This is my farewell address I gave in my Ward.
My heart is full to see so many beautiful friends and family in this congregation. I pray that today I will say everything that my father in heaven has helped prepare me to say.
I'd first like to take a second to introduce myself to you. I am Rebekah Bennett. I am 19 years old. I have grown up in this ward since I was 6 years old. I attended Brigham Young University- Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho last fall/winter. I am headed out to the Mexico City, Mexico Missionary Training Center in the next 2 days, and then will serve in Guayaquil Ecuador South Mission full-time for 18 months.
Today I would like to focus my talk on 2 interrelated topics:
1. Childlike faith
2. Eternal potential
1. Childlike Faith
In Matthew 18: 3-4, we are taught,
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4
Why are we told to be as little children?
Am I to stick handfuls of barrettes and fluffy bows in my hair and walk around in lacey dresses with mismatched shoes? Is that what is being asked of me?
Children carry very little cares in the world but seem to implicitly know that they are the children of god. If we were to sit down and truly listen to what a child has to say, I guarantee that you would be able to feel the light of Christ.
What becomes of that simple and implicit faith, as we grow and mature? As we grow, as that much more time passes from when we pass through the veil, the natural inclination of many is to set aside this childlike faith. We may say “show me, if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” (See Robert C. Oaks, Believe All Things, Ensign, July 2005) However, it doesn’t work that way. As we were reminded by President Spencer W. Kimball, “Faith precedes the miracle.”
Over time our nature is to become that much more like Doubting Thomas.
From the Gospel of John we learn of Thomas’ inclination to doubt the reality of the Lord’s resurrection, and the Lord’s rebuke:
24 ¶But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and putmy finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.26 ¶And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then
came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be
unto you.27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it
into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are
they that have not seen, and yet
We let ourselves believe that it is somehow noble to doubt our beliefs and believe our doubts. Our challenge is to believe our beliefs and doubt our doubts, much like the little children. I would like to take a moment to explain a huge lesson of “childlike faith pertaining to my desire to serve this mission. During the week before this new and exciting change, I was having a ROUGH patch of days. I kept getting an overwhelming feeling that I needed to be somewhere. I had just gotten adjusted to the college routines and was frustrated and lost as to why I felt I needed to be somewhere else. The previous week I attended meetings to be a teacher and travel abroad. I called my mom multiple times that week and explained that I felt that I was needed elsewhere. My mom, I now presume, thought I was crazy although kindly and gently told me that I will know my answer. I woke up on Saturday and fell to my knees in prayer pleading with the Lord for comfort. I had been uneasy all that week and that day felt no different. I rolled out of my dorm room into one of my dear friends rooms and she was in hysterics. She looked at me with big bright eyes and says, “HAVE YOU HEARD?”.. By literally a few minutes, I had missed this grand announcement and was extremely confused by her expression. I asked her what she was talking about and she got up off her chair, smiled joyfully and said, “Bekah, we can serve missions.” Her simple statement was so powerful that I fell to my knees and sobbed. I I’ve never been so inspired in my entire life. The Lord had delivered my answer and I was to go do HIS work and put faith in the unknown.
The song that was (IS BEING) sung today is entitled, “Come thou Fount Every Blessing”. I love this song for it’s curious lyrics. The second verse begins with : “Here I raise my Ebeneezer, Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.”
Now that I’ve looked up the meaning for this portion of the verse, I’ve learned that it relates to the doctrine in 1 Samuel 7:12. It states, “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
Samuel raised the “Ebeneezer stone” to proudly thank the Lord for helping the Isrealites defeat the Philistines. I admire Samuel’s act of realizing the Lord’s hand in this situation and unstoppable faith.
Although I have not per say created a stone to thank the Lord for the oppritunity he’s given me to serve in Ecuador, I have been more conscious of the simple tender mercies that remind me that if I let myself go and allow God to work His ways into my life, I will be blessed.
2) ETERNAL POTENTIAL AND PERSPECTIVE
Another great irony is that although many, as discussed, abandon childlike belief and faith, perhaps feeling too sophisticated, they ironically lose all sense of eternal potential and perspective.
Here is a story by President Uctdorf that makes that point:
There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.The question this parable raises is, Are we … living below our privileges when it comes to the sacred power, gifts, and blessings that are our opportunity and right [as members of Christ’s church]?”Because of Jesus Christ and his eternal sacrifice, and because of the Plan of Salvation, those who exercise faith, repent, and follow the Lord, including into the waters of baptism, are entitled to eternal life and exaltation. So many forget, or do not know, their potential is unmeasureable.
Here’s a poem that speaks to our eternal potential and the essential role that the Savior sacrifice has created for us. The Touch of the Masters Hand
'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."
"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
I have felt the Masters Hand many times in my life although a time that stands out is when I visited the John Johnson farm in Hirium, Ohio this past Summer.
-Sister Johnson had a lame arm, got a blessing, fixed
- Matriarch of the house
- cooked for all of the church leaders and families and farm leaders
-She housed prophets
-Gave up portions of her house to leaders
-Hand sewed missionaries white shirts
I have a testimony of Sister Johnson.
With a humble understanding of my potential as a missionary, I feel honored and trusted under Heavenly Fathers discretion to serve in Ecuador. I am grateful to serve such great people. Part of my challenge as a missionary will be to help these good people of Ecuador to have this eternal perspective and to realize their inestimable and eternal worth.