Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Michael's Farewell Talk

Missionary Farewell Speech
D&C 4

I have been given the honor to speak to you today on D&C 4. It is amazing to me that a chapter that has only 7 verses can be very effective. Because it’s only 7 verses I’d like to read them to you.
1 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4 For behold the afield is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

I believe this chapter has many special meanings to each of us. Today I’d like to tell what my heart has told me what this scripture means to me. There are two things that really came to mind while reading this; “You don’t need to wear a name tag to be a missionary,” and “the affects of a Missionary when he has a full heart of desire.”
While I was reading D&C I noticed that it does not say anything about you have to be a missionary to spread the gospel to people. It says in verse 3 “…if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;” Over the years I have watched the young men and young women in this ward both living and sharing the gospel with their friends, families and neighbors. I applaud them for how faithful they are, they are already being missionaries just by being great examples to people all around them.
I believe that little children have my vote for best missionaries. Every single fast Sunday I see little primary children including sunbeams race up here to bear their testimony. They meekly share their knowledge of what they know is true. I figure if they were allowed, they would send them instead of us 19 year old men.
You do not have to wear a name tag to do the Lord’s work. You do not have to be knocking on their door and asking if they would like to hear the gospel. It can be as simple as a young man going over to a neighbor and mowing their lawn. Or just being a friend to another and being an example. There are multiple things you can do. Even though it may seem that nothing is happening now, you are planting the seed for that person and one day they will know the truth of this gospel, thanks to you. I believe that we are supposed to do this before we go on a mission. There is no better way to prepare for your mission than being a missionary before you leave. I can testify that it truly works.
I have a friend that is a great buddy to have supported me all the way these past years. One day he told me that he was struggling with whether or not he was going to choose to go on a mission. Now I truly cared for my friend and I knew that I couldn’t say that you have to or I can’t be friends, or push him to go. No, I told him that whatever choice he made on the matter I would support him 100% and back him up for it. I told him that I would be sad not to hear him go, but he would still be my good friend forever. As time went on we stayed good friends. A few months later we were working together and we got into talking about missionary things again. This time however he gave me a different response. He told me “Mike you realize we will not see each other for like 4 years?” I looked at him with a puzzled expression and I said “Why’s that?” “Cause we’re going on missions? Duh!” He then explained how I played a role in his decision on choosing to serve a mission as well as other decisions in his life that he needed to change for the better. I was filled with joy that day. Though I won’t be here for his farewell, I will be here for his homecoming, when my dear friend is able to return with honor.
The other feeling I received while I was reading D&C 4 was how much a missionary can affect someone by having a burning desire to spread the word of the gospel. I would like to share a short story about one missionary that affected one person and caused great happiness not only to her life, but the lives of many others. Through her missionary conversion many other people were influenced because a 19 year old young man had a desire to serve the Lord and preach his gospel. 31 years ago, Elder Scheinder knocked on a door in the town of Charlestown, South Carolina where he met a young woman who was interested in hearing his words. As they went through the discussions this young woman knew in her heart that this was the true church of Jesus Christ. She was later baptized by Elder Scheinder. Years later after she was baptized she met a young man who she fell in love with. Though he loved her and wished for hand in marriage, she could not and told him that she would only get married in the house of the Lord. She became an influence on this young man, as Elder Scheinder had with his full heart towards her. A while later the young man after hearing the missionary discussions was also baptized. As the years passed they had children, four to be exact. The couple continued to be active members of the church. Guiding, teaching, and directing their children in the ways of the Lord. All of the family members have remained faithful to this day. Two are now sealed in the Temple to returned missionaries, and very happy together. And now this mom’s son is going on a mission to do what Elder Scheinder did for this woman. That young woman is my mother. Elder Scheinder blessed my mother and her posterity when he came with a full heart on his mission to teach her. But that is only a portion of how he blessed her through his missionary service.
President Eyring in this month’s Ensign said this “…Because we in our family accepted that invitation from the missionaries, I was blessed to perform the baptism of a widow in her 80s, taught by sister missionaries. When I placed my hands on her head to confirm her a member of the Church, I felt impressed to say that her choice to be baptized would bless generations of her family, after and before her. Even after she passed away, I was able to be in the temple with her son as he was sealed to her.”
Becoming a member and having your posterity be greatly blessed is only one side of the story. The affect of a missionary is like a water ripple, it goes in all directions. It does not only bless our family posterity but also our families that have passed away, no matter how long ago. Because we have been given the opportunity to go and do baptisms for the dead and temple work for them, we are able to seal families together for eternity. Every time one person accepts the gospel, they are blessed for your knowledge of the gospel and accepting it.
Before my little sister Rachel was born my parents were trying to find a name they wanted to name her. One day both of them got the impression in their mind Emeline. My parents named my little sister Rachel Emeline Harken, three years after Rachel was born my mother was doing genealogy work and found that she had an ancestor named “Emeline.” My mother was able to bless her ancestor through her own conversion of the church.
All these blessing to my mother came because, Elder Scheinder had a full desire to serve along with the characteristics found in verse 5 which are faith, hope, charity, and love. I believe that Elder Scheinder did not realize how great his impact as a missionary did for ONE person. So I thank him for his righteous heart and his desire to serve honorably with a full heart for my mother. His example and willingness to serve is the reason I am able to stand before you today. Through baptizing my mother, Elder Schiender helped lead the way to me becoming a missionary.
Brothers and sisters I have one more desire today that I feel the spirit prompting me to say about missionary work. I know it is where I need to be right now. Yesterday I was extremely lucky to be able to go up to Salt Lake City and go through the temple. The experience was amazing. While I was in the temple; I felt an impression, Happiness but not any kind of happiness, the love of my father in heaven. There in that temple I knew one important thing when I left. For the first time EVER in my life, I knew EXACTLY why I need to go serve my mission in South Korea. Because I want those people to FEEL the love of the Lord as I was able to feel it in the temple yesterday. I want them, all of them, to be able and go to the temple and feel the love of our Father in heaven. I want them to feel and recognize how much he truly loves each and every one of them, each and every one of us. That is why I have a strong desire to go on a mission.
While at the Provo temple I pulled out the scriptures and just happened to open up to Isaiah and had the feeling to share it with you. Isaiah 61 1-3 reads
" 1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
This is my favorite scripture about missionary work. This scripture can actually be cross referenced with D&C 4. Brothers and sisters I know for a fact that this mission is not going to be a walk in the park. I have been called from the lord to go serve Him, and his beloved children for two years. As Nephi 3:7 says “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” And I know that I will be discouraged time and time again. But as D&C 4 says in 6-7
6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
If I ask of the Lord he will give me the strength that I am lacking. There is no doubt in my mind that he will always be with me and my companions throughout my entire mission. D&C 84:88 reads

88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Brothers and sisters the field is white and ready to be harvested. I'd like to bear my testimony to you all. (Michael then bore his testimony. It was "epic". You'll have to wait for him to get back to listen to his sweet testimony.

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