Sunday, July 17, 2016

Farewell Talk

Elder Jarom Harris
Farewell Talk
Beaver 1st Ward
July 10, 2016

Jarom’s Farewell Talk

Good morning brothers and sisters. I’m really excited to be here. This day is kind of surreal for me. It’s really a dream come true, I’ve been looking forward to this day for a really long time.

For those who don’t know me, I’m sure all of you do, my name is Jarom Harris and I have been called to serve in the Peru Lima West Mission and I leave on Tuesday (July 12th) to the Peru MTC. I’m really grateful that I’m going to the Peru MTC because I feel like I’m really just going to get to dive right into the culture. The MTC is only 5 miles away from my mission home so I’m right there.

And so to start off, I just wanted to kind of tell a few statistics about Peru because I like statistics and stuff. Peru is a country in South America and is about twice the size of Texas. So it’s pretty big. There is over half of a million members of the church there. The church is pretty strong there. There’s two temples there already, and there are two that have been announced. One of those that has been announced is going to be in my mission, so I’m really excited about that. There’s thirteen missions total in Peru, and my mission covers an area of about 150 miles by 50 miles. It’s the northern city of Lima-- the northern section of the city plus some other towns north of there. The highest point in Peru is in the Andes Mountains, It’s like 22,000 feet. Peru has the world’s highest concentration of llamas, ever. I thought that was cool.

Alright, I’m just going to get started. There’s a scripture that has really been close to my heart probably the last month that I’ve really been thinking a lot about. And it, I think-- I believe it has changed my life. I’m going to read it to you. The scripture is Ether 12:27. “And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me. For if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them.”

Okay, I’m going to give you a little background behind this verse. So this verse is in Ether, but the person who’s writing this verse is Moroni. In this chapter, in Ether chapter 12, Moroni is, he’s kind of discussing the words of the prophet Ether. So he’s kind of like reflecting on these words and he’s explaining how Ether’s counsel has meant a lot to him. And so that verse is Ether’s counsel. But if you go up a little before this, in verse 23, and this is Moroni speaking, he says “And I said unto him, Lord, the gentiles will mock at these things because of our weakness in writing. For Lord thou hast made us mighty in our faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing. For thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Spirit that thou hast given him. And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands, but behold thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared.”

And so, right before this, Moroni is saying, Lord this is great that the Book of Mormon is coming forth and all, but what if the gentiles, and the gentiles are us who will have the scriptures in the modern days, what if they laugh at us, what if they make fun of the way we wrote it. And because Moroni felt he had this weakness in writing and then he shares the counsel about weak things becoming strong through faith in the Lord and then right after, it says, “And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteousness will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith (Ether 12:29). 

Honestly, I feel a lot like Moroni. I feel like these words are so comforting. To know that although we have weaknesses they can be made strong through faith in Christ.  And it’s kind of interesting so Moroni feels his weakness in writing and then he listens to this counsel.  Over in verse 38 it says, “And now I Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love.” (Ether 12:38)  And later he says, “And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.” (Ether 12:40)

And so you know this is towards the end of Ether, and this is where Moroni is bidding farewell to us and so when I first read that I was kind of confused because I’m like wait there is another whole book, Moroni, after Ether.  And so I’m like why is he bidding farewell if there is another book.  I think that Moroni was planning on ending the Book of Mormon right there in Ether.  I think part of the reason why he was going to end it there was because he had weak writing and he didn’t want to write anymore. 

But then at the beginning of the book of Moroni it says, “Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me.” (Moroni 1:1)  And so he is saying well the Lamanites haven’t killed me yet so I might as well write some more I guess. 

But then in verse 4 he says, “Wherefore, I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more; but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord.” (Moroni 1:4)  And so he is not really sure why he is writing this extra add on to the Book of Mormon, but the Lord told him to so he is going to do it even though he thinks he has a weakness in writing.  And honestly what he writes in the next 10 chapters in the Book of Moroni, I think are some of the most powerful things in the whole Book of Mormon.

In them, in this writing, in chapters 4 and 5 he gives us the sacramental prayers.  In chapter 7 he describes the wonderful way of obtaining charity.  In chapter 8 he describes the doctrine of babies not needing to be baptized because they are not capable of committing sin.  These doctrines are really comforting and we wouldn’t have them if Moroni hadn’t decided to write this extra part of the Book of Mormon.  And I think one of the most important things he include was Moroni’s Promise in Chapter 10 verse 3.  I think that this scripture is probably one of the most quoted scriptures in the Church, and I would say missionaries probably use it more than anyone else too because this is a promise that when we pray God will answer our prayer and tell us if the Book of Mormon is true or not.

And the reason this all came to be is because of the words that Moroni was contemplating that weak things will be made strong unto him.  And so really the Book of Moroni, that whole book of holy scripture, is just direct proof that God really can make weak things become strong, because I don’t think any of you would argue that the Book of Moroni is a weak book. It is a very strong book and it’s all because Moroni exercised faith in Christ that his weakness would be made into a strength. 

So that is one of my favorite scriptures and I’m going to hold it sacred with me throughout my mission because I know it will really help me.  So this concept of weak things becoming strong things to the Lord is really, it’s really the essence of the atonement.  You know we hear a lot that the atonement covers our sins so we can pray to God and repent of our sins.  But then we also hear that the atonement doesn’t only cover our sins but that it covers are sicknesses and our pains.

In Alma chapter 7 it says that the atonement covers pains, afflictions, temptations of every kind, sicknesses, death.  And in Isaiah is says that it cover our griefs, our sorrows, our iniquities, our sins, our trials.  Hearing all of those things it makes me feel the atonement covers everything negative.  It transforms negative things into positive things.  It also covers our infirmities, and Google defines infirmities as a physical or mental weakness.  And so the atonement covers our weaknesses.  This verse is talking about the atonement.   That’s just amazing.  Isn’t that amazing.

I used to think that repentance and the atonement were kind of the same thing.  They were kind of interchangeable words, but as I’ve studied a lot I came to realize repentance is only a really small portion of what the atonement covers.  The atonement doesn’t just cover our sins, it makes us better people in every aspect of life.  I truly believe that.  I also used to think that the atonement was kind of a, I always knew it was really important, but I never really saw how it fit in with the plan of salvation.  I thought it was kind of a side doctrine, but the atonement is so central to everything we do.  In reality the atonement is the reason why we worship Jesus Christ, because if he hadn’t performed the atonement what point would we have in worshiping him.  He’s our Savior. 

The only ordinance that we do in the Church every week is the sacrament.  I’ve always thought about that and I actually used to wonder why we do the sacrament so much because to be honest a lot of the time I wouldn’t really pay attention to it.  I wouldn’t really get into it.  I kind of thought that it was kind of a waste of time sometimes, but it’s so important that we have the sacrament every week because it is a physical symbol of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  And really it is a reminder that we should be using the atonement every week and every day of our lives.

And as I’ve prepared for my mission, I’ve noticed a lot of weaknesses that I have.  And it’s kind of made me a little bit scared.  You know what if I get out there and these weaknesses grow and get bigger and I have to come early or something.  That would be really bad, but as I’ve prepared I prayed to God that he would help me with my weaknesses that that would be made into strengths.  They haven’t completely yet but I know that if I keep trying they will be. 

The one thing that I’ve learned through all this is that Christ makes all the difference.  I’ve tried in my life to resolve my weaknesses by myself and it just doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t work that way.  You can but you won’t get it completely without Christ, we need Christ. 

There is a scripture, and this is one of my all time favorite scriptures, Alma 26:12, I’ve probably shared this in like every talk that I’ve ever given, but it’s really good. “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”  And I really love this scripture because it just shows that we are nothing without Christ.  We need him. 

In Preach my Gospel it says, “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the atonement of Jesus Christ.”  I think that statement is so powerful and so true. 

Another thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been preparing for my mission is the reality of Satan.  These last 6 months have been some of the hardest months spiritually of my entire life.  And I know it is because Satan is a real being and he doesn’t want me to go on a mission.  But, I know that because this verse says that man is nothing, that since we are nothing, and if we do nothing, Satan is going to have power over us, but if we have faith in Christ and turn to Christ instead of Satan that we can be on the right path. 

So you know, farewell talk, it kind of begs the question, Jarom why are you going on a mission?  That’s a pretty hard question and so I kind of made a list of things.  I feel like I’ve never not wanted to go on a mission.  It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do, so I can’t really empathize with someone who doesn’t want to go on a mission.  I think the reason that I’ve always wanted to go is because I’ve had such a huge example of family.  I spent a lot of time over on the farm with my four uncles and it seems like every day they are telling me another story about their missions.  When you have four uncles doing that you get a lot of stories and a lot of advice.  I’m grateful for those guys though I love them.  All of my uncles and grandpas and my dad and my older brother.  The decision to serve would have been a lot harder if Zach hadn’t gone before me.

But, I made this list of why I’m going on a mission. And so the first one is because it is something different.  A lot of these reasons aren’t really super spiritual but they are kind of personal for me.  And so the first reason is I don’t like to be doing the same thing for a long period of time, I kind of like change, so that’s one of the reasons why I going.

Another reason is that it sounds pretty fun, experiencing another culture and stuff.  I really like traveling. 

And it seems honorable.  I feel like it is a pretty honorable thing in the church and I feel like everyone in the world would say it’s a pretty respectable thing to do to go serve other people for two years and pay your own way.  I think it’s a pretty honorable thing to do.

One of the reasons is I want to learn more about the gospel.  As I’ve been preparing for my mission I realize I don’t know very much about the gospel and I want to learn some more.

I want to learn a new language.  I want to help people change their lives for the better. 

And also because going on a mission is expected of me.  I kind of want to talk about this one because we live in a culture where mission are very pushed and I feel like every talk is about encouraging us to go on missions.  I think this is a good thing.  I think it’s good.  My parents expect me to go on a mission.  All of you expect me to go on a mission and I’m going to go.  But I think more important than that, the number one person who expects me to on a mission is Jesus Christ.  He expects me to go so I’m going to go.

I really feel like the encompassing reason of why I’m going on a mission is that the gospel is true.  And if it’s true then why would I not do everything I possibly could to follow Jesus Christ and keep his commandments.  That’s the central reason. 

And you know everyone says going on a mission is really hard and stuff, but when people say that I just don’t really listen to them because I know that it’s going to be hard, but I have Jesus, so it’s not going to be that hard, because all of my weaknesses are nothing when I exercise the atonement.

Brothers and Sisters I cannot wait three days when I get to put that badge right here, that little black badge that says Elder Harris, but more importantly it says Jesus Christ.  That’s why I going, I’m going to serve Jesus Christ and I can’t wait for that day.  And it’s coming pretty fast.

I would just like to express my love for my parents and my family.  My dad is the best dad in the world.  If I could point out one person and say you have taught me how to be successful in life, how to find true happiness, you’ve taught me the gospel, that person would be my dad. I love him so much he’s one of my best friends.  I can say the same thing about my mom.  I love my mom so much.  I love that she always expects more of me.  She wants me to be better than I am.  And, she’s the best mom in the world.  And I’d like to thank my two little sisters Abby and Amelia.  It’s so awesome, ever since Zach left we’ve kind of gotten closer I think, and I’m really grateful for their light and their example to me and I’m going to miss them a lot when I go. 

Just to close, I want to read a great missionary scripture, because this scripture has motivated me a lot to go serve.  So this is D&C 4:4, “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.”

Brothers and Sisters I know that this church is true.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that he loves us.  I love the Book of Mormon, it is the word of God, I know that it is true.  I want to share it with the people of Peru.  And I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and that it works, it really does work.  A lot of the times it doesn’t seem like it does if we don’t feel the spirit, but it does work.  I know that the spirit is real.  The spirit can direct our lives.  I know these things are true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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