Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Farewell Talk

  Good morning everyone. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to speak to you today.  For those of you who don’t know me my name is Auburn Remington. As many of you know, I leave for my mission to Thailand in a few weeks. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to serve the Lord. 

This past year has been busy. I finished my first year of school at BYU, and was able to go on a study abroad to France. This year was full of experiences and I learned so much.
 Today I will be speaking on a topic that really stuck out to me many times this past year. It’s about being faithful, having hope and enduring to the end, and the good things that will come if we do this. Many of us have heard the familiar saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”   In a talk given by Robert D. Hales, he tells the story of a young runner.In 1968 a marathon runner by the name of John Stephen Akhwari represented Tanzania in an international competition. “A little over an hour after [the winner] had crossed the finish line, John Stephen Akhwari … approached the stadium, the last man to complete the journey. [Though suffering from fatigue, leg cramps, dehydration, and disorientation,] a voice called from within to go on, and so he went on. Afterwards, it was written, ‘Today we have seen a young African runner who symbolizes the finest in human spirit, a performance that gives meaning to the word courage.’ For some, the only reward is a personal one. [There are no medals, only] the knowledge that they finished what they set out to do” When asked why he would complete a race he could never win, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; my country sent me to finish the race.”He knew who he was—an athlete representing the country of Tanzania. He knew his purpose—to finish the race. He knew that he had to endure to the finish, so that he could honorably return home to Tanzania. Our mission in life is much the same. We were not sent by Father in Heaven just to be born. We were sent to endure and return to Him with honor.”

While we are on earth we will have many experiences. Some of them happy and joyous, and others that are just plain hard. However, we have been promised in Doctrine and Covenants 90:24 that, if we, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenants wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”This scripture speaks so peacefully to me. It lets me know that if we are trying hard to be faithful, and doing the things that we know are right, all our experiences will end up coming together for our good.

Many of you may know that I am a worrier. Growing up, I worried about all things…..be they little or big. When I was in elementary school, I was so worried about being on time, that everyday without fail I would ask my mom upwards of 3 times on the ride to school, “Are we going to be late, early, or right on time.” Or if it was a costume day at school, like Halloween, I would make my mom wait with me in the car until I saw someone else in my class walk in wearing a costume. Through these experiences, and many others my mom would always tell me, “Auburn, don’t worry… things are going to be alright in the end, and if its not alright its not the end.” I can’t tell you all how many times my mother’s words have echoed in my mind, and now when I worry about things I try and remind myself to be happy and have the faith and hope that things will all work out.

Near the beginning of the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon, the story is told of Ammon and his brethren and their missionary work. They endured many trials (being thrown into prison, almost being killed many times, and not to mention many would not listen to their word) We can only imagine how discouraged they could have chosen to feel. However, they had faith and kept working hard and pressing forward, until they eventually had success. In Alma 25:17 it reads, “And now behold Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, and their brethren did rejoice exceedingly, for the success which they had among the Lamanites, seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular.” They could have chosen to give up, but they chose to have the hope and faith that Heavenly Father would answer their prayers, and keep the promises he had made to them. We cannot choose to ever give up. 

President Uchdorf reminds us of this when he says,“Those who come unto Christ, repent of their sins, and live in faith will reside forever in peace. Think of the worth of this eternal gift. Surrounded by those we love, we will know the meaning of ultimate joy as we progress in knowledge and in happiness. No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

We must not ever give up, we need to have faith and to keep working at it. We have been promised great things. With this in mind, I would like to share with you all a poem that I have read many times when the going gets tough.

 Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will/  When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill/  When the funds are low and the debts are high/ And you want to smile, but you have to sigh/ When care is pressing you down a bit/ Rest, if you must – but don’t you quit./  Life is queer with its twists and turns/ As every one of us sometimes learns/ And many a failure turns about/ When he might have won had he stuck it out/ Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow/ You might succeed with another blow./  Often the goal is nearer than/ It seems to a faint and faltering man/ Often the struggler has given up/ When he might have captured the victor’s cup./ And he learned too late, when the night slipped down/ How close he was to the golden crown./  Success is failure turned inside out –/ The silver tint of the clouds of doubt –/ And you never can tell how close you are/ It may be near when it seems so far/ So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit/
  It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

In one of my favorite talks given by President Monson called “Finding Joy in the Journey”, he says, "This is our one and only chance at mortal life--here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey--now." Our lives here on earth are short, but I know that heavenly father wants us to succeed and be happy!

In a talk given at BYU by Richard G Edgley he tells this story:Some 30 years ago I was working for a corporation headquartered in the United States that had international operations. We had recently hired a Jewish man to run our European businesses. It was known by many in the corporation that as a young boy he had been torn from the safety and the love of his family and thrust into a Nazi concentration camp for the duration of World War II. Since he and I shared some responsibilities for our European operations, we occasionally traveled to Europe together. On one such trip, after we had become well acquainted and I felt it not inappropriate, I inquired about his terrible experiences during those several years of his life.As I remember the details, he told me that when he was five years old, his father, mother, and older sister had already been taken by the Gestapo. He and his grandmother were traveling by train to find refuge when the Gestapo boarded and searched the train. He and his grandmother were discovered and taken separate ways, and he never again saw his grandmother. In fact, he never again saw any of his family members.It is not my intent to describe the already known atrocities that occurred to those so confined but to relate a lesson my co-worker taught me while enduring those terrible years. As he concluded recounting his experiences, and after several minutes of contemplative silence, he then asked me this question: “Do you know what the most powerful force in the world is?”Without hesitation I answered, “Love. Love conquers all. If only your persecutors had love for you and for their fellow man, you would not have suffered as you did.”He responded, “No, it is not love. All those years I was in the concentration camp, I had love. I had love for my mother, father, and sister. I had love for my grandmother. But that love did not sustain me. It did not keep me alive.” And then he said, “Hope. Hope is the most powerful force. It was hope that kept me alive. It was hope that I would survive. It was hope for freedom. It was hope that I would someday be reunited with my loved ones.”

While on this journey we need to have the hope and faith to keep going towards our goal, and trust that things will work out. Heavenly father has promised us many times throughout the scriptures, that if we keep his commandments and endure to the end we will have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all gifts of god.

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:23 it says, “But learn that he who doeth works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”

This is a great promise.

 I would like to bear my testimony, that I know the gospel is true. I know that having hope can get us through dark times. I know heavenly father loves me and each one of you. I know that Christ lived and atoned for the sins of all of us. We will all make mistakes here on earth, but we can repent, and our mistakes won’t have to weigh us down. I know that if we keep the commandments and endure well that we will be able to live with our loving heavenly father again. I am so grateful for the knowledge that my family can be together forever, and I am thankful for all my family has taught me.I would like to close with a scripture, that reminds me that while we are on this journey of enduring to the end Heavenly father and Christ are always there for us. It goes: “And whoso recieveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.