Jace’s Mission Farewell Talk: Service
Good morning brothers and sisters. My name is Jace Anderson, and I have been called to serve in the Korea Daejeon Mission. I report to the Provo MTC on July 23rd, and I couldn’t be more excited. I always wanted to go to an Asian country on my mission, and now I will. Before receiving my call, I remember reading through every single mission that I could go to. I remember seeing Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, but oddly enough I don’t remember coming across a single mission in Korea. I know that Korea is where our Heavenly Father desires me to serve, and that there are people who have been prepared by our savior to hear from me.
The topic that I have been asked to speak on is service. I am sure that I will know much more about this topic after my mission, but I hope to convey some ideas about service that our Heavenly Father would have me convey. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have to speak on this topic, as I feel I have learned a lot and am better prepared for the journey I am about to go on.
As latter day saints, we are known for our cooperative efforts ever since the reorganization of Christ’s church. The pioneers honored a tradition of unselfish cooperation for the common good, and today, latter day saints are known for our modern “Helping Hands” projects, and our church’s amazing ability to almost immediately respond and assist in times of disaster and great need.
Some people blame this ability on the Church’s organization, or blind obedience by members. However, neither of these explanations is correct, as taught by Elder Oaks. Rather, it comes from our faith in Christ, the inspired teachings of our leaders, and the commitments and covenants we knowingly make.
Some latter day saints seem to place the standards and values of the world as a higher priority than selfless service. In 3 Nephi 18:18 we read…..The part that I wish to focus on is that Satan desires to sift us as wheat, meaning that he wants to make us common like those around us.
Christ taught that those who follow him should be precious and unique, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and to shine forth to all men. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “No man can be a true Latter-day Saint who is unneighborly, who does not reach out to assist and help others. It is inherent in the very nature of the gospel that we do so. My brothers and sisters, we cannot live unto ourselves.”
In Matthew 22, Christ said that the greatest commandment is “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” The second is like unto it, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We demonstrate this love by serving one another, and by serving our Father in Heaven
A wonderful example of selfless service is Mother Teresa. She taught that “one thing will always secure heaven for us-the acts of charity and kindness with which we have filled our lives. We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
While this all sounds great, it can be difficult at times to find ways to do this. I found a unique yet great way in Elder Oaks’ General Conference talk from April of 2009, titled Unselfish Service. The example he gives is our attitude in which we go to church. If we omit sayings such as, “I didn’t learn anything today,” or “I was offended,” and “The church isn’t fulfilling my needs.” We will have a much better experience. All these sayings have an underlying tone of that going to church is only for your gain.
A friend of Elder Oaks wrote, “Years ago, I changed my attitude about going to church. No longer do I go to church for my sake, but to think of others. I make a point of saying hello to people who sit alone, to welcome visitors, … to volunteer for an assignment. …"In short, I go to church each week with the intent of being active, not passive, and making a positive difference in people’s lives. Consequently, my attendance at Church meetings is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.”
I would like to challenge you all to do what this man did, to go to church looking for ways to serve others. In this, you will find greater gain for yourself as well.
Another way that we can serve is through our prayers, specifically praying for others. I recently had an amazing experience with this and it has immensely increased my testimony of prayer. This last week, my family went on vacation to Yellowstone. Out of nowhere, my dad began having terrible back spasms. He has dealt with many back issues and pains before, but he said that this was the worst pain that he has ever been in. We struggled getting him in and out of our car and also struggled watching our amazing father shaking and trembling with pain on the ground. We decided that he needed to go to the ER, which was an hour and 20 minutes away. Seeing him in so much pain simply lying on the floor, made us fear what would happen to him on such a long, uncomfortable, and painful car ride. I had not yet received the Melchizedek Priesthood at the time, so I was unable to give him a blessing. However, I was asked to offer a prayer for him. I prayed with more intent than I ever had before and asked our heavenly father, if it be his will, to remove the pain from my dad even for a short time, so that he would be able to receive the help that he desperately needed.
Against all reasonable thought, we were able to help my dad up off the floor and into the car. He traveled to the ER in relative comfort until they reached the hospital and the pain returned. I know, and my family and dad know, that my prayer, along with the prayers of many others were answered that day. My dad’s pain was taken away from him long enough for him to make it to receive treatment. I have a testimony of the amazing power of prayer and the power of our Heavenly Father and His son.
Through prayer, we can also pray to have opportunities to serve and answer the prayers of others. God truly does watch over us and wants the best for us. He does answer our prayers, I have felt that in my own life. Sometimes he gives us a direct answer, but most of the time he works in mysterious ways. One of these ways is he works through us. We may not always know that we are to answer someone’s prayer, so we must always do our best to have the spirit with us and be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I also know that if we pray for opportunities to serve, that we will receive them. Even if they are just small things. This is something that my sister, Elizabeth, taught me. While on our trip, Elizabeth said our family prayer in the morning and asked for an opportunity to serve. We went on a small hike to a waterfall, and as we were heading back up the trail, Elizabeth noticed a family struggling to get everyone in a picture. She retraced her steps and asked them if they would like her to take a picture for them. They gladly accepted. While this is a seemingly small act of service, there’s no telling how much it may have meant to that family, and what they might do to pass it on. While my sister did not do some large or great thing, in Mother Teresa’s words, she did a “small thing with great love.”
As members of Christ’s church, we have an obligation to accept callings to serve in building the kingdom of God. As we serve in these callings, we bless the lives of others. I have seen this as my own life has been blessed by the faithful magnification of callings of my leaders. I have been blessed with amazing bishops, young mens leaders, primary and Sunday school teachers, and scout leaders who have taught me and helped me decide what I want in my life. I have no idea where I would be without them, and I would like to thank all of you at this time.
Another calling which we may receive is that of becoming a missionary. Preach My Gospel states that a missionary’s purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
There is nothing in there about the missionary himself, or herself, however they always come home better than they were before. They come home more spiritually in tune, and simply better people. This is proof that service not only helps the recipient, but the servant as well.
One way in which the servant is blessed is that service increases our capacity to love. Many of you know that I went on a humanitarian trip to India last Fall. This truly amazing experience opened my eyes to the connection between service and love. For the entirety of my time in India, I focused on others. I saw the needs of the beautiful people I met, and did my best to fill them. I also came to love these people faster and more than I ever thought I could. It is amazing how much I love these people and how much I miss them. While they were some of the best all around people I’ve ever met, I know that I came to love them as much as I did because I was serving them. Service increases our capacity to love. I know this to be true. I also know that service can be a good fix to struggles that we may be having in our relationships with family and others. If we take the time to serve those people, and do so with a good attitude, we will be able to see the good in them and grow to love them.
When I came home from India, I was talking to my grandparents, who are now serving a mission in the Cook Islands, about my experiences. I told them of how much I grew to love the people. They told me that I got a little taste of what it is like to be on a mission. I know that while I am serving the people of Korea, I will grow to love them more than I can imagine right now. My experience in India was only 2 weeks long, but my mission will be 2 years. I cannot wait to feel the same feelings I had in India again, and for a much longer period of time.