Sunday January 27, 2013
the dreaded and yet anticipated day of my farewell came and went.

Let's just say I'm glad it's done and over with, but also I'm really satisfied with how everything turned out.  

I was planning and preparing for weeks it felt like.  Seriously, if you ask my family I was busy writing it every single night right before.  I knew what I wanted to say, but it was hard putting it into words.  

I do have to say though, my favorite part was the reactions of everyone, especially my family.  You see, I wouldn't let anyone read it except my Dad because I wanted them to hear it for the first time when I was speaking.  

There weren't many dry eyes when I started talking about Sarah.  And boy, isn't she just the best.  Everyone said I did such an exceptional job, and I really owe it all to the Spirit.  

I recorded it so you could feel like you're really there, but I can't figure out how to put it on the blog, so reading will just have to do.    


After I received my mission call, the repeated question I kept receiving was “have you always been planning on serving a mission?”  And honestly, the answer is no.  I haven’t been planning on serving a mission for my entire life.  I mean sure, I’ve thought about it here and there and actually been considering it more the past couple years, but I always figured if I wasn’t married or what not when the time came, then I’d go.  

But at President Monson’s announcement of the age change for missionaries in last fall’s general conference, I knew immediately that I was to serve a mission.  As the days continued on, I couldn’t help but think, what is my purpose of serving a mission?  I knew I needed to go, but why?   And most importantly, why specifically me at this point in time?

It was a couple weeks later when I remembered what a good friend once told me.  He said, “It’s up to you Jenna.”  I love this because it can really apply to anything.  If you want anything to happen, you have to do something.  If you want something to change, it’s up to you.  So knowing this, I decided to figure out for myself what my purpose of serving a mission was.   

During this past semester, in one of my classes at BYU-Idaho we were studying the story of Abish in Alma Chapter 19.  For those of you unfamiliar with the story, she was the servant of Lamoni who was the Lamanite King.  

King Lamoni had Ammon working for him as his shepherd and was amazed that Ammon was able to save the king’s flocks and slay his enemies at the waters of Sebus.  Questioning how Ammon was able to do this, they got into a discussion about God.  During this time Ammon was able to teach King Lamoni of the creation, of God’s dealing with men, and of the redemption that comes through Christ.  Being so overcome with the Spirit of God, Lamoni fell to the ground as if he was dead.

The queen was worried about Lamoni because he wasn’t waking up and it had been nearly two days, but his body wasn’t decomposing like it would if he was dead.  So she called on Ammon in to determine what was wrong.  Ammon says in verse 6 of chapter 19 of Alma, “king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God.”  Ammon told the queen that he would arise on the morrow and everything would be fine.   
Just like Ammon promised, Lamoni woke the next day, and like it says in Alma 19:12-13 “And it came to pass that he arose, according to the words of Ammon; and as he arose, he stretched forth his hand unto the woman, and said: Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou.  For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name. Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the Spirit.”
So now the King and the Queen had both fallen to the earth as if they were dead.  Ammon soon sunk to the earth also because of his gratitude for God for showing the King and his wife revelation of the Redeemer.  Eventually all the servants of the king fell to the earth while praying to God.  

So starting in Alma 19:16-17, it’s a recap of the servants falling to the earth and then begins the story of Abish, “And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father— Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people.”

Abish was converted unto the Lord because of what her father taught her after receiving a remarkable vision.  Over time she had continued to help her testimony grow by studying on her own and doing all she could.  After receiving her own testimony she was able to share it with others and help them gain their own testimonies.   

Reflecting on the story of Abish, as I studied it more on my own, I came to realize for myself that this is the story of me.  The story of Abish is more or less the story of Sister Schmutz. 
Abish was a sister missionary during her time, and although the circumstances aren’t the same, I’m just like Abish.  She was converted to the Lord and had never made it known unto anyone.  When the time was right she immediately acted on what she observed, and she ran forth from house to house sharing her testimony.  

Much like Abish, I have been converted unto the Lord and I know I don’t share my testimony as much as I should.  With the age change for missionaries I know that this is the right time for me to step up to my calling and be quick to observe and act.  It’s my responsibility to share the amazing blessings of the gospel with people that are ready to receive them.  

However, while doing all I can to prepare for my mission, to say that I feel inadequate to be serving a mission would be an understatement.  It’s hard knowing it’s my responsibility to teach investigators about the gospel of Jesus Christ when I don’t know how to properly explain things in the right words and context.  

But through studying the scriptures I’ve come to know that through faith in the Lord, anything is possible.  God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.  After receiving my mission call, I was feeling really overwhelmed with the calling and felt that I wouldn’t be able to actively fulfill my role as a missionary.  One night, I got on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father letting him know of my insecurities.  Immediately after I opened my scriptures to start studying, I turned to Alma 26:27 which reads, “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”  

When I change the scripture to personalize it, it brings so much peace and comfort, saying “Now when my heart was depressed, and I was about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted me, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, and bear with patience thine afflictions and I will give unto you success.”  

I’ve learned that living by faith and not by fear is ultimately the major step.  When the bishop assigned me the topic of a conference talk by Quentin L. Cook titled “Live by Faith and Not by Fear” I didn’t really think much of it until I realized how much it applies to me and how I need to overcome my fear with faith.  

Today, it’s easy to take the path of fear instead of faith because often times it is easier.  But we can learn to trust in God and His plan for us.  As we continue to strengthen our faith, fear begins to decrease.  Harold B. Lee has stated that if we want to increase our faith we should:

1. Follow the prophet.
2. Create the true spirit of the gospel in our hearts and homes.
3. Be a light to those among whom we live.
4. Focus on the ordinances and principles taught in the temple.  
As we strive to live by these things, our fear will be overcome by faith.  And we’ll be able to look forward to the future with bright faith and firm hope.  

Nothing that we go through on earth is easy, and eventually it’s not possible without our Savior’s help.  He’s here for us through every step of the journey and is more willing to help if we ask.   President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled: “You can’t do it alone.  … You need the help of the Lord … and the marvelous thing is that you have the opportunity to pray, with the expectation that your prayers will be heard and answered. … He stands ready to help.”  Our Savior feels everything that we’re going through and he wants to help.  When you are concerned whether the Lord actually hears your prayers, remember how much He loves each of us.  He’s always there.  

One of my very favorite quotes is by Dieter F. Uchtdorf saying, “Though it may seem that you are alone, angels attend you. Though you may feel that no one can understand the depth of your despair, our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands. He suffered more than we can possibly imagine, and He did it for us; He did it for you. You are not alone.”

I think it’s amazing that we never have to go through anything alone.  Sarah asked her friend that’s currently serving a mission what advice he would give to me and the number one thing he said is, “Know that you are not alone- Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit will be with you.”  This brings comfort to my soul because the hardest thing for me will be being away from Sarah.  Recently we were reflecting back on how long Sarah and I have consecutively been apart from each other, and I think we came up with the most being two or three days.  So now we have to take the big step and go 18 months.  But knowing that neither of us is alone makes the step a little bit easier.   

As it says in D&C 68:5-6 “Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.  Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”  When we learn to share our testimony of Christ and invite Him into our life, we will receive countless blessings. 

I know many of you have heard the poem Footsteps in the Sand before, but it’s one of my favorites so I’d like to read it again.  “One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.  Sometimes there were two sets of footprints; other times there were one set of footprints.  This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints.  So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.  But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”  The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”  -Mary Stevenson

Brothers and sisters, I testify to you that the Lord will carry us through the hard times in your life.  For He has already lifted my spirits and helped me along in trying times of my life.  

As Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “It is our faith in Jesus Christ that sustains us at the crossroads of life’s journey.  It is the first principle of the gospel.  Without it we will spin our wheels at the intersection, spending our precious time but getting nowhere.  It is Christ who offers the invitation to follow Him, to give Him our burden, and to carry His yoke, “for [His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).”

I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission.  And for the opportunity I have to bring others unto the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’m especially grateful for all the support and love from family and friends.  

I would like to close by sharing my testimony.  I know that Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ is real.  I’m ever grateful for the atonement and for all that the Savior continually does for me.  I know that my Redeemer lives.  And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.      

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