Ryan’s Farewell Talk

Here is the text from his talk given June 9th.  He changed quite a bit so he wouldn’t repeat too much of what was already said.  We think he gave a great talk.

Good Morning!  First I want to thank all of you who came today to hear me speak.  I am grateful for your support and encouragement.  Soon after I received my call to the Argentina Buenos Aries West Mission, I told my mom I was more nervous about speaking in our ward than I was to leave on my mission.  I spoke 2 weeks ago with Brother Merrill of the high council in another ward, but speaking in my own ward is more difficult to me for some reason, so I pray that I will be able to express to you my thoughts about my mission call and about the topic today, which is being anxiously engaged.

In the Doctrine and Covenants 58: 26-28 it reads:   For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.   Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;   For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

Elder Joseph Andersen said of this scripture: “This quotation refers to nonmembers as well as Church members; all men and women have the power to do good. It is of the utmost importance that they have the desire and determination to live righteously. We should not be employed at any time in service that is not a good cause. When members of the Church are engaged in doing something that is evil or contrary to a good cause, we are not living up to the obligations we took upon ourselves in the waters of baptism. Very many people in the world, not of our church, are engaged in a good cause and are trying to bring forth much righteousness. Those who are endeavoring to improve mankind, who teach faith in God and the living of a goodly life, are engaged in a good cause and shall not lose their reward.”

Many times I have seen people doing good things for others.  As a child, my family would secretly take things to other families who we thought might need some extra help. My mom would also take dinner in to other people who she felt needed her help.  Our whole family helped, along with some of you, as Clint worked on his eagle project and other service projects where he was involved.  I remember as a young kid helping to tie quilts that my brother got started and then my mom’s Young women finished and took to a hospital. As youth, we would visit new members and neighbors and take them treats, at Christmas we would go Caroling around the ward to share the Christmas Spirit to others.  As a Priest, one of my favorite things was the opportunity to take the Sacrament to those members who were unable to attend church with us.  I especially remember visiting Sister Sliger and her gratitude toward us for doing a small act of service.  I am grateful for what I was able to do for my Eagle Scout project and the help that I received from others in completing it.  Think of all the small acts of kindness and service that are given just in our ward every week.  Each act might seem so small and really nothing to the person who does it, but to those who receive the act, and if we think of them all together, it becomes something really great.

Elder Ballard spoke of this in his October 2012 conference address.  You might remember that he spoke about growing up on a peach farm and how his dad had honeybees so they could help pollenate the peach trees.  He said, “ Father loved his gentle honeybees and marveled at the way thousands of them working together transformed the nectar gathered from his peach blossoms into sweet, golden honey—one of nature’s most beneficial foods. In fact, nutritionists tell us it is one of the foods that includes all the substances—enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water—necessary to sustain life.  My father always tried to involve me in his work with his hives, but I was very happy to let him tend to his bees. However, since those days, I have learned more about the highly organized beehive—a colony of about 60,000 bees.

Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. It is estimated that to produce just one pound of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.  Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do, becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.  He then spoke how the beehive became a symbol of our church and that it can be found in many of our temples and even on the podium of the conference center.  He also said that “Brigham Young chose the beehive as a symbol to encourage and inspire the cooperative energy necessary among the pioneers to transform the barren desert wasteland surrounding the Great Salt Lake”.   Elder Ballard went on to say, “All of this symbolism attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause”.  Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Savior taught that the first and great commandment is:  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  Elder Ballards response to this scripture is:  “The Savior’s words are simple, yet their meaning is profound and deeply significant. We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.”

As I think about these words, in preparing to serve a full time mission, I realize that If I want to be a great missionary then I need to love and serve the people in Argentina.  As I think about a beehive, I would like to compare it to all the missionaries serving now in the world.  During the April General Conference President Monson said there were 65,634 full-time missionaries currently serving with more than 20,000 having received calls, and 6,000 more were in the interview process.  That is a huge hive of missionaries serving the Lord and serving His children.   Many of you probably remember, during the same conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson’s talk entitled, “Ask the Missionaries, they can help you”.  He said, Missionaries in their late teens or early 20s are young in ways of the world. But they are blessed with gifts—such as the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of God, and testimonies of the truth—that make them powerful ambassadors of the Lord. They share the good news of the gospel that will bring true joy and everlasting happiness to all who heed their message. And in many instances they do so in a country and a language foreign to them.  Missionaries strive to follow Jesus Christ in both word and deed. They preach of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.  They teach of the literal Restoration of Christ’s ancient Church through the Lord’s first latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith.”  He goes on to say “Preparation for a mission is important. A mission is a voluntary act of service to God and humankind. Missionaries support that privilege with their personal savings. ..All missionaries, ..serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people”.

It is humbling for me to think of being able to serve full time as a representative of our church and the Savior and doing His work by trying to make life better for other people.  Elder Nelson tells a story that I would like to share with you about how missionaries improved the lives of some people living here in Mesa.

“Jerry, a Protestant gentleman in his mid-60s who lives in Mesa, Arizona. Jerry’s father was a Baptist minister; his mother, a Methodist minister. One day Jerry’s close friend Pricilla shared with him the pain she felt from the death of her child during childbirth and a bitter divorce that occurred shortly thereafter. Struggling as a single mother, Pricilla has four children—three daughters and a son. As she opened her heart to Jerry, she confessed that she was thinking of taking her own life. With all the strength and love Jerry could muster, he tried to help her understand that her life had value. He invited her to attend his church, but Pricilla explained that she had given up on God.

Jerry did not know what to do. Later, while watering trees in his yard, this man of faith prayed to God for guidance. As he prayed, he heard a voice in his mind saying, “Stop the boys on the bikes.” Jerry, a little bewildered, wondered what this meant. As he reflected on this impression, he gazed up the street and saw two young men in white shirts and ties riding bicycles toward his home. Stunned by this “coincidence,” he watched them ride by. Then, realizing that the situation required him to act, he shouted out, “Hey, you, please stop! I need to talk to you!”

With a puzzled but excited look, the young men stopped. As they approached, Jerry noticed that they wore name tags identifying them as missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jerry looked at them and said, “This may sound a little weird, but I was praying and was told to ‘stop the boys on the bikes.’ I looked up the street, and here you are. Can you help me?”     The missionaries smiled, and one said, “Yes, I am sure we can.”

Jerry explained the worrisome plight of Pricilla. Soon the missionaries were meeting with Pricilla, her children, and Jerry. They discussed the purpose of life and God’s eternal plan for them. Jerry, Pricilla, and her children grew in faith through sincere prayer, their study of the Book of Mormon, and the loving fellowship with members of the Church. Jerry’s already strong faith in Jesus Christ grew even stronger. Pricilla’s doubts and thoughts of suicide turned to hope and happiness. They were baptized and became members of Christ’s restored Church.

I am excited to go and teach the people in Argentina and be part of this great hive of missionaries that are serving now.  It is a duty to serve but really is a great opportunity that I have been looking forward to my entire life.  I am grateful of the examples of missionaries that have served before me in my family and my friends.  My dad served a mission to France after only being a member of the church for just over 2 years and then his brothers served also.  My grandparents on my mom’s side served a mission together before I was born but my grandma would talk about it years later.  My cousins have served and we would go to hear their talks before and after and I watched how they changed.  My brother served in Brazil very close to where I will be serving in Argentina.  We would read his letters about his service and how he was growing in love of the Savior but also his love for the people he was teaching and serving.  In Clint’s last area, he was with one of his favorite mission companions and in an area of just a few strong members of the church.  They met in what was a house in a neighborhood that was converted to a chapel.  It was a very modest place to meet but the members came and they would feel the Spirit and invited their friends to come.  One of his favorite people he taught was named Chee-ah-key, an immigrant from Japan who had lived in the little town with his family for many years.  His wife had been a member of the church for many years but he didn’t ever want to commit to becoming a member.  He would attend at times and was supportive of his wife in attending church and allowed his 2 children to be baptized when they turned 12.  Clint and his companion began going over to their house to visit and offered to serve them in any way they could.  He really didn’t have a desire to become a member but Clint and his companion just kept visiting the family and serving them.  Chiachi loved everything that had to do with the family.  His family held family home evening and he was happy to have the missionaries come on Monday to be part of that with his family.  Clint said he and his companion would go over to the house, not necessarily to teach Chiachi but to hang out with him.  Clint noticed that one time Chiachi had actually defended the church to another person and that gave them an idea.  He explained to Chiachi that he did believe in the Savior and the gospel and that he had the beginnings of a testimony because of what he had said in defense of the Book of Mormon.  Chiachi thought about it and realized that what Clint was saying was right.  He began letting Clint and his companion actually teach him about the church and was later baptized.  Clint also said that after he was baptized he would call the missionaries all the time to tell them he had another friend that he wanted them to meet and teach.  When my parents went to get Clint when his mission was over, they flew to Porto Allegre and drove to this little house, arriving just before their church services were to begin.  All the members hugged them and kissed them on the cheek.  Even though they didn’t understand the language they were speaking, they felt their love for them because they were the parents of their missionary.  Later that day they went to Chiacis home for dinner.  Chiaci told them that he believed that the reason Clint went on his mission was to find and baptize him.  It was very special to my parents and Clint to hear someone say that.  I am praying that there are people in Argentina that will think the same thing about me and the companions that I serve with.  I know that it is through our service to others and by learning to love as the Savior did that I can be a good missionary.

Elder Ballard said, “ We read of the service Church members provide around the world and especially the humanitarian service given in times of crisis—fires and floods and hurricanes and tornadoes. These much-needed and much-appreciated emergency responses should certainly continue as a way of bearing one another’s burdens. But what about our everyday lives? What would be the cumulative effect of millions of small, compassionate acts performed daily by us because of our heartfelt Christian love for others? Over time this would have a transformative effect upon all of our Heavenly Father’s children through the extension of His love to them through us. Our troubled world needs this love of Christ today more than ever, and it will need it even more in the years ahead.”  What do we need to do to become like the dedicated honeybees and have that dedication become part of our nature?  How do we make this change? How do we ingrain this love of Christ into our hearts?”

He also said that, “There is one simple daily practice that can make a difference for every member of the Church, that simple practice is: In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.”

President Thomas S. Monson has taught that in many instances Heavenly Father answers another person’s prayers through us—through you and me—through our kind words and deeds, through our simple acts of service and love.  And President Spencer W. Kimball said: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other”.

I am thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission.  I am excited to share my love of the gospel with others and to serve them in any way that I can.  I want to thank so many who have helped me get to where I am today.  First to our bishops, I have lived in this ward my entire life and we have been blessed to have wonderful loving Bishops; Bishop Hunt, Bishop Stevens, Bishop Montalvo and now Bishop Vennard.  Each has helped me in so many ways and have been examples to me and my family.  They serve so many hours each and every week because of their love for those they serve.   We love them and their families.  I have had many great teachers in church and at school that have influenced me.  I watch the good that they do and the kindness that they show to their students.  I am so grateful to have great examples in this ward.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be a home teacher and for the things I learn from our families.  I have been privileged to be part of their lives and I love them.  I have wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins that have influenced me for good.  They serve others and are kind and good to me plus we have tons of fun together.  I’m grateful to have good friends.  Most of them are not members of our faith but they are great friends with great families.  I’m thankful for my grandparents and the example of work that they show me.  I am thankful for my grandma that passed away when I was only 9.  She was the kind of grandma everyone would want.  We all thought we were her favorite grandkid.  She was an example of service to me.  Even though she was in her 70’s she still served in the cub scouts and always would talk about her boys and what they were doing.  I’m sure her webelos still remember all the fun things they got to do with my grandma.  I’m thankful to have Clint, Kacy and Geena as my siblings because we actually like hanging out with each other.  By serving a mission, my brother Clint was such an example to me.  He never questioned if he wanted to go, he always wanted to serve, there was no doubt in his mind and I wanted to be like that.  My little sister Geena is one of my best friends and I’m thankful to her for who she is and the example of good choices that she sets for me.   I’m thankful for good parents who live their lives serving in the church and in the community.  I love the church and I’m looking forward to sharing the gospel with others and to truly be in the service of the Lord for these next 2 years in Argentina and to be part of the huge missionary effort that is so exciting in the church right now.  All of us are missionary bees doing our little part to bring about a huge sweet reward.

In closing, I will use Elder Ballards words again.  “These simple, daily acts of service may not seem like much in and of themselves, but when considered collectively they become just like the one-twelfth teaspoon of honey contributed by a single bee to the hive. There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness, it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of faith, hope, and charity.

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