Elder Zachary Brady's Farewell Talk
given on Sunday, August 17, 2014
in the Lyman 1st Ward, Rexburg Idaho South Stake
I was asked to speak on how I prepared to serve a mission and what it means to me to get a call from a prophet of God.
Talking about how you prepared to go on a mission is what every soon-to-be missionary dreads. We all realize we didn’t prepare as much as we should have. We should have listened more during Sunday school or primary, or not slept during General Conference. I am no different. I know that I didn’t prepare as much as I probably should have and that I don’t think I am ready for a mission but that in itself is a lesson. We must have faith in God and ourselves that we can work and become more prepared as we go along. We will always be learning and growing so in all actuality, one is never truly prepared. You must continually work to become better and better. You must do the best you can.
Well preparing for a mission is not just something you can do overnight, It takes time...a lot of time. It begins when you are very young, and continues up to your mission and even after. In primary it seems that you are taught a mission is the number one priority you should have, at least that is what I remember the most about primary. The song “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission” is one I will always remember. They engrave going on missions into our minds so that we never forget, and maybe that is their goal, that we never forget. I know that I am extremely grateful for the teachers that beat a mission into my head and I will forever be in their debt.
There was a time not so long ago that I was not going on a mission. I had told my parents I wasn’t and they believed it, but more importantly, I believed it. I was not going. I had decided that I was going to college instead and I was already looking at which apartments to stay in. I had talked with my cousin about a job and was trying to figure things out. A mission was not in the plan. I figured why wait to start college and the rest of my life? It wasn’t till a little bit later that I realized what I should have all along. A mission doesn’t put off your life or college or anything. A mission is simply the best way to start it.
When I told people I wasn’t going on a mission they always asked me what changed my mind. After getting asked this the first couple times I stopped and thought about it. Why was I going? Some of answers I came up with are,
1. It was expected of me
2. It was the right thing to do
3. I always knew I was going on one
4. It felt right
5. If I didn’t my dad would kill me
One thought I always came back to was, I knew that I should. Ever since primary I had known that I was going on a mission. It may have moved to the back of my mind but it came through to the front when it needed to be there. So to all the teachers I have had, during primary and after, thank you for helping me become a missionary.
The recent preparation of going on a mission can be broken up into five categories. Gospel Knowledge and Testimony, Personal Worthiness, Work and Self-reliance, Physical and Emotional Health, and finally Financial Preparation. The most important of these is Gospel Knowledge and Testimony.
In the November 2005 Liahona, Elder David A. Bednar said,
“In meetings with young members of the Church around the world, I often invite those in attendance to ask questions. One of the questions I am asked most frequently by young men is this: “What can I do to prepare most effectively to serve as a full-time missionary?” Such a sincere question deserves a serious response. My dear young brethren, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission.”
This means we must have a good knowledge of the gospel and a strong testimony. We should be able to teach about the gospel before we get a call, better than that, we should have already taught someone. If even just a little bit that will start the thoughts in their minds as well as in our own.
To be able to effectively teach someone you must have the Holy Spirit with you. To have the Spirit with you, you must be worthy.
This is a pretty specific scripture saying that in order to teach we must first have the spirit. If we do not, we can not teach. I have heard some returned missionaries say something that makes me think more and more about how god works. They say that at times they felt like it was not them teaching but instead, it was the Holy Ghost. This has stayed with me since the first time I heard it and I hope I will be able to say the same when I am a returned missionary.
In President Monson’s April 2013 General Conference talk, ‘Come, All Ye Sons Of God,’ he says this,
“The holy scriptures contain no proclamation more relevant, no responsibility more binding, no instruction more direct than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the eleven disciples. Said He:“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” This divine command, coupled with its glorious promise, is our watchword today as it was in the meridian of time. Missionary work is an identifying feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Always has it been; ever shall it be. As the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”
If preaching the Gospel is the most important duty then a mission is the biggest adventure a young man or woman can have. Bringing people unto Christ is one of the most important occurrences that someone can go through in their life. Missionaries work to become a missionary and they work very hard while on there missions. Yet all they want is to bring people to Christ, to bring people back to their Heavenly Father and their families. They just want people to know the truth, they have prepared to teach the truth and so they are on a great endeavor to help the people they teach. God is with missionaries and will always be for he loves each and every person that has been, that is, and that will be. He will not give up on any of them. He sends missionaries to bring them back so we must prepare to do the best we can to help our brothers and sisters come back to our loving Heavenly Father.
When I first received my mission call I was hesitant to open it. My uncle called and made sure I was going to open it before I opened it in front of everyone else. He said it was an experience I would never forget, and he was right, I will never forget it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the next two years of my life being in an envelope though. I was nervous, excited, and scared. I knew this was what God wanted me to do though and so I was calmed, even if it was only long enough to open it and read it. Then the chills came and then the butterflies. I remember thinking “I am not ready for this.” I was worried I wouldn’t do good enough, that I didn’t think I could change peoples’ lives. A couple days later I was still worried and nervous when my grandpa, who is a convert, told me something that I will never forget. He said, “You are going to do wonders on your mission I know it. I know because I was one of them. You will change peoples’ lives just be patient with them because you have what they need. You have the Gospel.” The feeling I had after he said that was amazing, made me believe I could do something for people to help them become the people God sees, not the people we see them as.
After that I wasn’t nervous so much about going on a mission but more about where I was going. For those of you that don’t know I am going to the Washington D.C. South mission. I have never really been to a city the size of D.C. before, let alone lived there. I was scared again. I couldn’t figure out why someone like me, someone who’s never traveled much or been to a big city would be sent to D.C. It didn’t make sense. Lately, however, I have been taught that no matter where any missionary is sent there is someone waiting for them. Someone out there that they will be able to help more than anyone else can. Someone that needs them. This lesson came from the homecoming of a missionary that has just recently returned home. His talk allowed me to see that we are sent where we are sent for a reason. We are sent there because we are needed. This allowed me to become calm again and become more excited than scared to go on my mission. It also allowed me to know that a mission is what I need to do, that a mission is the right decision for me and will be one of the best decisions and experiences of my life.
I know that a mission will be hard work and that, at times there will be physical and emotional walls I must climb. With God’s help I know I can overcome any trial that is thrown my way while on my mission. I know there will be trials and I look forward to them. For every trial we overcome, every hardship we endure, we become stronger within ourselves.
I’d like to end with a poem.
I only want a heart that is free.
To be content with life and me.
I want the space and room to grow.
To reap the harvest of seeds I sow.
To live, work, and take care of mine.
And at the end of the day, bask in the sunshine.
To put forth my hand in an endeavor.
To fearlessly move into forever.
To not be held back by hesitation or fear.
To chase down more than just what is here.
To get up and taste what I am made of.
To jump both feet into life, happiness, and love.
To build my dreams with my own hand.
And to have the freedom to do and be, as much as I can,
For as long as time and space will allow me.
I will close with my testimony, I know this church is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and saw what he said he saw. I am thankful for my family and love them though we fight a lot. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.