Good morning brothers and sisters. Thank you so much for coming today and for supporting me in my decision to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will be serving in the Boston Massachusetts mission English speaking. I report on September 9th to the Provo MTC and I will spend 10 days there before heading to Boston.
I want to take a minute and brag to you about this wonderful, historic part of our country where I will be spending the next year and a half. My mission covers all of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, part of New Hampshire and a small corner of New York. In addition, it has a temple, which I am so grateful for. It is located in Belmont, and was the 100th operating temple in the church. There are 114 universities in the state of Massachusetts alone. You might have heard of a few of them for example Harvard, Wellesley and Tufts, and I think It’s going to be just a little intimidating to be serving among some of the brightest minds in our country.
The New England area is home to some of the most important events in our nations history as well as the church. Among the first twenty-six men to be called as general authorities of the restored church following its organization in 1830 eighteen of them hailed from New England. The legacy continues as many of the apostles today have some connection with New England whether they served as mission presidents, were students or spent time living & working there.
As many of you may already know Boston and the east coast in general have a special place in my heart. Six years ago my family and I moved from our home of fourteen years in Pennsylvania to Salt Lake City, Utah. Some people in the ward can attest to the crazy runner man that my dad is so naturally he paced my Aunt Emily in the Boston marathon while we were living back east. We had some family living there and others coming to visit that week while we were in Boston which so happened to be around the time I turned eight years old so we decided that I should be baptized in Boston. When I read my call I knew without a doubt that that was the place for me and I felt such comfort in that and I am so excited to serve the people in New England and help them to come unto Christ like I did in the beautiful town of Boston.
Today I will be speaking about, “ coming out of the world” and being separate. This is a very important topic for missionaries because as a missionary I will be asking people to change their way of life that they are accustomed to and come unto Christ to build up His kingdom. In the scripture Alma 5:57 it reads, “and now I say unto you all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate” I believe that we must truly take this commandment to heart and that the Lord is speaking to us for our day-- especially living in Utah it is easy for church to become a culture more than just simply a religion. It is essential to keep in mind what our focus is in life. In a recent conference talk Randall L. Ridd stated “our savior has given us the hope that inspires us to become like our father in heaven… there is joy in the journey to perfection. Great purpose comes into our life when we make it our quest to follow the will of the lord” end quote. I think for many if not all of us the promise of purpose in life is a key factor in determining who we are and what we do on a day-to-day basis.
Regarding this topic of coming out of the world I have thought of three simple (concepts) that if we keep in mind will help us and I testify have helped me in being separate from the world while still being in the world and can help us to maintain purpose in our lives.
The first concept I would like to talk about is a common phrase that we begin to learn the meaning of at a young age and continue to learn throughout our lives. It is keeping an eternal perspective. Keeping an eternal perspective is so helpful when life gets hectic or when we’re making tough decisions. One thing that a lot of people struggle with is prioritizing our time and responsibilities. Life only gets busier and not simpler so we can’t keep putting off what we are asked to do. For example the go to answers for any church related questions are read the scriptures and pray. If these things are stressed so heavily then why aren’t we all doing them daily? It’s like brushing your teeth we all know we should everyday, but what happens if we miss one day of brushing our teeth? Do we have a cavity the next day? Probably not but if we continue to “not brush our teeth” there will be consequences. The same thing is applicable with reading our scriptures and praying maybe we can’t see the immediate consequences of missing one day but consequences positive and negative will come over time. Daily scripture study and prayer are a wonderful way to literally come away from the things of the world and just spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation. It also allows the spirit of our Father in Heaven to flow into our hearts. In my life and especially in high school I would become stressed and constantly worried about the little things in life but when I was able to step back and really looked at the big picture I could more clearly discern what was important and what was essentially going to bring me back to my Heavenly Father. In every decision we make we need to ask ourselves how is this going to affect me in an eternal perspective. The basic principles of the gospel are such good things to return to when we are feeling overwhelmed with the world around us and can help us put things back into perspective.
The next concept I would like to speak about is maintaining an attitude of gratitude. I love this one first of all because it rhymes and secondly because it is such a good reminder of how to stay humble and appreciate things that we are blessed with. A question that all of us have asked ourselves at one point or another is why are things so challenging --why do we go through pain and suffering? We must remember that things only seem good when compared to the bad so we must have bad things to experience good things. One of my favorite scriptures that I think explains this idea very well is in Doctrine and Covenants 29:39 it says “for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet.” We can get so caught up in feeling bad for ourselves and worrying about what is going wrong in our own lives that we forget to think about others. If we are only focused on the things of this world we can miss a whole spiritual world that is all around us. We might not be able to recognize spiritual promptings that the Holy Ghost is anxious to give us to direct our lives and to bless others. In the church it seems we are asked to make many sacrifices. We sacrifice our time, and talents we are asked to show great faith through obedience in things that we may not always understand. We need to realize and observe all the blessings that we receive because in the eternal perspective they far out way what we “sacrifice.” We are always told that blessings will come but what are these blessings? These blessings are all around us we just have to look. They come in the form of friends, fellowship, understanding, communication, spiritual insights, and the ability to live better lives. Always having an attitude of gratitude is essential for coming out of this world and being happy.
The last concept that I have come up with is a common saying in the Brooks household and something that my grandfather has taught me from day one it is spreading sunshine. Spreading sunshine can be done in so many ways. It can be as simple as making someone feel welcome with a smile. One of the best ways to spread sunshine is through service. For a while you can live off of others sunshine but eventually you are going to have to learn to make your own sunshine and to be a light and example for others to look to.
I want to end by saying thank you so much again for all the support thanks to everyone you have all influenced me in some way or another in my choice to serve a mission. I want to bare my testimony of this gospel and the comfort that it constantly brings to me. I love that the way the gospel can be so simple and how anyone who has a desire to know the truth can come to know for themselves that this is the true church through sincere prayer anyone from the brightest of the bright to someone with only a simple knowledge of the gospel can come to know the truth of it. Im so grateful for my Heavenly Father and for the unconditional love that he has for each and every one of us. I am so excited to serve and to learn with the people of New England and to build up His kingdom--- I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.