Sunday, October 5, 2014

mission farewell

Forgiving Others:
 Good morning brothers and sisters, as many of you know I will be serving a mission in the coming days and have been called to serve the wonderful people of Aguascalientes Mexico for two years and am very excited. I was asked by Brother Seymour to speak on forgiving others and the scripture I was given was D&C 64 9-11 (Read Scripture). Now the first question that came to me was how can we forgive so easily and also forget. Through my research I found a talk by Marion D Hanks and his answer was simple, but I feel is the exact answer of how and why we forgive others, Love. In Elder Hanks talk he shares one of Christ’s last messages which was, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.” Now if we are true friends of Christ then why would forgiving others be difficult for some and why can’t they have love in their hearts?  Someone has written: “… the withholding of love is the negation of the spirit of Christ, the proof that we never knew him, that for us he lived in vain. It means that he suggested nothing in all our thoughts, that he inspired nothing in all our lives that we were not once near enough to him to be seized with the spell of his compassion for the world.” When I read this I felt an immense power witness of the truthfulness of this statement, and that we as God’s children cannot afford to negate ourselves from his love if we to want to be called not only friends of Jesus Christ, but brothers and sisters of our Savior. To illustrate this point I have a personal experience that goes perfectly. During my senior year I came in to contact with all sorts of people. Few of which I called friends and acquaintances. One day I went shopping with friends to go and buy a new pair of shoes. We went to the store and the first pair I saw I bought it was an easy trip. Driving back to my house though we began having a conversation about my radio not working and one of those two friends said something to me that greatly offended me. I didn’t let her know, and instead I let it grow and fester in my mind and in my heart for the next few days until finally I unleashed an assault of hateful and rude things and demanded an apology for the words that had been said. By doing this though I had only made the situation worse and created even more of a problem with my friend. Now to speed the story up I forgave her and she forgave me, but I first had to humble myself and realize that the feelings of hate were cutting me off form the presence of the holy ghost and most important my Father in Heaven. I learned firsthand that when we withhold love from others we can no longer have the spirt present. This experience changed my thoughts toward those that have wronged me, I no longer feel hate and anger, but love because I want them to know that I love them and also want both of us to feel the spirit again. There is another personal experience that I would also like to share that taught more of forgiveness. I again was with a friend this one though being very close to me. We were driving home from a practice for our graduation ceremony. We began discussing our plans for the night and how our families would be involved. I then said something I knew as soon as it left my mouth was wrong and shouldn’t have ever been said. My friend immediately dropped me of at my house and left upset, angry and disappointed that I had let her down with my rude and ill-mannered phrase. After she dropped me off I thought about what I said and knew that it was wrong and just hoped that she could find it in her heart to forgive me. Shortly after she had dropped me off she came back to my home and asked that we could talk about what I said. I began to ask for her forgiveness, but little did I know that she had already forgotten what I said and had forgiven me because she loved me. How great an example of love she is to me especially because she is so close to me and to know that she did not harbor feelings of hate, but love. Sometimes though I think we forget that the most important people to forgive and love is our self. There is a Mormon Message I like that is a perfect example of this. I am just going to summarize for the sake of time, but a man begins by telling his story of how he was a complete and total mess from drugs and alcohol and had been sent to prison twice in one year. In prison he came to the conclusion that this was God’s way of telling him he needed to change. He prayed with sincerity that night and asked how he could possibly be forgiven when he heard this answer “Mark it’s because I love you.” Shortly after his release he went to BYU and had some bad experiences he relapsed with drugs and got involved in a robbery. He hid in a bush outside as the cops gathered around the store, and began to think of how he could have robbed this individual and the fear he saw in the eyes of those he had robbed form. He was almost about to take his life when he said the world stopped and that same voice spoke again saying, “I’m still here”. To speed the story along he turned himself in and spent another nine years in prison, but said that it was worth it, because he knows now that his Savior lives and loves him immensely. He now lives happily with his wife and son Ammon. From this experience I learned so much that not only should we forgive and love our self no matter what, but that our Savior loves us no matter what our faults and weaknesses are. As members we should realize that we are not perfect, but that we can be perfect through the example and atonement of Jesus Christ our savior who loves us and forgave us of our sins and weaknesses. I believe that once we forgive not only are we making our self more Christ like, but we ourselves begin to enjoy the world around us. We see everyone as our brother and our sister of our Heavenly Father and can truly be happy and have joy in our hearts. When we forgive we are able to focus everything that we have on the building up of the Kingdom of God and to be a true friend and family member to Jesus Christ. There is another story I would like to share with you now which I believe will build upon the commandment of forgiving.
My Big Brother
When I was just a small child, I had a favorite big brother. He was great to me. He'd put his big arm around me and we'd go scampering down some cool dirt path. At times like this I felt ten feet tall. He didn't seem to mind me tagging along one bit, and there was nothing I liked better. 

I was so proud of him! When I was with him I felt like I was beaming stronger than the sun. He was good at everything. I never could seem to match the mountains he made out of sand. Mine always seemed to crumble and sag, but his would stand as firm as the Rocky Mountains. 

Dad always tried not to show how proud he was of him...him being the oldest and all, but his smile always seemed to be a bit brighter when my big brother came around. 

I felt that my world had collapsed when he went on his mission. Dad and Mom both had to fight back the tears. He called Dad and Mom regularly and let us know how much he loved us. He even told us about how great his mission was, so Mom wouldn't worry. 

The persecution was really bad there as the church was just getting started. But he never seemed to let himself get down, even though the people wouldn't believe his message. We'd all share in his joy when he'd get some new converts, but I don't mind saying that I was scared that the nonbelievers would do something to him. It even got to the point where men were plotting to take his life. But Dad never seemed to be worried for some reason. 

Then one day we received word that his mission had ended, but not as most men's do. I was struck by the terrifying news. 

They finally got hold of my brother. The big brother that I had played with. The one who never seemed capable of doing anything wrong. My big brother who loved everyone he knew, and who most everyone loved. 

They beat him and mocked him. He suffered all they did to him without striking back. Why would anyone want to hurt my big brother? I couldn't understand. 

A mob took him to a hill just outside of town, and spitting on him, they nailed him alive to a cross. My soul moaned as I heard that he begged father to forgive them. Racked with unbearable pain, he gave up his life for what he believed. My big brother, my king, my idol was dead. I cried though what seemed to be the darkest day of my life. Where was my big brother with whom I had shaped mountains of sand? Why did he of all my brothers have to die like this? 

Time passed and I was called on my mission. Sometimes I forget what happened so long ago, but every Sunday a small piece of bread and a small cup of water remind me of what my big brother did for me and assures me that he yet lives.
 The part I would like to highlight though is the part where Christ’s love shines through the most and that is when he forgives those who are crucifying him. I try to imagine how painful and how much hate and anger he could have had toward his brothers and sisters who were crucifying him, but instead he loved them enough to go and to atone for the sins of mankind. I cannot wait to share this same message with the people of Mexico and to teach them of the love that both their God and Savior Jesus Christ have for them
Bear Testimony, In the name of Jesus Christ


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