Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homecoming Talk

I was thinking about things have changed since I have been gone.  I was looking out on this group here and I half of you I don’t even know.  My name is Jordan Marsh and I have been in Brazil these last two years.  I wasn’t less active, I was just in Brazil.  I was thinking about my mission and how it really affected my life and I was thinking about two experiences I had—one at the very beginning, before I even left and one at the very end that I had with my mission president. And these two moments I had really had an effect on my mission and really made the difference for me.  The first experience I had was with Elder Evans.  He was here right before I left.  I remember sitting right here and before he left he said, “Jordan before I leave I want to say something to you. I want to ask you a question.”  I said, “Alright.”  He said, “You are going to be a missionary now.  What will you do?”  I thought that was a pretty good question.  I said, “I will teach the gospel.  I will help people be baptized.  I will do something.”  He said, “Nope.  You need to be perfectly obedient.” That changed my mission forever, and it changed my life forever.  Through our obedience we receive blessings from God.   It is the first law of heaven and really the most important.
One of the last experiences I had I was talking to the mission president and he was giving me a little advice before I went home,  for my life.  He said, “Remember patience.  Patience is a fact of faith.”  That really affected me too.  I thought about these two things, obedience and patience and how they are really related. How obedience to the Lord’s commandments brings blessings but we have to wait for these blessings.  Patience is a lot different than we think sometimes.  We think that patience is just waiting.  For example wait for the bus to pass by in the Brazilian streets in the hot sun.  That is patience which we learned a lot, and there is also patience where we are waiting for the Lord’s blessings.  I have a couple experiences where I learned a lot about that.
One of the examples had to do with the last few weeks of my mission where we were asked by the mission president to help as many people as we could.  To go out and teach as many people as we could and he promised us that if we would teach all that we could and work as hard as we could that week and do exactly what they need that we would be blessed with a baptism a week, which the most exciting thing in the world for a missionary. To see someone get baptized is the most wonderful thing in the world.  He promised that blessing to us.  We were pretty excited, me and my companion, because we already had someone that was ready to be baptized that week.  We were pretty excited that it was coming up on Saturday, and then we got a phone call on Thursday night.  Our investigator told us he had a few problems that he needed to resolve and he was actually going to be raveling for a few weeks. We were pretty bummed about that.  It was our baptism for that Saturday, but we didn’t get down.  We thought we weren’t working hard enough. We needed to be obedient so the blessings would come. We decided to ask the bishop what we should do.  We called up the bishop and said, “Bishop, where do you want us to work?  We’ll do anything we can.”  He said, "You need to work in the center of the city."  We thought,  Ok.  The center of the city is pretty hard to work because there are a lot of big buildings and the doormen won’t let the missionaries in. So we said we would start with our building, because we could get in there and there are about 5000 people that live there. So that was a pretty good place to start. We started on our floor, knocking on every door .  The third door we knocked on the lady opened the door and looked at us. She just looked at our faces and then she invited us in.  We talked to her a little bit and taught her about the gospel.  The next day she prayed and received an answer and wanted to be baptized.  We said, “ok, when?”  She said, “as soon as possible.”  She came to church on Sunday and was baptized that day.  She told us afterwards that she had been praying for that.  She said that when we came to her door she thought we were angels.  I could just tell how our obedience and our patience and knowing the Lord would bless us brought the blessings.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen that fast.  Sometimes it is a little bit slower.  In our mission the leaders ask us to talk to everyone in the street and ask them if they had been to church before. If they had been to church they would be a good person to be baptized.  So we went out and were talking to everyone in the street.  We talked to this lady that hadn’t been to church but said she could receive us that day and then I was transferred that week.  I thought that was weird because we were told that if we talk to everyone we would have a baptism that week, but I was transferred that week.  I went ahead and contacted the next missionary that was there and he contacted that lady and because of her and her family they were going to be baptized in the next few months.  The blessing was realized.  The blessings were kept, we were inspired and in the Lord’s time the blessings were kept.
I know these things are true and through our obedience and our patience that in the Lord’s time we will always be blessed and we will see miracles happen.  As we desire to do the Lord’s will we will see miracles happen in our lives.

I really like these two topics too because it really relates to motherhood.  The most patient people in the world have to be mothers.  Having patience as a  mother isn’t just about having to deal with rowdy kids or sassy teenagers but it has to do with being able to see what their kids can become.  Not just who they are right now, but what they may become afterwards.  So mothers have this power.  They have this ability, this vision like God does, to see His children for what they may become. Mothers see this vision and they look at their kids and they teach their kids in that way.  They are an artist in the way they help their kids fulfill their full potential.  I am so grateful for a mother who taught me these things, who is very patient with me, and who has really blessed my life. I owe her so much.  I am so grateful for the examples of mothers I had in the mission as well.  I think about the mothers in Brazil.  In a lot of places in Brazil there are slums that are really dangerous. In these slums there are houses built upon houses and narrow streets about as wide as this pulpit. You walk in the streets and there is sewage in the road and there are little kids playing in the road with their toys.  A lot of the reason they are there is because they don’t have mother figures in their life.  They don’t have parents to really take care of them.  We would see kids from the age of three or four going to get bread.  They would walk a half mile and get the bread and return all by themselves.  These kids would flock to places where they could feel love.  There was a lady in our ward, whose name was Camita, who was a very powerful woman.  She was about 80 years old.  She was a very powerful woman, and when she would shake your hand she would squeeze it very tight--tighter than I could squeeze hers.  She would always bring people to church, bring the kids to church.  Her whole street would call her grandma or mom and she would bring them because her house was a house of love. Her house was a way out of the streets.  Whenever you would go to her house you would see a lot of kids.  Her kids were already grown but she would be there with a lot of kids around making pao de quejo, salty cheese bread.  It was really great to see her working like that, because these kids didn’t really have their mothers or their fathers.  They really didn’t have any way to grow unless someone provides for them.   I know that through this gospel mothers become better mothers.  Their mission goes beyond this life.  They see their kids as they may become, not just in this life but in the life to come as well. 

I am really grateful for the opportunity I had to be a missionary--to go and teach the people and to serve. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord.  I really do believe that this church is true.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  I know these things. I know that patience is of faith and that through faith we receive power, and power from God cannot be taken away from us.  I know that this church was restored by a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true also.  I have seen these things change people’s lives for the past two years. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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