Monday, October 15, 2012

Farewell to the Singles Ward Talk

My last time in my Single's Ward before I leave on my mission was yesterday. So of course I spoke in church. My topic was based on 2 of my favorite conference talks from last weekend (Youtube Highlight Clips from the talks are at the bottom).

This isn't exactly written the way I gave it, but it's what I wrote to get my thoughts out:
My topic for today was to pick one conference talk that had the greatest impact on me. I’m going to kind of stretch that, because I’m too indecisive. Instead I’m going to blend together a couple of them. Mainly Elder Scott’s talk on redeeming the dead and Elder Holland’s talk on the greatest commandment which is love. All of the conference talks had impact on me, especially considering you could find the topic of missionary work in almost all of them and I leave this month but today I want to focus more on a topic that impacted me that involves a different kind of love, service and sacrifice- which is that of Family History and Temple work.
I don’t know how this topic came to be considered so boring, we tend to tune it out and assume someone else will do it- I know, I used to all the time. So before I move on, I want to briefly remind us of a conference talk that was given some time ago given by Marvin J. Ashton.
He Said pointed out that:
Self-examination is most difficult. Surveys have shown that most people take credit for success to themselves, but blame their failures on external forces or other people. It would be well, when confronted with problems (and I’ll add- confronted with our slow response to family history and temple work), to be able to ask the same questions the Twelve Apostles asked during the Last Supper.

“Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

“And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

“And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” (Matt. 26:20–22.)
When our progress seems to be at a standstill, it is well for us to ask who is at fault. Is it I? Am I sufficiently committed to righteous goals?

This work is not for someone else. Just as Elder Scott himself asked in his talk: “But what about you? Have you prayed about your ancestor’s work?” For young adults like most of us, that answer is too often no. I didn’t realize before how critical this work is. To quote a couple describing phrases from our apostles and prophets: Temple work is “Vital Vicarious work” and if we don’t do the work, it is “Peril to our own Salvation” they said it is imperative, it’s not a suggestion- it’s a need. Kind of a big deal.

If caution about our salvation is not enough to convince us to sacrifice time to this work, but a promised blessing is. Elder Scott told us that if we “immerse ourselves in our own family history and temple work, we will have a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary” in our live. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want that. And I can personally testify of that to some extent. Since I got my mission call, my mom and I have tried to go to as many temples as we can. So far I think I’ve been at least 13 times and all but 3-4 of those times I have been able to take a family name through. I have had almost half a year since I got my call- that’s a lot of time to make mistakes. Obviously I have, I am far from perfect but each time I’ve done that work, I’ve seen simple miracles and felt immense protection from any strong temptations. If you can make it to the temple for your own ancestors, you can make it through life.

However, after all the reasons I’ve given so far- warnings on our salvation and promised blessings- should not, in my opinion, be the highest motivating factor. The real motivation should be love. Which is where I will finally tie in Elder Holland’s talk.

3 times the savior asked peter “Lovest Thou Me?” after a 3rd yes, the Savior, according to Elder Holland’s personalization then asked “then why are we here? Why are we back having the same conversation…I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need disciples. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not hapless, it is not hopeless”

Yes, we do need to serve those who live in our same time- we need to feed those sheep and bring them to Christ. I would not be going on a mission if I did not believe that. But our ancestors are just as real and just as in need of our help. We need to help save those lambs too.

I know this type of work requires a lot more faith then most. Without the faith and knowledge that those who’ve died are still real and still there though unseen, it would seem a very empty work. But it’s not an empty work. These people are our family. They need our service. One of my favorite quotes is from President Monson who said “You can not love the Lord until you serve him by serving his people”. I used to think that only applied to life here on earth, but we can’t love the Lord if we don’t serve our family in the Temple. Isn’t that a huge part of his plan- his plan of salvation and happiness?

The first time I went through the temple, I learned these lessons in a very simple yet profound way. There was a lot on my mind that day, but when I got into the celestial room, while I was sitting with my family I realized I had a song stuck in my head. The song is a primary song.

I feel my Savior’s love,
In all the world around me
His Spirit warms my soul
Through everything I see.

He knows I will follow Him,
Give all my life to Him
I feel my Savior's love
The love He freely gives me.
I’ll share my Savior’s love
By serving others freely,
In serving I am blessed,
In giving I receive.

He knows I will follow Him,
Give all my life to Him
I feel my Savior’s love,
The love He freely gives me.”

I knew that by serving a mission, I would have the chance to serve others. But I’m grateful that I’ve also the opportunity to serve my family in preparation to serving a mission.
Just as Elder Holland imagines for himself that once we pass on, Christ may very well ask the same question he asked Peter: “Didn’t you love me?” I would also not be surprised if we met our family- our relatives and ancestors who will also ask “Didn’t you love me?”
If we don’t prioritize this eternal requirement I wonder how we will feel when asked those questions.
Quickly I want to tell a brief story about a simple yet profound lesson that I learned when I was serving in Fiji. There was an old man who lived in the village named Toma. While we were working on his family’s outhouse, my friend Connor accidently broke the hammer that Toma had let him barrow. Connor was terrified to tell Toma about it, knowing that it was likely the only tool he owned. But knowing he needed to, he showed the broken hammer to Toma and apologized profusely.
Toma’s response was unexpected. He smiled humbly and said “This? This broken hammer is nothing. Only life is something. When you leave it will hurt, it’s in the heart. It’s life. But this? This is nothing.” Genealogy and temple work is something. There are real people waiting on us. So I hope you and I can stop focusing on what we think we are sacrificing- on what we think is important- stop focusing on the broken hammers- the worldly thing- they are not worth our time. But people are life, relationships are life- so they are something. We need to focus on life and we can not be redeemed to the life our loving savior desires for us without loving our ancestors and family enough to serve them. I am grateful for the stern yet loving reminders general conference gives us and I hope we’ll renew what we learned by re-reading then acting. This gospel is real.



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