Good morning Brother’s and Sisters!
This is it. 4 months ago I received my call to serve the Lord as a missionary in the New York, New York North mission and now is the time to answer that call. It still feels surreal. In three days I will be known as Sister Vassau. I am very excited to serve in what seems like the center of the world where the church is being seen on a big scale. The New York North mission covers the city of Manhattan, down to the Bronx, parts of Upstate, and into Connecticut. Those of you who me know that I have always dreamt of living in a big city and as a younger girl I absolutely loved going to NY to take dance classes from those on Broadway. Those that REALLY know me know how perfect getting called here will be for me for many DIFFERENT reasons. I know that New York now will become Holy grounds and I will find fulfillment in the people I am serving. I know that as I seek the Holy Ghost I will be led to the people He has prepared for me. I have felt like never before that Heavenly Father knows me SO well, he knows where my heart is, what my dreams, fears, righteous desires are, and he has extended so much love and grace to me in the time I have prepared myself. I don’t think I have ever placed as much trust on the Lord than I have with this decision. It has taken all of my faith. In return, I know he will comfort and strengthen me every step of the way.
I want to share today the process of my decision to serve a mission. I hope you will feel the spirit here today in my own experience and let it guide you in serving the Lord more fully, because the Lord deserves our BEST. We as young women are not expected to serve missions so deciding if it’s truly right for sisters requires prayer and seeking out the Lord’s answer. For me, it was not a quick decision but one sought out and prayed about for many months. It also has required my own family to pray and trust. (It was funny when I actually went forward with my decision, I told my dad I’m going! He said “No you’re not…Yes I am… Not you’re not… Yes this is what I want to do… and it went back and forth) ☺ Now they’re all on board and excited. My mom is actually getting really good at sending us off!)
The process of deciding has taught me some very valuable lessons I will apply to my mission and the rest of my life and is the reason I choose my topic FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY. These three things will be essential as I am serving on the Lord’s errand. They are also my purpose as a missionary to bring into the lives of those I serve in New York.
My desire to serve began my senior year of High School when I sent a brother and sister off on their missions. I saw and felt the blessings that came from missionary work. I felt my own desire to serve and share goodness in the world. I had my own experiences that year like traveling and doing humanitarian work in India where I learned that service is joy. As I returned home, I knew, that desire to share light was still bigger than ever. As I began my freshman year of College I was prayerful in just about everything. I asked Heavenly Father what things I should be involved in, who I should live with, and what he wanted me to learn this year. I decided to do the dance team at UVU and choose to live with girls I hadn’t known previously. (I chose not live with MADI + her RM’s) When my mom and I found out that two of the girls I was to live with were RM’s she told me they will for sure keep me in line and get me on a mission… and I don’t know now if she’s super glad that that prediction was right! The desire was so strong for me, however fear was also there. Doubts, fear, and confusion are the adversaries way of keeping us from doing great things, like serving missions and bringing others happiness. He does not want us to have joy and reach our full potential. There was a period of time where I actually completely switched my thoughts to a study abroad because I love all things art and adventure. I even went to the guy over the program and told him I was very interested. I continued to pray and HF kept bringing thoughts of a mission in my head. I started to notice every little thing I read or saw about missionary work and service and kept receiving little nudges and promptings. These desires and feelings got stronger and stronger the more I stayed close to my Heavenly Father and listened to the spirit. After months of this inner struggle to get over these silly feelings that were holding me back, I knew they were not from the right source and decided to go forward with faith and not fear. I continued to only listen to the spirit as I received my answer of what Heavenly Father wanted me to do and I have felt so much peace. I remember countless nights were I would cry out and tell HF all my weaknesses and the things that were weighing so heavily on me. I think we all get to points where we feel we just can’t do it. We feel our weaknesses outweigh our strengths. A question I had was, why do we have fear and hard obstacles in the way of our good desires?
I learned through my experience that it’s because Heavenly Father wants us to exercise faith in Him. A faith so strong that it is unshaken, believing that God has all power to help us in our shortcomings. We must focus on progress.
From the General Conference talk “Therefore They Hushed Their Fears” by David A. Bednar talks about how Adam and Eve after partaking of the forbidden fruit hid themselves in the Garden of Eden. God called unto Adam and asked, ”Where are thou? And [Adam answered], I heard thy voice.., and I was afraid” One of the first effects of the fall was for Adam and Eve to experience fear. This potent emotion is an important element of our mortal existence.
We read in the Book of Mormon about Alma’s people frightened by an advancing Lamanite army. “But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but… should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them. Alma did not hush the people’s fears. Rather, he counseled the believers to remember the Lord and the deliverance only He could bestow. The Savior’s protection enabled the people to hush their own fears.
One day when I was home for a weekend while I was in the process of starting my papers, I felt so strongly that I should be at the temple. I drove down to temple sq. and was let down to find out that the temple sure enough was closed for cleaning. I then decided to walk around and ended up in the visitor center talking to the sister missionaries and then sitting in front of the Christos. I had no clue why I was there and then 30 missionaries all came and sat around me. I quietly listened to them and watched the brand new missionaries talk and take pictures. I loved seeing all types of missionaries with different backgrounds all with the same purpose and love for the Savior…. The Savior has faith in us. He sends out 18-21 year old young men and women all over the world that don’t know everything, but rely on the Holy Ghost to teach such important truths. That is love and trust. The Lord molds you, trains you through hard obstacles into someone whom he can trust. So he expects us to stop waiting around. Go forward and act on answers. In that room that day, I felt so overwhelmed again that my Heavenly Father continued to give me little experiences and voices that I needed, like GO. Stop doubting. Start trusting. You know your answer. We need not be commanded in all things.
Trust and confidence in Christ and relying on His mercy and grace lead to hope, through His Atonement. This faith and hope invite peace into our lives and can eliminate fear, sadness, and anxiety. This life is all about what we can become!! I think we as people sometimes lose sight of that and rather expect perfection out of ourselves. We never will be perfect!!
Hope brings light into lives!
My amazing institute teacher told us about a metaphor that really has stuck with me. A German man by the name of Alexander Papaderous who had lived through the Second World War founded an institute for peace and understanding. One day in a lecture someone had asked him “what is the meaning of life?” He opened his wallet and pulled out a small mirror for everyone to see. He told about a small boy that came across a motorcycle accident and noticed all the broken pieces of the mirror lying on the ground. He tried to put them together, but couldn’t so he took the largest piece and used it as a toy. He was fascinated that, with this little mirror he could reflect the sunlight into dark places where the sunlight could never shine. As Alexander became a man he came to understand that he was not the light, nor the source of the light. But light, that is truth, understanding, and knowledge- is here, but it will only shine in dark places if he reflects it.
“I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world–into the black places in the hearts of men–and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”
We should all make this the meaning of our lives. I feel as representatives of Jesus Christ this is our purpose; To reflect the Lord’s light into dark places and into heavy hearts. I too, am only a broken mirror and don’t have it all together. I have many of my own imperfections. However, I know that the gospel is perfect and is my source of all truth and light. I hope on my mission that I can help people realize that the true and lasting source of happiness is Christ and the Gospel. I hope to aid people in righteous decisions to create beautiful and happy lives for independent New Yorkers and families and give them the hope that I have.
We learn in Moroni that when we are meek and lowly in heart and have faith and hope, we must have charity. The pure love of Christ. The work of a missionary is to SERVE! I had the privilege of receiving my own letter from Thomas S. Monson himself. If you want one you should consider a mission.. I want to read a little of it, Dear Sister Vassau, you are hereby called to SERVE! We in this church have the questions to life and know how we can find peace. Others want to know these things too!! The Lord’s church is a church of service and of love. Jesus Christ himself taught, but most of all loved those around him. In his earthly ministry he taught the gospel at all times, in all places, and to ALL people. We need to be missionaries! Missionary work should be exciting! Perhaps when we meet our maker, he’s not going to ask how many positions did you hold, he might ask how many people did you help? I may be going to serve full time for 18 months, which for me seems fairly short, but we each need to be in the service of our fellow beings at all times. It’s not always easy to love people and serve them when they hurt you or don’t treat you the way you want to be treated. Sometimes it comes with no reward, but it’s what Christ did even when he was persecuted.
One of my favorite videos I watch a lot is “Advice from Elder Busche.” You should all go watch it!
“When you cannot love someone look into that person’s eyes long enough to find the hidden rudiments of the Child of God in him.”
One of the most important things I can do on my mission and through out my life is seeing others as Christ sees them. If there is any judgment or rude feelings the spirit does not stick around.
A scripture I have always loved is in Moroni 7:45. It is one I have memorized and will repeat in my head in companionships and even within my own family.
“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth in the truth, bearth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
I don’t know anywhere else on earth with such a diversity of people than New York City. There are all walks of life from the poorest to the most wealthy. I know Heavenly Father loves each and everyone of them. We are expected to do the same and share with others who we are and be proud of it. Lives can change when we show such qualities of Christ- like attributes through service.
I encourage each of you all to look at your life ahead. What will you do with it, who will you be? Be a missionary! In word or in deed
My institute teacher often would say, “It’s not about going, it’s about being.” We each know enough and can share a simple testimony with others we encounter. I know we will be blessed for it.
➢ I just want to thank the people in my life that have shown me so much love and support. I am so grateful to have good friends who have been my backbone for so many years.
➢ I have also received such great guidance in my life from the leaders and teachers in this ward. Ever since I was a little girl I can remember so many of you smiling and welcoming me each week with love. Thank you each for preparing me more and teaching me the things I need to know for the next adventure in my life.
➢ Heavenly Father has given me a family he knew I would need. Bigger than most and unique to many other families, my family is all linked together because of a Savior. I am so happy for the knowledge of eternal families.
➢ The Lord keeps his promises. As missionaries we are PROMISED as we go out and serve with all our heart… might…. mind…. and strength…. That he will in return blessed us. Our families will be blessed. Leaving them behind will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do. I know if I uphold my end of the bargain, the Lord will do the same. I just want to thank my family for loving me for who I am and supporting my decision. Because of them I have joy and motivation to help others have strong and happy families.
I know God lives. I know we have Savior. I have experienced and relied on the Atonement in my life, I know it’s real and always there for us. We each need it every single day. I know the Lord knows each of us and our situations, and He has a work for each of us to do on this earth. No sister or Elder knows too little or has too few of talents to be a force for good and bring others to Christ. I know that if we put faith before our fears we will find confidence and strength in the Savior. He is the only way. I know that the gospel has been restored to its fullness in these latter-days by a young boy, Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is true. I have read it and find my answers to life in it. I can’t wait to share it with New York and help others feel of Christ’s love for them. I know each of our lives is filled with purpose and He will help us to become who he knows we can become. I love you all and I love this church.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen