|Photo taken by the wonderful - Fabiana Beatriz Photography|
I want to start out by telling all of you here how much I love you and am grateful for the role you each have played in my life and getting me here today. Some bigger than others but each of you individually have strengthened me in some type of way.
Bishop Biberston asked me to talk about how the words of the prophets have blessed me in my life. I ‘ll be honest, when I heard this topic I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t the topic that I thought I wanted. As I gave this topic a lot of thought I have grown to really realize that the words of the prophets has blessed my life a lot more than I had originally thought. As I came up with so many different ways I could take this topic I did struggle with choosing which experiences and stories to share with you all today. So I might be jumping all over the place here but just bear with me because I am a little scatter brained!
First I had to think of why we have prophets and what is their purpose? Quoted by Sister Carol F. McConkie in the talk ‘Live according to the Words of the Prophets’ has said…
“Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children and desires that they know and understand His plan of happiness. Therefore, he calls prophets, those who have been ordained with power and authority to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. They are messengers of righteousness, witnesses of Jesus Christ and the infinite power of His atonement. They hold the keys of the kingdom of God on earth and authorize the performance of saving ordinances.”
We as followers and believers in Christ sustain President Thomas S. Monson as today’s prophet, seer, and revelator. We also sustain the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. When we sustain them we are in harmony with heavens divine purposes and we choose to live according to their words. Again Sister. McConkie said, “In the prophets words we hear the voice of the Lord and we feel the Savior’s love.” In Doctrine and Covenants section 1 verse 38 it says, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
How special is that?! That we can feel our Savior’s love all the way down here on earth just by words. I love it. The world we live in today is crawling with the adversary and Satan will do absolutely anything he can to change you, delay you, or keep you. Whatever our weaknesses may be, Satan knows them and will use them against us. Not only can he take our weaknesses and make them weaker but he can also take down our strengths. Only through Christ’s Atonement can our weaknesses be made strong.
At points in my life I have felt weak and in these moments I felt the adversary cloud around me. It was dark and I was empty inside. It is not a feeling or a state of living that our Father wishes upon his children. But I have never doubted that my Savior was standing behind me the entire time waiting for me to turn around. The Atonement is real and it saves lives! There is not one of God’s children that is too far gone.
When I was at LDS Business college this past year going to school, I had a business lecture series class where we would have a different speaker come talk to us about the business world and how we can become great workers or leaders. A man named Elder Russell came to speak to us. He was my favorites out of the entire year. He told us that we could not be successful without realizing who we were and what our purpose here on earth was. He really emphasized created strong relationships and making sure we had our heart in whatever we were doing because that will bring success. Toward the end of the hour, he began to leave us with his testimony of the gospel and the Atonement. He told us that ‘Opportunities should never be lost, because they can never be regained.’ And that we should never stop trying because he said, ‘ It is NEVER too late to rebuild yourself. It is only too late when you are 6 feet under.’
I feel like he was relating this to the Atonement. There is not one of God’s children that is too far gone in this life. If we take every opportunity to improve and change ourselves to be like Christ; He will always have room for us. I can testify that the Atonement is for everyone and that it can transform you.
Elder Utchdorf said, “This church is not for perfect people. It is for people like you and me to come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”
It is important that we use the Atonement daily to perfect ourselves and constantly strive to be better than the day before. If we become complacent in our daily lives, that is when we become weak and when we are weak, Satan is notified and comes straight for us. The word of God is the ancient and modern day word that we should be diving into in order to protect our families and ourselves.
We have had prophets since the beginning of time starting with Adam. But it is vital for our life that we listen and obey to the words of our modern day prophets. As Elder Claudio Costa has stated the “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” started with saying; First, The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything. Second, The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works and Third, the living prophet is more important to us today than a dead prophet.
Directed to the youth here today I want to tell you how important listening to the Prophet and his apostles are. Take notes during general conference, keep a conference journal, read or listen to old conference talks that may have a popping title to you; do all that you can to keep your foundation firm. Trust me, I know time gets away from all of us. Days go by and I think what did I do today to strengthen my relationship with my Savior? Often the answer will be not enough…
But if we do something little each day to strengthen us, we will soon have a craving for it. We will create a spiritual hunger for the word and the Lord with answer our prayers. I direct this to the youth because I didn’t realize how important the modern day word was until I left for college. I went to college not knowing that I had been holding on to my mother’s testimony my entire life. I basically had a choice either to be weak or make myself stronger. I started setting goals and really thinking about where I wanted to see myself in the next couple of years. I started to create strong habits of prayer and scripture study because I didn’t have that before. I made a goal to never miss church and to read my patriarchal blessing at least once a week. I started small because I didn’t know what to expect but I began to see changes instantly. I soon had a plan for my life and I had faith that some part of that plan would work. Because we all know that plans never are perfect because “someone else” has something better in mind. But I held tight to my faith.
In October, General Conference came around and I really didn’t pray for any answers to my questions but I wanted to be reassured that I was doing the right things in my life. Dieter F. Uchtdorf has always been one of my favorites to listen to during conference and this specific talk that he gave on Saturday morning, gave me so much direction and reassurance that I needed. He gave us an experiment or some simple guidelines to live by given to us from God. It has four steps…
First, you must search the word of God by reading the scriptures and studying the words of the ancient as well as modern day prophets. If we do this with a sincere desire and are prepared then we are promised to discover truth.
Second, you must consider, ponder, fearlessly strive to believe, and be grateful for how merciful the Lord has been to His children by providing prophets, seers, and revelators to lead us back to him.
Third, you must ask your Heavenly Father to manifest the truth of the gospel unto you. Ask with a sincere heart and with real intent, having faith in Christ.
And lastly, when trying to verify the truth of these gospel principles given to you, then you must first live by them. And endure well.
If we live by these principles and believe they are true we are promised from our Father in Heaven, “greater light that will allow us to look through the darkness and witness unimaginable glorious vistas incomprehensible to mortal sight.”
This talk stuck with me and helped me create the testimony that I was searching for. As I studied the scriptures and the latter day word from the prophets I was blessed with being able to recognize the Holy Ghost guiding me in my decisions. I saw the Lords hands working in my life day after day and placing different people and opportunities to help me strengthen myself. Here I am today, giving my farewell talk before I go serve an 18-month mission away from my family and friends. Even just a year ago I would have never thought I would be standing here. I can truly testify to you today that President Thomas S. Monson is a man called by God to lead and guide us in this latter- day. I believe that all his apostles are as well and I believe that Heavenly Father inspired Elder Uchtdorf what to say that day because he knows me and because he knew I needed those words.
I believe that if we aren’t consistent with finding opportunities to strengthen our testimonies and creating a stronger, firmer foundation for our families and ourselves that we will find ourselves in days of emptiness. Without the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives we feel empty. And if you feel that you are at a point of emptiness in your life, I invite you to open up your heart to the spirit and pray to your father in heaven and read your scriptures. I promise you will be filled with joy.
I would like to end with a scripture from Helaman 5:12
[12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.]
This scripture gives me so much strength and testifies the truth. I know how strong Satan is when he attacks us but he is never stronger then us. He has the power to bruise our heels but WE have the power to crush his head. I know that if we build firm foundations in this gospel by feasting upon the modern word of the prophets that we will be able to withstand the adversary forever.
I want to leave with you my testimony of this gospel that I know it to be true. I know that if we live according to the prophets that we will be happy because that is how God intended this life to be. I know this life is hard but it is so dang good!! We are so blessed to be members of this church. We are so blessed to know the plan of salvation so that we can be saved!
I am grateful for the opportunity to go serve in California and meet people that I was meant and prepared to meet. That is what I think is so cool about missions. Is that wherever you are assigned is truly inspired by God and you are called there for a reason. I know that there are families and individuals in California waiting for me and they don’t even know it. And I am going to share with them that living this gospel is fun and brings so much happiness that I can’t even put into words.
I am grateful for my family and I love them dearly. But it all comes back to my Heavenly Father because he placed me in this family. I am so lucky that I will be with them for eternity. But for now, 18 months will do us well.
I wish you all success and I hope you are happy and have good days. Thank you for coming.
I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.