Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Farewell For Now!

On Sunday Oct 13th 2013 I gave my farewell talk in my homeward: Dessert Hills in the West Richland Stake. It was a huge testimony of the Holy Ghost when I spoke and so here you can read my talk for yourselves:

Hello brothers and sisters,
My name is Lenise Volmer, soon to be Sister Volmer for the next 18 months, starting Wednesday. I have been called to serve in the Provo Utah mission, and I couldn’t be happier with where I’m going. Yes, I’m going to Mormonville, yes I’m just speaking English, and yes I’m aware that everyone says this is the easiest mission there is and there is a likelihood that I will gain 50 pounds on my mission. All missions are hard, no matter where you go, and I know this will be a growing experience for me. But I can say without a shadow of doubt that I recognized the spirit when I opened my call, I recognized the Holy Ghost as he whispered to me that there was somebody there who needs me; who needs the gospel. Almost exactly a year ago I was sitting in my seminary class and the Holy Ghost (who just happens to be a really good friend of mine) inspired me to write this in my seminary journal:
“I find these simple moments happening to me, where I realize that—if given the chance—I want to serve a mission. I want to share my testimony. I want to change lives.”
That was it. That was all I wrote. Just that small little line in my journal after watching a simple little Mormon message that went along with the seminary lesson.
Well, surprise surprise! The very next morning was the Saturday morning session of General conference on October 6th of 2012, and President Monson announced to the entire church the age changes for missionaries everywhere. The spirit practically knocked me over the head. Little did I know then that exactly a year and seven days later I would be standing in front of all of you giving my farewell talk.
The spirit had a huge influence in my decision to serve a mission. There were times when I was so overwhelmed by the Holy Ghost about my decision that I just had to sit and let it all sink in. Let the spirit wash over me and reassure me of what I was going to do. My relationship with the Holy Ghost is something that I've learned to hold very dear to my heart. He and I have been a team for so long, but I find that sometimes I still struggle to recognize when He is prompting me.
So that’s what I've been asked to talk on today. Recognizing the spirit. 
My sophomore year of high school I was taking an honor’s English class, and we were reading Lord of the Flies. My teacher at the time talked to us about how the author was trying to portray through his novel that everyone has this dark animal side to them that wants dark, evil, and carnal things and that it can take over if we don’t learn to control it. We've all heard of the natural man inside us and I kind of understood where my teacher was coming from, but it didn't sit well with me that she painted us all with the idea that underneath all our layers we were just born as selfish beings with animal like cravings and wants. She had us write an in-class essay on how we felt about that knowledge.
Quite honestly, I wrote saying that I didn’t believe it.
 I went on to tell her that I didn’t believe in a monster inside of all of us, but I believed in a light. I told her that I believed that everyone was born with a goodness inside them that radiated out. Only when they let the world around them infect them did they turn into the selfish beings that the world creates. Well my teacher didn’t exactly like that I disagreed with her, and my grade on the essay may have suffered, but she realized that I was going to stand my ground.
Because I do believe that each of us has a light that we are born with. We do; it’s called the Light of Christ.
 In Moroni 7:16 it says “the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.”
In the bible dictionary it says: “The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, preserving influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ.”
The Light of Christ is that part of us that wants the best for those we love, that part of you that recognizes when somebody does something kind, or that part of you that wants to help out when you see a need. That’s Christ’s light that lives inside of you. You took a piece of Him and His infinite love with you when you came to this earth. It’s that piece of heaven inside you that still has a tiny memory of what it was like to be in the Lord’s presence. It gives you simple reminders that part of the Father and His son live within you and everyone else.
President Boyd K. Packer said, “It is important for a…missionary…to know that the Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ. A teacher of gospel truths is not planting something foreign or even new into an adult or child. Rather, the missionary or teacher is making contact with the Spirit of Christ already there. The gospel will have a familiar ‘ring’ to them.”
The Light of Christ however is not the Holy Ghost. It’s when the Holy Ghost interacts with that light, that we see realization and understanding happen within those who are searching for the truths that our gospel possesses.
The bible dictionary says “The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who hearkeneth to the voice to find the true gospel and the true church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.”
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the God Head. Unlike our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost does not have a body of flesh and blood. In D&C 130: 22 it says “(The Holy Ghost) is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
The power of the Holy Ghost is the special witness that speaks to us about the truthfulness of the gospel. This power is what usually helps investigators to feel the spirit and recognize the truthfulness of the gospel. The power of the Holy Ghost however is not that same as the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we are baptized and confirmed members of the church, then the gift of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in conferred upon us by those with the right authority to do so.
In the bible dictionary it says: “The gift of the Holy Ghost can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and is conferred by the laying on of hands…The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost”
The Spirit of the Holy Ghost is a key part of conversion. Elder M. Russel Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit. He said: “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals…feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. The experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true.”
The next step is to recognize the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and his promptings in your life. I had a really good friend of mine who fell away from the church for a while and left home and moved in with a friend. After a lot of fasting and praying on our part, after six months he returned to the church and moved back in with his family. When I talked to him afterward we had a long discussion about the Spirit. He had been baptized at eight and gone to primary, scouts, mutual, and he was active in the young men’s program. He had had the Spirit of the Holy Ghost with him the whole time, but he told me that he took it for granted. He explained to me that when he had fallen away from the church the absence of the Spirit in his life was tangible. After having the Comforter leave him, he said he felt depressed, down, and lost. He hadn’t recognized what blessings came from having the Holy Ghost with him. Now that he’s back, he is hyper-aware of the Holy Ghost in his life and the promptings he receives. He told me that when the spirit isn’t there, he can feel it instantly, and knows that he either needs to change what he’s doing, or leave the bad place that he’s at in order to receive the Spirit’s guidance again.
I asked one of my best friends, whose on his own mission right now, for advice on my farewell talk . He emailed me and The thought he gave me matched up with my other friend’s experience. He wrote “If you aren’t in an environment where you can feel the spirit, then you will never come to a point where you can recognize the spirit’s influence in your life. Always try to become better acquainted with the spirit, because it is just like a person, the more you see them around, the more you start to recognize who they are and eventually you may become friends with them!”
When the scriptures say “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” This is for our own protection. We need the guiding voice of the Holy Ghost, and when we are in environments where he cannot reside, then we will never recognize him.
Those not of our faith, when asking for answers from God, expect some large miracle or declaration from Him. However, the Spirit speaks quietly to our hearts and minds. Very rarely is the spirit heard in a voice. It is mostly relayed in a feeling of gentle warmth or it can sometimes move people to tears. Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scriptures as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither…voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a small voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause the heart to burn.’ Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a still small voice.’ The spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather is whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all…Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘speak Lord, for they servant heareth.”
 My mom talked once about having spiritual promptings that she followed through on, but there seemed to not have been any reason for the prompting. I told her that I think those moments are God testing to see that if he does prompt you, you will obey, so that in the future if he prompts you to do something really important he knows you will react immediately. I was talking about spiritual promptings with one of my friends once and she stated that sometimes she has trouble differentiating between the spirit’s voice in her head and her inner voice and thoughts. I too have had this concern.
Gordon B. Hinckley said this: “That’s the test when all is said and done. Does it persuade one to do good, to rise, to stand tall, to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous? Then it is of the Spirit of God… If it invites to do good, it is of God. If it inviteth to do evil, it is of the devil…and if you are doing the right thing and if you are living the right way, you will know in your heart what the Spirit is saying to you. You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God”
As a missionary, it is extremely necessary and important that I have the continual companionship of the Holy Ghost with me. When it comes down to it, it’s not about how much doctrine I know or how successful I think I will be as a missionary. Missionary work—my mission—is NOT about me. This week when I put that name tag on for the first time, my first name is gone. I become sister. My name is put next to my older brother’s name as a representative of His divine church. I will lose myself, and my words will no longer be my words. I will have become a mouth piece for the Lord, and I will give up my own words for the words the Spirit puts into my mouth. I need to recognize and be directly in tune with the Holy Ghost in order to teach others and it will be through that relationship with the Holy Ghost that I will be able to bring others to Christ. I want to bring other’s the joy of the spirit, I want them to recognize what it means to have a loving father in heaven, and an older brother who sacrificed every single one of the pains of this world, that we may have the opportunity to be with him again in heaven.
I’m so excited to serve the people of Provo. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote what is called “My Missionary Commission” and the spirit bore witness to me of the importance of what I’m about to do. It goes like this: “I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him—to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine. My Commission is to do what He wants done; To say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous Latter-day work. How great is my calling!”
I know many missionaries, when they come home from their missions, bare their testimony in the language they learned on their missions. Though I'm speaking English, I will bare my testimony in the way I feel the spirit the most; so I'm going to sing for you.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I then sang Savior, Redeemer of My Soul. It's a beautiful hymn that I encourage you to listen to.
So here begins my adventure. Mission Possible.
I'm now officially going to be Sister Volmer!

Lenise trying to put the last of her things into her suitcase.....she did it!!

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