For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten, I have been called to serve in the Maryland Baltimore Mission, and I will be reporting to the Provo MTC on June 10th. While I’ve been preparing for my mission, I have come to find out that everyone knew I would be serving, except for me. Knowing that I would be serving an LDS mission was a surprise for me. In fact, I remember sitting in institute class my first semester of college with my friend Kennede, when she turned to me and asked, “So, when are you turning in your mission papers?” and I was in absolute shock. I quickly told her that I wasn’t going to be serving a mission because it just wasn’t for me and it wasn’t in my plan. After asking why she would think such a thing, she replied in her usual ‘well duh’ tone of voice with, “Because you would be a good missionary.”
Ken, I’m not sure I’ll be a good missionary, but I’ll try. Her question made me start really considering a mission. Like I’ve said so many times before, I did not want to serve. I prayed many times about it, but I’m stubborn and didn’t like my answer. Luckily, The Lord knows that. I remember sitting in the temple waiting to do baptisms for the dead back in October after my classes had finished for the day, and I prayed to Heavenly Father thinking, “Okay, Heavenly Father, I’m going to ask this one last time and whatever answer I receive today in the temple, I will accept it. Should I serve a mission?” I then began reading in D&C section 15 where I had left off the night before and The Lord answered my prayer that day in the most direct way. D&C 15 verses 4, 5, & 6 state, “For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you. Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given you according to my commandments. An now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.”
I know The Lord knew my heart and He knew that I wouldn’t serve without an answer as direct as that. He answered me in a way that I could not deny that I had received my answer. So, I guess that answer that day has led me to where I am standing right now, despite my doubts, fears, and my plan.
As a soon-to-be missionary, I have had the opportunity to memorize D&C section 4, which is essentially the “missionary scripture” and all missionaries must know it. D&C 4 states, “Now behold, a marvelous work is about the come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before Him at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work. For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and, lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul. And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask and ye shall receive, known and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.”
I would now like to talk about section 4 in the Doctrine and Covenants verse by verse.
The first, again, states, “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.” This “marvelous work” discussed in the first verse is talking about missionary work. The work of The Lord is greatly increasing! It is said often in this church that “our greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel,” not because we want the highest number of members or more support and popularity, but because we want all of God’s children to know all the truths this gospel brings and to feel the joy that comes when one follows the great plan of happiness. I know I have felt of this joy and it is true and eternal. I encourage all members to take part in this “marvelous work” by serving missions or by being an example to all by living a happy Latter-day life. Each one of your testimonies is important and can make a difference in someone’s life. Share it. Help the missionaries share this glad message to people who are willing to listen. Be a missionary, whether you’re wearing a badge or not. According to Elder Clayton M. Christensen, “The ability to share the gospel isn’t a ‘gift’ that has been given to only a few Latter-day saints and denied to the rest. We have concluded from our own experiences from watching others that finding people for the missionaries to teach can be easy and natural for all of us – if we go about it the Lord’s way.” We are all called to this work and we will not fail.
The second verse states, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last days.” As I’ve said before, we have all been called to take part in this “marvelous work,” We will all be serving God if we live the gospel teachings and that service will bring you great happiness. Because this work is so important, we all need to remember to give it 110% every day, all day. That doesn’t mean that your entire life should be devoted to proselyting and only serving as a missionary does for 18-24 months, but it does mean that we should all look for opportunities to serve. Pray each morning for the opportunity to share the gospel and serve someone and the Lord will provide if you do your part. Then, watch how your life will change. Performing acts of service helps one be happier. That is fact. Forgetting yourself and giving of your time, love or talents to someone in need not only changes the life of the one being served, but also of the one serving. I have been given so many great examples of people who truly give their all in service for the Lord. Many of those people are sitting here today. Thank you for your examples. You’ve helped me realize that at the end of my life, I want to be able to stand before my Father in Heaven, exhausted from the work that I’ve done, but extremely happy for all the lives I’ve touched, and I want Him to be able to say, “I’m proud of you, Terilyn. Well done.” Because what child doesn’t want to make their parents proud? Service to God’s children will do just that.
This third verse in D&C 4 states, “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work.” I remember walking to the bishop’s office the first time I was going to tell him that I wanted to serve a mission. I felt like such a fraud. I knew I needed to serve a mission, and I was acting upon my answer, but I still had no desire to give up tumbling, school, my amazing job where I get to coach some of the best kids in the world, my family, and 18 months of my life for a mission that would require hard work and rejection daily. I did not want that. But, thankfully, The Lord answered my desperate pleas asking for that desire to serve. He helped me realize that I did want to serve and I’ve had that desire all along. And my desire to serve can basically be summed up all in one word: Hope. This truth I have been fortunate enough to learn has given me an unshakable hope for the future and knowledge that everything will be okay somehow and someway.
There was a time in my life that I had little to no hope. I was lost and unhappy. The trials in my life at that time, looking back, were not as bad as I felt they were, but I was lost and without the truth and knowledge I have now, I felt like it was the end of the world.
Luckily, I had great leaders in this ward and great examples in my life who taught me the gospel principles and helped me find hope. I’ve recently faced trials in my life that have been the most difficult for me and my family so far, but these times have not been my darkest moments because The Lord has prepared me for this, and the happiness and light found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far greater than the darkest sorrows of my trials. The Lord has helped me realize this and I know there are people out there that are going through difficulties much greater than my own, and they are searching for hope. The Lord has prepared me to serve these people by giving them the hope that I once found in my darkest hours because of the people He placed in my life. And that is why I have chosen to serve a mission now.
The fourth verse states, “For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and, lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store, that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.” People are ready to hear the truth. We must do our part to bring it to them. It is our greatest duty and we will be blessed for our efforts.
Verse 5 reads, “And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” This verse always reminds me of the quote, “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” I guess that’s a good thing because I am far from being qualified to teach the Lord’s children. But this verse reminds us that as long as we are striving to be better, striving to gain faith, hope for the future, have charity and love for all of God’s children, we will be enough. You do your part and God will do His, blessing you with the qualifications to be better in all of your callings in the church, your home and your life.
Verse six states, “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” There are many qualities and characteristics that will bring us closer to Christ and make us better missionaries, but these few mentioned are obviously important. One can not learn and therefore, teach without faith or knowledge. By living a pure and virtuous lifestyle, being humble in all his actions, giving to those in need, serving with kindness and love, and diligently striving to become more Christ-like, we can come closer to God and learn more each day, and we can feel more of His perfect love for us and each of His children.
Lastly, verse seven: “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.” I can testify that God hears and answers your prayers. I urge you to seek for answers to your questions and they will be answered. Most answers will not be blunt, but if you search diligently, with the right intent, you will find an answer. I know God will help you if you ask. Set goals for yourself and let Heavenly Father know what you want to accomplish. If you do your part, He will help you become successful.
I remember having a full-blown panic attack at the beginning of my spring semester. I was preparing to serve my mission and I had made the goal to not only receive my associate’s degree within only one year of college, but to do it with a 4.0 GPA. With this goal in mind, I registered for 17.5 credit hours, just half a credit short of the maximum allowed for my scholarship. As I looked at all the syllabi and the workload I would have this semester, on top of preparing to serve, I began to cry. I remember walking into my mother’s room that night at 3 in the morning just bawling because I felt so stressed out and I couldn’t sleep. The future essays I would be required to write were literally haunting my dreams. I’m sure my friend Haylee can remember this. I prayed so long that night and many other nights that semester. And, as you can all see, I survived. I was able to reach my goal, but through it all, I know I was not alone. My Heavenly Father knew how important that goal was for me and He is the only reason I was able to do it.
Seriously, “ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Whatever your request may be, as long as you have sincere heart and it’s in the Lord’s plan. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that is has the complete truth. I know that continued revelation exists on this Earth and that our prophet Thomas S. Monson speaks for the Lord. Joseph Smith restored the gospel to this world and he prepared the way for Christ to come again. I can not wait to devote 18 months of my life to The Lord in service of His children. Because of this opportunity, I will come closer to my lifelong dream of inspiring millions through the Holy Spirit. I know that because of the plan of salvation, we are not alone, and God has a plan for each of us. Families can be together forever. I know this gospel brings true happiness. It is not just a happy message. I go to church to hear the truth, not to feel loved and accepted by others, although that is always a bonus. I desire to share this gospel, not only because of its absolute truth, but because of the happiness it brings. The great blessing of the atonement can heal your pain as it has healed mine. I urge you to replace your fear with faith. Let the gospel into your heart and let it change you. I know the Lord will strengthen you when you are weak. All of us have our part in this miracle. “May the Lord bless each of you in your personal quest to know His will for you and to submit your will to His.” Thank you all for coming and for the influence you’ve all made in my life. You inspire me. I know these things are true with all my heart. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.