Ian’s Farewell Talk in Sacrament Meeting

20 Jan

Ian’s talk given in Sacrament Meeting at the Aliante Ward, Las Vegas Highland Hills Stake on January 20, 2013

So unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you probably have heard or figured out that missionary work is kind of a big deal to the church right now. With the recent changes in missionary age requirements, there has been a flood of new applicants that decided that the time was right for them to go serve. I am one of those applicants.  Although President Monson announced the age change on my 19th birthday, and I had already received my call to South Korea, I’ll still be going out with the big wave of missionaries about to travel all over the world to spread the message of Christ. For those of you that don’t know how the process works, this Wednesday, I will report to the missionary training center, or MTC, located in Provo, Utah, where I will undergo 6-8 weeks of intense language training. after that is complete, (whether I speak Korean or not) I will travel to Seoul Korea, where I will live with and serve the people there for two years, This is kind of a rite of passage for young men in the church, and it is expected that they serve. Females have more of a choice as to whether they will serve, but with the age change affecting women more drastically than men, there have been a plethora of female applicants also going expressing a desire to serve a mission. This summer, our ward will have 5 missionaries out, none of whom will be in the same country. With all of these missionaries coming and going throughout the church, the question arises, why? Why should my friend, Leo Durkin sacrifice his starting spot on The BYU men’s Volleyball team to serve in New York? Why should my friend Mary Moody put her extremely successful collegiate lacrosse career on hold in order to serve in China? Although my mother is a big fan of this:  Why am I choosing to give up opportunities to play video games professionally to serve in Korea? The answer to all of those questions is love. As we choose to love people more than ourselves, we can start to see all the good that individual people can do for the people in the world.

Probably the number one example of a missionary is Jesus Christ. His unconditional love for everyone he came in contact with and his desire to serve his heavenly father makes him the best example people could ever have to live their lives by.  Christ lived his life only to serve, culminating in the garden of Gethsemane, where he suffered for all of our sins, the ultimate act of charity. Christ did not tear people down, he only brought them up. These traits are what made him such an excellent missionary. being Christ like is the most important trait a missionary could hope to have. In a q&a session at Harvard law school Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said this about the purpose of missionaries:

“They’re supposed to go give service, they’re supposed to go love people where they are, and if they join the church fine, but if they don’t, fine. If they can do anything, anything they can do, any single solitary Christian decent worthy thing they can do, they’re supposed to go do. and if people join the church, great, and if they don’t they’ve left a nation or a community or a family or a person better than they found them. and that’s our call to a missionary and that can’t help but do good to the individual”

This attitude of loving the people you are serving is found all throughout the scriptures. Ammon was a Nephite missionary in the Book of Mormon. he was sent to teach the Lamanites who were ruled by kind of a tyrant, King Lamoni. Ammon loved the people of king Lamoni, and showed that by risking his life to save the king’s sheep, long after the paid servants had fled because of the danger. This love for the people is ultimately what allowed him to eventually convert the King Himself. Oh and he chopped off all the arms.

Another great example of Christ like missionary work is the apostle Paul. Paul had had great success in his life, first persecuting the church, but then after he had repented and changed his name, he had immense success as a missionary. One thing that Paul kept facing was that he would go to a particular people, have great success, baptize a great many people, set up the church and teach the people how it was to be run and then leave to go teach more people. But inevitably he would find the people of the places he taught falling into wickedness, and he would have to start over again. Paul never murmured or complained about the stubbornness of the people he taught, but continued to love them and guide them to righteousness through his examples, and occasional Scary letter. (We’re looking at you Thessalonians) Through Paul’s missionary experiences we can learn much about Christ like missionary work through love. In acts chapter 13, Paul heads into the city of Lystra and performs some miracles. The people don’t take it too kindly and it makes some people uncomfortable. So in a classic case of biblical overreaction, they decide to stone him, and leave him for dead. After this happens the Apostle Barabbas drags him out of the city, presumably so he can die in peace. Paul happens to survive this particular stoning, and the next day he goes back into the city and just keeps on teaching, this is a great example of a person truly loving the people he teaches. By focusing on Christ like love and service as our main avenues to find people to teach, I will open up many more opportunities to teach than simply asking people if they want to hear the message the missionaries are teaching.

A great example of this is my older brother Adam. Adam was called to serve in Guatemala. For the first little bit of his mission he had a hard time picking up the Spanish language, so he found a way to get around the language barrier and help give him and his companions opportunities to teach. He saved up some of his missionary funds and bought himself a basic toolbox of handyman supplies. A hammer, a wrench, some electrical tape,  as they would walk the streets of Guatemala city he would look for things that he could help fix, as he was a pretty good handyman, he was able to fix a lot of broken door frames and leaky roofs. Even after his Spanish had gotten much better and he could talk to the people of Guatemala fluently, he still carried his little toolkit around, always offering a helping hand, where he could. Even when the people that he helped had no desire to hear what he was teaching, he continued to offer his and his companions’ service to the people. By focusing on loving and serving the people he was able to teach many many more people that he would have been able to otherwise. One of the people whose door he fixed ended up getting baptized and now he is currently in the branch presidency of his little mountain town.

Again, the reason why we do missionary work is love, we love the people we teach, and we want them to have all the same opportunities to obtain the blessings our heavenly father has in store for people on the earth.

Now that we talked about the why of missionary work, I’m going to take some creative liberty and talk about the how of missionary work. How can we get started? How can we be better missionaries in our everyday lives? If you were at church last week (I wasn’t,) you would have heard our devilishly handsome and incredibly charming ward mission leader, Scott Tidwell, get up and talk about the ward mission plan. This plan is probably the easiest to follow as far as a step by step outline as to how to start becoming better missionaries. First things first, obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel; it is the main resource that missionaries use to teach the gospel. My personal recommendation is that everyone in the family gets their own copy. I received mine on my 14th birthday as part of what I thought at the time, was the lamest Christmas ever, where I received a new suit and white shirts and preach my gospel. I didn’t think that there could ever be a worse Christmas. And then last Christmas happened, if “opening” 14 pair of black socks isn’t your idea of a good time, and then I don’t know what is. Anyways, I’ve had my copy of preach my gospel for a while, and even though I never really made a concerted effort to read it all the way through until the “holy crap I’m leaving on a mission in about 4 weeks, I should probably figure out what this book actually says phase.” it has been good to have around the house. I have taught many priests quorum lessons out of this thing. Parents, get your kids their own copy of preach my gospel and encourage them to study it and learn it.

Just like I mentioned earlier, the best way to be a missionary is to serve. Help your neighbors move, bake them cookies, roll their trash cans in to their house on trash day. Show them that you are genuinely interested in their lives and that you care about them as individuals, and opportunities to teach will come. In Mosiah 2:17 it says “ when ye are the service of you fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” and in D&C 4 it says that if you seek to serve god with your heart might mind and strength. Through some irrefutable logic, this seems to say that when you serve your fellow man, you are also serving god, and by serving god, you will be blessed.

I’d like to thank everybody that has supported and encouraged me.   In the ward, it’s been a party and a half. I’d especially like to thank Rex, for being the best young men’s president that anybody could ask for. I’d also like to thank Bishop Hinrichsen; He’s been a great example throughout the years of a Christ like servant. I’d like to thank my parents for not murdering me, especially my poor mother. I would also like to thank Trent and Heber, for always goofing off with me.  I’d like to thank my other set of grandparents, Bro. & Sis. Makaiwi, their love for everyone has been unreal, plus Brother Makaiwi always picks the best pineapple. I’d like to thank all of you guys that showed up to make it look like I have friends; you guys can get your money after the meeting. I’d like to thank my absolute favorite family in the whole world, Scott and Natalie Tidwell, if you can stand to be around them, go give them a hug, because they are great. When I doubted as to whether or not I wanted to actually go do this thing, Scott stayed up till 1:00 am with me talking, even though I know he gets up for work at 5:00 am every day. I’m truly grateful for the love and compassion he has shown me. And I’m also grateful for Natalie’s compassion and love she has shown me also. As well as her food. Seriously. Holy cake.

I know what I’m going and doing is the right thing, and I know that by loving and serving our fellow man we will be blessed with countless opportunities to share the word of god. I am excited to go to Korea, and I am grateful that the lord will bless me for my service. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over me surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


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