Hello friends, I’m off to the MTC on Wednesday, so I thought I’d kick off this little blog with my farewell talk from last weekend, or at least what I was planning on saying. Who knows how it actually ended up sounding. It’s long, the talk was almost 20 minutes but it’s worth it I promise.
For those who missed it, here you go!
I’m going to Singapore!!
Which blows my mind when I say it as much as it did when I first read my call out loud.Which was in JULY by the way so I have been patiently waiting to get out there. Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world and the second most densely populated. 275 square miles and over 5 million people. I’m hoping to get to know as many as I can.
The Singapore mission also includes all of Malaysia and Brunei as well and the mission is very unique. In 1960, there were four members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints found in Singapore.
The first congregation was founded in 1968 and after issues with missionary visas, the mission was reopened in 1980. Ground was broken for the first meeting house in East Malaysia on April 16, 2003.
Brother Jackson, who is from this ward and serving a mission in Hong Kong, called me a few months ago when he heard I was headed his way.He laid out a few things for me.
The church in Singapore and Malaysia is much like it was here in America in the 1800’s.
There’s a lot of work to be done.
Get ready to eat some crazy stuff.
And I hope you’re not left handed.
Which of course I am.
So I’ll be learning how to use chopsticks with my right hand. I’ll make sure someone videos how well that goes.
I report to the Provo MTC on December 4th. Fun fact, December 4th, 2011 was the day I was confirmed a member of this church in this very chapel.
And exactly two years later I’ll be beginning my mission. I did not see that one coming.
My life has changed a lot in the past few years and that’s putting it lightly. I’ll talk a little bit more about my conversion later, but I want to talk today on the principle of sacrifice.
We all know the definition of sacrifice to simply be giving up something valued for the sake of something more important. When I began thinking about examples of that, the first thing that came to mind was baseball. Shocker I know.
A sacrifice fly or bunt is when the batter is intending to cause a teammate already on base to score a run, while giving up his ability to get on base because he is called out on the play.
In short, giving up your at-bat to advance the runner so your team can score. A sacrifice in baseball is praised. It doesn’t count against your batting average, you get the rbi and you head back to the dugout a team player.
Back to real life.
Some could say, have said, and continue to tell me that I have sacrificed a lot to become a member of this church and even more so now to be serving a mission.
That I’m different now, not the same person I used to be. And they are all correct.
Before being baptized, I did have to give up alcohol, coffee, and the lifestyle a typical non-member lives. That’s not saying I was a bad person, I wasn’t. I was just a 19 year old girl trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, much like any other girl that age.
While the rules and commandments that I was required to follow initially turned me off and made me more hesitant to join the church, they have blessed me immensely since I began following them.
I think a lot of converts struggle with that. The idea of religion, especially ours, puts you in a box so they say or limits how you can live your life.
I have discovered though, and never thought I would, but obedience to these commandments brings nothing but happiness.
Sacrificing 18 months or 2 years to serve a mission seems completely crazy to those of us not used to the idea. I’ve been told plenty that I’m more than a little crazy for doing this.
Giving up time you could be spending furthering your education, cutting contact with family and friends and riding a bike..every day..in a skirt..through the jungle..in the rain..in Malaysia.
might sound like a lot going on for some.
but whatever, sign me up!
Regardless of how much time or vanity or comfort or whatever I will be giving up while I’m away, I have come to the conclusion that if we are constantly recounting all that we ‘give up’ for the gospel, our actions aren’t truly indicative of sacrifice.
Once that clicked, the principle of sacrifice became a whole different ballgame.
The law of sacrifice itself is ancient. It was given to Adam and Eve after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. They were to take to the altar ‘the firstlings of their flock and the fat thereof’ it says in Genesis 4.
These offerings made were symbolic of the sacrifice of the coming savior, who offered himself to atone for all our sins so we might have salvation from eternal death.
Elder Dallin H Oaks said “The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has been called ‘the most transcendent of all events from creation’s dawn to the endless ages of eternity.’ Jesus Christ endured incomprehensible suffering to make himself a sacrifice for the sins of all. That sacrifice offered the ultimate good – the pure lamb without blemish for the ultimate measure of evil – the sins of the entire world.
The law of sacrifice and always will be a part of this world, our gospel and our everyday life. Adam and Eve dealt with sacrificing and we still deal with it today, though in different ways.
When we look at this dispensation, great examples of sacrifice are the lives of the pioneers. They gave up their homes, businesses, families and loved ones to trek across the country in their effort to live the gospel. They gave everything they had.
So all of my friends who have been whining to me about driving all the way to Sandy at nine in the morning..at least you didn’t have to pull a wagon in the snow with no shoes on to get here.
Joseph Smith taught that ‘a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.’
In the eternal perspective, the blessings obtained by sacrifice are far greater than anything that is given up. The sacrifices we make will only increase our faith in this life.
This quote is from the Journal of Discourses and I think it sums up the attitude we should all strive to have when it comes to sacrifice:
“We say we have lost an ox, or a horse; or ‘I have left my farm, my house and have sacrificed a great deal for this work.’ This is a mistake. You had nothing to lose. Not one particle of all that compromises this vast creation of God is our own. Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action, to see what we would do with it – whether we will use it for eternal life and exaltation or for eternal death and degradation, until we cease operating in this existence. We have nothing to sacrifice, then let us not talk of sacrificing.”
It is easier to talk about the gospel than it is to live it, it is easier to complain about all we have given up – our sacrifices – than to count all the blessings Heavenly Father has given us.
Our time, money, sleep, resources should be given freely for this work. We are commanded to love and serve one another – in effect, to offer a small imitation of Christ’s own sacrifice by giving up our time and selfish priorities. We learn all the things we go through in this life will be for our benefit, sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.
The incomprehensible suffering of Jesus Christ ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood, but it did not end the importance of sacrifice in the gospel plan. So what then are we supposed to sacrifice?
In 3 Nephi chapter 9 we read:
19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
This verse was kind of a big deal for me a couple years ago. I want to share something I found in a journal of mine from when I was taking lessons from the missionaries.
Those poor missionaries that had to deal with me, I was the world’s worst investigator. I know I’ve got it comin for me in Singapore.
Anyway. Just a little background, leading up to this entry..I had been having a rough year. A rough few years, really. I was a freshman at Westminster with no idea what I wanted to do with my life and not a clue what direction to head. Much like any other kid that age.
But since I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t go anywhere and I quickly spun myself into quite a mess. I was in a damaging relationship, battling depression and anxiety and ultimately attempted suicide in April 2011.
I landed myself in the ICU and then the psych ward..I didn’t feel like there was any point in waking up every day feeling the way I did.
So yeah. I was not in a good place. This was just a few months later on September 27, 2011. It reads:
My world is somehow still falling apart. I have watched my family struggle beyond belief and nearly disintegrate since my stint in the hospital. I don’t know how I got here and I can barely keep my head above water. I don’t know how I’m supposed to live a normal life when it takes everything in me to simply find the will to be alive. It is a struggle all day long and especially at nights. I still have nightmares and nothing seems to be getting better. I keep blowing off the missionaries. They hate me. All 8 of them that I’ve met with so far. Oops. Commitment issues. They told me to read about what is required for baptism. It said all that you need is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. check and check. That’s literally all I have to give at this point.
Aaand just a few moths after I wrote that, I was dunked in a white jumpsuit in front of everyone I know.
If I can do it, anyone can.
So what does having a broken heart and a contrite spirit mean exactly. I love this phrase because everyone has been there and it means something different for everyone. At that point in my life before I was baptized, my heart was absolutely broken in so many ways and my spirit was completely crushed.
But it doesn’t have to be as extreme as my situation a few years ago was. I find myself still today to be sorrowful like the scripture says, not because of my sins, but by the fact that I am separate from my Heavenly Father who loves me beyond my comprehension and I love Him in return.
I recently received an email from one of my favorite people on earth, Elder Kolby Ashton. Most of you know and love him as much as I do, but for those who don’t, he is a member of this ward and just about a year into serving his mission in Samara, Russia.
Anyway, I was upset about something that had happened like five years ago and had come back up. I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to learn from it, just kind of venting and seeing what he thought I should do.
Of course he said exactly what I needed to hear, only a week before I found out what I was speaking on. He says..
I don’t know why this happened to you and you probably never will. But I can promise you it is a blessing. No matter how hard it was or is for you to go through. You are being made into what God wants you to be, and even though it hurts, it makes you more beautiful.
God tries those he loves. Let’s just say he loves you a lot because you’ve been through it all. It takes a hotter flame to change a stronger metal, and girl you’re right in the middle of the refiner’s fire!
I am so excited for you to serve a mission, nothing else can teach you what you are about to learn. It is going to bless you and your family and I am so proud of you.
Be leadable, be refinable, be obedient.
That is what it means to offer for sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Not always broken as in remorseful, broken like a horse. Willing to be lead by the gentlest of hands. Our redeemer.
The atonement isn’t only for our sins, it’s for everything we ever feel.
So he’s killing it over in Russia.
I truly believe having a broken heart and a contrite spirit is the way to a higher purpose, to carry the load. Cowboy up if you will. It’s going to be hard. We know this. But let us not talk of sacrificing.
In the word’s of Gordon B Hinckley, you will come to know that what appears to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment you will ever make.
I am so thankful for the law of sacrifice and how it has brought me to where I am. Without it where would any of us be really. I sure wouldn’t be up here, or headed off to Singapore for that matter.
I am so excited for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission for this church. I never ever thought this would be something I would be doing. Although I used to say I would never get baptized, and look where that got me!
But even after my baptism, even until six months ago I never thought I was capable of something so big. Being so new to the church, I thought I didn’t have enough knowledge to share with anyone, I know I don’t still, I’m still figuring this all out for myself.
But even though I don’t know any of the hymns, like the one we sang before the sacrament for example, and I can’t pronounce half the names in the scriptures, I do know this church is true.
I am so thankful for this gospel, this ward, the Hobby’s and the Ashton’s for taking me in as the ward orphan and letting me stick around while I figure this whole Mormon thing out.
I have such a testimony of the Book of Mormon and what it can do for your life. I had been taught all growing up that it contradicted what the Bible said and I was so hesitant to believe anything in it.
I didn’t want to believe it.
So I read the entire thing before I decided to be baptized.
I can tell you, it’s the real deal. Every word in it is true. And I can’t wait to tell everyone about it.
Oh, in the Malay language, did I mention that? Yikes.
I am so thankful for this life I have been given and to still be living it.
I never thought I could say I am grateful for all of the bad things that I had to go through, but without them I wouldn’t have found the gospel.
There’s a verse in Alma that says something along the lines of “my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain” and that’s exactly how I feel. I am so thankful for the sacrifices I have made, all the bad times and the blessings and good times I have received because of them.
I am just so excited to throw myself into this and throw my arms around my Malaysian loves.
My heart is so full.