Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sister Hird's Epic Farewell Talk

April 17, 2016
I have been called to serve in the Halifax Canada Mission, English speaking and in just 3 short days I will go to the Provo MTC and this crazy, beautiful journey will begin.  The only thing you really need to know about my mission is that Justin Biebers birth town is a part of it.  That alone is proof that God answers ALL prayers. My mission is the Far East coast of Canada, including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland - Labrador. There is a unique cultural blend of Irish, Scottish, English and French influence. I am lucky enough to have the Halifax Temple in my mission that I will get to attend. I am 1 of 100 missionaries in this mission and of that 100, 35% are Sisters.  After HOURS of googling I am thoroughly convinced it’s the most beautiful place in the whole world. It’s full of quaint, little, colorful towns and lighthouses on the coast that add to the fairytale feel.  In a specific part of my mission the aurora borealis is as common as 240 average nights a year. Seeing the northern lights has always been something I’ve dreamed of and I’m going somewhere they are just a part of life.  So many little things, that all add up to big blessings.  Which is why I truly believe my mission couldn’t be more perfect for me.  I feel so blessed for being given the opportunity to serve and teach the people of Halifax the eternal happiness of the gospel.
 I was also extremely blessed in the fact that this mission was exactly the kind of mission I wanted.  It really is perfect for me in every way.  I wanted somewhere that was far enough away that it would be a new adventure but at the same time I was worried about going somewhere that was completely different and so foreign, so I would say Canada really is the best of both worlds.  I was also extremely worried that I would get called somewhere that was considered a little bit more of a sketchy place…but not for my sake, for my poor fathers. I don’t think he could have gotten any luckier, because you don’t really get safer than Canada. 
Now of course something very important about my mission is how I got here.  The whole reason I am up here today giving you my farewell talk is because 3 years ago I made the best decision I could have made.  I got my Patriarchal Blessing.  Wow, that really changed my whole life.  Before I got my patriarchal blessing I prayed and prayed that I would get direction.  Now when I prayed for that I was thinking career wise because at the time that was all that seemed important.  But what I was got was completely different. I got that I needed to serve a mission, and then I got some more about a mission, and then some more more about a mission. Heavenly Father made sure I left knowing exactly what I needed to do.  Before this moment in my life a mission wasn’t really on my radar, and after it, it was something I thought about daily.  This helped me to be able to make choices that kept me where I needed to be in life to be able to serve a mission.  That is a blessing I will thank Heavenly Father for every day. 
My topic today is my thoughts on a talk I chose from this past conference. The talk I chose is by Cheryl A. Esplin.  It is called “He Asks Us to Be His Hands” it was given during the General Women’s Session.  This talk is all about service, which is really all a mission, is.  As a missionary we are called to be His hands.
   President Thomas S. Monson, who understands service fully, said: “I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and … lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.”  In order to truly live we must be willing to give our life to service.  I know that after I spend a day serving I always go to bed feeling the warm fuzzies. That’s because the simple fact is the way to find fulfilment in life is by giving yourself to others. And let me tell you, growing up not once after being forced my mom to go to a youth service project did I ever regret it.  I always left feeling much better than when I started. For example, there was a young women’s service project, which I really didn’t want to do.  We were going over and doing some gardening for an elderly woman and dirt isn’t my favorite so I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going. In fact I was forced into going by my mom after much begging on my part to just skip it.  So I grudgingly went and immediately upon arriving had my whole attitude changed. I was one of three girls to show up including my young women’s leader who had been at school all day up to this point. Because I had been trying to convince my mom not to make me go, I was late.  So by the time I finally showed up both leader and young woman looked like they wanted to cry they were so glad to have just one more set of helping hands.  This taught me something about service I hadn’t really thought of before and that was; that service effects more people than just those that we are serving.  Service is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. 
Now of course, if you know me you won’t be surprised that I am going to relate my favorite Disney Hero to the Gospel.  Hercules. What a guy. He really does exemplify “Being His Hands”.  In my mind Hercules story is so similar to a missionary’s story. That might be because I’m little crazy, which I have been told before. But I’m sure by the time I’m done you’ll agree with me on this Hercules thing.  Throughout his whole young adult life Hercules struggles and can’t really figure out who he is and where he belongs.  He feels lost. After a desperate prayer Herc learns the most important thing someone can learn, “God is his loving Heavenly Father” Which for all of you, who don’t know, is the very first thing Missionaries teach their investigators.  Literally that is the #1 most important thing to get across to someone.  If you can get someone to really understand and feel that it will change their life, just like it changed young Hercules life.  After his answer to prayer Hercules vows To Go the Distance. He says:
I am on my way
I can go the distance
I don't care how far
Somehow I'll be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong

Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate
Though that road may wander
It will lead me to you
And a thousand years
Would be worth the wait
It might take a lifetime
But somehow I'll see it through

And I won't look back
I can go the distance
And I'll stay on track
No I won't accept defeat
It's an uphill slope
But I won't lose hope
Till I go the distance
And my journey is complete

So Hercules has received his mission call and knows he must serve in order to reach his Father in Heaven. Then he spends lots of time training with Phil to learn how and prepare to go save the world.  This is exactly what missionaries go to the MTC to do, minus that fact that the mission prep teacher may not always be named Phil. Now after his preparation Hercules goes out and does. He serves the people. He fights the monsters of the world, which missionaries do as well, but the monsters aren’t quite as literal.  They are the monsters of sin and self-doubt. Hercules does something many many missionaries do when they first go out on the mission before they have learned their true purpose.  He confuses being a hero with being famous.  This can happen to us new missionaries.  We can get caught up in the numbers of people we baptize and forget the meaning of the mission.   So Herc prays to find out why he just isn’t reaching that hero status he so wants, and he learns something very important.  His Father in Heaven tells him that:  "A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart” So Hercules learns: Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
So yes, Hercules was right, strength is an important part of being a hero but as we have learned from the scriptures strength alone is not enough.  You must have Heart along with it. Serving is great, but when you truly love the service is when the real change occurs and a hero is born. Now that Hercules has learned what being a true hero is, hades goes all lord of the undead “I don’t think so” and he tries to intervene.  Which I would imagine happens frequently out on the mission.  Satan sees a missionary realizing their full potential and tries to put them down.  But like a good missionary Hercules doesn’t quit he tries harder, even when all the odds are against him and learns selfless service, which brings Hercules to saving souls and becoming a true hero. Selfless service is what made Hercules the God he knew he could always be and it will do the same for us.  Service is the key to our warm welcome and open arms at the gates of heaven just like Hercules experienced.
So there you have it, a mission and service explained with the help of Disney.  This proves that like all the seminary teachers always said, “You can relate anything to the gospel”
 President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “You must do … what disciples of Christ have done in every dispensation: counsel together, use all resources available, seek the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, ask the Lord for His confirmation, and then roll up your sleeves and go to work”  Service is the most important thing we can do. But don’t sell yourself short or feel even though you are already stretched so thin you have to find ways to do more.  All you moms out there, just taking care of your kids is a lot of service.  Some of the things you do that may feel mundane are actually the best ways to serve.  Service really doesn’t have to be a big organized food drive and you don’t have to go on a mission to serve, although those are great ways to serve, they aren’t the only ways.  As Sister Esplin said : “All of us can incorporate some service into our daily living. We live in a contentious world. We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind.” So do some act of service every day!  Not only will help those around you but it will benefit you just as much, if not more.
I have a strong testimony about service because I am extremely lucky and have so many wonderful examples of service in my life.  I have grandparents that would drop anything to simply make my day better.  I have siblings who help each other all day every day. I have neighbors who have become family, and that’ve stood by us through all our hardships and helped make them light. I have amazing friends, one who just last week spent hours taking mission pictures for me. Some are out serving missions right now, like I will be in just a few short days.  One of them, who is serving out in Houston Texas wrote me when I got my call with some great advice, he said “Soo you are guaranteed that you will get a companion that you don’t get along with….well…IT DOESN’T MATTER!!!! You gotta suck it up and be the better person! Serve them!! Because this isn’t about you!!! And it never will be about you… So when you find yourself saying the “I” pronoun…check yourself!! Trust me! You just have to remember that you are there for the Lord” Now he is someone who truly understands how to be His Hands.  And of course I have literally the perfect example of true selfless service in my life and that would be my Mama.  I can’t think of a time she wasn’t serving.  Seriously, I think the only reason she even sleeps is because she knows she can better help others if she’s well rested. Weather it’s cleaning, making dinner, reading a story or carpooling to the endless amounts of lessons and practices she is always serving her children and then on top of all that she finds something she can do for anyone around her in need. You would think 10 kids would be a handful on its own and yet somehow my mom always still has at least 5 extra kids running around because this person’s mom had a doctor’s appointment and the other ones parents are out to dinner and so on.  She is truly not only my angel, but an angel in all the lives she touches. Which are numerous. In my patriarchal blessing it tells me “You will desire to be like your mother” and that’s because Heavenly Father knows there is no one better I could aim to be or that could give me a better example of service. So as I’m out on my mission and thinking something seems hard, or too much, all I will have to do is remember my sweet mom and know I can accomplish anything. I know my mission will be an amazing experience that will teach me so many things in so many ways. If I keep my sights set on “Being His Hands” I know I will be able to magnify my calling as a missionary.
I would like to bare my testimony about the truths that have been made known to me through the power of the spirit and experience. I know that service is the true key to happiness and that as we lose ourselves in the service of others we are truly finding our best self. I know that families are essential to Gods plan.  As I have prepared for my mission I have learned the true power of deep sincere prayer to my Heavenly Father and that if we are willing and open to the spirit it will truly speak to us and be our greatest teacher. I have come to know the truth of the holy temple and the blessings and protection it offers me on a daily basis. I know the true healing power of the Atonement; I know that the Book of Mormon is a blessing of truth in this modern day.  I know that we have a loving Father in Heaven that grants us love, aid and support as often as we need. And I know that by choosing to go out and Serve my life and my families lives will be blessed do to my obedience. I know that by living this gospel not only can we endure to the end, but have joy to the end. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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