Sunday, October 19, 2014

Farewell Talk!

This is my official "first mission blog post."  My farewell was on October 12th and below I am going to just copy and paste my talk!  Enjoy! :) (at the part with the asterisks, I didn't write my thank you's or testimony and instead spoke from the heart. also, this is just a raw copy of my talk so hopefully it makes sense!)

Here is a recording of my talk if you would like to listen and read it at the same time!

So at the beginning of the week I was writing my talk trying to figure out the first thing I was going to say when I got up here.  I couldn’t think of anything so I asked each of my family members what to say, and instead I will read you their responses. 

Torben- torb told me to say that he is my favorite person in the family
Britta- told me to say hi my name is anika, I was never planning on going on a mission but here I am!
Natasja- told me to do what they did at conference and just speak in Spanish
Dad- said that that was a big question and instead of responding decided to talk about ebola
Mom- told me to go like this and say “yo brothers and sisters”

I’m not sure if any of them took me seriously when I asked but I just decided to stick with what they had to say

For those of you that don’t know me my name is Anika Van Boerum and I am leaving to serve a mission in Neuquén Argentina.  I am so grateful to be up here today to share with you my testimony and give my last goodbye before I leave in 10 days.
I am also extremely thankful to be speaking with Macy Wilcox today because not only does she have a super strong testimony and she used to be one of my awesome young women leaders, but I also now don’t have to worry about being the only person to cry up on the pulpit today.

A few things about my mission, Neuquén:
  •     located in Southwestern Argentina in the Patagonia
  •         one of the major tourist cities in Argentina because there are ski resorts in some areas of the region
  •         good meat
  •         and most importantly, though I probably won’t see one, there are penguins

I also have a good friend of mine, Ella, serving in Rosario and both Tosh Wilcox and Jake Wyckoff, in our ward, are serving in Buenos Aires and Mendoza Argentina.    

I wasn’t given a topic to speak on today but my only requirement was to center my talk on Christ.  Recently I just finished the book Power to Become by David A. Bednar and it has been so inspiring that I decided to have my talk be about what I learned while reading the book and the Power to Become like our Savior Jesus Christ. 

We were put here on this earth to be tested and tried, gain knowledge, use our free agency, and throughout all of this, we are supposed to become like our Savior Jesus Christ.  In Matthew 5:48 the Savior declared in the Sermon on the Mount, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
In 3 Nephi 12:48 the savior is speaking to the Nephites in the Americas and says, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
Another scripture I found was when Paul was teaching the Ephesians the purpose of the church and in Ephesians 4:12-13 he says, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness Christ:”

All three of these scriptures tell us how we are supposed to become perfect even as our Savior and our Father in Heaven.
This sometimes can be seen as a daunting quest to become perfect or completely Christ-like, but our Heavenly Father has given us the tools to do our very best.  In Elder Bednar’s book, he says, “As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, our individual responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to act and live as we know we should act and live, and to become what the Master would have us become.”  Three things.  Increase in Learning, Act in Doctrine, and the Power to Become.

The first of Elder Bednar’s tools is to increase in learning. One of our duties here on this earth is to constantly be learning about the things of eternity that matter most.  Some of these things to study are the nature of the Godhead, the plan of salvation, the reality and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the efficacy of the Savior’s infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice, and the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days.  How are we supposed to become perfect like the Savior if we aren’t studying the life and the Character of Christ?

Mission Decision
I can truly testify of the power of learning and studying with my experience of deciding to go on a mission. 
A year ago in October I decided to serve a mission.  I was in the middle school up at BYU and I was just kind of struggling a bit.  School was hard, I was still trying to make new friends, I missed my family constantly and even though I was reading my scriptures every night and going to the temple every week, I just kind of felt lonely and not as a happy as I could be.  It was mid October and for some reason I just felt impressed to go over to Deseret Book and buy Jesus the Christ.  I didn’t know much about this book but I started reading and studying it.  The more and more I read, I realized the closer I was getting to my Savior.  I realized that this situation with the Savior was like getting to know your best friend.  At first you are just friends, but the more you learn of their hardships, struggles, joys, and what makes them happy, the closer you become to them.  That is what the book Jesus the Christ is all about, the story of his crucifixion, his birth, his baptism, his life as a young boy and so much more.  Not only was Christ my best friend at the time because I was reading this book, but I was happier than I have ever been.  I didn’t even want to do my homework, all I wanted to do was read and learn more about my Savior.  I looked forward to it every day.  During this time I had also been reading mission blogs from missionaries like Sarah Flynn and Hope Busath and other friends of mine.  I was just so happy that on the morning of Friday October 26th I decided to serve a mission because I wanted to share MY source of happiness with others around the world. Since then I have had such a strong testimony of the power of learning.  There still are many things I need to learn but I am grateful for the joy that can be found when you study the things of eternal worth.

After increasing in learning comes the tool of acting in doctrine.  It doesn’t matter how much you know about Christ-like attributes, or about the path of righteousness, or about anything else if you aren’t acting upon them.  We need to turn from self to savior and instead of just striving to know more, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better. 
The first law of heaven is obedience.  In the fourth article of faith it says “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”  This tells us that we need to be obedient in acting on both the ordinances AND the commandments of our church. 

Beginning with ordinances, we have been given the saving ordinances which are baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood for men, the temple endowment, and marriage sealing.  How blessed are we to have these ordinances that will allow us to return to our Heavenly Father?  Through these we are not only reminded of our spiritual responsibilities and duties, but we are also provided access to the Power of Godliness.

Regarding commandments, Mosiah 2:41 says “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”  Sometimes the commandments can be difficult to keep and sometimes we choose to be better at some than others, but what if we looked at the commandments in a way that they are just extra direction from Heaven?  I think if we all did this we would have a more positive attitude about the simple things we are being asked to do.  At the General Women’s Conference a few weeks ago President Uchtdorf said, “I think God knows something we don’t.”  We only know a few pieces to each of our puzzles but Heavenly Father has all of the pieces together so we might as well take all of the Heavenly direction from him that we can get.

It is important to be acting in doctrine, but we should consistently be acting in doctrine and striving to be better.  Elder Bednar said, “it frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between.  The same thing is true spiritually.  Spiritual thirst is a need for living water.  A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping.”

Over the past couple of months I have basically been waiting to go on my mission.  During this time I have realized how important it is to be constantly strengthening my testimony because sometimes my desire to serve can sway a little bit.  When I am actively striving to be better and learning what I can do to become more like my
Savior, I am truly happier and my desire to serve a mission is strengthened ten-fold. Whenever I start to doubt, I have learned that it is because I am not focusing on what is important and actively trying to be a better disciple of my Heavenly Father.

As we increase in learning about the Savior and His gospel, as we strive to be obedient to the ordinances and commandments we have been given, then the Power to Become will be able to bless us and flow into our lives.  This is where my mission scripture Doctrine and Covenants 11:28-30 ties in.  It says: 

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I am the life and the light of the world.  I am the same who came unto mine own and mine own received me not; But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons [and daughters] of God, even to them that believe on my name.  Amen.” 
I can’t wait to be in Argentina bringing people unto Christ and doing what I can to help them receive him and be given the Power to Become.  I know that this power is the only way for us to be better than our mortal capacity and I hope to plant this seed in as many hearts I can. 

*Thank ward, extended family, friends, and family* 
In Preach My Gospel it says, “God has established families to bring happiness to His children.

*Bear testimony and finish with quote below*
There was a quote that was used at the United Nations conference and I believe it applies to the gospel but Edmund Burke once said, “all that is need for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

~Just a few pics with friends on this wonderful day!  So grateful for each of them and their support.

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