Monday, October 28, 2013

My Final Speech

Good morning brothers and sisters, I am Annie Holm the daughter of Mike and Kristen Holm.  I’ve been called to serve in the Canada Vancouver Mission.  I really am so blessed to be called to Vancouver Canada; not because I grew up 3 hours away, not because I’m high maintenance, but because my absolute favorite drink is Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  So, thanks for having my back.  My mission covers all of British Columbia.  Vancouver is a pretty amazing place, it hosted the 2010 winter Olympics and it’s also where some of The Twilight Saga and X-Men were filmed.  So there’s that. 

I’ve been asked to speak on listening to the prophet.  I’m sure you all remember the pivotal October 2012 General Conference session where President Monson announced the change in missionary age.  Immediately following the announcement as many as 4,000 applications were received each week.  I did not want to be one of those 4,000.  When I first heard about the age change I had zero desire to serve a mission.  The age had changed but my feelings had not.  I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon.  I just didn’t feel a mission was right for me.  I was the kid who ditched seminary and ran from Scott Sechrest as he tried to drag me to Sunday school.  My plan was to finish college and start my career.  A mission was never in those plans.  But somehow, my heart softened and within a month I knew I had to go.  I couldn’t put in my papers until April of this year, so I finished up my freshman year at the U and then finally submitted my papers. 

Although I was a little rebellious and YES I did manage to graduate from seminary, I’ve come to realize that perfection isn’t something God expects.  “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” This quote has brought me so much comfort as I’ve prepared for my mission. I know that I won’t be a great missionary on my first day, but I’ll try my best to be a good one with the hopes of someday being great. “A mighty oak grows one day at a time.” But a mission isn’t about me.  In the garden of gethsemane, Our savior uttered, “Not my will but thine be done.” As much as I’ll learn and grow in the next year and a half, I know that I’m not there just for me. I’m dedicating my time to me Heavenly Father and serving HIS children. D&C section 4:2 says “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 day.”

Our Heavenly Father has blessed us choice and accountability.  The prophet tells us things that we should change and work on and it’s up to us to listen.  Listening to his words will bless our lives.  I know my choice to serve a mission is one that will not be easy, but I have received a call from the prophet, and I chose follow his example and counsel by accepting it. 

What are some ways we can listen to the prophet? Well, we can listen to podcasts or the radio, on the internet, or even watch it on TV. But those are all ways to HEAR the prophet, what are the ways we can actually LISTEN and FOLLOW him
o   We can read our scriptures.  They contain the words of the prophets, which were given to them for our benefit by heavenly Father. My favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart ; and lean not unto thine own understanding . In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
o   We can follow their counsel.  Everything from paying tithing, to living with integrity. Our actions show that we not only heard, but we listened. If we follow, our burdens will be lighter. When we receive counsel, it’s not always great big detailed instructions.   President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “If Life Gets Too Hard To Stand, Kneel.”    8 words of inspired counsel.   Short, clear, and simple.
-       We need to understand that it will not always be easy. 
o   Although Dumbledore isn’t a prophet, I think he almost said it best, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” I’ll be cliché , life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s meant to challenge and keep us on our toes, which allows for all areas of growth. With the counsel from the prophets, it may not be easier, but we will be doing what is right.

My all time favorite speech is called Blueprint by Martin Luther King Jr. It was given to an auditorium full of high school students regarding their future. I want to read you the conclusion of the speech. It says,
“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leon-tine Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera.  Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.  Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.  If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley.  Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can't be a tree.  If you can't be a highway, just be a trail.  If you can't be a sun, be a star.  For it isn't by size that you win or fail.  Be the best of whatever you are.”

Everyone has told me how hard a mission is going to be. I know that it will be hard. I just want to be the best little shrub on the side of the hill because I know that if I do my absolute best, Heavenly Father will make up the rest.

I’ll be honest with you, my testimony isn’t well rounded or extravagant. It’s simple. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and restored the only true church to the earth. I know that families can be together forever. I know that our Savior made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could return to our Heavenly Father. I know that He loves each and every one of us and I can feel it everyday. I know that choosing to serve a mission is the best decision I’ve ever made. And finally, I know that this church is true.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to listen to our prophet by serving a mission.  It’s not a decision that I took lightly. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.