Monday, August 5, 2013

Elder Pickle's Farewell

You know Its kind of strange being up here and knowing that I’m leaving on my mission in a few days. For those of you who aren’t familiar with missions or Mormons, serving a two year mission in our church is something that primarily young men but also most young women grow up knowing they will do. Its something that in general most of us look forward to. However for me it wasn’t really like that. I know it sounds bad but I dreaded turning 19 and when the age for missionaries changed to 18 that feeling of fear and panic quickly set in. Serving a mission for 2 years was not on my radar at all. And that feeling lasted for the longest time, you know all I could think about was how am I going to tell my parents. And I know there are others, possibly out here right now, who feel the same way I did. I had a lot going for me then. I was doing well in surf contests, talking to shops and companies about sponsorships, sorry mom but I was hanging out with tons of girls. And the last thing I wanted to do was drop all of that to wear a shirt and tie everyday for two years. I even thought that I was an exception. That I didn’t need to serve a mission. I thought to myself I’m not called to serve... I’m called to surf. But seriously, I had myself convinced that God didn’t really want me to go on a mission.

Now flash forward to now, as I read over the topic brother Walters gave me several weeks ago, I thought to myself how perfect it was not just to the situation I had faced, but to everyone else as well. The topic goes “We invite all to serve the savior and walk in his path straightway. There is an urgency for all of us who have this knowledge of His divinity to act upon it without hesitation or delay. The time is now.”

You know, the church gives us an understanding and perspective that some of us tend to overlook and take for granted at times. We, Mormons and non mormons alike, look past the blessings and love that our father in heaven pours over us, and focus on the negative things and the hardships we face. This was true in my case. I don’t necessarily like to talk about this too much but back when I entered my sophomore year in high school, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. And I remember all of the hospital visits and sitting at my dads bedside watching him suffer, and living with the uncertainty of what would happen. And all I could think was why would this happen. I began to look past the understanding I had, and the love that was around me. I began to think of all the other things that had happened to me, and those I loved. I don’t really like to talk about this too much either but when I was about 6 years old I lost one of my best buddies to Leukemia, and I remember sitting with him throughout it all, much like with my dad. I began to dwell on all of this negativity as I went through high school, and it contributed to driving me away from the idea of serving a mission. I had blinded myself from what I really knew was true. And that lasted for quite awhile.

It wasn’t until about halfway through my senior year that I decided to go on a mission. I began to look at things from a different perspective, and opened my eyes to what I really knew was true. I looked back at all the trials I had faced and saw how I had grown from them. I saw my family become stronger than ever during my dads recovery, and I knew of the love that our friends had for us. I knew that I hadn’t lost a friend, and that he’s cheering me on through all of this. It was at this point in my life that I gained a desire stronger than any other desire to serve in any way that I can. I realized the urgency that there is to share with others around me the blessings and happiness that I have because of this church and gospel. I realized that the time is now for me to help others through this life in any way that I can. I can’t imagine going through this life without the understanding and hope that this gospel gives me. And for those of you who are not sure if they want to serve a mission, try to look back at all the times this gospel has blessed you, because at that time you may not notice those blessings, but they’re there. But above all, brothers and sisters, look towards your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Pray, ask your father in heaven in times of doubt and uncertainty. And look towards Christ as an example of how you should live your life. Do as Christ would, to the best of your ability. When I was deciding to go on my mission, prayer was among the most influential things in my life. And Christ's example an anchor to me. And if you do that you too will have a desire to share those blessings with others. In closing I’d like to thank all of my friends and family who are here today and who have supported me throughout all of this. And I’d like to share with you my testimony:

*Nick added more to the talk and didn't write down his testimony, but here's the basic gist of the talk :)

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