Saturday, January 23, 2016

Farewell Talk

Unfortunately Winter Storm Jonas snowed us all in so church was cancelled today. :( I'm bummed I didn't get the chance to share this in sacrament meeting, but hey, posting is better than nothing! Enjoy! Love you all <3.

Good morning! Well… this is it. It feels very surreal to be here giving my farewell talk. I have been waiting months for this and It’s amazing to be here to address my dearest friends and ward family. Today is pretty difficult for me to say goodbye and my heart is full. Tonight I get set apart as a missionary and I fly to Provo tomorrow. From there I will report to the missionary training center and receive my little black name tag, marking the beginning of my year and a half journey ahead.
Now that my suitcases are packed and It’s sunk in that I’m actually doing this, I have been reflecting on my thought process on deciding to serve a mission. It all started a little over a year ago when I received my patriarchal blessing. As the patriarch’s words flowed from his mouth, I could tell that they were not coming from his thoughtful mind, but from his softened heart that was sensitive to the spirit and his firm hands that held the Priesthood power. I knew that the words he spoke were not his words. They were my Heavenly Father’s words. And when he mentioned that I would serve a mission I was overwhelmed with the spirit, more than I had ever felt before. Heavenly Father knocked me over the head that night and I knew that I was going to serve a mission.
Then life fast forwarded and my call arrived. I carried the white envelope around my house, not letting it lose my sight. Was this really what I was supposed to be doing with my life? Would I not like where I was called? Would it feel right? WhatifI’vebeengettingthewrongpromptingsohmygoshwhatamIgettingmyselfinto?! I stared at the envelope and thought the words to the hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” a hymn that was running on repeat in the back of my head for the past week. Then I opened my call and read the famous words, “Sister Fulop, you are hereby called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in the… Adriatic South mission!”. For those of you that don’t know where that is, it’s okay, I didn’t either. But now I can tell you that the Adriatic South is a part of Southeastern Europe. My boundaries cover Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo. It will be a journey and I’m beyond grateful to be considered worthy to serve Heavenly Father’s children in this beautiful part of the world. I’m now ready to answer my call and to serve the Lord where He needs me the most.
I have heard time and time again that missionaries are sent to a specific area where people are waiting to hear the message from that individual, and this is true for everyone. Some people have been prepared to be taught the Gospel but haven’t been introduced to it yet. It is our job as members of the Church to act on promptings from the spirit and find those of our Heavenly Father’s children who will embrace the message of the Restoration. Not to say that it’s easy to find people that are open to talk about religion, nor easy to stand up for what is right all the time, nor easy  to bear our heart of everything we know to be true only to get a door shut in our face. But no one ever said the work was going to be easy.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never easy for Him?" He goes on to say, "I believe that missionaries and investigators [and all members of the church] to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token that same price. For that reason, I don't believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our souls." I couldn’t tell you how many times I have heard from return missionaries that their mission was the hardest time of their life, yet the most rewarding. Although it is hard, it is amazing to witness people’s lives change for better. This gospel has the power to transform individuals. And the best part about it is that the sacrifices and changes that people are willing to take now will be effective passed the grave.
Conversion to the Lord is one step. Another is to receive the Holy Ghost. One more is to make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord. This third step is crucial for eternal salvation and it can only be performed within the walls of the temple. It is concerning the temple that I wish to speak to you today.
Elder Russell M. Nelson summarizes the significance of the temple perfectly. He states, “Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church,  as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.” The blessings that we receive in the temple are, simply put, larger-than-life. That is why the temple should always be in our sights. In Mosiah 2:6, the people in the land of Zarahemla “pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple”. We should likewise have our hearts turned towards the temple. I’ve always loved the bumper sticker, “WWJD.” What would Jesus do? We need to keep this in the back of our minds in order to have our hearts turned towards the temple. President Thomas S. Monson counsels, “The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified.” The temple serves as a reminder the purpose of our life and gives us strength to move forward making righteous decisions so we can attend again.
Temple attendance is shortly about to come much easier for us, as the Philadelphia temple is planned to be dedicated on September 18th. The will be such a great opportunity for us to invite our friends and families to enter the temple. Think about a list of people that you can invite to attend the Philadelphia open house, and in the meantime, continue to serve and love others.
Elder Dale G. Renland said in this last general conference, “ serve capably, one must serve knowing that everyone we serve ‘is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, … has a divine nature and destiny.’ To effectively serve others we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul. Only then can we sense the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children.” I think that this is the heart of true service and missionary work. This is why I want to serve a mission. I want to see others through Heavenly Father’s eyes.
I know that Heavenly Father knows each of us by name and wants us to succeed, learn, love, and come closer to Him. He loves us more than we can comprehend. I know that Christ is our Comforter and Redeemer. He suffered for our sins so that we don’t have to. He experienced all of the pains, afflictions, and temptations of the world in order to give us the strength to bear them all. I’m forever indebted to him and his sacrifice. He has given me so much; the least I can do is serve a mission for Him.
I'd further like to testify that I know that the same Gospel that Christ taught on the Earth has been restored in it’s fullness in these Latter-days by the Prophet Joseph Smith. The restored truths that we have received in the Book of Mormon are what make us different from various other churches, and they are true. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It clarifies, supports, and expands teachings found in the Bible. But don’t take my word for it. Those of you that don’t have a testimony of the Book of Mormon yet, seek one for yourself. Read the scriptures, and then get on your knees and ask Heavenly Father if it’s true. You will receive an answer. I did. I am ready to invest all of my heart, might, mind, and strength as a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because this Gospel has changed my life and the life of my family. Heavenly Father has blessed me with this knowledge of the Gospel. Now I’m ready to share it with His beloved children in Southeastern Europe. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.