A lot of people have asked for a copy of Robert's farewell talk, or to post it here on his blog. I had searched everywhere for it and was unable to locate it, until tonight! I was looking through some files on the laptop looking for something else, and actually came across it. So I am posting it now. I know it's a year late, but better late than never!
Good afternoon brothers and sister thank you so much for coming here today to support me. I am especially grateful to my family members and friends that are here today. I love you all and I hope that Spirit of Lord might continue to be here with us.
I would like to share some thoughts regarding the importance of spreading the gospel throughout the world and in our homes.
When Jesus was resurrected he gave to his apostles one special commandment and we can find that in Matthew 28:19 and it says, “Go ye there for and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. When people read this scripture they normally just think it is for missionaries, however this invitation is for anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and in his church. Elder Bednar quotes that, “We are missionaries every day in our families, in our schools in our places of employment and in our communities. Regardless of our age, experience, or station in life, we are all missionaries”.
One way that we can all be missionaries is for all of us to be ready. We all need to be ready to feel the promptings of the spirit and to set a good example for those around us. Thankfully I have been blessed to always have good examples all round me throughout my life. I have had the best scout leaders, teachers, friends and of course a great family around me at all times. They have been such great missionaries in my life helping me to be a better person and to gain a testimony. In truth they all follow the invitation of Christ to share the gospel.
The life of my family has been greatly blessed from the result of missionaries sharing the gospel. Without it I wouldn’t even be here today. Many years ago two young men decided to serve a mission and be a tool in the Lords hands. These missionaries found my grandpa and my grandma and taught them the gospel and baptized them. The gospel changed my grandparents lives and their posterity. My grandfather is now one of the strongest members of the church that I know and is an amazing man. He is a living example of what it means to follow Christ. My grandma contributed to save many souls in her family by doing countless hours of genealogical and temple work. Later in his life, after grandma Martha passes away, my grandfather was blessed by continuing the genealogical work in the temple and met my new grandma Lorraine. She is also a living example of what happens when the Gospel is shared and lived.
My mother instead grew up in the church but like me was a bit rebellious at times. Eventually she completely turned her life around and served an honorable full time mission. She is such a great example to me and I am so thankful for that amazing choice she made. My uncle David served a mission in Japan as well. Notice one common fact: all of these events and changes were able to happen because of two young men’s choice to serve a mission and share the gospel.
A similar situation happened in my father’s life as well. In the cold winter of 1980 two young men “by accident” met my grandma Rosaria in Messina. Their faith and desire to serve the Lord started a process that would bless my father’s life and my family life forever. I am so thankful for Elder Moss and Elder Jenkins for the decision they made to share the gospel and to baptize my father and my Nonna Rosaria. I am sure at that time they had no idea how this would impact my future. I am here today ready to serve a mission in the Italy Milan mission also because of their faithful decision to share the gospel more than 30 years ago!
My mom served her mission in the Italy Catania mission and I am sure that she had no idea what the Lord had in store for her. One of the indirect blessings that came from her desire to spread the gospel was the opportunity to meet her future husband. From all of these events we can all see that sharing the gospel blesses not only the people who receive the teachings but also future generations and the ones who are doing the teaching as well.
Some of us might feel inadequate to share the gospel in some way. However the call to teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost continues to be true in this dispensation.
In Doctrine and Covenants 90: 10-11 the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that said,
“and then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord should be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph of the gospel of their salvation. For it shall come to pass that in that day that every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue and in his own language through those who are ordained unto this power by the administration of the comforter shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
When Heber C. Kimball received the commandment to go to England and be the first missionary called to serve out side North America he felt hesitant and inadequate. In his reaction he said, “o Lord I am a man of stammering tongue and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land?” However all of these feelings did not stop him from serving a mission. In his own words he said, “ the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed. I felt that the cause of the truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” He was humble and because of that was very successful in sharing the gospel in England. He fulfilled the prophecy given in 1835 to be “zealous to save souls…the Gospel must roll forth and it will until it fills the whole earth….You have a work to do that no other men can do; you must proclaim the Gospel in its simplicity and purity”. And also in D&C 112:5;19 and 21 there’s another example of the prophecy that has come to pass:
“Contend thou, therefore morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber because of thy speech…I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you; that they may receive my word”. “and again, I say unto you, that, whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren, the Twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have the power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them”.
In 1 Timothy 4:12 it says “Be thou an example of the believers, in word in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” To be able to preach the gospel we need to be living the gospel in all places at home, school, work or even when your just hanging out with your friends. By living the gospel we can not only go on missions but become real missionaries.
In one of Elder Bednar’s talks he states that, “ 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. Please notice that in my answer I emphasized becoming rather then going…. The issue is not going to church; rather, the issue is worshipping and renewing covenants as we attend church. The issue in not going to or through the temple; rather the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The issue in not going on a mission; rather the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart might mind and strength. It is possible for a young man to go on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the church needs.”
At the same time it is also important to have a gospel sharing home as well. Formal discussions do not need to be held to share the gospel at home. The way our family acts and lives will cause a good spirit in the home and that is the best message you can share with anyone who comes in your home. This in turn will cause testimonies and faith of the parents and children to grow. Creating a gospel sharing home is the easiest and most effective way that we can share the gospel with others. These homes are not necessarily perfect from the world’s point of view. They might not be the cleanest homes or the children might not be the best behaved but they are a place in which family members clearly care and love each other and the spirit of the Lord is felt by those who visit. I am glad and very thankful for the effort of my family to help make our home a better gospel sharing home. It is not perfect by any means but I can certainly tell a major difference in it and I am so thankful for that. It makes my home such a more peaceful and overall better place to live.
One thing about a gospel sharing home is that the members of the family not only pray to bless all the missionaries for their safety and success but they also pray to be prepared so that when they face missionary opportunities they will be ready to act upon those impressions. Having faith is a key component because without that you wouldn’t be able to feel those promptings.
My parents were great examples of this. This past Christmas they just got the feeling that they needed to help out a homeless person. Our family didn’t have a lot of money this holiday season but they just knew that all would be OK and that this is what they needed to do. They went out and bought him new warm shoes and clothes. This was one small way of sharing the gospel without having an official or formal conversation. Just doing a small little act like that can be exactly what someone needs.
Like the Lord says in Matthew 25: 40, “verily I say unto you in as much ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”