The topic given was on testimonies. I left it blank in some parts so I couldn’t read it word for word. The topic of testimonies is so personal to me. I cried writing it and it was no surprise that I cried through it during my talk. Thank you for all of those who came to my farewell! It was amazing! It’s crazy how time flies so fast. It seems like just last week I decided to serve a mission and just yesterday that I received my call to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico! And now I’m all ready to go leave in two short weeks. This whole experience so far has been incredible. I’d like to thank everybody for all their support they have given me. I love you all, and I’ll see you all again in just a short 18 months!
Con amor, Hermana Bunderson
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Not even five months ago, I never thought I would be standing up here today giving a farewell talk. It was something I never planned on doing because I never planned on serving a mission. I grew up loving missionary’s talks, whether it be the local missionaries, farewells, or talks given by returned missionaries. They were full of powerful stories and more powerful testimonies of this gospel. Despite that, I never saw that ever being me…a missionary.
I remember one day on the bus home from jr. high and I overheard a conversation between a boy and a girl about going on missions and how they both wanted to go. I can’t remember what they said, but I remember that day thinking to myself, “if I wasn’t married or anything by 21, I will go on a mission.” And I liked that plan.
Time passed, and then in the October general conference of my senior year in high school the age changed for missionaries so guys can go at 18 and girls at age 19. It was a very spiritual day and I remember looking on my Facebook feed and seeing people my age saying how they decided to go on missions now. I kept thinking whether I should commit that day and say over FB that I want to serve a mission. It seemed like everyone else was. But I didn’t. My plans of maybe serving at 21 were shaken. I didn’t want to commit to something that I didn’t know for sure, but suddenly there arose a pressure for me to decide.
And then this year right before second semester started, I realized that I could start working on my papers because it was coming up to the point where I could submit them. And I had a strong desire to know whether I should choose school or a mission. I felt like that day was the day I was going to receive the answer I desired so much. So late that night I got down on my knees and asked the Lord whether or not I should go. And the answer was so clear and perfect….and not the answer I wanted. Because the answer I wanted to hear was that I didn’t have to go, that I needed to go to school and stay home and work. But the Lord’s answer was to serve a mission.
At first I was happy for receiving the answer, but minutes later I was filled with worry and how insufficient I was to serve a mission. A mission didn’t really work with my plans. I told myself that I wasn’t good enough and convinced myself of every possible reason why I can’t and shouldn’t go. Excuses such as how I wouldn’t be a good missionary, that I had school starting in a week and I just couldn’t drop out now, I’m too shy and am afraid of bearing my testimony and teaching people, and that I’m too scared to leave home for 18 months. And after hours of dispute, I regrettably chose school over the Lord, and for months, I tried my best to ignore any thoughts or impressions to serve a mission…because a mission just wasn’t for me.
After that day, it felt like every talk, every meeting had to do with missionaries and mission work. It was as if the Lord was continually telling me to go and serve a mission, and I was replying “No, I can’t!” I already made the decision that I just ain’t going to go on a mission!
And as you all know since this is a farewell, that all changed.
I remember the day perfectly. It was a Sunday on the end of March. I faked a headache that afternoon so I didn’t have to go to church because I didn’t feel like it, even though I already skipped church the week before because of stake conference. And then I watched Ferris Bueler’s day off because it felt ironic. And I had a ton of homework that was due the next day, but before that I had to write back to a missionary so I could email him on Monday and tell him I finished his letter.
Halfway through writing that letter I felt a strong impression to look up a scripture that I had saved in my phone months ago to look up later. I thought it was going to be a good scripture to put into the letter, but as I read that scripture I knew it was for me.
The scripture was Matthew 16:25 and it is about where the Lord asks his disciples to come follow him as his is prophesying of his own crucifixion and death. And it says “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
And, for some reason, that scripture just hit me hard. His disciples gave up all that they had to come follow him. They all had their own plans that they needed to give up to truly follow him. It reminds me of a scripture, Luke 18:28. “And Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.” Before they met Christ, Matthew collected taxes and Peter, James, and John were fisherman. And I believe that it was because of their testimonies of the Savior, they all gave up their all in order to follow the Lord’s plans for them.
I knew that night that I had a strong testimony of the Savior and that I needed to share it by serving a full-time mission because that was the Lord’s plans for me. There is a common saying I always hear, which is that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Yep. That night I knew going to college for interior design wasn’t His plans for me, at least not for the next 18 months. And gratefully this time unlike the last, I had a strong desire to serve. I felt the excitement and love that the Lord had for me as I decided to go on a mission.
Everything else that I convinced myself that mattered really didn’t matter at all. All of my plans for school and work, all of my feelings of inadequacy, and all of the other excuses I made not to serve a mission didn’t matter. Dieter F Uchtdorf 0nce said that “we would do well to slow down a little…focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”
What truly matters is the things that will bring us closer to Christ. One of those things, which I will talk about today, is our personal testimonies. Our testimony has eternal significance. “A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost.” It is one of the most precious things we can ever have. David O. McKay taught that “there is nothing which a man can possess in this world, which will bring more comfort, more hope and faith than a testimony of the existence of a Heavenly Father who loves us, or of the reality of Jesus Christ, his Only Begotten Son, that those two heavenly personages appeared to the Prophet Joseph and established the Church of Jesus Christ, and that men are officially authorize to represent Deity.” Having a testimony is a rare and precious thing that needs to be cherished, to be loved, and to be continually nourished and fed, or it might otherwise slip away.
One day I found this quote on Pinterest that read, “If you only had 2 minutes to bear testimony to somebody who knew nothing about the gospel, what would that person learn? Would they learn about God’s love for them, about the Savior’s sacrifice on their behalf, and about the purpose of the Holy Ghost? Would they learn about the doctrines and principles of the gospel? Would they learn about prayer, fasting, and the scriptures? Would they learn about the worth and nature of their own spirit? Would they learn about the plan of salvation? Would they learn about agency? Would they learn about the purpose of life and the purpose of trials? Would they learn about life after death and that all mankind will be resurrected? Would they walk away pondering and thirsting for more knowledge?” I’d like for you to all imagine that now, what would you say in that situation? What would you bear testimony on? Would you bear one at all? It is important to have and gain a testimony.
If at this moment you do not have a testimony, whether it is in Christ and His Atonement, the Book of Mormon, tithing, or anything at all, I urge you to go and get one. The best way I’ve found to gain a testimony of anything is to live it. And we must always remember treasure the testimonies that each of us currently have as we continue to search for answers and testimonies to things we do not yet know. I love the quote by Elder Holland, “What we know will always trump what we do not know” and a similar quote by Uchtdorf, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” And again “to not dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”
It is also important to gain and strive for pure, real testimonies throughout our lives, meaning not just saying “I love,” “I am thankful for,” or “I believe”–but a pure testimony of “I know.”
We must continually build our testimonies, until we truly “know” and have a testimony. I think too often we all take what we do know for granted and do not continually build upon our testimonies. As we gain a testimony of Christ and live the gospel and His commandments, we gain a sure foundation that it talks about in Helaman 5:12 saying “Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, the we must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth this mightly winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
I used to always have this idea that I only needed a testimony just so I had something to say if I somehow got called up to bear my testimony or find myself talking to someone about the gospel. While that is also important, but more importantly, testimonies also give us spiritual power to resist the devil’s attempts to drag us down. No wonder Satan tries to attack our testimonies with doubt and uncertainty. Having a testimony also changes our hearts and also gives us faith, hope, and comfort in a way we cannot measure. It draws us closer to the Savior. It blesses the lives of others. And like the disciples of Jesus Christ when they left everything to follow Him, it gives us the strength to follow God’s commandments and His plans for us.
“God is preparing people to receive your testimony of restored truth. He requires your faith and then your action to share fearlessly what has become so precious to you and those you love” Henry B Eyring
The reason I am going on a mission is because I know that somehow, that someone needs to hear my testimony. That person might also be me. I do not nearly bear my testimony enough, and too often I take it for granted. But honestly, a testimony is sometimes all I have because I’m not that good at knowing the all the scripture stories, or singing hymns, or anything else. I just know that this gospel is true. That is what is most important.
I remember watching the District videos when I first decided that I want to go on a mission, and seeing that most part of teaching the gospel to people is bearing testimony of it. That is how the spirit comes in and tells people that what the missionaries are saying is true. And that just gave me so much comfort, because I have a fear of teaching people and not knowing what to say. Fear of teaching people the gospel has always been one of my excuses to not going. But I can bear my testimony.
I’d like to end with a quote by President Uchtdorf “Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity” I know in my own life my testimony has affected my life for eternity. Having a testimony makes me who I am today. It has helped me choose to serve a mission for the Lord. I know that this is true Church, and that missions are called of God and missionaries are representatives of Christ and His gospel and that this gospel blesses the lives of others.