Kara’s address to friends and family at the Kimball ward worship service, 26 August 2018
Exactly a year ago, I had just finished my first week of college at the University of Utah. Little did I know that after nine short days of living with some amazing people, as the cliche says, my life would be changed for the better. Even though I wasn’t at BYU like some of my other LDS friends from high school, I still found myself living with three other Mormon roommates, and I love them with my whole heart.
● One of us is currently on her mission in Japan. She has been serving since May.
● I leave on Wednesday, for my “brief” 9 weeks in the Provo MTC before heading to the
Taiwan Taipei Mission.
● Another one of my roommates is headed to serve in Fiji come fall.
● My last roommate is attending another semester at the U before submitting her papers to serve her own mission.
We always liked to talk about how crazy it was that we all ended up together considering all of us were set on going to different colleges mere days before the final decision deadline. But apparently the Lord knew we all needed each other, and I couldn’t be more grateful. During one of our many late night conversations, I was talking with a roommate about Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s conference address, “Be ye therefore perfect–eventually”. We went on to say that in spite of our imperfections, God is perfect for us. She shared with me Romans 5:8 which reads: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Regardless of how imperfect we are, Christ loved us so much that he underwent the ultimate sacrifice. He died for for us so that we could return to live with our Father in Heaven again.
I followed that up by sharing with her Romans 15:7 which reads: “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” If Christ could love us so perfectly, it is our job to love everyone we meet regardless of their background, their choices, or their lifestyles, just as Christ does.
I had another friend more recently and much more eloquently phrase what I was thinking months ago during that conversation with my roommate. He said, “We are an imperfect people called to represent the one and only perfect person who ever lived.”
It is my privilege as a missionary, as an ambassador for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a representative of the Savior, to love the people I am called to serve and share with them the message of the truthfulness of the gospel that blesses my life every day. During my freshman year of college, I made it a habit to go to the Salt Lake Temple once a week. My roommate and I had made it a tradition to go at the same time on Friday afternoons after we had finished class. On one visit, sadly one that she was not with me, I was in the confirmation room.
● The ordinance worker paused for a moment and asked me if I knew who the people were that I was doing work for.
● I was doing temple names of people whom I didn’t know so I sort of looked at the
ordinance worker waiting to see if he would continue.
● The worker told me that the people I was doing work for, even though I had no idea who they were, had been waiting for ME, specifically ME, to come and help them do their
work. He said I had made a promise with them before this life, that I would find them and help them return back to our Heavenly Father.
● When the ordinance worker told me these things, I couldn’t help but feel so overwhelmed with peace and assurance that there are people out there in the world that I, myself, probably made a promise with in the pre-existence that I would come down to this earth, and find them, and help them return home.
● Now that I have my call to serve in Taiwan, I know that there is a special reason why the Lord has called me there. I feel so humbled to have this opportunity to wear His name on my tag, and be a representative of Him, gathering His children in Taiwan.
My purpose as a missionary is “to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
I know my Heavenly Father loves each and everyone of us and he wants us to return to live with him again, and in order to do that He has given us a plan and sent us His son. President Spencer W. Kimball reminds us that, “Each of us is responsible to bear witness of the gospel truths that we have been given.”
This next story I want to share with you is a time where I truly recognized the spirit in my life.
● I had just finished class and was going to walk up campus for my next class that started in two hours.
● I got this feeling that instead of walking I needed to take
● We got off at the same stop. I was trying to avoid him, but he told me to have a good day.
● So I kindly say “you too” and try to keep walking, but I get this feeling that says you’ll be safe, just turn around.
● So I turn around and he’s still looking at me, and all the sudden he starts pouring out his life story to me on this train platform. Every bad thing that you could think of has
happened to this man.
● I find myself intermittently sharing parts of my testimony with him as he tells me how he was raised LDS until he was 13 and ran away from home because of an abusive situation.
● We were talking about Heavenly Father and his love for us and the fact the families can be together forever and this guy is balling his eyes out.
● We had been talking for about an hour, with multiple trains passing and picking up and unloading passengers and all of them just keep giving me this look like are you okay? do you need me to help? is this man bothering you? And I just smiled at them and kept listening to this guy telling me his life story.
● Coincidentally we are at the train stop outside of the institute and out walk the elders. I
made eye contact with one of the elders and they came straight over.
● So we’re all just standing on the train platform talking about everything under the sun
(mainly this guy just talking and all of us listening), but the elders and I were all agreeing
with his fundamental beliefs of religion and talking about the power of prayers, and it
was just crazy!
● Eventually, I had to leave so I could get to class on time, so I thanked this man for having the opportunity to meet him and for him trusting me enough to tell me about his life and I wished him the best with his family.
● I left him talking with the elders, and I just started crying.
● All the sudden the voice was so clear. “Thank you for taking the time to make sure that
My child was okay”. And I felt the love of Christ and my Heavenly Father so so strong.
I was stunned. I had never had the story of hearing the Holy Ghost talk to me like so many others have, but I now have a firm assurance that I have the ability to recognize the voice of the Spirit and the promptings from my Father in Heaven.
As a soon to be missionary, I know that no matter how experienced or knowledgeable I feel in the gospel, it is not by my own doing that people will become converted unto Christ. It is through the Spirit. Not only do the people I’m teaching have to learn by the Spirit, but I also have to teach by the Spirit.
2nd Nephi 33:1 says, “…for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”
The Lord has commanded that the gospel is to be taught by the Spirit and by no other way. Teaching by the Spirit can only occur when the Holy Ghost is present and felt by both the teacher and the learner. President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability.” I know that if I can recognize and teach by the Spirit, then I will always be led to do and say the right things, and I will have great success in building up the kingdom of God.
Brothers and sisters as I grew up in this gospel, one of my favorite parts of Primary was singing time. For the longest time my favorite song was, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” Jesus was perfect. How could we not want to be like Him? As the words of the song suggest, “I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in His ways. I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.”
To be a representative of Christ I first have to come to know my Savior on a personal level. While I am still working daily on strengthening that relationship, I have this strong desire to share who He is with others and tell them all about how much He loves them. I look forward to bringing the peace of the Gospel to the homes of Taiwan. I find comfort in knowing that while I will be 7,000 miles from the people cheering me on at home, Christ will always be right beside me.
I want to share two scriptures with you today that better express Christ’s promise to me as a missionary. Deuteronomy 31:8 reads, “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee, he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”
D&C 84:88 reads, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on you right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
The promise is even written in my Missionary Call Letter extended by the First Presidency: “As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all personal affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and of the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…As you serve with all your heart, might, and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.”
I know I am not alone in this journey I am about to embark on. Of the 23.5 million people in Taiwan, only 60,000 of them are members. However, I know that the Lord is already preparing the hearts of the people I will meet while I am over there. My love for the Taiwanese people is already so strong.
Brothers and sisters I am extremely grateful for the example all of you have set for me as you were a light in my life and emulated the love of Christ.
● I’m so grateful for the young women’s leaders and seminary teachers I’ve had throughout my life and their testimonies and lessons that have stuck and influenced my life.
● I’m blessed to have all my friends and roommates who gave me pep talks about
everything from tests to big life decisions, and if things didn’t go as planned were always
there to have a dance party or eat pizza and ice cream with their semi-lactose-intolerant
● My family. While I’m hoping no more major life changes happen in our family while I’m gone, I can’t wait to see how each of my siblings respective families grow with each
other and in the gospel. I will miss them immensely over the next year and a half.
● I’m very appreciative of supportive grandparents who have always been there for me.
Some are living, others are likely watching and cheering me on from the other side.
● Other family who have come to support and have inspired me my whole life to be the
best I can be.
● And last, but certainly never least: my parents. Thank you for letting me be the family
home evening police as we were growing up. Thank you for teaching me my true identity
as a child of God and how to fully rely on my Savior when life gets you down. As my
dad likes to say more often than I like, “it’ll all work out”. And it did, dad. I am here,
getting ready to be set apart as a missionary, and it all worked out.
Brothers and sisters even though there are parts of me that are still a little scared, there’s nothing else I want to do more than serve my Heavenly Father and his children in Taiwan for the next 18 months. I love this gospel. I love it’s simplicity. I know God lives. I know Jesus is the Christ. I know Joseph Smith is the prophet of God and restored this gospel. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know President Russell M. Nelson along with his counselors and the members of the quorum of the 12 apostles are called of God to lead and guide this church. I know that the Lord has a plan for each of us because He loves us so much. We just have to follow Him. I am so grateful for all of you and the love and support you each show me. I can’t wait to share everything I have learned and know with those in Taiwan and bring them happiness! And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen