Mission Farewell Talk
Monument Ward Sacrament Meeting
Preparing for Life and Eternity Through Families
I knew that when I sent in my mission papers I would be leaving home but it feels so much more real now that it’s 9 days away that I get on a plane by myself to fly to another country. It’s scary to think about…. but I know that my whole life I have been preparing and have been prepared for this. I am reminded of the story of the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon, because I can say that I do not doubt for my mother (and family) taught me. I have been brought up by my family, my ward family, and by special people that I have come into contact with throughout my life. Thanks to every single one of you, I have been prepared for my mission, my life and eternity. That is why I am so blessed to be able to speak on families today. In light that this is my farewell talk, I thought that I would speak about how my family and all those around me have prepared me for life as well as eternity.
A story that has always touched me is the story that C.S. Lewis tells of Christ rebuilding us. It goes: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan Co., 1960, p. 160)
I always thought that this story could be related to families as well.
Quoting Elder Russel M. Nelson from his conference talk: "Individual progression is fostered in the family, which is ‘central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children." Christ gives us the blueprints but family and friends bring the two by fours, help put up the walls, take some down and help us to progress into the palace or temple that Christ intends us to be. From birth when I was the equivalent of blank landscape just ready to be built on, my family has been building me up and preparing me for the storms of life. By taking me to church and bringing me to the knowledge of the gospel they helped me to start with a strong foundation in Christ. With every primary teacher, with every young woman’s leader, with every bishop, with every friend, with every ward family member, I was built up and strengthened. Each of you have brought nails and wood, brick and mortar and helped to me to build and to grow into the woman that I am today.
Since the beginning, the church has been centered on the family. From even the start of Genesis where Adam and Eve are introduced into the Garden, Heavenly Father emphasizes the importance of the family by commanding them to multiply and replenish the earth. The Prophets and Apostles in these modern days have highlighted how important the family is in the grand scheme of things through their many talks and advice that they have given to us. For example, in his 2003 talk on The Importance of the Family, Elder L. Tom Perry said "We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes." So how can we strengthen our families and in effect strengthen each other? How can we help those around us to be protected and safe from the storms and raging winds that Satan throws at us? In The Family a Proclamation to the World it says: "Happiness in Family Life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Thinking back on my life I can think of so many instances where all of these practices were taught. I remember a time where I had lost my glasses as a little kid and was really worried about where they might’ve been or whether I would be able to find them. I had looked for hours and finally went to my mom to ask her what to do. The simple answer to pray for help was the solution that my mom gave. Within 5 minutes of praying I remembered that I hadn’t checked one last spot, the blinds in the living room. Don’t ask me how in the world they got there, but they were there! From a very early age I learned the power of prayer and I know that I will need that power that prayer gives me while I am on my mission. My mom was able to put up a strong foundational wall in my mansion that day, that has changed over time and gotten even stronger, but it will be with me for the rest of my life. This is only one of the many experiences that I have had where my family has prepared me for the storms of life.
Something that my family really helped me to grow into wanting to serve a mission is through their examples. This past week I had the amazing opportunity to be able to read through much of my family history. I was able to read my Grandmother’s stories of her mission in the eastern states. And mission stories from my pioneer heritage. I love the examples that my ancestors have been of faithful service in the mission field. While reading through my sister’s and brother’s mission emails every week I felt their strength and how amazing missions are. I know that my mission will be a very hard experience for me, but I find that through the mission stories of my siblings and Dad and progenitors that I find strength and reassurance through them. From my ancestors I have knowledge that I can do hard things and I have a purpose and love in my missionary work. My ancestors not only watch over me from the Heavens but have pitched in building my mansion and helping me to not only be safe from the storm, but thrive while the storms of my life rage around me.
Another story that has always touched me was the story that Thomas S. Monson told at the October 2000 Conference of the Church where:
"Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of numerous scholarly works, he said, ‘I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.'
"Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. ‘Where did the years go?’ they ask. We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.”
We need to use the present time that we are given to help build our families and build up each other. We all know the sight of a house that seems to be taking forever to be finished. Today is the day to help build our families and to bring others to the realization of the potential that Heavenly Father has given them."
I realized a couple of days ago that I have always had my family and the ward standing behind me and supporting me, and now that I’m going off on my own I’m petrified. But at the same time, I know that through each of you I have been built up and prepared for the difficult times that I will face. It is so amazing that Heavenly Father gave us families whether it be actual families you are born into, or ward families and that he places people in each of our lives so that we can progress and learn in this early existence. I am so thankful for my earthly family and for how they have taught me and loved me.
I know that this church is true! If I didn't know that then I wouldn't be going off for a year and a half to a foreign country where I don't yet speak the language! I know that there will be difficult times while I'm on my mission, there will be days and even weeks where I will be discouraged and down, but I also know that it is so worth it! To bring something that I know is true and has given me joy and comfort and peace in my life to where I have been called to serve is a blessing that is amazing to me. I will be honest, I'm scared to death. BUT I know that this church is true and that it has given me so much joy and direction in my life that I can't help but want to share it with others. I don't even know the people in Bolivia yet, but I already love them and want them to find joy in the journey as well! Thank you all for everything you have done for me and for building me up to be who I am today! I love you all and will see you again soon! Adios!
Soon-to-be-Hermana Amber Mather
|Sister Taylor, Hermana Mather, and Hermana Schomburg at the Denver Temple|
|Hermana Mather and Hermana Schomburg at the Denver Temple|
before they leave on their missions
|Hermana Mather at her open house with some very special girls that she babysat|