciples. When the Savior inquired as to the cause of this contention, the father of an afflicted child stepped forward, saying he had approached Jesus’s disciples for a blessing for his son, but they were not able to provide it. With the boy still gnashing his teeth, foaming from the mouth, and thrashing on the ground in front of them, the father appealed to Jesus with what must have been last-resort desperation in his voice:
“If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
When we feel like our faith is weak, that is when we can say to the lord Help thou mine unbelief.

Last October when it was announced by our wonderful prophet, Thomas S Monson, that the age of sister missionaries would be lowered from age 21 to the age of 19, I first didn't give it much thought. I've never really planned per se to go on a mission, but I've always kept the option open. At first I kept making excuse to myself. Saying oh I won’t be a good missionary, or just being scared to be away from home that long, considering the longest I've spent away from home is two weeks. I had this mentally for a while. Then when the New Year came around, I worked on gaining a stronger testimony for myself. Although I've always known the church is true, I kind of took it for granted and didn't apply myself as I should. I started reading the scriptures every day before I went to bed. I also began to read past general conferences. And then, when I read a wonderful talk from our loving prophet Thomas S Monson, he said at the end “ I pledge anew my determination to be better, to be more faithful—more kind and devoted, more charitable and true as our Father in Heaven is and as so many of you already are. “ Then it basically hit me. The Prophet of our church says he needs to be better, to be more faithful. That made me feel about two inches tall. I knew that where I was at in life was nowhere near where he was in assurances, and that I needed to have more faith.  I began to pray to our Heavenly Father about what I should be doing. I then received one of the clearest answers to prayer in my life. I knew that I needed to serve a mission, and I needed to do it as soon as I could. This answer was as clear as if the Lord had come to me personally and called me on a mission.

In my house, after I submitted my paperwork for my mission, we hung a map of the world to have everyone post their guess on where I would be serving. As the map became fuller, and the guesses became more and more exotic, I became nervous. As I said earlier, the longest I've been away from home is two weeks, and the furthest I've traveled alone is from here to Nebraska. My brother Jason was pretty adamant about me serving in San Paolo Brazil. He and the Elder Beckstrand kept calling me Hermana Cannon, since they thought I needed to get used to it because they thought I would serve in a foreign language mission. Although I took two years of Spanish, I knew I was in no way prepared to go to a place immersed in a different language.
I went to my mom about how I really did not want to serve a foreign mission. She counseled me to pray to my heavenly father about where I should serve, and that I can find acceptance in wherever the lord sent me. When I finally got my mission call in the mail, we gathered my friends and family before I opened it. We opened the evening by singing I’ll go where you want me to go. During the hymn I felt an overwhelming sense of peace that the Lord knew where I needed to be, and everything would be alright.  When I opened the call and read that I would be serving in the Colorado Denver North Mission, and that I would be speaking English, I knew this was the place I was meant to be. To me personally, this was an answer to my prayers and a testimony builder that Heavenly Father knows me needs . It has proven to me as we show our Faith, heavenly father will pour forth blessings in answer to our prayers, even one so small as serving a foreign mission.

Through my faith I know that my heavenly father can give me comfort as needed. One of the ways I find comfort is through the song A Child's Prayer. Ever since I was little, when I had a nightmare, or was simply anxious about something, I would always sing the following words.

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
“Suffer the children to come to me.”
Father, in prayer I’m coming now to thee.

Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list’ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav’n.

The words are simple, but I believe the message is profound. A little child has the faith that their father in heaven will answer their prayers, and that he loves them.  Throughout my life, I have questioned many things.

There is much that I do not know. I do not know the details of the organization of matter into the beautiful world we live in. I do not understand the intricacies of the Atonement, how the Savior’s sacrifice can cleanse all repentant people, or how the Savior could suffer “the pain of all men” I do not know where the city of Zarahemla was, as referred to in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps these are matters our Father in Heaven described as the “mysteries … of heaven” that will be revealed at a later date.

But while I don’t know everything, I know the important. I know the plain and simple gospel truths that lead to salvation and exaltation. I know that the Savior did suffer the pain of all men and that all repentant people can be cleansed from sin. And what I don’t know or don’t completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel. And then, as Alma teaches, our faith brings us to a perfect knowledge. By moving forward into the unknown, armed only with hope and desire, we show evidence of our faith and our devotion to the Lord.

I’d like to end this talk by sharing my testimony with you. I want all of you to know that I know with all my heart that this church is true. I know that Thomas S Monson was called by God to be a Prophet. I know, through careful study and prayer, that the scriptures are true. That the Book of Mormon was correctly translated by Joseph Smith, and the words come from God, and they can help us throughout our daily lives. I’m so grateful for this church. I know I have received so many blessings throughout my life. I’m eternally grateful for my family, and the love and support I have for them. I’m grateful for the Young Womens, and Relief Society, for all the wonderful lessons I've learned. I’m so grateful for this wonderful chance to serve a full time mission. I’m excited to get out there and do the Lords work, and share my testimony with others. I’d like to say these things, in our loving brother’s name, Jesus Christ, Amen. 

1 comment:

  1. You gave a wonderful talk Jessica. Faith is the way we are guided and strengthened. Words from him are in our mind. Remember he is there and helps you always; faith in your prayers are what gets you through everything. It has helped me make it through different things. I know you will be a wonderful missionary. ~ Terri