I had some friends ask me to share my farewell talk so here it is!
I have audio as well, so comment below with your email if you want it.
Buenos tardes hermanos y hermanas! And for those of us who don’t yet know Spanish, good afternoon brothers and sisters! As most of you know, I am Sister Devere Morris. For the next 18 months, I will be known as Hermana Morris. I have been assigned to labor in the Peru Huancayo Mission. It’s okay if you can’t say it right, I couldn’t the first few times either. For the next 18 months, I will give up a lot of things. These sacrifices may seem HUGE to someone looking at my life from the outside, but they cannot compare to what I owe my Savior.
I would like to begin with a story. Some of you may or may not know, but I hate white rice. I absolutely hate it. Growing up, I would DREAD the days my dad would make white rice for dinner. I would eat about two bites and maybe gag down two more and I was done. No way would I eat more.
When I was little, I would get really mad when people would laugh at me. I hated being in the spotlight whatsoever. I would do something silly and cute, my parents would laugh and I got mad. I would get super upset and scream at the top of my lungs “DON’T LAUGH AT ME.” Of course, most people thought this was absolutely hilarious and would laugh harder.
One time, I think I was 5 or 6, my mom made me a bowl of white rice. At this point in life, I didn’t like rice, but I would eat it. So I was sitting in my high chair attempting to eat. Supposedly I did something funny, my mom laughed, and I screamed the typical “DON’T LAUGH AT ME!” She kept laughing and in response, I took the bowl of extremely hot rice and poured it upside down on my head. She then took a picture of my red hot, screaming face with rice everywhere and a bowl on my head.
You’re probably all wondering why I have told this extremely embarrassing story. Well. For the next 18 months, I will be eating white rice for at least 2 meals a day. I will be laughed and mocked. I will be put in situations I don’t feel comfortable in. I’ll eat things that are gross and weird. I have “not been called to serve in a place, but in place of the Savior.” I will do all of it in the name of Christ and that’s what is important.
When Bishop Lanegan assigned me with this talk, he wasn’t very specific on my topic. He basically told me to talk about my mission scripture and how it relates to the Atonement. And then he told me only Kadee and I are speaking.. There’s a lot of time to fill.. I reread my mission scripture and it’s not very long. I thought he was crazy for thinking I could speak for so long. I then realized how close to my heart this topic is, and how long I could go on about it.
Alma 26:12. I’m sure you have probably all heard me recite this scripture once or twice. It has had one of the largest influences in my life. A little historical background on my mission scripture. Ammon has been reunited with his brothers and friends. They had been teaching the Lamanites in different areas and they were all very grateful to see each other alive and well. Ammon starts basically saying “Look at all the amazing work that has been done!” The others are concerned and remind him not to boast. Ammon’s powerful reply is recorded in Alma 26:11-37 but the scripture I want to focus on is verse 12. It states READ SCRIPTURE (ribbon bookmark).
This scripture has been critical in my decision to serve a mission. I would read this over and over. This scripture became my desire as what I wanted to be like as a missionary. It was no longer a decision of whether or not I wanted to serve, but how I wanted to serve.
Another deciding factor as to what kind of missionary I want to be comes from this quote.
FELLOWSHIP OF UNASHAMED
I want my Savior to recognize me when he returns. I want to know him and I want him to know me. I want to be that “good and faithful servant” spoken of in Matthew 25. I want my banner to be clear.
Here are some other things that influenced me to serve a mission. As many of you know and have seen, I have two pretty awesome parents. I have always looked up to my dad because he decided to serve a mission. He also served in Peru. For as long as I can remember, he tried to teach me some of his Spanish. Whenever I would help him with a project, he would say “gracias” and I learned to reply with “de nada!” This was pretty much all the Spanish I knew until junior high and high school. Little did I know it would actually come in handy!
My mom on the other hand did not serve a mission. She had actually decided she was
going to serve about 2 weeks before she and my dad met. At that time, the mission age was 21 and my mom was not yet 19. My dad returned home from his mission in Peru, and my parents met less than 2 weeks later. There ended up being a wedding reception instead of a mission farewell for my mom. Despite not serving a mission, my mom has always tried to follow God’s plan for her and I think it turned out pretty well.
How faith filled both of these amazing examples are to me. I look at both my parents and attribute a huge portion of my desire to serve to them. Both have always inspired and encouraged me to go. A mission has always been in my tentative plans. Until the age change. That October morning, when I heard President Monson’s announcement, I ran to my mom and said, “Mom I’m going.” She looked at me with a smile and has been extremely supportive since.
So those were some reasons why I wanted to serve. Why do I want to serve now? The answer is love. I have felt my Savior’s love and I cannot help but to share it. The first great commandment Christ gives us is to Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and with all thy mind. So this is how I can show my love for my Savior. I would now like to discuss a little more what the Savior has done for me and what he can do for all of you.
I would like to relate this back to my mission scripture.
Starting in verse 11 of Alma 26, here are some of my favorite tidbits of what missionary work means to me.
VS 11 - I do not boast in my own strength nor in my own wisdom. My joy is full and I will rejoice in God.
VS 12 - I AM NOTHING. For in HIS strength I can do ALL things.
VS 13 - how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell? brought to sing redeeming love
VS 14 - we have reason to praise him forever.
VS 15 - we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work!
VS 16 - Let us glory! We will praise our God forever. Who can glory too much in the Lord?
So how do these verses relate to the Atonement, you ask? Ammon, like Moses recognizes how small he is compared to everything else, yet he also recognizes that through God, all things are possible. In Moses chapter 1, we see yet again, that man is nothing. We are so small and seemingly insignificant, but to God we are everything. Verse 39 of Moses 1 reads …… Because we are imperfect, God knew we needed a Savior. He knew we would make mistakes. A quote I found reflects this perfectly: “When God designed the plan for your life, it wasn’t dependant on you being perfect. Your mistakes are not a surprise to Him.” Heavenly Father sent His Beloved Son to die for us. Just as important, Christ lives for us. He overcame all so that we can too. In His strength, we can do ALL things. What amazing knowledge we have. Christ makes all things possible. As President Monson says, the future is as bright as your faith!
So. How do you prepare for a mission? To quote Elder Bednar from the October 2005 General Conference:
“One of the questions I am asked most frequently by young men is this: “What can I do to prepare most effectively to serve as a full-time missionary?” Such a sincere question deserves a serious response.My dear young brethren, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is tobecome a missionary long before you go on a mission. Please notice that in my answer I emphasized becoming rather than going.”
I heard this is a mission prep class once and it has stuck with me since. To be the best missionary in the field, we need to be the best missionary at home! We do the things we will do as a missionary: scripture study, prayer, fasting, serving. Someone wise once told me to look at every person like they have a sign around their neck that says “make me feel important today!” How different this has made me feel. Heavenly Father tries every day to do this with us, but how often do we ignore His hand in our lives? Let us listen and look for His blessings daily.
How grateful I am to be serving the people of Peru. How blessed I am to have this opportunity. Getting a mission call is like nothing else. You feel your Father’s love so much. For you. For His children you will serve, and for all His sons and daughters. It is an amazing feeling. I was able to receive my mission call the same day as another of my friends. The support and love you feel when you prepare to serve a mission is amazing. I have felt so much love from family and friends as they support and work along side me. I thank you all for this.
As you pack your room, shove 18 months worth of clothes in 2 suitcases, leave behind family and friends, and get ready to go, you really start to consider what is of value. I love my shoes. I love the art on my walls. I love my school and my job. But what really matters beyond all that, is my testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters beyond the hope in Christ that I have. I pray I don’t lose any of my luggage, but I’ll survive if I do. I hope I don’t get sick, but it’s bound to happen. The things of this life last only for a moment. God’s plan is eternal and Christ’s Atonement is perfect.
Brothers and sisters, I would like to share a little piece of my testimony with you. I know that God lives. He is our literal Father. He knows us and loves us. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. Just as important to remember, Christ lives for us. He overcame all so that we can. We don't have to do it alone. Christ never asks us to do anything He hasn't already done. He's been there. He's done it all. I know we can gain a personal testimony of our Savior. I know because I've done it. I knelt down and asked God. I felt His peace and I feel it every day. God lives. He loves us. Nothing can change that. I share these things humbly with you, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
xo Hugs and Kisses xo
Until next time,