I’m so excited to be here today. I’ve been waiting for 19 years for this day and I feel so blessed to share it with so many people that I love. I’m just so thankful for everyone that came.
So I’ve been called to the Canada Edmonton mission. I report to the Provo MTC on June 18th so I’ll be here next Sunday. But I’ll be in the MTC for maybe a week or 2 and then I’ll be shipped off to Canada where I’m sure I’ll be lucky enough to experience winter in July! But I’m really excited. I love this gospel so much. Nothing seems more exciting to me than spending 18 months completely focused on sharing it with others.
To prepare for my mission. I took our stake’ mission prep class which was awesome this past year. And we did this thing where every week we would have a question that we talked about and spent the next week researching it and then we’d come back and talk about the answers we came up with. A few months ago we asked the question “Why does the Lord allow us to suffer pain and affliction?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As a class we came up with some good answers but ever since that day I have been completely unable to stop thinking of it. So this is just a few that I came up with.
· 1. We go through trials to remember the Lord’s hand in our lives. The Lord gives us trials to remind us to keep his commandments and live in gratitude and humility. It is in fact the Lord that makes our lives possible. The least we can do is remember Him and obey him.
· 2. Some trials come as a consequence of our own actions. The Lord gave us his commandments in the beginning and promised to bless our righteous actions and judge our unrighteous ones.
· 3. Trials may also come to help us more fully understand happiness. 2 Nephi 2:11 it says that there must be opposition in all things. When we pass through suffering, we come out more appreciative of the blessings and happiness we have.
· 4. We are given trials and suffering to give us the opportunity to learn and personalize the Savior’s Atonement. As we struggle and go through choices: some bad and some good, we can always call upon the Savior to bind our wounds that He has already suffered for so we won’t have to keep them.
But my favorite reason is this:
The Lord gives us trials and allows us to suffer pain and affliction because He knows that is the only way for each of us to reach our full potential on Earth -which He has seen from the very beginning. He has a plan for each of us that will help us to gain knowledge, experience and happiness. In PMG it says:
“God is the Father or our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us…we [are] not however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality…God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings.”
Central to this plan is the Savior’s Atonement. He suffered for us to bind the wounds of our trials and suffering and make us whole again. This has become what makes me the happiest.
When I was 4, I started taking ballet class. As most of you know, ballet quickly became who I was. I was ‘The Ballerina’. Heading into sophomore year, I was dancing more than 25 hours a week on top of school and homework. I had performances every other month. I was only thought about ballet. I only talked about ballet. I really only cared about ballet.
One day, the director of my dance studio announced we would be participating in a convention in Las Vegas the following spring. It was a big deal. We would have to audition several times and have special adjudicators come and see us perform before we would be allowed to participate. It was a big change for our company and as you would expect, we were all pretty excited for a trip.
When they posted that the audition would be on a Sunday, I was, to say the least, upset. This was ballet! This was my life! But I had already chosen a long time ago to keep the Sabbath day holy as the Lord commanded. So, after a lot of crying and talking to my parents, I decided to let my director know I would be unable to participate in the audition.
Well as it turns out, the rules say you can only participate in the convention if you participated in the audition. And as I had been given a lead role in our audition dance, my decision to opt out did not go over well with my teachers. So the next few months were quite awkward and painful. But I knew that obeying the Lord was the right thing to do.
My next decision would completely change my life forever. As I spent day after day going to dance and sitting out while they rehearsed for the audition, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe the Lord had a new and better plan for my life. And at first I didn’t like that.
I remember the exact day I decided to stop dancing. I had spent months praying and praying to know that the decision to stop dancing was a bad decision. And that didn’t happen. There were countless nights spent trying to get advice from my parents. Mostly, there was just a lot of crying.
That night I was sitting outside my mom’s room just sitting on the floor. We were just talking. (probably about dance. That’s usually all we talked about). And she just said “Sarah. Your dad and I have been praying and we really hate to say it but, I think this might have to be it.” And unlike all our other conversations on the subject, I didn’t immediately contradict her. I knew she was right. I absolutely knew I needed to stop dancing. I didn’t want to! I didn’t like that she was right. But I knew she was right.
So after 12 years I quit dancing. And though it took nearly a year before I could talk about dancing without crying, I did it. Because I knew that’s what the Lord wanted for me.
To most people, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. And I can almost guarantee you’ve all gone through something a lot harder than deciding not to dance anymore. But to me, this was a HUGE deal. It was a big part of my life.
Alma 7:11 says “And He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”
I know that the Savior suffered the same pain I felt. He entirely understood that it was a big deal to me. He knew my burden and He lifted it. He bound the wounds I felt and made me whole again.
The Savior says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I know He is always there to heal us. No matter how insignificant our pains and afflictions seem, He knows and understands why they’re a big deal to us. But He also sees the big picture and will help us move on and see what we can become if we trust Him.
Since I stopped dancing, I have felt the Savior’s hand in my life, continually blessing me with experiences that would not have happened if I were still dancing. I am so grateful for my Savior who loves me and cares about me enough to put me through trials so I can improve myself and truly see how blessed I am. It just makes me so happy. It must be why I want to spend 18 months of my life spreading that love and happiness with the people of Edmonton.
So how can we be like the Savior and bind others’ wounds?
In the primary song “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” it says:
“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."
My sister Emma is the perfect example of this. She shows me that to bind others’ wounds I need to be loving and compassionate. I need to forgive and serve. I don’t know a single person LESS judgmental than Emma. She binds the wounds I feel continually just by loving me and forgiving me. I’m going to spend my whole mission trying to be more like her.
In closing I want to share a lesson I learned several years ago that perfectly sums up the big picture the Savior sees in our lives.
When my grandparents moved to Boise, they built a farm up in the hills for the cousins to all come and hang out with the cousins and play. A few years ago, my grandma decided it would be fun to get a bunch of white t-shirts for all the cousins and have everyone design a “Whiting Farm” shirt. When we were all done decorating, we lined up our shirts to see all the designs. Several people had painted chickens and cows. I had a big sunset with a rainbow. And there were several different interpretations of stick families. But Sam’s shirt was my favorite. He was only 5 or 6 when we did this. So he was just learning to write. His shirt didn’t have pictures or lots of colors. He just wrote in big letters “Love people”. Grandma asked him what it had to do with the family farm. And Sam said “We’re supposed to love all the people. So this could be our motto!”
The Savior binds our wounds and makes us whole because He loves all the people just like Sam said. And as we try each day to be more like the Savior, we will love everyone around us. And when we love each other, we are binding each others’ wounds.
I know that my Savior lives and He loves me. It brings me so much happiness to know this. That is why I want to serve a mission. Because I know it improves people’s lives to know the Savior’s love. I hope as I serve the people of Canada I will be able to bind others’ wounds so they can feel the love of Christ and the joy of His Atonement in their lives. I know my Heavenly Father loves me and you and everyone and I know He has a plan for each of us. As I read the scriptures, and pray and attend the temple, I have faith in that plan. I feel my Savior’s love. I’m so thankful that I have that relationship with my Savior and that relationship with the Spirit to help me know that it’s true. I’m so thankful for the temple and that I could go with my family. There is nowhere on Earth that I feel closer got my Heavenly Father and my Earthly father. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to go with them and learn. I’m very grateful for this gospel. I know it is true. I KNOW IT IS TRUE. I’m so excited to share it with others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.