Sunday, May 12, 2013

Highlights from my Farewell

The family wearing Kente Cloth. 

Today marked a momentous day for me, as it was my last Sunday in my amazing ward and amazing country. But only for the next 2 years so it’s not that big of a deal. As I have been contemplating my decision to go on a full time mission over the past few months, I have come to realize that it has not been a decision at all.  I have always known in my heart that I was going to go on a mission and I cannot think of any time-turning moment where the decision was made. 
   In fact, it was the examples of my leaders and parents that led me to this point. I know we live in a time where we have a living prophet Thomas S Monson on the Earth, and revelation can come freely to all those who are willing to receive it. I strongly believe that much thought, prayer and revelation has gone into the decision of who the leading adults have been in my life. I have loved all my leaders and I thank all of you that were there today. But there have been three things I have observed from my leaders over the years growing up that I have come to know as the Three T’s. The Three T’s are Teach Talk and Trap. Elder Uchtdorf likes to make catchy slogans and so will I! Each one of these T’s are things leaders have done that have prepared me to be able to talk about the Gospel and to be a missionary.
   The first T is Teach. Teaching, I think is the main purpose of a leader. From my leaders, I have learned amazing things such as making a robe out of grass, being able to survive in the wilderness without hardly anything, and that you can be sick and dying, and a girl will still say yes when you ask her to marry you. You know, important things. But the lessons I have appreciated the most have been about temple worthiness, priesthood duties and how to be a loving husband and father. We are listening even though you think we are just playing Angry Birds on our phones.
    The second T is Talk. Some of the greatest time I have had with my leaders have been late at night around the campfire just … talking. No conscience teaching is occurring but it is when we as youth can see behind the veil of “brother” or “sister” and just as a friend. In the scriptures, the ultimate example, Christ called his disciples “my friends” and “my brothers”. I have enjoyed the friendships I have had with my leaders and the stories I have heard. But I have come to see a pattern in the stories my leaders have liked to tell, they usually start with “back on my mission” Those are the best stories that have helped me be taught what a mission is actually like, instead of just watching the Best Two Years movie. When we hear what an amazing time we will have, the decision will come naturally. Telling stories is an incognito was of convincing.
   Which brings me to the last T, Trap.  The only reason I called this one trap is because ‘basketball’ doesn't start with a T. I strongly believe basketball is the Lord's tool. It is a comfortable and familiar way to meet people and have fun… and then get asked to church after wards. Looking back now, I laugh at all the other times where what I thought was going to be a trivial entertaining activity turns out to be a well thought out metaphor. When I was a teacher, we had an activity where from the surface it appeared to be just a fun carnival, but by the end we found out it was actually a model of the Plan of Salvation. I won’t spoil anymore in case they do it again. Situations like these have shown me a better way to fellowship and teach.

   Another person who has helped me prepare has been my father. President M. Russel Ballard has said, “We are all on a journey. Dads are just a little further down the road but none of us has arrived at our final destination." So the life of our father is the model of how we will be when we are fathers. Dads watch out. I am grateful for everything that my father has done for me and all the things he has done to make me the missionary I am. Some things I have noticed that have helped me prepare: well. it’s nothing clever but it is still 3 things: Using time wisely, Have something to Share and Personal Worthiness.
  The first is “Using time wisely.” Dads have a lot on their plate. They leave work in the morning to provide for their families and come back late and have to find time to spend time with them as well. I am grateful for the time I have been able to spend with my father but it has ran out. People call missions “the best two years” and say “it goes by so quick” and I really think it’s true. The time I spend with my dad always flies by.
  The second is “Having something to Share.” In many ways, fathers are our first companions and our first trainers. It’s up to them to be the example of scripture study, prayer, and fasting. Sometimes fathers have to put aside their personal desires to be able to be the example. As I said before, the life of our father is the model of how we will be when we are fathers. It is also the model of how we are and what we like. Growing up my dad liked running, so I started running. He liked singing so I started singing. When he would do something, I would do it too. My father has taught me that someone is always watching and I always need to be a constant example.
   The last one is “Personal Worthiness.” From the time we are small to now we look at our fathers of how to live the gospel. With fathers’ blessings, sacrament, and going to the temple, it's the same thing as before, We do what we see. So when I saw a man who gave us priesthood blessings,  took the sacrament every and came with me for my first time to the temple, I know the man I want to be, I know how I want to live with the priesthood I hold. I thank my father and all the other fathers that have been examples to me in my life.
   Since I have already stolen Mothers day enough I guess now I will talk about mothers. I think my mom is great and I could talk about her all day. But seeing as I don't have all day, and today is Mother’s day, not Harrison’s Mothers day, Ill speak to all the mothers. I first thank you for all the hard work you bear through to make your children’s lives better. Being a mother is probably the most selfless of all life callings because everything she does is for her family.  In the Book of Mormon, we read about 2,000 young men who were valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48). In some ways, our mothers make our house a PMTC or a pre-missionary Training center. And two great values that mothers can teach is first, The value of work and second, Love.
After going to college, I realized what it was like not having a mother there. I checked the postal costs and I found that it was neither practical nor cost effective to send my laundry home from Idaho. I realized that I had to do all the laundry, cooking and cleaning on my own and mom was not there to help. However, that rigorous life was only the tip of the ice berg compared to a mother’s. She had those same duties times 6. Whereas it is the duty of a mother to be there for her family another duty is to teach the value of work. Growing up chores were THE worst. No kid likes to do chores. But when we see what happens we don't clean, i.e. most of our rooms, we come to learn the value.
For the past three summers I have worked at a scout camp where we had to work all the time and be an example to the Webelos. Not saying I am a mother but I saw the importance of how work affected my life. All the quote “Mormons” were highly respected because of our work ethic that where we thought was normal, was out of this world to them. Mothers have the job to clean up and support everyone in the family and somehow find time to themselves. For the past few months, I have been working and watching movies with my mom. During the whole time, I have never seen my mother sit and watch a movie. She always finds something to do and never wants to sit. That is the kind of work ethic that I, and definitely the other young men in the ward have learned from all of you mothers and I thank you for it.  And so do all the people of yards we have mowed and raked in our lives.
   Most of all in the world the most important duty of a mother is to love.
I thank all the mothers who have raised their children so that we could live in a place with peers with the same standards.

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