Sunday, June 29, 2014

Misson Farewell

         4:30 AM.  I woke up and looked at my forty pound pack testing the weight and thinking, oh no, this is heavy!  As a twelve-year-old boy scout, I had never been on a major camping adventure before, and this trek into the Wind Rivers would be my first.  Before the journey I asked my parents if I had to go? They said yes, you do.
         Apprehensive and scared, I prepared for the unknown.  The journey began well, watching movies in the car and buying fireworks in Evanston, but the real journey had yet to come.  My pack at the onset, felt so heavy I could barely lift it and I had to stop and rest a couple of times in the first hundred meters.  Eventually my troop and I got on our way, and the trail proved more bearable (or was it harder?) But it was hard, really hard.  After several hours of the trip I felt completely exhausted, having hiked over tiring switchbacks, down hills, and past many millions of trees.  I felt pretty mad when I found out that we had only hiked half the distance to our campsite at the five-mile mark.  Despite the disappointing news we continued on, and eventually reached our campsite by sunset.  I remember feeling relieved the trek in had ended, although he week of camping had just begun.
         This small scouting adventure has taught me a big lesson about faith and has prepared me for a mission as well.  As I exercised faith in my parents, leaders and the Lord, I was brought through each difficult journey and made stronger.  This experience has helped me through not only through other scouting activities but also through all of high school, and has further prepared me for my mission.

         My parents strongly encouraged me to go on the scout trip.  Honestly, I really didn't want to go because I thought it would be hard and pointless.  I was right about the first thing but wrong about the second; the greatest thing I learned on this trip was how to do something hard—you just have to keep going.  I followed my parents’ advice to go because I trusted them, and had faith that something good would come out of this experience.  My parents always tried to get me involved, and that effort they made made me a more outgoing and courageous person.  I remember countless times when my mom made me call a friend, try a new food, or start a sport; each time I did something new scared me, but most times, there was a positive outcome for taking those risks. 
        Just as I’ve put my faith in my parents to lead me through childhood, I have to have faith in their desire for me to serve a mission.  I know that even though the rejection will be hard, It’s trying new things that will bring me great happiness.  I’m looking forward to following in my dad’s footsteps as a missionary!

         Good leaders while on my difficult campout helped us scouts out immensely.  Without the leaders, we could never have reached our campsite because of the length and immensity of the trail.  Plus we would be a bunch of little scouts in the middle of nowhere and we would have had no chance to survive the bears and mosquitoes.  Our leaders showed us which way to go when the trail split, when to take off our shoes while crossing rivers, and how to avoid bears and cook fish. Their frequent guidance kept us healthy and happy, and they taught me to keep going when it got tough. 
         Just like my scout leaders who gave me advice throughout the week, I’ll have leaders on my mission whose direction I will have to trust to have a successful mission.  On my campout, I had faith that my leaders knew where to go and how to handle wilderness problems like finding our way and fending off wildlife.  My mission president will give me directions, as will my trainers and zone leaders, and I know that if I follow their advice and the counsel of the prophet and other church leaders, I will have greater success.

         Out of all those I put my faith in, the one I should have greatest faith is is the Lord.  On that first scout campout, I prayed during the times when I felt exhausted, which was very often, asking the Lord to help me continue and I felt a comfort that helped me to move on and finish.  In many instances in Junior High and high school, I’ve prayed before Piano Recitals, school tests (including French exams), and cross country races to do my best.  Each time I say a prayer, I have faith in the Lord that he will direct me and enable me to perform to my best ability.
         Proverbs 3:5,6 says to “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  This scripture says that even though we don’t understand why the Lord makes us do certain things, we should have faith in him that he’s leading us in the right paths.  Running for Student Body President at the high school was one of these faith-building experiences.  I ran, and lost, but despite the outcome of the election I had a great experience acquainting myself with the other candidates and discovering how many people truly support me not only through a vote but through, hard to explain, a general feeling of approval, and this feeling really boosted my confidence. 
         As I go into the mission field I know I will have experiences when the Lord will want me to do certain things that will be out of my comfort zone, and that is what I’m most nervous for, but I know the Lord can help me.  Ether 12:27 says that if we come to the Lord he’ll show us our weaknesses so we can be humble, and If we have faith in him he will make our weaknesses our strengths.  I think this is one of my favorite doctrines of our church.  By coming to the Lord and repenting we can totally turn our lives around.  Because of Christ’s atonement, we can all come to him and change for the better.  I’m so glad I can repent and be better every day because it feels like a weight lifted off me when I repent and try to do better.  Moreover, I’m excited to teach the French and Belgian people about the amazing gift of repentance and the atonement. 
         The mission is going to be a new adventure for me.  Like my first real scout adventure in the Wind Rivers, the journey will feel really, really difficult some days, but I will have a lot of help.  I’ll have the support of my parents and little sisters, as well as the support of family, friends, and past leaders. I want to thank you all now for the support through being nice to me, saying something kind, or praying for me, I can feel all of your support.

         I know that my mission will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, as well as one of the most fun and rewarding.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church.  I believe that Joseph Smith restored our church and that we have a prophet that leads our church in righteousness today.  I believe in the Book of Mormon, that it is the truest book on earth and I’ve gone into it many times looking for an answer to my problems, and although not every question is answered right away I know that the answers I’ve received have given me powerful inspiration to do the right thing.  I know that I make mistakes, and I can use the Atonement’s power to have a clean slate and start new.  I love my family and I know I can be with them forever, and I say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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