Sunday, April 21, 2013

This is it! Ate logo :)

Farewell talk

Good morning everyone! Today I was asked to speak on Doctrine & Covenants Section 4 and relate this to my missionary service. I want to start by talking a little about why I want to serve a mission and then go into applying these scriptures to what I’ll be doing there. Ever since I was in Young Women’s missions always fascinated me. I don’t come from an 8 generation family in the church whose relatives all served missions, so all that I learned about them, I learned here. I always thought about what it would be like to serve and if I could really do it. I was 50/50 whenever I entertained the idea. I thought about if I could be away from my family for that long or if I would ever know enough to serve. All of these worries subsided the more I studied and prayed for my answer. I want to serve a mission for many reasons but the first reason is that I really love this gospel. I’ve always loved sharing my knowledge of the gospel, as little as it may be, with my friends and family and always wanted them to learn more. I know how much it has blessed my life and I want others to have that same joy.
So, this past summer and beginning of last fall semester I had been praying really hard to find out if this was what I needed to do. I always think that answers to my prayers will come in these overwhelming spiritual moments, but not this time. It was the week before October’s General Conference and I was sitting in one of my business classes zoning out, as tends to happen in college. I was thinking of working on my papers, receiving my call, preparing to go to the MTC and I felt peace. I felt strongly impressed that I needed to go. I prayed about this revelation over and over because surely this couldn’t be it after months of praying. But it was. And it was right. I planned on finishing out the school year and leaving sometime this summer. But… I didn’t feel right about any of the internships I was pursuing and none of them seemed to be working out. I finally got my answer why. When I heard the announcement from President Monson that all “able, worthy, young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19 instead of age 21” my jaw dropped and I immediately yelled “I’m going on a mission” and may have scared my rooommates a bit, then I felt instant peace again. Now, I’m almost 21 anyway so I’m really only using this age change to my advantage by one month, but I was excited nonetheless that I could serve even sooner and I started working on my papers soon after that.
The first verse of D&C Section 4 says,
1 Now behold, a amarvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
 2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the aservice of God, see that ye bserve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand cblameless before God at the last day.
The first thing I thought of as it says a Marvelous work is about to come forth was the age change in missionaries because thousands of missionaries have answered the call and I was so thrilled to hear in conference that by the end of the year we will have 91,000 missionaries in the field which is close to double than we had serving in 2012, it’s amazing.
These are such powerful scriptures to me because I know that I don’t have any time to waste on my mission. I chose to go and do and now I have to do just that. When I gave my talk in the single’s branch a few weeks ago on discipleship I quoted Elder Merrill J. Bateman’s talk “Becoming a Disciple of Christ” and he says, “The command to serve God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength should leave one exhausted at the end of life, not midway through the journey.” I mentioned that I couldn’t imagine going through life and the energy it must take to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength that I will literally be exhausted at the end of this life. But this is what we choose to do, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and become better each day. This is even magnified on a mission as we are servants and literally taking His name upon on us and teaching in His name. No pressure, right? Furthermore on this point, Brother Wengler described this time of our lives as a pressure cooker. There is so much to learn and do and grow from in this small amount of time that we have to make the most of every moment of every day. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but in the end I know it will all be worth it.
In verses 3-5 it reads,
 3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are acalled to the work;
4 For behold the afield is white already to bharvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in cstore that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
 5 And afaith, bhope, ccharity and dlove, with an eeye single to the fglory of God, gqualify him for the work.
I quickly got over my feelings of inadequacy as I spoke with many of you on how I just don’t feel like I know enough. But God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called, and I know that to be true. I was talking to a few friends at school before I had even put my papers in and one of my best friends told me, “Alyssa, there are people in Brazil waiting for you to teach them. There are those who only you can touch. It’s your smile and your testimony that are going to change lives.” And at first I’m thinking no way is that true. Anyone could go and do the same thing I’m doing and be just as effective. But I know that mission calls are personal and special, and that I was called to the Sao Paulo South mission to do the work there that I was designed to do. There are so many people waiting to hear the message that we have to share, especially in Brazil where the church is growing so rapidly so I love where it says, “The field is white already to harvest.”
Verse 6 says,
 6 Remember faith, avirtue, knowledge, btemperance, cpatience, dbrotherly ekindness, fgodliness, charity, ghumility, hdiligence.
All of these qualities will be needed throughout my whole mission I’m sure. There’s a reason why all of these are grouped together in the section on missionary work. I know that as I teach that I will have to remind myself of these things so that I can become the missionary that I’ve always wanted to be. In this past general conference Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “Inasmuch as we follow Christ, we seek to participate in and further His redemptive work. The greatest service we can provide to others in this life, beginning with those of our own family, is to bring them to Christ through faith and repentance so they may experience His Redemption—peace and joy now and immortality and eternal life in the world to come. The work of our missionaries is a magnificent expression of the Lord’s redeeming love. As His authorized messengers, they offer the incomparable blessings of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, opening the way to spiritual rebirth and redemption.
I know that it is ultimately up to me to be the missionary that I want to be. In “The Fourth missionary” by Lawrence E. Corbridge he says in a section titled What manner of men ought ye to be?
“Jesus asked a similar question. He said: "What manner of men ought ye to be?" On this particular occasion he was speaking to his Nephite disciples and so he spoke in the male gender, but the question applies to us all, and so, He asks of you: "What manner of men and women ought ye to be?" Then answering His own question he said, "Even as I am."
Jesus Christ not only came to atone for our sins; He also came to show us the way. He is the Way. You not only may become like Him; everything is stacked in your favor to become like Him.
Think of this life as a path on which you never stand still. As you move forward, you incorporate into your being the characteristics and qualities of God. As you move backward you assimilate the qualities of Satan.
Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only: to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like Him.”
I just love that because this is exactly what I’ll be teaching, and this is the missionary that I want to be, inviting others to come unto Christ.
The last verse of D&C 4 says,
 aAsk, and ye shall receive; bknock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
Prayer has been such a guide for me throughout my life, but especially the past four months after I had my call and started preparing to go. This is how we ask, as it says in this last verse. We can always turn to our father in heaven for peace and comfort, which I am so grateful for. There is great power in prayer and I know he hears and answers them all. I am also grateful for the scriptures. This is how we receive. We may not always hear the still small voice of the Holy Ghost but as we turn to the scriptures, this is where we will receive our answers. One of my favorite parts of this gospel is the fact that we can never stop learning. It really is line upon line, precept upon precept. And I’m so grateful for prayer and the scriptures because they are what I will turn to on my mission as I seek for answers and comfort.
In Carlos E. Asay’s 1976 october conference talk titled “The Spirit of Missionary Work” he said, A few years ago, in a mission presidents seminar, President Hugh B. Brown said: “If God would grant me one wish—just one—it would be this: that each missionary felt and enjoyed the spirit of his calling.” He also stated that if all missionaries were blessed to feel this spirit, miraculous things would occur in the world. My stake president at BYU—Idaho told us in mission prep “Obedience brings blessings but perfect obedience brings miracles.”
There were so many times I questioned whether I was doing the right thing and putting everything on hold to go and serve a mission and in the end I kept getting the answer that yes, I needed to go, even when I was scared and knew it would be so easy to just stay. But I realized this work is so much bigger than me. It really has nothing to do with me at all. This is God’s work and I am just an instrument in His hands. Satan has been working hard against me and trying to make me doubt the answer that I already had. But through consistent prayer I was able to be at peace with my choice.
I recently read a quote that said “Don’t put a question mark where God has already put a period.” And I was doing exactly that, questioning an answer that I had already received. I thought time would drag and that April 24th would never come and here I am 3 days before I report to the MTC. I am so thankful for personal revelation and how we can each receive answers to our prayers if we are worthy and ready to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. 
Many people have told me the waiting period is the worst. And I also know that’s true. The past four months waiting to leave at times were unbearable as doubt sometimes crept in and I didn’t think that I could do it. But I can. I know I can because anything is possible through our faith in God. He is always there. He will never leave us alone. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is to be able to strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father and fully trust in Him because that’s who we have to lean on in times of trouble.
One of my best friends and roommates from school, her Dad passed away just 2 months ago so unexpectedly. She has been a member her whole life, everyone in her family is a member and they are sealed together for time and all eternity. This has been the hardest thing for her to go through in her entire life, and though I wasn’t there, I knew she was hurting, but I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain she was feeling. It was at this time that her family had to choose to either lean on God and trust in Him to know that He has a plan for us or they could have turned the other way, turning their backs on the Lord out of frustration or even anger. They chose to follow whatever God had in store for them and it was such a blessing and a comfort to her to know that she will see her Dad again.
Now I’ve heard these stories again and again but never with a friend so close to me. It was amazing to hear how her family came together and really strengthened one another, even when it was so hard and at the same time, were preparing to send her brother on his mission to Canada the very next week. I can’t wait to share this message of the plan of salvation to families in Brazil so that they will be at peace and know that through this church, we can be with our families forever. We will see our loved ones again and we can eventually feel at peace with these tragic events that sometimes occur.

This road preparing to go on my mission has been anything but ideal, with delays with multiple things, including my visa which is why I am now reporting to the Provo MTC. I felt like nothing went right and nothing ever went according to my own plan. It’s been really humbling to know that I am not in full control of my life. I can control parts of it, but for the most part it’s up to Heavenly Father and I have to accept whatever he has in store for me. In Matthew chapter 26 Jesus knelt down and offered up a prayer to God right before he suffered in Gethsemane. In verse 39 it says “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and aprayed, saying, O my bFather, if it be possible, let this ccup pass from me: nevertheless not as I dwill, but as ethou fwilt.” This has taught me such a great lesson on the Lord’s will being done and not my own. Now my situation isn’t to the extent where my life is in jeopardy but it has been extremely humbling and a great learning experience. It’s been challenging to realize but I know everything happens for a reason and as long as we are doing what is right, we will never be left empty-handed.

I am so excited to serve the people of Brazil. Through all of this waiting I have learned so much that I know has prepared me to be a better missionary. Great things come with patience. I want to bear testimony that Joseph Smith restored the true church on this earth. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and our lives will be blessed as we turn our thoughts and actions to Him.
I am so grateful for my mom and her faith to know that this church was true 19 years ago. Without her I wouldn’t be standing here today about to serve a mission. I will forever be grateful for those two missionaries who continued to teach my family and didn’t give up, even with a move from New York to Pennsylvania in between. Her decision to follow the spirit and be baptized along with my brothers changed my life, the lives of our family to come, and hopefully many people in Brazil.
I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and has a plan for me. I know that I was called to serve in Brazil because that’s where I am needed and where I can be the most effective. Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God and he leads and directs this church. I’m thankful for all of the many lessons that so many of you have taught me and for your support in various ways from just a smile in the hallway to giving me advice on how to be the best missionary. I love you all and just want to close with a poem and no, I did not write this, though I would love to take credit for it.

Answering The Call

"The day has come,
My dream is coming true,
Now it is my time,
For me to go and do.

I am answering the call,
Turning my life over to the Lord,
I am being sent out upon the earth,
To share life’s greatest reward.

My journey will not be easy,
And at times it will be long,
But never fear, for the Lord is sending me,
Truly where I belong.

The next 18 months of my life,
I shall bear his holy name,
Going forth with my duty,
To ignite in others the gospel flame.

I will do the Lord’s work,
Helping his children to learn,
And when my time ends,
With honor I shall return.

I leave my family shortly,
So that others can be with theirs forever,
For I know that when I return,
I will have no regret, whatsoever.

The time has now come,
For me to be set apart,
As a missionary I will be,
Forever kept in the Lord’s Heart.

A Sister Missionary is who I am,
Now a tool in the Lord’s hand,
With this I say farewell,
For I have flocks to bring to the promise land."

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. Good luck Alyssa! We will miss you.

  2. Your testimony brought tears to my eyes! I'm so excited for you to go out & share it! It doesn't seem that long ago that I was teaching missionary lessons in your home & now you're all grown up & leaving for the MTC! What ever happens with that sweet little redhead anyway??
    I wish you all the best! My niece is loving Brazil & I'm sure you will too!