Sunday, May 22, 2016

Abby's Farewell

Good morning everyone.  This is actually kind of crazy that it is finally my Farewell.  I just wanted to start off by thanking all of my family, friends, and ward family for being here today and for supporting me and helping me throughout my life to get to this point.  I actually have always thought about serving a mission but probably the first time it really hit me was during my 3rd year at EFY.  For one of the activities we each chose a companion and were assigned to study a lesson from the Preach my Gospel Manuel.  We then got together with another companionship and had the opportunity to be missionaries as well as investigators.  The spirit was so strong and I thought to myself, “ Maybe I can do this.”  As time passed, my cousins and friends began serving missions.  I loved reading their letters and writing to them.  I could see what a blessing serving a mission would be.  As most of you know throughout High School, I was involved in a performing group that took a goodwill tour every summer.  My senior year our tour was to Hawaii.  One of our days on the island was spent at Camp Taylor, which is a camp for families that have children who suffer from heart defects. When we first arrived, the children were a little shy but as we started eating dinner with them, they really opened up.  We were able to perform for them, which they loved and after our performance we had a dance and were able to visit with the families.  I grew particularly close to one family that had 6 children and spent most of my evening with them.  Before tour we had learned the song I Know That My Heavenly Father Loves Me and on tour we were able to sing it many times.  Every time we sang this song I felt the spirit.  When it was time to leave Camp Taylor I was so sad because I had loved being with this family but after we said goodbye, the spirit truly testified to me that the words to this song were true and I knew that Heavenly Father loved this family and me.  During our testimony meeting that night I had thought about what my Patriarchal Blessing had said about the Lord giving me the opportunity to serve a mission and I knew that was what I wanted and needed to do. 
So here I am! The bishopric asked me to refer to the Conference talk, To the Rescue: We Can Do It, given by Elder Arnold as I prepared my talk.  Elder Arnold reminds us that, “The Lord has provided all the tools necessary for us to go to the rescue of our less-active and non-member friends.”  President Monson has often expressed that we are, “surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness – be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers.”  He said, “We are the Lords hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children.  He is dependent upon each of us.”  When we reach out in love and service even in the smallest ways, hearts are changed and softened as others feel the love of the Lord.  Elder Arnold shared four Principles that can help each of us in our rescue efforts.  The first one is that we must not delay going to the rescue.  For some of us missionary work is not easy and can even feel uncomfortable, but President Hinckley taught that every member of the Church has the capacity to teach the gospel to nonmembers if we are aware of the great power that we have to do this thing, second, a desire, and third, the faith to try.  During my time in Provo, I had two roommates that are converts to the church.  I loved listening to their conversion stories and always tried to be a good example to them.  They were so grateful to their friends who talked to them about the gospel and that had the faith to try.  I was able to go through the Las Vegas Temple with one of them for the first time and she is actually giving her farewell talk today too!  It makes me realize how much she loves the gospel and wants to share it with others and hopefully one day her family will accept it as well.  The world today needs the power of pure testimony.  It needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if the world is to hear that gospel, there must be messengers to teach it.  Elder Arnold explains that, “while we must be organized in our councils, quorums, auxiliaries, and even as individuals, we must not delay going to the rescue.  Sometimes many weeks pass as we talk about how to help families or individuals who are in special need.  We deliberate about who will visit them and the approach to take. Meanwhile, our lost brothers and sisters continue needing and sometimes even calling and pleading for help.  We must not delay.
Principle two is that we must never give up.  My grandma grew up in a part member family where her dad was a member and her mother wasn’t.  They always went to church and my great-grandma was supportive but she didn’t feel the need to be baptized.  Her caretaker Moana who is here today, and also made me this beautiful lei, couldn’t believe that she still wasn’t a member of the church and so she began having the missionaries over for dinner weekly and they began to teach her the discussion.  Eventually my great-grandma at age 89 was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Our family is eternally grateful to Moana for not giving up and understanding the concept that it is never too late.  President Hinckley wants us to remember that, “This is a gospel of good news. This is a message of joy.  It is a work of eternal salvation; this is something to be happy and excited about.”
The third principle given by Elder Arnold is How great shall be your joy if you bring save it be one soul unto Christ. Love is of the essence of this missionary work.  Selflessness is of its very nature.  We are to go forward with faith and without fear.  We have so much to do in this world to spread the influence of this gospel.  President Hinckley was convinced that there are many many thousands who, with warmth and welcome, can be led to the eternal truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are looking for something better than they have.  In the Doctrine and Covenants section 15 verse 6 it reads, And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my father.  I am so excited to have been called to serve the people in Paraguay and to have the opportunity to teach them about this gospel and the joy that it can bring to them for eternity. 
The fourth and final principle that Elder Arnold shares is that no matter our age, we are called to go to the rescue.  President Henry B. Eyring declared, “Whatever our age, capacity, church, calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help [the Savior] in His harvest of souls until He comes again.”  Each day more and more of our children, our youth, our young single adults, and our adult members of all ages are heeding the Saviors clarion call to go to the rescue.  This work is nothing of which we need be ashamed.  It is something in which we can take great pride.  Missionary work is a work of love and trust.  We can never hold within ourselves the great blessings of light and truth which have come to us from the Almighty.  Ours is an obligation, a serious responsibility to carry to the world the great good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ours is truly a message of hope and reconciliation.  It is a word of hope for all mankind, a beacon of eternal truth to which men may look as they lift their eyes and souls to their creator and in the process come to recognize their common brotherhood. 
I know this church is true and I love this gospel with all of my heart.  I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and a Savior who was willing to die for us so that we can return to live with them someday.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and I am so excited to share it with those that I am able to teach in Paraguay.  I love the Temple and am so grateful that our families can be together forever.  I am going to miss my family a lot but I loved this quote from President Hinckley that says, “You will shed more tears when you leave to go home than you shed when you left home to come here...”  And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

Abby felt so happy on the day of her farewell! Her family and friends love her and she could feel that from everyone that was there!

We are so grateful for the great example that Abby has always been to her family..especially to her brothers!

Abby has been so blessed to live by her grandparents! They have always been there for her!

Living by both sets of grandparents is such a blessing! They have a special relationship and Abby knows how much they love her!

Abby was so excited to be reunited with Moana! She was also ecstatic that Moana made her a homemade lei!

Abby loves her Aunt Kristin and cousin Lauren!

So happy that Aunt Jodee and Uncle Mike could share this special day with Abby! We are so happy that Jodee moved back home!

Blessed with more family! Uncle Gordon & Aunt Linda

One of Abby's favorites!  She calls her Aunt Jen!

Abby has grown up with Emily & Jacob! Cousins make the best friends!

Just a few of the older cousins! We have the best family!

Returned Missionary Emily...Future Missionary Abby!

Bestie since birth!

Upstage is awesome!

Abby with the three stooges haha! 

Such fun friends from Upstage!

The Kellers! Abby will never forget Camp Taylor!

Beautiful girls..inside and out!

This was taken for Caroline! Abby loves the Hilton family!

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