Sunday, July 19, 2015

Farewell Talk

Alone- I have felt alone many times in my life, but a time I am willing to share happened while adventuring on January 17, 2015. This past winter I found myself going on a hike with 3 other na├»ve college students, all of us never really having experience with hiking in snow-especially waist deep snow.  So on this particular day we decided to hike up to the summit of “Y” mountain in Provo and descend down the side to Slate Canyon.  We started at 3 in the afternoon- late for a hike that was about 8 miles and we planned to get done before sunset.  Pretty soon it was clear as we waded through hip deep snow, and followed no trail that we would be in trouble once the sun had set.  We made it to the summit as the sun began its decent from the sky- around 5:45p.m. We had three miles left of our snow hiking adventure.  A member in our group was also in trouble.  On the way up the mountain he had lost feeling in his feet and his shoes were frozen.  I know it was cold because the water in my camelback had frozen.  But, the only thing to do was to move forward, so that is what we did.  Our small group of four split into two as my injured friend and another member quickly ran down the mountain, crashing through the small layer of ice that had formed on top of the waist deep snow.  My other friend and I made our way cautiously down.  I took out my headlamp and flashlight because by now the sun had set.  At one point we found two sets of tracks-one that my friends had made (it led to the left) and one that headed off in the direction that we needed to go (right).  At this point I felt completely alone. 
Here is why: because one: I was on top of a mountain with mountain lions at night.  Two: I was in waist deep snow and exhausted from a 4,000 ft elevation climb in that snow.  Three: I had no idea where the rest of our little hiking group was and if they were okay.  And four: all I had for light was my headlamp and the stars.
Oh the stars.  In the mountains with very little light pollution, I could see thousands of stars I couldn’t see in the valley.  So at this moment when I felt alone, I turned off my flashlight and just stared at the stars.  I recognized the Little Dipper, Big Dipper, other constellations, and Orion. 
When I was little I thought people had named the constellation Orion after my Dad, Ryon.  Even after finding out the two are spelled very differently and that no the constellation wasn’t named after my dad, I still always search for it in the sky because I know I will be safe.  And so on this night when I felt very alone, I saw Orion and was reminded that my Dad was watching out for me.  Not only my earthly father, but my Heavenly Father. I felt this peace and love that calmed any anxiety and fear I had.  I knew that we would make it off this mountain.  And we did, an hour later. 
Now, there are a lot of lessons I could list about what I learned from this experience, but something I want to focus on we can learn from Moses.  We know from the creation that Christ made the moon, the stars, and the sun to “give light upon the earth.”  I saw this light when I felt so alone and saw the stars.  But there is also the light of Christ, which shines when we have a close relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The light also helps an individual to receive the Holy Ghost, something that once we feel, we cannot deny because it testifies of truth. 

Today I was supposed to talk about the Sacrament, so here is a scripture from D&C 59:9-10 “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.  For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High.” In Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk from the October 2008 General Conference called “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament” we learn that the Sacrament is a “commandment with a promise.  By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” D&C 20:77.  That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony.  It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth.  It is the compass to guide us on our path.”
Something that I think we have all experienced and can relate to is that we have felt alone or have lost direction in our life.  That’s why we are here at church, none of us are perfect.  But instead of me making broad generalizations about the ward, I am just going to turn back to Elder Oaks talk. He highlights, how President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that we should partake of the sacrament as part of commemorating the Savior’s death and sufferings for the redemption of the world.  “This ordinance was introduced so that we can renew our covenants to serve Him, obey Him, and to always remember Him”
The Sacrament for me is a time when I can look to the Savior and reflect on my life and utilize the Atonement to further build my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Christ because their way is truth and brings direction into my life.  Following the teachings of Christ brings light that brightens any sort of darkness. And if we look to Christ as light, we can always find comfort, peace, and guidance.
In a devotional given by Elder Holland in 1988, “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments” (I highly recommend all to read it), Elder Holland describes the Sacrament as an “ordinance that unite us with God and his limitless powers.  We are imperfect and mortal; he is perfect and immortal.  But from time to time—indeed, as often as is possible and appropriate—we find ways and go to places and create circumstances where we can unite symbolically with him, and in so doing gain access to his power.  Those special moments of union with God are sacramental moments such as partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper.”  There is always something so humbling about participating in the ordinance of the Sacrament because it gives me a time to reflect.  I come with a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” to remember Christ and the Atonement and feel of His love and the love He has for each and every one of us.  I remember that I am not alone.
I have always found it fascinating that the universe is expanding at a rate faster than the speed of light (speed at which information can travel). To me that shows there is a God. His presence and love is displayed by the small intricate designs he took care to create of each individual creature, bacteria, plant, and human.  And that love to me is mind blowing.  Many people in college would often ask me why I would pull all-nighters to go hiking, or hike through snow, or just hike when it introduced a lot of physical pain.  The thing is, once you get to the top of a mountain, you forget all those things.  Suddenly you realize how insignificant and small you are in the grand scale of the earth and the universe and its humbling.  And when I realize that Christ would have died if it meant just saving me, it puts depth into the Atonement in how our Savior’s love is woven all throughout the healing process.
That love is what brought me to serve a mission.  A year ago if you had asked me (which many of you did) “are you serving a mission?” I replied with a “no way!” I loved this gospel and knew it was true and fully supported missionaries, but I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of trying to “sell people on the gospel.”  In college my relationship with my Savior increased as it was something familiar when I was homesick.  My idea of me serving a mission transformed one day as I watched a close friend open a mission call.  It just hit me.  This is what I want to do, serve a mission and teach about the love God has for each and every one of His children.  Because in a world where there is no good or bad, no morals, or direction, you just feel alone and helpless.  This gospel has brought light and direction in my life and the Spirit has taught me truth.  This truth brings me so much happiness and peace and comfort because it teaches me that there is hope in the world.  It teaches me beautiful things like forgiveness and families and a perfect balance between justice and mercy.  Why wouldn’t I want to share that?  This gospel helps me appreciate life to its fullest.
I am so thankful for loving parents who taught me the importance of building a relationship with my Heavenly Father and for Young Women Leaders who impacted my life by sharing their own life experiences and stories.  I am so grateful for you people in my ward family.  You know, we are all struggling in some sort of way and I think its beautiful how we all come to church on Sundays to partake of the sacred ordinance of the Sacrament to remember our Savior and unite as family.  I am so excited to serve the people of Washington State and share to them of my love and truth of this gospel.

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