Sunday, November 24, 2013

Not-so-mini Farewell Talk

(If you've been reading as I've been posting, you're going to have to bare with me on the stories and thoughts I share. I can kind of be a one trick pony when it comes to telling stories. Nevertheless...)

Today I was given the opportunity to speak to you all on an Ensign article by Elder Waldo P. Call. The article is titled Called to Serve Him, and I can't think of a more fitting topic for me to speak on today. I'm grateful to have been assigned this particular article as I speak a bit on my personal experience of preparing to go on a mission. 
                  For the past year, I was able to work at Cookie Corner in Windward Mall. It was my first job, and went about as well as any first job goes. It included a lot of low-key humming/hah-ing, secret eye-rolling, exaggerated deep breaths, and strained smiling on my part. I could write a book or two on the things I learned and picked up from the experience, but I never realized just how learning how to bake over 10 types of cookies would help me prepare for missionary work.
                  When they first hire you, they teach you that your number one job at The Cookie Corner is
"...To provide the greatest customer service in the world."
No variations. No word-substituting. The GREATEST customer service in the world. When I heard this I had to roll my eyes a little bit. They're just cookies. Some die hard cookie fanatics will disagree with me on that but I couldn't help but think that they needed to calm down. However, the answer to the question (What is my job at Cookie Corner?) remains the same as far as management is concerned. So it must be possible. The question then becomes: How do I provide the greatest customer service in the world? They threw us a lot of clever acronyms that I'm sure many of you have come to know through your own various experiences at work. And they were all inspirational and everything, but I've decided that it all really comes down to this: You just have to care. Care a little more.
                  Caring can manifest itself in different ways. You could end up being excited, serious, or scared. All of these emotions can make you anxious or doubtful, but I think they really mean you just care. And if caring means being scared for a bit, that's okay. When we decide to care about anything - missionary-work, ourselves, others, real change has space to happen. It sets you up for obedience, and Elder Call taught in his article that
"The Lord blesses us when we obey."
Just after, he reminds us of the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. Despite the trials he faced, he always remembered the Lord and kept His commandments and gained eternal life.  Elder Call closes by reminding us that
"We also will be blessed with eternal life if we keep the commandments. And we are commanded to 'go... into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (As read in D&C 68:8-9).
                  Though I made that success sound really simple just then, I know that caring is also pretty much a synonym for stressing sometimes. Once, at work, they asked us "what (made) our job stressful." We all had loads to say, but as soon as I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I felt ridiculous. I mean it was baking...  It's not that stressful. I'm making it stressful.  I think it's important to remember that. It's really easy to get caught up in our heads. And cookies aside, we're still talking about missionary-work here. In relation to getting caught up in my head with myself, I had a moment in the temple last week that reminded me of the importance of this very matter.
                  It was one of those days where the thought-count in your head is way over-capacity, and your brain just feels loud inside your head. Like it needs to be de-fragged. So I was going through the session and basically arguing with myself internally, trying to shush my thoughts, and a thought was placed in my mind. I say placed because it definitely didn't match any of the uku-million Mamo-centric thoughts goin on up there. The thought was: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.  
                  This isn't about me. I mean this whole talk has been me talking about me, but this work is definitely not about me. To the next person, this fact is probably a given. But I'm a professional worrier, and with my kind of worrying comes a lot of "me" thoughts. Upon remembering that this is not about me, whatever was clogging my thoughts and keeping them all jumbled in my head came undone, and my brain went silent. Allowing a silence to dwell that I've found that I only experience when my ways are in harmony with the direction Heavenly Father has laid out for me. A silence that allows space for caring and obedience, that wasn't there when I was so focused on what I thought I ought to be thinking about. This silence, this peace, this manifestation of Heavenly Father's hand in my life is what jump-started my desire to serve a mission in the first place.
                  In one of my favorite books, the main character contemplates sharing her favorite book with a new friend, and says how: 
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” (John Green, The Fault in Our Stars) 
This is pretty much how I feel about my experience in deciding to serve a mission. Those little 'aha' moments that led to mission prep are so special to me.
                  One of my personal "words to live by" quotes is:
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Everyone struggles in this life. That's why we're here. To struggle and learn. So I'm not going to get into specifics, I feel that what I learn from hard experiences outweighs any trauma a trial can bring. They say time heals, and I've found that to be true so far. They also say that every cloud has a silver lining. Every cloud that's ever been placed above me has had a silver lining that eventually solidified into a lit step in the direction that would lead me to being better fit to serve a mission as well as better fit for life in general. For me those silver linings to my personal trial-clouds usually come in the form of that silence from before.
                  That being said, I want to share part of an email from my brother that ended up allowing a silver lining to form for me when I was having a hard time.

"you know what we`ve all been through, the mauna kea highs and the hell-hole lows. you know how hard its been, yet how fulfilling its been (and you know exactly what "it" is). with all that in mind, i will tell you right now, that after all we`ve been through, the mission is still a one-up. it`s hard, not going lie. but we`ve "been to hell and back...i can show you vouchers." we know what hard is. and as a missionary, we`re living for, by, and through Him. He takes care of us, and  there is no way or how anything can happen to us in the field that was harder than life back home. He sent us through the fire so we could come out diamonds, so that we could shine for everyone else in the world. He`s prepared us for this moment in our lives, where we could bring more people to Him, because we know what it`s like to be down low. To not go and serve would be like spitting in His face and telling Him "thanks but no thanks." I hate to bring "Him" into this, but this is His work and His time we`re talking about. Like Aunty Rachel said "you owe your whole life to Him. everything you have is from Him....2 years of  time that`s not even yours is no sacrifice at all."
And he attached the following poem:

"After All We Can Do"
I’d been in that hole for a very long time –
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear,
But there’s no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there,
So I lost all my hope and gave into despair.

I knew nothing but darkness, the floors, and the walls,
When from off in the distance I heard someone call,
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter!
Take rocks and take sticks and build up a fine ladder.”
This had never occurred to me, had not crossed my mind,
So I started to stack all the stones I could find.

When I ran out of stones, the old sticks were my goal,
For some way or another I’d get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was really quite tall,
And I thought, “I’ll soon leave this place once and for all!”
Then I climbed up my ladder, it was no easy chore –
For from lifting those boulders my shoulders were sore.

So I worked and I climbed and at last had to stop,
For my ladder stopped short – some ten feet from the top.
I climbed back down the ladder and felt all around,
But there were no more boulders nor sticks to be found.
I went back to my ladder and started to cry.
I’d done all I could do; I gave my best try.

But in spite of my work, in this hole I must die,
And all I could do was to sit and think, “Why?”
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep?
Then from way up on high came a voice: “Do not weep.”
And then hope, love, and faith entered my chest,
As the voice said to me that I’d done my best.

He said, “Nothing’s the matter.  There’s reason to hope.
Just climb up your ladder; I’ll throw down my rope.
You have worked very hard, and your labor’s been rough,
But the ladder you’ve built is at last tall enough.”
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I stood at the top, there stood the Lord.

I’ve never been happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.
I fell to the ground; his feet did I kiss.
I cried, “What can I do to repay thee for this?”
He looked all around Him – there were holes in the ground.
They had people inside, and were seen all around.

There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep.
Then the Lord turned to me and He said, “Feed my sheep.”
Then He went on His way to help other lost souls.
And I got right to work, calling down to the holes,
“Get up!  Get ready! There’s nothing the matter!
Take rocks and take sticks and build up a fine ladder!”

It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there’s One who is willing to save one and all,
And we’ve got to be ready when He gives the call.
He’ll pull us all out of the hole that we’re in,
And save all our souls from death and from sin.

So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope:
Just build up your ladder; He’ll throw down His rope.

            I don't want to overanalyze the poem. It speaks for itself. But I do want to touch on the fact that we are all this narrator. This being the case, we are all at various stages of the poem, and close to different moments of peace I talked about before. We may be in our hole, near hearing the call to "Get up!  Get ready! ...Take rocks and take sticks and build up a fine ladder." We may about to grab the rope. We may be noticing others' holes around us. Either way, we are all in the perfect position to receive the comfort/peace/mental silence that allows us to hear what the Lord would have us do.
            I thought the song I sang would best fit that feeling of peace that is available to us through the Holy Ghost. It is my prayer that you all remember this.


The rest of the day consisted of a lot of laughing, a lot of food, a baptism, and the usual Tutu-enforced singalong. Today, my friends, was a GREAT day. 
As always if you're reading this, I'm a big fan of you. Love you guys :)

Sister Sister with my favorite Walters sisters
The Village
Raddest kids on the block (YSA fam)
KSwhat? KSG
Completely necessary embrace
Pwetty Pesi!

Look it's Jr.!
My Tessa :)
Ohhh Rachel
Mama Telle and Tayz (tell me not, she be killin it, right?)
Sweet Dawlani
This is Emma, and her life is literally a joke. She's my favorite.
Crybaby of the year

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud to be your sister and I do not have sufficient words to express how badly I wish I could have been there;I am (as always) with you in heart and spirit. LOVE YOU!