back ground

March 20, 2013


          My ward thought I was inactive the summer after I graduated high school, because I was never at my home ward. I went to mission farewells all but 2 or 3 Sundays that entire summer, and sometimes even went to 2 or 3 farewells in one day! Welcome to Utah, right? I love mission farewells more than any other sacrament meeting. It's always so inspiring to hear the testimony of someone who's putting their whole life on hold and leaving everything behind to go serve the Lord, and the spirit is always soo strong. (Not to mention the free food!) Whether it was a family member or a close friend or just someone I went to high school with, I always loved going to farewells. And every time that I sat on one of those hard chairs at the back of a cram packed chapel, I'd find myself wondering what it would be like for me... What if this was my farewell, and what if these people were all here supporting me? What would I say? How would I feel? And most importantly...... what kind of food would we eat?!

Little did I know back then, that on March 10th 2013 all those thoughts and questions would turn into a complete reality for me. I found myself sitting up there on the stand, because it really was my farewell. And the best part about it was looking over and seeing my big brother sitting there next to me. Because not only was it my farewell, it was also his homecoming. How sweet is that?! My brother is a pretty well liked guy, so naturally, a LOT of people came to hear him speak. (I like to think that a few of them were there for me too:) It was a little nerve-wracking to be up there in front of so many people! I thought about wearing my glasses that day, so that I could just take them off when I got up to the pulpit and not have to see everybody staring at me! But then I realized that it would actually be a lot scarier to be blind and not be able to see any of my notes on what I was going to say... Well it turned out ok and was a lot less scary than I thought! I honestly loved being up there and loved being able to share some of my thoughts and experiences and my testimony with everyone. They say that by sharing your testimony, you strengthen it. THAT IS SO TRUE. Seriously, try it. I can't even IMAGINE how much my testimony is going to grow on my mission, since all I'll be doing for a year and a half is sharing it. I'm soo excited for that! My farewell was a wonderful experience for me, and I'm SO grateful for all the love and support that I was given. It really meant the world to me. 

For those who asked for a copy and also for those who weren't able to make it that Sunday, I thought I'd post my talk here. And since my farewell was the first big step of this journey, I thought it would be the perfect way to start out this blog. Soooo yeah. Here it is.

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I’ve been called to serve in the Denmark Copenhagen mission, where I’ll be preaching the gospel in the Danish language. I couldn’t even dream up a more perfect place for me, and I know that it’s exactly where the Lord needs me. I leave on April 10th, one month from today, and I couldn’t be more excited! 

I’m really happy to be here today, and I’m especially glad that I get to share this special day with my amazing brother. I’m sooo proud of him and all of his hard work and his willingness to serve. He was an incredible missionary and set such a perfect example for me. My whole life I’ve always just been one step behind him. He taught me how to tie my shoes, how to read, how to ride a bike, he taught me how to be a good friend and how to be a good person. Now he’s taught me how to be a good missionary, and I’m so eager to follow his example once more.

Just as I’ve always been trying to follow Kaden’s footsteps, I also have another older brother I’m striving to be like, who’s example it’s my life’s mission to follow. That’s the perfect example of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Several weeks ago I had an eye opening experience when I was flying home from New York City. The man I was seated next to on the plane was friendly and we had a nice conversation. He asked me why I had been in New York all by myself, and I explained to him that I had gone to meet with the Danish consulate to get my Visa and residency permit so that I could move to Denmark. I told him I was going there for a year and a half to serve an LDS mission. He said “Oh so you’re Mormon? Well you don’t seem that weird!” (Obviously he didn't know me...) He was curious about my mission, and so I told him more about it and he was really kind of awestruck. He gaped at the fact that I would go through all this trouble, and sacrifice so much, and leave my family behind, and put my whole life on hold, to go learn a new language and move to another country for 18 months. What he asked me was, “So then, is your church a pretty big part of your life?” My instinctive response was that yes, it’s definitely a big part of my life. But that question really struck me, and I found myself thinking back on it a lot over the next few weeks. It’s a simple question really, “Is your church a big part of your life.” But for some reason it caused me a lot of contemplation. The more I thought about it, I began to realize that I really hadn’t answered that question quite right, and it just happens that one of the scriptures I was given to use in this talk teaches the better answer.
 Alma 37:36  “Cry unto God for ALL thy support; yea, let ALL thy doings be unto the Lord, and withersoever thou goest, let it be in the Lord; yea let ALL thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.”

What this scripture taught me is that the church isn’t just a big part of my life… the gospel is my life.
I pondered that a lot, and then I wrote this in my journal about just how the gospel really is everything to me:

“My faith gives me comfort in times of sorrow and strength in times of trial. My faith gives me the will to overcome temptation along with the reassuring knowledge that I can always repent. My faith inspires my thoughts, drives my actions, and guides my steps. My faith brings me happiness and hope, and motivates me to be the best I can be. Every day when I wake up, it’s the gospel that gives my life purpose; it is the definition of my existence.”

As taught so clearly in that verse of Alma, the Lord should be the center of our thoughts, the center of all our doings, and the center of our hearts.  As faithful members of the gospel, we need to stand as witnesses of God at ALL times, and in ALL things, and in ALL places.

A perfect example of this faithfulness and dedication to the Lord is the stripling warriors.
“They were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted… yea, they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them…. And they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness… and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yeah they do observe to keep his statutes and his judgments and his commandments continually… They are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.” (Alma 53:20, 56:47, 57:21, 58:40, 57:27)

In the world that we live in, it is not always easy to remain perfectly steadfast as the armies of Helaman. President Henry B. Eyring said that in today’s world, the forces of wickedness are increasing.  “And so it will become harder, not easier, to keep the covenants we must make to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. But there is hope in the promise the Lord has given us of a place of safety in the storms ahead.”
This “place of safety” is spoken of in Helaman 5:12, by a loving father trying to strengthen his sons against the storms of temptation-
            “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty 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 love that scripture. And I know that it has never been more important than it is now to build on that sure foundation.
President Eyring taught that in order to build on this foundation, “we will need to have developed and nurtured faith in Jesus Christ.”  
Having faith in Jesus Christ means completely relying on Him- trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. The Savior promised
“If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33). The Lord will work mighty miracles in our life according to our faith. And, when times of trial come, faith can give us strength to press forward and face our hardships with courage.

I recently had an experience where I had to exercise my own faith. I learned to put my trust in the Lord, to trust that He has a plan for me, and to have faith in His will and in His timing.

I had a wonderful opportunity to spend my first year of college at Southern Virginia University. I learned so much from all of my professors, made some amazing friends, and really started gaining a true testimony of the gospel as I learned to rely on my Heavenly Father through scripture study and prayer. My year at school in Virginia was the most incredible experience, and I loved every second of it. But when I came home for the summer, I felt like going back to Southern Virginia University wasn’t the best choice for the next school year.
After praying really hard about it, I knew that staying in St. George and finishing up my degree at Dixie State was the right decision for me, even though I wasn’t sure why. Over the next few months I prayed more earnestly than I ever had in my life, searching for guidance and direction. I started applying to a few different universities that I could transfer to in the spring once I finished my associates at Dixie, but when I prayed about my options, none of the schools felt right. So instead I decided to join a service abroad group, and I started saving all my money for a 4 month humanitarian trip to Africa. But all of those plans fell through and I was devastated because nothing seemed to be working out. I continued to pray my heart out, but as the months passed by I started getting more and more discouraged because I felt like my prayers weren’t being heard or answered. I felt hopeless, lost, and forgotten.
But I didn’t lose faith. I remember it was the day before General Conference last October; Kaden was on his mission and I wrote him a letter. I told him of my discouragement, and how I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do next. I wrote to him that what I really wanted was to serve a mission. But that I didn’t want to wait until I was 21, because I really felt like it was the right time for me to go now. The very next morning, President Monson stood up in conference and announced the new changes for missionaries, and that sisters could now serve at age 19. And even though he was speaking to the whole world, I knew the words he said were specifically for me. I was completely overwhelmed and so overjoyed, and I knew without a doubt that this was God’s plan for me all along. In that moment, every single one of my prayers was answered, in a way that I never could have expected. And in that moment, I was reminded that I hadn’t been forgotten.
             I’m so glad that I put my trust in the Lord. It was hard at the time, because I couldn’t see the bigger picture. Living at home and going to Dixie was not what I wanted to do, but now I see why it was so important. I was able to be close with my family and spend a lot of good time with them before I leave for a year and a half. I was able to graduate with my associate’s degree, and I was able to work and earn enough money to get myself out on a mission.

I testify, that if we remain faithful and put all of our trust in the Lord, we will be guided and blessed. By building our foundation with faith in Jesus Christ and by having faith in God’s will, we will feel of their great love for us and find the strength we need to be as steadfast and valiant as the armies of Helaman.

Sometimes it’s hard! It’s hard to remain faithful when we can’t see the whole picture. But that’s exactly why we need to exercise our faith. While faith is not a perfect knowledge, it's having a deep trust in God, whose knowledge is perfect. Heavenly Father loves us, and desires our happiness. He knows each of us perfectly and He has a plan for us. 

Our prophet Thomas S. Monson told us that “Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return…  We can communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer and those prayers will be heard and answered.” 

A couple months ago I had an experience that taught me a lot about prayer, and its important role in our eternal voyage.

I was on my way up to Salt Lake City to meet up with two of my best friends that live in Northern Utah. Soon we’d all be leaving to serve missions or go to college, and so this was the last chance we had to see each other and spend some time together. I was only going to stay up there for the day so I left really early in the morning at like 5 am. When I was about an hour out of town, it started to snow, and the farther north I drove the heavier it came down. I was a little nervous, because being from the desert, I had never driven in the snow before, and my car didn’t have four wheel drive. But I just figured I’d be fine and so I kept on driving. Pretty soon, I found myself driving through what would be one of the worst snow storms of the season. Everything was white, and I could barely see the cars around me. The roads grew icier and icier as the snow fell harder and harder. And the worst part about it was that I was all alone.
That was when my phone rang, and I answered it to hear the voice of my father. He wanted to know where I was at, and if I was ok. He was on his computer at home looking at the weather reports, and he told me that the storm would be getting worse before it would start to get better. He cautioned me to drive really slowly, and told me to call him as soon as I got there. It wasn’t long after I hung up the phone, that I realized just how right he had been. The roads were so icy that several times I felt my car swerving out of my control. Because it was so early in the morning, there were no snow plows out on the roads yet. I saw four different cars slide off the road into the deep snow, and I was terrified that that might happen to me. But I drove really slowly like my dad told me to, and I didn’t stop praying the whole way. It was stressful and so scary for me! But eventually, I made it through the storm.
I had only been with my friends in Salt Lake for an hour or two when my Dad called me up again. He told me that a bigger storm was coming and that if I didn’t get on the road and head home right then, I might be stuck in Salt Lake for the rest of the week. (Normally I wouldn’t mind staying up there for a few days, but my mission call was supposed to be coming in the mail that day so I was dying to get back home!) I was so nervous to drive on those icy roads again, but my dad assured me I would be ok if I left right away. He said he’d be watching the weather reports, and that he would keep calling me to make sure I was doing alright. I could hear him choke up as he said to me, “Breanna, I just want you to be safe, and I want you to come home.”
So I said goodbye to my friends, and I got back in my car to begin my treacherous journey. My dad kept his promise, calling me every half hour with words of advice, comfort, and encouragement. It was a long, long drive, but I finally made it back to St. George. And when I walked through the doorway, my loving father was there waiting. He gave me a big hug and he said, “I love you so much, and I’m so glad you made it back home.”
In our earthly lives, we are all on our own treacherous journey. Sometimes the storm clouds clear up, but sometimes the storm clouds thicken. Sometimes the road we are traveling grows icy and dangerous, causing us to feel afraid and inadequate. But just as my father was only a phone call away whenever I needed comfort and reassurance, so our Heavenly Father is only a prayer away and will help us through the storms and trials of life. He just wants us to be safe, and he wants us to come home. If we have faith, the Lord will answer our prayers, giving us the guidance we need to return to Him. 
            Our journey home will be treacherous, the roads will be icy and snow will continue to fall. We will be faced with trials that test our faith. But if we build our foundation on the rock that’s Jesus Christ, if we have faith in God and trust in His will, and if we pray continually, we will make it back to His presence. We’ll walk through the doorway to Heaven, and our loving Father will be there waiting. With open arms He’ll say, “I love you so much, and I’m so glad you made it back home.”

I testify that if we realize that the church isn’t just a big part of our lives and we really let the gospel become our lives and define who we are, we will become just as the stripling warriors. We’ll be given SO much strength and find SO much happiness. I’ve experienced it. Especially over the past few months as I have been preparing to serve a mission. I have chosen to dedicate not just the next 18 months but my entire life to serving the Lord, and as I have submitted myself to Him, I have felt the Heavens open up as He is pouring blessings upon me and surrounding me with His love. 

So many of those blessings have come and so much of that love has been felt through the incredible love and support I’ve been given these past few months. So many of you have really reached out and have been so encouraging and so helpful, and I can’t thank you enough.

I’ve been so blessed with the most amazing friends who inspire me to be a better person and are such great examples to me. And even though sometimes I think the real reason they’re excited for me to go on a mission is because it means they get all of my clothes, I’m so thankful for their support.

I’m eternally thankful for my wonderful family. I don’t know how I got so lucky. Everything I am, I owe to my incredible family.
It’s been really hard for me, knowing that I only get six weeks with Kaden after two years apart. But I know he’ll always be there for me, and he’ll be able to offer the best support and advice while I’m on my mission. I’m so thankful for the friendship we have and for his awesome example.
Then there’s my younger siblings, Josh and Tia and Kolby. I absolutely adore them and would do anything for them, and I hope they know that!
I’m probably going to miss Abby’s hugs more than most anything else. She always lights up my day and she brings my whole family closer together. I’m so thankful for the love and joy that she brings into our home.
The fact that I was blessed with the parents that I have is the surest testimony to me of how much God really does love me.
I’m so thankful for my father, and so thankful for his powerful testimony and for the priesthood that he holds. I’ve always thought that I can feel Heaven in his hands when he gives me a priesthood blessing. My dad has more faith in me than anybody else does, even more than I have in myself. Nothing in the world is better than to hear him tell me that I’ve made him proud. I’m so proud to be his daughter.
When I count my blessings, I count my mom twice. Actually like 27 times. She’s amazing. The best compliment I have EVER received is being told by someone that I remind them of my mother. She’s the most caring, loving person in the world. She loves me unconditionally, even when I don’t think I deserve it. She’s my support and my strength and my inspiration. She’s really my very best friend. All I want for my life is to someday become just half the woman, wife and mother that she is.
I thank Heavenly Father every day for blessing me with such a wonderful family, the most amazing friends, and such incredible church leaders.

It’s going to be hard leaving my family, and hard leaving my friends and everything that I love here. And I know my mission will be hard. There will be a lot of snow storms and a lot of icy roads! (Literally. Like it’s going to be freezing cold.)

But I don’t see it as a sacrifice.
I see this as the most amazing opportunity to show my Heavenly Father just how much I truly love Him, by sharing His love and His great plan of happiness with His other children.
I see it as the best chance I have to show my Savior how deeply thankful I am for His atoning sacrifice, by sharing the blessings of the atonement and the plan of salvation with His other brothers and sisters.
I see it as a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to my Heavenly Father as I dedicate my life to His gospel, and an incredible chance to become a little more like Jesus as I follow His example by teaching and serving everyone I cross paths with.

I have a testimony of this gospel. I KNOW that it’s true.
I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that he restored the church to the earth today. I look at the trials he faced and the sacrifices he made and everything that he went through so that we could have the gospel in our lives, and if he can do all that, serving a mission is the least I can do. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, I’ve read it, I’ve studied it and I’ve searched it. And it has provided me with so much guidance and so many answers. It’s the most incredible book and I’m so excited to go and share it. I know that Christ lives; He is my Savior and Redeemer, my Comforter, my older brother and my friend. I have a testimony of His atonement, I’ve felt its power in my own life, and I’m so thankful that the Savior provided a way for us to return to His presence. I know that if we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, if we have faith in Him, and if we pray always, then we will find true happiness and will be so blessed.  

The gospel has blessed my life so much and has brought me so much happiness, and I am absolutely thrilled to serve a mission so that I can share the blessings of the gospel and the happiness that it brings with the people in Denmark. It’s an exciting time to be a missionary! I know the Lord is hastening the work to prepare the world for Christ’s coming, and I’m so happy that I get to be a part of that.Serving a mission has already blessed my life so much, and I haven't even left yet! I've honestly never been happier, and I'm so excited I can't even contain it. I'm so thankful that I have this opportunity.

God be with you till we meet again.