From the Parent of a Missionary
Below is the talk that Justin gave in Church on the Sunday prior to his departure. Being that he was not able to send us a letter Saturday on his P-Day, I thought it would be nice to post his talk for all those who were not able to attend the farewell. I have not edited this in any way and as you will see, with the exception of his testimony, Justin planned every word he would say, writing some of it in the morning prior to Church.
The talk start here: Just so everyone knows, I am going to the Guatemala, Guatemala City South Mission. I just wanted to clear that up right off the bat, because I’ve had about 2043 different people ask me where I’m going on my mission. I almost wish that the mission call came with a little tag that said, “I have been called to serve in the Guatemala City South mission!” It would save us future missionaries a lot of trouble.
I have been asked to talk on overcoming fears. I would like to thank Brother Morton for assigning me an easy and very relatable topic. Fear is a challenge that we all deal with in some way. Fortunately for me, public speaking isn’t one of my greatest fears thanks to a couple of years in the debate club. However, out of all of the speeches or talks I have given, this is probably the one I am most nervous and anxious for. Because going on a mission, and everything that goes with it, can be a big fear to overcome. I literally had a dream last night that I was in the MTC, and on my first day I realized that I had forgotten my suitcase at home and I missed all of my language lessons. Luckily I have had several people along with me to guide me through the process, and now here I am, standing before you today. I have no doubt that my two years in the mission field will be some of the greatest of my entire life.
So, onto some other types of fear. There are a couple of different kinds of fear; for example, fearing God versus fearing the monster in the closet when you were a kid. We are commanded to fear God, so I don’t think I should advise you on overcoming your Godly fear. Instead, I am going to talk about some other kinds of fear today.
The first kind of fear can be found in the Bible Dictionary definition, and is a consequence of sin. It says, “Sin destroys that feeling of confidence God’s child should feel in a loving Father, and produces instead a feeling of shame and guilt. The first effect of Adam’s sin was that he was afraid.”
One of the most personal consequences of sin is the guilt that comes with it. After we sin, we can become afraid to pray, afraid to speak to our bishop, and afraid to forgive ourselves. But we don’t have to carry around this burden.
The cure to this form of fear is repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Lord himself spoke of this in D&C 19. “Therefore I command you to repent—For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffereven as I.” Christ has overcome any fear that we could face, so if we turn to Him for forgiveness we can be freed from the guilt and fear following a sin. If you feel that you need to talk to a leader, don’t procrastinate it. As Amulek taught, “I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end.” The sooner you seek repentance and forgiveness, the sooner you can be freed from sin, guilt, and fear.
Another form of fear can come from other people. Whether it is fear of public speaking, fear of a cranky neighbor, or fear of knocking on a random person’s door to try and teach them the Gospel, people can be scary sometimes. I know some people who are totally outgoing and loud when they are among friends, but as soon as they meet a stranger or are confronted by an authority figure, they become withdrawn and shy. There is a reason for this; friendship and love help us to overcome the fear of other people. In 1 John 4:18, it says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Practically every returned missionary will tell you that they love the people they served. When I am out in the mission field, I am sure that a love for the people of Guatemala will make it much easier to go to an appointment or knock on a door. We can apply this principle to overcoming our everyday fears. Try to find a way to love or serve those cranky neighbors, your annoying boss, or the sibling that rubs you wrong, and your relationship with them will improve.
The final kind of fear that I want to discuss comes from the trials of life. The easiest way to overcome our trials, anxiety, and whatever fears may come across our paths is by turning towards God. Many of us are familiar with the phrase, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” Adversity is one of the most powerful things in humbling men and turning them towards God. In Hel 12:3, it states, “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence,they will not remember him.” Whenever you are beset by adversity, remember God, pray to him for strength to get through, and you can find the strength you need.
My favorite Mormon ad says, “When you no longer have the strength to stand, kneel.” Prayer has helped me throughout my life, especially leading up to my mission, in overcoming any fears that I might have. We are told in D&C 10 to “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror, yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escapethe hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” I suggest that all of you use this tool to overcome fears.
Trials not only turn us towards God, but they improve us as well. One of my favorite sections of scripture is in D&C 121 and 122, where the Lord is answering Joseph Smith’s plea from Liberty Jail of “O God, where art thou?” The Lord says, My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” He goes on to say, “If the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
Try to face trials with a positive attitude, always looking towards God, and you will come out stronger and be more able to overcome your fears.
Not only is our Father in heaven there for us, but since it is Father’s Day I would like to recognize our earthly fathers as well. This story by James E. Faust demonstrates how both kinds of father can help us overcome our fears. He says,
One summer our familywent on an outing near Wanship, Utah. One afternoon some of my young friends and I went out hunting varmints. We had .22-caliber rifles, and I was accidentally shot in the leg above the knee at close range. When the bullet passed through my leg, it felt like a hot poker was going through the flesh. Then I felt the warm blood running down my leg from the hole where the bullet had passed through it. I called my father to show him what had happened. He and the other men administered first aid to control the bleeding, then helped me into our family car to go to the nearest doctor, who was in Coalville.
After laying me on the operating table and examining the wound carefully, the doctor decided that he must first sterilize the hole in my leg through which the bullet had passed. When I saw how he was going to sterilize it, I was afraid of two things: I was afraid of the pain and I was also afraid that I would cry. I didn’t want to cry, because I wanted my father to think I was no longer a child. In my heart, I said a silent prayer that Heavenly Father would help me so that no matter how badly it hurt, I wouldn’t cry.
The doctor took a rod like those used to clean gun barrels. On the end of the rod was a hole through which a small piece of gauze was threaded and dipped into a sterilizing solution. The doctor then took the rod and pushed it into my leg. When it came out on the other side, he changed the gauze, put fresh antiseptic on it, and pulled it back through the hole, pushing it back and forth three times. It hurt quite a bit, especially when he got near the bone. But my fatherheld my hand, and I gritted my teeth and shut my eyes and tried to hold still. Heavenly Father had heard my silent prayer, because it did not seem to hurt as much as I thought it would, and I didn’t cry. The wound healed quickly and completely. (James E Faust, Be not Afraid)
I know that my father has been a great guiding force in my life and has always been there for me. He has pushed me to do my best and he has provided for me. And I know that if I need someone to talk to, he is there for me. I’m nowhere near as emotional as my dad. He has what we call an “automatic spirit detector,” where the tears just flow when the spirit is present, as many of you know. Like President Faust in the story, I’m afraid to cry, and even though I don’t show it as much, I really do love him.
I think my parents might think that I’m afraid to bear my testimony, because the last couple of months they have come up here to the pulpit and born their testimonies about me, and I didn’t get up. The truth is I just wanted to save it all for now so I only had to cry once.
Truth of the Gospel, scriptures, Book of Mormon (Moroni’s challenge), going on a mission (had never prayed about it), the power of the atonement and repentance.
I also have a testimony of the power of family. I have one of the greatest families there is. My littlest brother, Daxton, is the energy of the family. He can always put a smile on my face with his goofiness and his love. I know he will grow up to be a great young man. My sister Savannah is beautiful and virtuous. She has a beautiful voice, as you saw earlier in her musical number. I think she took all of the musical talent from me. I love to hear her sing, and I hope she can spread the joy the she brings to our family. My brother Connor is my best friend. I know I can always have a good time with him. And ladies, he is smart, handsome, and funny, so take note.
I have an angel of a mother. She has always loved me unconditionally and has led me through the challenges of my life. Without her, I would have probably started packing tomorrow and be hopelessly behind. Her spiritual strength guides our home, her amazing cooking feeds our home, and I love her dearly and will miss her greatly.
Dad, you got a whole story dedicated to you, but I’ll say it again. Thank you for always be there for me, for not only being a father but being my supporter and friend. You have always believed in me, and I recognize that. Thank you.
I would like to finish with one of my favorite scriptures. D&C 68:6 says, “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” We don’t have to fear, brothers and sisters. We have an older brother who loves us and will always be there for us. I know I will need his help as I go to serve the people of Guatemala. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.