For those of you who missed Elder Bradshaw's Farewell talk, here it is! And yes, Nick did write this by himself :).
Good morning brothers and sisters. I am so grateful for this opportunity to stand before you this day. I pray that you may feel the spirit as I speak.
Brother Brady has asked me to speak on the importance of missionary work and how important each soul is in the eyes of the Lord.
We all have discouragements that leave us feeling that we have no self worth and that we are forgotten by our Heavenly Father. Let’s ask ourselves, are we struggling with this now? Or have we in the past struggled with this?
Time and time again we feel so small for anyone to take notice of us. President Uchtdorf in his October 2011 conference talk “You Matter to Him” says, "Satan tries so hard to discourage us and make us feel worthless in all things. Satan tries to discourage us so much to make us fall away from the church, commit sin and ultimately destruction of our souls".
When I received my call to the Mississippi Jackson Mission, I was told that if I wanted to see what Mississippi is like, I should watch the movie “The Help.” A lot of you have probably seen it. It is particularly sweet where Aibileen, the maid, has Mae Mobley the little girl that she takes care of because her mother doesn’t pay much attention, repeat back to her “You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important.” Can you imagine how important these words were to this little girl who felt as if she was of little worth?
Just because some of us have received a special call to go on a mission doesn’t mean that the rest are to sit back and relax. In our church “all members are missionaries.” There are many people both nonmembers and less active members who are waiting for that special one to come along who will help them in their lives.
I ran across a letter the other day from a mother who is crying out desperately for her son who has lost his way. It is entitled, “Have You Seen My Son?”
" I woke up early this morning from a terrible dream. I couldn’t find my son. Have you seen him? He was a son that I could always depend on. I could tell him my innermost secrets and he would always keep them. But now I can’t find him to tell him. He doesn’t call he doesn’t come to visit. What has happened to him? He was always one to be proud of, with his handsome face, outgoing personality, and love for sports. He had many friends and they had a lot of fun and sometimes he was their protector. I know that he didn’t have the best childhood. I was always too busy dealing with other matters. But I really loved my children with all my heart.
I wonder now what he really cares about as he mentioned that he doesn’t care about: his family, Heavenly Father, what others think, his health, his home. Does he only care about what he thinks will bring him happiness: escaping from reality, no commitments, and temporary pleasures?
Please help me find the son that I know and bring him back to the important things, the things that will bring him real happiness. I have this dark feeling that something really terrible is happening to him. I don’t know what to do! If you see him, please tell him I love him with all my heart! Please help me find my son!"
Now is this son of worth to his mother, to his family, to his Heavenly Father? I believe he is. What a blessing it would be if he was to find someone that will make a difference in his life, perhaps a called missionary, perhaps a member missionary. May we all reach out to rescue those who need our help and our love.
So why am I leaving my family and friends to serve my Heavenly Father? Because I want to find those people who are being prepared for me and bring others unto Christ. I know that as I serve with my heart, might and strength the Lord will lead me to those who are prepared to be baptized and have them sealed to their families for time and all eternity.
"Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church and the lifesaving blessing to all who accept its message."
I have a friend who is serving in the Philippines and I asked him in my latest email what his opinion and idea of the worth of souls and the importance of missionary work is, he says “while I am out here I just remember that the worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God and that I need to not be judgmental and I need to help everyone and love everyone as did our Savior. Love one another as I have loved you. Whether it is a really old person or a child it is the most wonderful experience in the world when they accept the Gospel. You just feel so much love for them and you want to see them in the temple and you want to see them happy with their families forever in the celestial kingdom. There have been so many times where I just feel incredible, indescribable love for the people that I have been teaching and it makes all of the hardships worth it.”
But still we think how are we important in all this? I give you this quote from President Uchtdorf he says “And while we may look at the vast expanse of the universe and say, what is man in comparison to the glory of creation? God himself said we are the reason he created the universe! His work and glory-the purpose for this magnificent universe- is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me.”
We all should be missionaries at work, home, school and play. Many of our brothers and sisters in this world are blinded by false teachings and kept out of the truth. It is very simple, we can invite them out to young men, young women’s, have them listen to a conference talk or even invite them to church with us one Sunday. In D&C Section 18 verse 10 we read, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Then the Lord promises us in the same Section, Verse 15: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father!”
Then it goes on in Verse 16: “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me.”
Satan tries to counteract this loving statement by making us feel like it’s only us as an individual that matters, nobody else. He tries to puff us up into believing in our own fantasy by our birthright or social status. He wants us to believe there are no rules and that we make them up how we want. He also tries to get us to not be bothered by anybody else’s problems in our lives.
A good scripture I found that talks about this is in D&C section 90:17. It says “Be not ashamed, neither confounded; but be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride, for it bringeth a snare upon your souls.”
And another scripture is found in 1st John chapter 2 verse 16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world.”
Ensign April 2012 & November 2011. Both have quotes which I love.
" You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, 'No one understands. No one knows,'" writes Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of Mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor -literally run to us- and strengthen us."
"I bear my testimony to you that this work is true, that our Savior lives, and that He guides and directs His Church here upon the earth," Said President Thomas S. Monson during the closing session of the 181st semiannual General Conference. "I leave with you my witness and my testimony that God our Eternal Father lives and loves us. He is indeed our Father, and He is personal and real. May we realize and understand how close to us He is willing to come, how far He is willing to go to help us, how much He loves us, and how much He does and is willing to do for us."
Following is a favorite saying written by: Mary Stevenson
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord, that if I
followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied, "The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."
I would like to leave you with the following quote from President Uchtdorf, “Please understand that what we see and experience now is not what forever will be. We will not feel loneliness sorrow, pain or discouragement forever. We have the faithful promise of God that He will neither forget nor forsake who incline their hearts to Him. Be assured that if we but hold on, believe in Him, and remain faithful in keeping the commandments, one day we will experience for ourselves the things which God hath prepared for us that love Him.”
It is my prayer that we all be missionaries, and look for those who may be feeling lonely, sorrow or pain or just feeling like they are missing something in their lives. I pray we can remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.