So I was gonna start this off by confusing you all by talking in portuguese... Turns out I don't know how to speak it either... Good Morning brothers and sisters, for those of you who don't know me my name is Parker Hamrick and I am about to be leaving on a mission to serve in the Fortaleza East Brazil mission. That's why I am here today. I just want to start by saying thank you, thank you all for helping me get to this point in my life. Whether it be my church leaders, family, or just friends, thank you. Also thank you for coming here to listen to my farewell, hopefully you won't regret it. So everyone starts their talk by saying "I was asked to give my talk on... __Blank__." Well i can't say that because I wasn't given a topic. So you will just have to see what I decided to talk about. It will peek your interest and keep you awake... maybe.
As long as I can remember I have always wanted to be someone who changes peoples lives. I figured it would probably have something to do with my career, it may, who knows. Only time will tell. I decided to make to make that my main goal for my mission (besides actually being able to understand and communicate in portuguese). I want to change peoples lives. That is basically what missionary work is. Providing people with truth and opportunities to change their lives.
There are so many different ways that you could look at this. One way would be through service. Over the summer I had the opportunity to work in apartment renovation and repairs. We would go through apartments after they had been evicted and clean out all the trash they had left behind. After we did that we would go through and fix everything thats wrong with the apartment, like painting, fixing doors, windows, screen doors, and everything in the kitchen. So it was just a normal day and we were headed to a place that was going to be evicted. We walked in and EVERYTHING was left in the apartment, it looked like they had just left their house and went to work, which they probably did. Turns out that the husband had not told the wife that they were being evicted. So we start taking everything in their house out to the curb. we are about a third of the way through and it starts pouring rain. Everything that we were taking out was basically getting ruined. Eventually members of the family started to show up extremely upset and loading up their cars with valuable stuff. This was one of the hardest experiences I've ever had. Being the bad guy in a situation without even having a choice. I was ruining their stuff and theres no way that I could help. The husband showed up with a moving truck when we were about 2/3 done with taking everything out. As soon as he came with the moving truck some missionaries came by. They had no clue who the people were or what the situation was, but they stopped to help. The family was extremely grateful for the service. The missionaries provided a way to change those people lives in so many ways if they would just realize it. They provided them a service that they couldn't really do by themselves. Another thing they did was provide them with a little bit of truth by leaving them with a Book of Mormon before they left. Maybe that didn't change their lives right at that moment. But who knows what the Lord has in store for them down the line.
Mosiah 2:17 says : "And behold, I tell you these things that ye map learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Service is one of my favorite Christ-like attributes. We want to live our lives like Jesus Christ and try to follow his example to the best of our ability. I look at service as in planting a seed, who knows what will come from it. Sometimes if you find a random seed on the ground and you decide to take that seed and nurture it and make sure it grows. If you have no clue what the seed is all you can do is treat it right and hope that it grows to become something beautiful. When you do service for someone it is kind of similar. You are planting a seed of kindness in their heart. Now you face the decision whether or not to nurture it. Once you provide a service, maybe try to share a message about the church. If you feel it's right, maybe they will too. Now it's not up to us to make them feel the truth, that is up to them and up to the Lord to figure out.
Now conversion to Christ isn't just a one and done thing. It's a gradual development, it's a test of faith and of will. You make the right choices, learn from your mistakes, and try to gain knowledge, then you are closer to your conversion. We never stop growing and learning though. Theres not a time in our lives where we are so perfect that we know everything, but thats the whole point of learning. I think that a mission that a mission could really help that out. Being a missionary seems to not only be for those you help, but to help yourself as well. There are two sides to this conversion though. There's the gradual hill upwards, but there is also a gradual hill downwards. Satan is always working at you to discourage you.
I think that Satan real has it out for soon to be missionaries. Think about it, we are about to go out into the world and do things that are going to make his life that much harder. Why would he want us to do good things right? Just like i said earlier there are gradual hills up and down. Most times the hills downwards are the easiest to travel across, but it doesn't make it the better choice. So they say ( No clue who says this but I might have heard it or saw it in a movie or something). The way to cook a frog is to gradually heat it up. You put the pan of water on the stove, put the frog in and gradually heat it up. The frog will keep getting used to the temperatures then eventually being end up being boiled. If you were to just throw the frog in some boiling water on the other hand... chances are that it would just jump out. Now it may sound like a stupid analogy but I think it is a really good point. If satan is going to try to tempt us then he is going to do it gradually with the little things first. Now the little things can build up to be big things, and then we kind of end up like the frog. We wouldn't just be tempted right off the bat to go rob a bank, it would start off small like a candy store or something. Even when we accidentally go downhill or end up in a hot pan of water there's always a way back. Through Heavenly Fathers perfect plan. Christ sacrificed so much, he sacrificed his life for us, when we make a mistake there is ALWAYS a way to get out of it. Through the Atonement of Christ and through repentance.
Recently I have kind of been obsessed with the phrase "open your eyes". It means a lot to me because I have made it mean something to me, and hopefully I can explain it to you so it can mean something to you also. We all go through our days thinking "oh I need to do this and that, and I need to hurry and do it now" and it seems to put our lives in a rush so we miss a lot in life. Opening our eyes could help change lives, and make life more enjoyable. You can "open your eyes" to stop and see the beauty of the world we live in for a minute. I love to take pictures and I have really embraced this beautiful world Heavenly Father created that we get to live in. Now I know that the world has a lot of corruptness in it, but thats why I like to "open my eyes" to see the beauty rather than the things wrong. Another way we can "open our eyes" is to open our eyes for opportunities to serve. If we are so focused on ourselves then we will totally miss the chances to see who is in need of service. Most or some of you know that I LOVE music, it really speaks to me. I'm going to quote two songs, one is written by me, and the others is a hymn.
"We all live our lives not caring about others worries and their strifes, if we took some time we would find that we are all fine. But oh we're in despair, and no one seems to care. It's all in our minds, it wouldn't hurt for us to be kind" This song that I wrote really has a lot to do with opening our eyes. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to be kind to someone else to do service. This brings me to another song, Hymn # 223 that goes "Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and make someone feel glad? If not I have failed indeed." Sometimes that's all missionary work is, helping someone in need and planting that seed, which I mentioned previously. I cannot wait to get out there and start planning seeds, and providing opportunities to change lives. Sometimes seeds are planted previously and all we have to do is nurture the seed John 4:35 says "...Lift up your eyes and look at the fields; for they are white already for harvest."
David A. Bednar had a really great talk in General Conference of 2005 called "Quick To Observe" In his message Elder Ashton detailed and described a number of less conspicuous spiritual gifts—attributes and abilities that many of us might not have considered being spiritual gifts. For example, Elder Ashton highlighted the gifts of asking; of listening; of hearing and using a still, small voice; of being able to weep; of avoiding contention; of being agreeable; of avoiding vain repetition; of seeking that which is righteous; of looking to God for guidance; of being a disciple; of caring for others; of being able to ponder; of bearing mighty testimony; and of receiving the Holy Ghost
This morning I want to talk with you about another seemingly simple and perhaps underappreciated spiritual gift—the capacity of being “quick to observe.” I will also attempt to explain why appropriately seeking for this blessing is vitally important for you and for me in the world in which we do now and will yet live. Please consider the significance of this important spiritual gift. As used in the scriptures, the word observe has two primary uses. One use denotes “to look” or “to see” or “to notice”—as we learn in Isaiah 42:20: “Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not”
The second use of the word observe suggests “to obey” or “to keep”—as is evident in the Doctrine and Covenants: “But blessed are they who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment, for they shall obtain mercy” We all are given spiritual gift that we should really try to get ahold of so we can use them to be the best we can. We have to just look for the opportunities to use them.
There are people in this world who have a lot of needs whether it be spiritual, or temporal. Just like the woman in the story, sometimes we may not know that we even need something. I honestly can't wait to share the greatest gift I have ever had with the people of Brazil. I'd like to bear my testimony that through Christ we can be everything that we want to be, and that through the atonement we can become more like him. I know that the Book of Mormon is true revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that he was a true prophet called of God. I know that missionary work is essential in our lives and in the lives of others. I know that if we open our eyes we can be the tools of salvation Heavenly Father needs us to be. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.