I have been called to the Alpine German-Speaking mission which covers the southern part of Germany, Austria, most of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and a tiny town in Italy. I report to the England MTC in one and half short weeks.
Just about two years ago I had the same opportunity to be on this stand, but that time it was for Eli’s farewell and I was still the youth speaker. I promise that I don’t love speaking in church enough to remember every time I speak, but I think that day stood out in my memory because there were sooo many people for Eli, and I was terrified. Well, that hasn’t changed much for today… but now I’m in Eli’s shoes and I CANNOT wait to have similar experiences to the ones Eli has had the past two years.
The other day, as I was just driving down Hollow Springs Drive when I saw Eli pull out on his bike. My first reaction was, “wow, it didn’t take long for Eli to miss his bike.” And the second thing I noticed was how happy Eli looked. Though that may just be a Hansgen thing. Nah, this gospel brings happiness, and Eli’s at the peak of that.
So, the two things I am most excited to teach about on my mission is the happiness that comes from living the gospel, and the principle of eternal families. But since eternal families will make me cry even more than this talk will, I’m going to share some thoughts on my first favorite thing about the Gospel.
Light and Darkness have been symbols used in our culture to represent good and bad for decades. Young children are scared of the dark. Villains in movies are often associated with the dark, like Maleficent, Lord Voldemort, or Darth Vader. After all, why do you think it’s called the dark side of the force? Bad guys are usually dressed in black and the visual effects when they appear elicit pain and fear. Many portrayals of Satan do the same thing. Compare that to when the hero (Prince Charming, Harry Potter, or Luke Skywalker) come in and bright lights appear on screen, happy music plays and there is a feeling of hope, and happiness. In most pictures of Christ, from many different religions, he has a halo surrounding his head or his body. This is because Christ is the light; he is the good. He is the hero and savior of the day who brings happiness to everyone.
Chapter four of Preach My Gospel explains that the “spirit of Christ” and the “light of Christ” are often used interchangeably. As Moroni 7:16 explains, “The Spirit (or light) of Christ is given to every man that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for everything which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ; wherefore he may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.” The light of Christ is given to everyone! He gives us his light because we wants us to be able to discern good from evil, and he hopes we will choose to do good. He gives us his light in hopes that we will recognize that the good in the world is from Him. That the happiness we feel from helping others, and making good choices is also from Him. But what good does it do knowing about the light of Christ, and knowing about the happiness that comes from it, without sharing it.
In Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:14-16 he says, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Now the line, “Ye are the light of the world,” can be kind of confusing. Yes, Christ is the light. But remember when I just said that we should be sharing that light with others? We can share His light, through us through our actions.
Christ did good his whole life. He served and loved everyone around his whole ministry. Everything he did was for the good of the Jews, Israelites, Philistines, you name it. From sun-up to sun-down from the age of 12 until he died, Christ served the people around him. If Jesus can dedicate his entire life to the people isn’t it a small thing to ask to serve the people around us in our everyday lives? To shine his light and bring that happiness to them? When someone serves you, aren’t you happy? And more often, when you serve someone else, aren’t you happy? Well brothers and sisters, that’s the light of Christ. That’s the Spirit of Christ.
Joseph B. Wirthlin taught in the October 1978 General Conference, that each member “must take advantage of every opportunity to testify of the Savior, [by] letting his light so shine before friends and strangers alike to perpetuate the truth concerning our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
If we remember the great example Christ is for us, of loving and serving others, isn’t loving and serving others a testimony of the Savior? I believe so.
I recently heard someone compliment the Church by recognizing how much service the youth do. They wanted to understand what the church did to get the youth participating in service activities. Well, even though I didn’t really know the answer at the time, in the process of writing this talk, I think I came to a much better understanding of what it is. And it isn’t just our church. It’s the same reason most churches perform so much service. But because the LDS church is the only one I have experience with, I’ll just talk from my perspective. I love the Lord. I love his children. I love the happiness I feel when I am serving his Children and testifying of Jesus Christ. These principles have been taught to me from a very young age, and because I love it so much, I have chosen to dedicate the next 18 months as an ambassador for him.
I am dedicating every single moment of my life to testifying of Christ. To bringing happiness into people’s lives through testifying of Jesus Christ, through serving and loving them. Particularly, those hard-headed Germans.
A mission has always been something that I wanted to do. Growing up, I loved hearing stories from my dad’s mission and I particularly looked up to my aunts that served missions. I wanted to serve, but didn’t know if it was part of the plan Heavenly Father had for me. And as horrible as this sounds, I had decided to serve a mission if I turned 21 and I didn’t have anything else in my sights. So like many girls, in October 2012 when I heard president Monson say, “that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.” My plans for the future immediately changed. I was determined to serve a mission. I was soo excited and enthusiastic to serve the Lord. Last year at about this same time I watched as all my friends from high school were receiving their mission calls, preparing to serve, and giving their farewell talks. I was preparing to move to Provo for school and just kept hearing stories of sisters who were a little too enthusiastic when President Monson changed the missionary age, and they left without really knowing if a mission was what Heavenly father wanted for them.
I really put my back into studying about missionary work in hopes that I could receive an answer to my question, whether or not Heavenly Father wanted me to serve as much as I did. Because I’m not the most patient person ever, I became frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was receiving an answer to my prayer. Now I can look back and recognize that the Spirit reminded me during that time that answers don’t always come when we want them to, and that a patient heart with a question will receive an answer.
Last August I had a job working at BYU’s library, and because I didn’t live down there yet, I would take the front runner every day. I had a lot of thinking, and studying time. Then at the end of august, right before I was supposed to move to school, I was driving home from the front runner station, when I received my answer. This is from a little slip of paper that I wrote down my experience and slid over to my parents during sacrament meeting right after this happened. “While I was thinking of this the scripture D&C 4:3 (which is “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” popped into my head. But I didn’t know the exact wording or the reference in the scriptures. I’ve realized more and more while thinking of this that because I have the desire to serve, the Lord wants that for me also. The Lord wants what I want (as long as it’s good and will bring me closer to Him.) I think this scripture really answers my question... So maybe this is the scripture Heavenly Father is teaching me about a mission with.”
That same week I read through my patriarchal blessing and just like it often does. I reinforced my answer. There is a line that reads, “You are to progress, in your Heavenly Father’s Kingdom, by helping to seek out those who are ready and prepared to receive the gospel.” I know that because I have a desire to serve, the Spirit and Lord will help me learn German, now what to teach, and will comfort me when I am missing home.
I know a mission has been planned for me since before I was born. I know this, because I have been taught well in the Gospel by my leaders, teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, and brothers. I am going to miss my family and friends so much, but my excitement and enthusiasm to serve is overwhelming.
Brothers and Sisters, I know this Church is true. I know Jesus Christ died to atone for my sins. I know that through Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father’s plan I can be forgiven of my sins and I can live with them through for eternity. I know that I will be able to live with my family for all eternity through the Savior’s plan. I know Joseph Smith restored the gospel to the earth. I know Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet. I know that through following the Lord’s and modern day prophet’s commandments I can be truly happy.
L. Tom Perry once said, “You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.” Brothers and Sisters, that fire is burning in my soul. I cannot wait to help light that fire in the souls of others. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.