Sunday, February 14, 2016

Farewell Talk

Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters, many of you know me, but for those who do not I am Logan Kilsby, soon to be Sister Kilsby. I have chosen to serve as a full time missionary for this church, for 18 months, and I have been assigned to serve in the Arizona Gilbert Mission.
Ever since the missionary age for girls changed to 19, I’ve felt like I would go on a mission. When friends and family asked if I would go on one, I’d deny it just in case it never happened, but deep down I had a strong desire to serve. I thought to myself that serving here in my hometown would be enough- that I was supposed to stay and do ward mission work here. Life threw some curve balls and trails my way, and as I was trying to figure out what to do one thing kept coming into my mind every time I prayed, read the scriptures, or my patriarchal blessing for answers. It was: “It’s your chance. Go on a mission.” I knew my trails were supposed to happen at this time in my life. Heavenly Father was making a pathway so that I could go on a mission. Sometimes, we are presented with opportunities that we just can't pass up, and for me, this is it. This is my opportunity.
When I held my mission call in my hands my family shot out their guesses of where I would go, and they were all foreign. In my mind I secretly wanted to go foreign- to see a different part of the world. Who wouldn’t? and I honestly thought to myself that if I didn’t go foreign I would be disappointed. As I stood in my living room and read that I would be assigned to labor in the Arizona Gilbert Mission my heart was full of nothing but happiness, peace, and love. I knew right away that this is the place I need to be. Arizona.
Since I have opened my mission call, a lot of people have asked me the question “So what made you decide to serve a mission?” The answer is not one thing in particular. It’s a lot of things that have helped me determine my decision. It’s my parent’s and sibling’s love and support for me. My friend’s support. It’s every single trial-good and bad-that I have gone through. It’s every time I’ve had to repent. It’s because of the examples my Sunday school teachers, young women leaders, youth, and members of this ward have set for me. Because of the faith I have in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It’s because I want others to feel the love and happiness this gospel has brought me. It’s because I know without a doubt that this gospel is so perfect, and that it was made for imperfect people. It was made so that these imperfect people – us- could learn how to grow more spiritually and become like Heavenly Father so we can become more close to Him, and hopefully one day return to live with Him again.
            One of my close friends shared this quote with me “we’re all just walking each other home.” Each one of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven. We are all sent here to help get each other back home to our Heavenly Father. That is part of what a mission is. I am going out to Arizona to help teach Heavenly Father’s children about Him, His son Jesus Christ, and their teachings, so that we-His children- may come into the gospel and be able to live with Him again.
            My purpose as a missionary of this church will be to “INVITE others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
            The essential message of the gospel, the starting point for all other truths, is this from the Master’s own lips: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  Thus the Atonement of Christ, which makes that return to the Father possible, is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation of the eternal plan of salvation—“our Heavenly Father’s plan,” which we are called to teach - which is what I will teach as a missionary.
The word gospel as we use it in English comes down to us through early scriptural language which means literally “good news” or “glad tidings.”
 Nephi 27: 13-14 gives a similar definition of the gospel: “And this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father.”
The gospel or “good news” talked about was that death and hell could be escaped, that mistakes and sins could be overcome, that there was hope, that there was help, that the insoluble was solved, that the enemy had been conquered. The good news was that - just as our Father in Heaven- everyone’s tomb could one day be empty, that everyone’s soul could again be pure, that every child of God could again return to the Father who gave them life.
This is the essence of the message delivered by every prophet who has ever lived and every Apostle ever called to the work. It is the message we, every member and missionary, are called to declare.
To atone means for one person to suffer the penalty of sin for another person, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner. The Atonement allows men and women to be reconciled to God, and only Jesus Christ was capable of carrying out the Atonement. Because of Christ’s Atonement, all people will be resurrected and live forever and those who obey His gospel will receive the greatest of all gifts, eternal life with God.
The Atonement of Christ is the single most important event to happen on the earth today. It is impossible to comprehend just how much suffering He went through, but we do know that is caused him to "bleed from every pore", suffering for ALL our sins and pains, for Worlds without number. Why did he have to die for us? It was the only way, and our Heavenly Father, and his son Jesus Christ, knew that. The only way back to live with our Heavenly Father is through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. To actually have this Atonement of the Savior take full effect in our lives we must do as He asked: have faith in Him, repent of our sins, be baptized and confirmed by one having authority, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, obey God’s commandments, receive sacred ordinances and strive our best to become like Him.
Elder Russell M. Nelson explained the relationship between understanding the Atonement and having a desire to serve a mission. “That is why we have missionaries; that is why we have temples—to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we respond to our own calls from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of serving Him.”
Elder Holland said in one of His talks addressed to missionaries “The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Heavenly Father let Jesus Christ, His son, sacrifice Himself so that the rest of His, heavenly father’s children, all of us, could repent of our sins, become as He is, and all return to live with Him again. I can not comprehend how hard that would be for our Father in Heaven, but I know that my parents, parents of return missionaries and  missionaries that are serving now, or parents that have lost their own children will know just a fraction of what Heavenly Father felt. I know that this is a small sacrifice for my family, but most importantly my parents, to understand and know that me leaving on a mission for the next year and a half is so that I can help others understand the fullness of the gospel and Heavenly Father’s love and bring them to know Him, just as Jesus Christ has done before me.
If the parents of two sister missionaries almost 20 years ago decided not to sacrifice and to not let their daughters serve the Lord then my mother and I probably wouldn’t be here today. One of those sister missionaries that taught my mom once told my mom that she was upset because she felt that she didn’t impact anyone’s life, but I think differently. Without those sister missionaries, my mom may not have ended up joining this church, which means I, or my siblings, would not have ended up in this church and that I would not be standing here today giving you all my farewell talk or going to serve the Lord for the next 18 months.

I’d like to bear my testimony that I know this gospel is true. I believe that Joseph Smith was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and was told to restore this gospel on the earth today. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet on the earth today, that he and the apostles truly do get revelation straight from our Father in Heaven. I know that because of the Atonement we have this gospel, we are able to repent of our sins and become clean again, that we are able to return and live with our Heavenly Father and become as He is. I know that families are forever, and that the temples are here on Earth so that we can become eternal families, do the work Heavenly Father has asked us to, and so that we can become closer to Him. I know that serving a mission can only impact lives for the better if we serve willingly and obediently. I have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and their love for us. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be here today telling you about it or going on a mission to tell others about it.