“Bloom Where You Are Planted”

Here is my farewell talk for any who did not get a chance to hear it or may like to read it!

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Brothers and Sisters,

How honored and grateful I am to stand before you this beautiful Sabbath morning.  My heart is overwhelmed with a gratitude and love for each of you.  So many of you have known me since I was a little girl.  You have watched me grow, you have taught me of the Savior, and you have shared His love with me.  Your examples have been so incredibly influential in my life, and I cherish them, so very much, as I prepare to go out and serve the Lord.

So for those who may not already know, or may need a reminder, I have been called to serve in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission, specifically in the New Caledonia mission region.  I leave, November 3, so I will be here next Sunday! Now, if you don’t know where that is, do not feel ashamed because I CERTAINLY DID NOT.  But they are small island countries in the South Pacific.  They are surrounded by Austrailia, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Indonesia, Fiji, and Tonga…so if you are thinking, TONGA? That is where Elder Groburg went in “The Other Side of Heaven,” yes you are correct.  I see a lot of sunburn, sand, and bugs in my future. ALSO, I will be learning french…

Nonetheless, I feel so blessed to be afforded this opportunity from the Lord.  I love Him so much, and hope to preform adequately in His sight.  I know that He wants me to dedicate this time in my life to serve, and that Vanuatu/New Caledonia is where He needs me.  And so, I will go.

I officially decided to serve a mission about a year ago, and ever since then, I have been thinking about this talk.  My heart and mind have pondered the things that I have learned throughout my long and extensive life…but simply put, as I pondered what I should speak of, I thought of the lessons I have learned, the trials that I have experienced thus far, and what I KNOW to be true.  With that, I wish to speak to you today on my favorite phrase, the anthem to my life so to speak, and that is, “Bloom where you are planted.”

I love the primary song “I will follow God’s Plan for Me.”  It reads:

My life is a gift; my life has a plan.

My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began.

My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth

And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.

I will follow God’s plan for me,

Holding fast to His word and His love.

I will work, and I will pray;

I will always walk in His way.

Then I will be happy on earth

And in my home above.

Brothers and Sisters, each of us lived with God in the pre-existence.  He is the father of our spirits. He loves us and wishes for us to become like Him.  And therefore, he created the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. In the pre-existence, we all chose to follow this plan.  We chose to come down to Earth and be tested through trials, all while experiencing the joys of following our Father’s commandments and living cohesively with the teachings of His son Jesus Christ.  AND, although we still have the agency to choose for ourselves whether to serve God or to go a different way, God still loves and still has a plan for us.  He is still our Father.  He created this world, he created our spirits, and therefore, if we do adhere to His commandments, and follow His plan for each of us as individuals, we will receive extraordinary blessings.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to return to live with him someday, and receive eternal life in the celestial kingdom.  However, a prize so great cannot come without tests.  We need to be banged, and scorched, and broken down, and remolded until finally we are one with God, and therefore, trials will lay in our paths.

As we face these trials in our lives, our ability to understand our Heavenly Father’s plan for us will grow and our trust and faith in Him will strengthen.iHim  Trusting in the Lord is crucial throughout all times in our lives.  We must cleave unto Him during times of joy and during times of sorrow, during our greatest triumphs and our greatest downfalls. Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not into thine own understanding and in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

Each of us has goals.  Each of us has dreams.  And therefore, we have a plan for our life to achieve these things.  However, as so many apostles have said before, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  When things seem to be falling apart and times seem to be going wrong, remember that your life is in the hands of the almighty creator, who loves you, and cares for you.  He created you to have joy (1 Nephi 2:25), and therefore we must remember when our plans for life do not come to pass, that our Heavenly Father has something even better in store for us.  There is a story of a missionary which illustrates that God’s hand is in all things, especially His missionary work, and that if we can but only trust in Him, great things can be brought to pass.

A young man of Japanese descent who was called to serve a mission in Colombia.  He was confused by his call, for he could speak Japanese fluently, and his father had served in Japan, so he believe he was destined to serve in Japan.  However, after calling the mission office, they confirmed that his call was not a mistake, and that he was to serve in Colombia.  After 8 long weeks at the MTC, the missionary could still not understand Spanish, and again asked if his call was a mistake.  President Kimball again confirmed that he was to serve in Colombia.  The missionary served only as a junior companion for 22 months, never truly mastering the Spanish language.  One day he and his companion ran into an old Japanese man, who asked if the young elder was of Japanese descent.  The elder responded that he was and the old man rejoiced, for he too could not speak very much Spanish and he had been searching for the missionaries.  The young elder made an appointment with the man who said he had a few others that also wanted to hear about the gospel.  That night the missionaries showed up to the old Japanese man’s house where 64 other Japanese people were gathered to hear the word of God.  The young Japanese elder baptized all 64 of these people before he went home two months later. Before he left, the old Japanese man asked the young elder to write his testimony in his copy of the Book of Mormon that he had received from a missionary in Japan.  The young elder bore his testimony powerfully, and then turned the page to read the other missionary’s testimony.  As he read a powerful testimony from a missionary 25 years ago, he looked down to see who this man could be.  The name of the missionary who had first given the old Japanese man a copy of the Book of Mormon in Japan was the name of the young elder’s father.

This inspiring story of this young missionary reminds us that we are instruments in God’s hands.  We are His servants.  HE WANTS US to love his children, and to serve them in all that we do.  The Lord has told us that his greatest commandments are to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and to likewise, love thy neighbor as thyself. Let us be reminded of the scripture in Mosiah 2:17 “…That ye might learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”

Humbling ourselves to do God’s will is a trying process.  They say never pray for humility because you WILL BE HIT with trial after trial after trial, TRUST ME.  However, it is one of the most important Christ-like attributes we can achieve in this life, and therefore, we must do what we can to achieve it early, so that our lives and our will may line up with our Father in Heaven’s.  As we seek humility, and as we seek to obey God’s will in adherence to His plan for us, we will begin to feel love for his children, and begin to feel the blessings of the Spirit being poured in abundance upon us.  Remember, Christ told us himself that “He that loseth his life for my sake, the same shall find it.”

With that, let me tell you this story.

There once was a girl, born into a family of three.  She had a father, a mother, and an older brother, that loved her and welcomed her with open arms.  A few months after her birth, her mother returned to church and thus, the family began to attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a regular basis.  When she was two years old, a baby brother was welcomed into the world.  And thus the now family of five, began their progression.  This little girl was shy, but she loved to attend primary.  She loved to learn the songs and sing them each Sunday.  She loved watching the older kids talk about Jesus Christ.  She loved to learn about Joseph Smith and the early Saints.  She knew that she had a Heavenly Father, and she knew that He loved her.  And she loved Him.  As she grew, she became more and more aware of God’s love for her, and at the age of 8, she was baptized.  She remembers her baptism well.  She remembers being mad that she had to wear this one dress instead of the other pretty dress.  But, more importantly, she remembers the feelings of peace that were present there, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the comforter, that she felt thereafter.  However, as she began to enter pre-teen life, Satan began to beat down on her hard. Families and friends that she used to look forward to seeing and being with at church began to move away, and soon she was left all alone, the only youth girl in ward, and she was just entering the young women’s program. Feelings of insecurity entered her mind, and she began to doubt her self-worth.  Although she knew that she was a child of God, she did not know what that meant.  She felt like she wasn’t getting any comfort from church activities and therefore, she began to stray.  She began to look to the world for comfort, and even though she continued to come to church each Sunday, her heart was far from the Lord. She was subconsciously bitter about the situations that were apart of her life, and could not withstand the trials of loneliness and responsibility that came from being a faithful and valiant youth in these latter-days, especially in this part of the country.  However, as time passed, she began to notice that something was missing from her life.  She was unhappy with the life she had been living.  She had hurt her friends. She had hurt her family, and she had lost herself.  And so, she began to search.  And little by little she began to turn herself back over to the Lord.  She began to rid herself of the worldly matters that held her bound, and began to deliver herself to the Lord little, by little, by little, until eventually, she found herself desiring a testimony.  She prayed long and hard for months on end, desiring a sign to be given to her, and although she did not believe she was worthy of one, she continued to work towards it.  She began to read her scriptures diligently, and began to pray every night.  She asked for diligence and motivation in keeping the commandments and standards given to the youth.  And then, one day, she realized something.  She was happy. And then, she knew.  She knew that the Lord loved her, and she knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true.  And that testimony burned in her like fire.  And she never looked back.

Just in case, you haven’t figured it out, that girl is me.  Brothers and Sisters, there was a time in my life when I did not know if the church was true.  I abandoned faith because I was unhappy with the situations in my life.  I hated being the lone girl, I hated not having others to look towards as an example.  It was hard, and I cried to the Lord many days and many nights to send someone, a family, anyone to help strengthen me.  But that was not the Lord’s plan for me.  He knew I needed to be molded, and so he broke me, and he tore me, and he created me into someone I never thought I was capable of becoming.

Many times my desires and plans for my life have not been brought to pass. I have prayed sincerely for nights on end for my deepest desires to become realities.  And, the answer that I have received time and time again is that the Lord needs me elsewhere.  I have lived through disappointment after disappointment, wondering why others did not have to make the same sacrifices that I had to.  And I still don’t know why, and I may not know until the next life.  But I do know this: God loves me and cares for me.  And through Him, I can have the best life possible, and through Him, I can achieve my full potential.

This past year between submitting my papers, receiving my call, preparing to enter the temple, and to finally entering the mission field, I have been tested more than I thought bearable.  I have felt extreme feelings of disappointment, loneliness, unworthiness, guilt, AND the pain that comes from the opposition of dearest loved ones that do not agree with my decision to serve a mission.  At times I have felt that the gates of hell were opened against me, and I  have thought that I must have an awesome mission ahead of me to be experiencing such great opposition.

During a time of turmoil where I felt that my life could not get any more unfair, where I felt that I was doing all that I could to be a faithful servant and nothing seemed to be going right, I remembered Christ.  I remembered the man who was perfect in all manners.  Who loved all the people around Him, who steadfastly abided by his Father’s will, and yet was still tormented through trials.  He was spit on, he was mocked, he was beaten, he was ignored, and he was abandoned and denied by those who were closest to Him.  Yet, he did not murmur against God, but remained firmly rooted in His father’s will.  Although he had never spoken ill of another, thought an unclean thought, or participated in an unkind deed, he took upon himself the pains and afflictions of all of these sins, of all of the pains of the world, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual.  He took them upon himself.  He suffered so much pain that he bled from every pore, and yet in the midst of HIS turmoil and distress he uttered that simple phrase “Father, not my will, but thine be done.” The burdens were not lifted, and Christ finished his sufferings.  He continued to be persecuted throughout His last week on Earth, and as he was being nailed to the cross he felt the presence of His father leave his side, so that he could truly complete the daunting task of being the Savior of the world.  On the third day, he rose, a perfected being, now with each and every one of us imprinted into his hands.  He had endured it all, and he had endured it well, and therefore he was glorified on high.

Brothers and Sister, this is why I have decided to serve a mission.  This simple truth: no matter what trials you must endure in your life, no matter how far away you feel you are from the presence of God, no matter the sins you’ve committed, Christ stands beside you.  He loves you.  Know that whatever you are enduring, He has endured it as well.  He understands, he will give you aid, for He has said “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.”

Although it may at times seem hard, do not look upon the circumstances of your life with disappointment or disgust.  Rather, count your blessings, use your talents for good, pray to the Lord for help, continue to read your scriptures and follow the commandments with all your heart, might, mind, and strength,  BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED, and you WILL come to love the trials in your life.  REMEMBER YOU HAVE A PURPOSE, YOU ARE AN INSTRUMENT IN GOD’S HANDS, HE NEEDS YOU, AND HE WILL BLESS YOU IN YOUR DILIGENCE TO SERVE HIM WITH GREAT HAPPINESS AND JOY, AND A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THIS GOSPEL.

TESTIMONY

Brothers and Sisters, I stand as a witness before thee today and declare:

  • God lives. He is our father.  He loves us.
  • Jesus Christ is God’s son. He is the savior of the world.
  • Together God and Jesus Christ have the power to change us. If we give our hearts to them and abide by their will, we will become perfect beings.
  • God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. Through Joseph Smith, the true everlasting gospel was restored to the Earth, and is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
  • God speaks to His children, for he has spoken to me through the Holy Ghost. He leads this church through his Prophet Thomas S. Monson.
  • There is nothing more important than to abide by God’s will. If we turn our lives over to Him, we will experience happiness and peace in this life, and in the life to come.

I know that these things are true.  The Holy Ghost has filled my soul and my heart so much so that I can only quote the words of Joseph Smith, “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.”

This is my testimony, I will shout it from the mountaintops, I will travel over land and sea.  For these things are true.

And I testify,

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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