I love you guys so much. Thank you so much for supporting. I love my bishop too. He let me pick my topic, and the best topic that I could think of to share with you today is love and service, because that’s what I’m going to spending my eighteen months in Chile for. I truly believe that I’m going to serve the Lord by loving those Chileans to death, whether they want me to or not. And whether they want to be baptized or not I’m going to love them as much as my human heart can take it.
I wish to share with you guys a story about one of my best friends. Matthew 22:36-40. I just have to show you this. In my scriptures I keep a picture of my amazing Savior Jesus Christ. And he’s knocking at a door on which I am on the other side and only I can open the door. And I pray that today we can all open the door together. He was asked a question by a Pharisee. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” I’ve read this scripture many times since Primary. And as I read it in preparing this talk three things jumped out at me. Love the Lord thy God, love thy neighbor and love thyself.
In loving our God, we show our love for Him by keeping his commandments. He says, if you love me keep my commandments, very straight forward. One person that really touched me in expressing love for Heavenly Father is my good friend, Riley Steadman. We served on seminary council together and I noticed on one of the first prayers in one of our meetings she said a prayer and at the very end she said, “…and I just love you so much Heavenly Father, Amen.” If any of you know Riley Steadman she’s a cute little bubbly blonde, and she just loves everything. But, it really impressed me that she expressed her love for her Heavenly Father. So that’s what I started doing in my prayers. In my prayers I try to make it as sincere as possible because I just don’t want to just say, “I love you Heavenly Father,” and then move on. I want to express my love for Heavenly Father because He’s given me everything. God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son.
One scripture that really reminds me of this is John 15:13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is talking about the Savior and the great sacrifice that He gave in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. It says He laid down his life. In my studies of the Atonement I’ve learned that Christ was both mortal and immortal, which meant that His mother was mortal so he could die, but He was immortal because Heavenly Father was His Father. So He had that choice to give up His Spirit. This makes the Atonement so much richer and deeper to me because that meant that my Savior had to choose to die for me. He had to choose to die for all of you too. It wasn’t just that Heavenly Father had all of this pain and sin and he just heaped it on His Son and He just died. Jesus had to say, “Father, I choose to die for all these people that I love so much.” And that increases my love for God.
One person that stands out to me in loving God is my mom. She said one time to me that, “Jessica this gospel must be true because I wouldn’t let you go down to Chile if it wasn’t.” My mother loves God so much that she’s going through this immense trial of letting go of her first born to go down to a strange country where they don’t speak my language and I’m like a foot taller than them and I’m super super blonde and they’re all super cute Chileans and I love them so much, but I’m very much different than them. And my mom loves me so much, but I think she loves my Heavenly Father more and she knows that He needs me. And I need to go serve those people down in Chile.
In the scriptures it says that when you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God, which is the next point I wish to talk about. In Matthew it said love thy neighbor as thyself. When you first think about that, it’s kind of talking about how we’re so self-centered sometimes and we just love ourselves and we only think about ourselves so we should turn that outwards. I remember that Elder Bednar talked about that a little bit about turning outward our attention from what we need to what others need. President Monson, I have two quotes from him. He’s my favorite. “Blame keeps wounds open, only forgiveness heals” and “True love can touch human lives and change human nature.” In the first one he talks about that one of the problems with loving our neighbor is that we blame them for our problems or we judge them about on how they’re living their lives. Obviously we should not do this. For those that wrong us or those that kind of step on our feet or overlook us or make us feel like nothing, we are encouraged to love them, love thy enemies. For those that we overlook or those that we feel that they don’t need love, we should also love them.
I had a lot of opportunities since I’ve been waiting for my call. My favorite was when I went to the Salt Lake Temple, for the first time after being endowed, with my friend Hunter Hoffman. Obviously he’s a boy, so he sat on the other side of the room, but it gave me a chance to talk to the people around me, just like whispering when there was a quiet moment, or something like that. There was a lady next to me and had like a little green tag and during one of the times that we speak in the temple she was not speaking English. I was like, “Who are you, I want to talk to you a little bit.” I asked her, in my very broken Spanish, “Habla Espanol?” and she said, “No Portuguese.” And I was like, okay, well great, because with the little Spanish I know, I know nothing of Portuguese. But we communicated with our cute little tags that have the people who we’re doing work for, for proxy. And she was pointing to the date and she said look how long ago they lived and look where they’re living and all this stuff. And as I was just talking to her my love was growing so much. I just love this little tiny Portuguese lady, she was the cutest and I could barely communicate with her just with pointing and with like nods and smiles and all this stuff. But my love was growing for her because we were in the Lord’s house and that‘s where the most love abounds. Then afterwards, when we were in the Celestial Room, I saw her again and I just got the biggest smile on my face because I was hoping I could see her again. She took me by the arms because she’s small and I’m kind of taller, but she took me by the forearms and she gave me the biggest hug I think a Portuguese woman could give. I think she was a mother, because only a mother could have that much love for a complete stranger. One thing that touched me a lot was when she kissed me on this cheek. She was the biggest example to me of loving thy neighbor. Someone that she had literally just met five minutes ago and we didn't even speak the same language. I feel like I’m going to be doing that a lot in Chile, just hugging those cute little sisters or the ladies that I knock on their doors and want to share the gospel. I won’t be able to talk to them but I can hug them and I can smile and I can just love them so much.
Another example of loving thy neighbor to me is my dad. I had the opportunity this summer to kind of work with him. Not kind of, I did work for him. He has this business, he’s a financial planner and what really impresses me about his job…see I can’t look at you, I’m going to cry. He’s worked so hard in his business and he’s gone through all of these different companies and gathered all of this information that he uses to help people. I’m not like some advertisement up here, like go to my dad for money problems. I’ve had many conversations with him where he’s just telling me, “I have these clients and they’re having a rough time, so I dropped my rates to basically nothing and I just want to help them.” Or he tells me about these other clients that if all he can do is teach them about money and how to manage it then they can have better lives. I love my dad for that example he sets for me that he’s not after money. He has to support his family with some of it, but his main focus is loving his clients, loving those neighbors that come to him for help, and serving them in a way he knows possible. True love can touch human lives and change human nature and my dad is truly touching the lives of the people he helps.
The biggest example is, of course, my Savior. He would heal the blind, talk to those, kind of, outcasts in His society and pay attention to those that often others would overlook. I also wish to mention three men that have very much touched my life in loving their neighbors helping me. They are my coaches from cross country. If any of you know, I’m pretty crazy about running. I run every day and if I don’t run because I’m sick of something, I get very, very crabby. I have Coach Lundy and Coach Q and Coachie to blame for that because they got me hooked on it. But it always impressed me that these men gave all of their time and gave all of their energy and inspiration and everything to me and to those I ran with and they continue to do it. I love all three of you guys. You’ve very much touched my life in the love that you show to me and for everyone that runs for you and for anyone that just talks to you.
The last point I want to talk about is loving thyself. The reason I want to talk to you about this is because I’m a girl, which is a big reason, because, us girls we often have a humongous problem about comparing ourselves to others. We get down on ourselves because we’re too fat or not a good enough height, too tall. Or that boy over there did not talk to me even though I made eye contact with him. But all of these things that us girls, and even you boys I know, talk down on yourself that this scripture kind of says that we need to love ourselves, but in the way that the Lord has told us to. There is a talk in this last General Conference, you guys might have remembered it, a lot of people nickname it the six step talk, which is talking about building spiritual confidence or things like that. It caught my attention because he talked about building your physical confidence and getting into shape and I’m said, “I do that.” But he also talked about building your spiritual confidence loving yourself enough choose to pray, to reach out to others and strengthen them. You need to love yourself by loving others.
One of my favorite scriptures is, he who seeks to find himself will lose himself, but he who loses himself for my sake shall find himself. This means if we want to love ourselves we need to love others and we a have to work harder at loving them. That is what I’m going to do down in Chile. I’m going to be spending twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, eighteen months of two years working harder to better myself and preparing myself for those people that I’m going to serve. And also loving the people down in Chile that are loving themselves enough to seek the truth. Which is why I wanted to mention my amazing friend Tanner, because not only did he love his neighbors enough and love his friends enough to come to me and ask for scriptures to help his Mormon friends with things in their lives. Not only did he love them enough, but I believe that he loved himself enough to seek the truth. To read those scriptures that Elder Holmes and Elder Thomas gave him. To love himself enough to ask Taylor (Graves) questions when he was confused or come to me with problems that he was having or just talking. And I’m so blessed to have been able to take part in that in seeing his baptism. I consider you my first baptism for this mission even though you’re not Chilean. I’m so impressed with how you sought out the gospel. You were the most golden investigator that I can every hope to have, and you weren’t even mine. I was just sitting there listening to Elder Holmes talk about Dr. Who or something. I wish to work as hard as you did in searching the gospel and seeking the truth and so I can share it with others. And with all of this in loving and serving others I wish to sing you guys a song. It’s not going to be an official song, and my voice will probably crack. And not be very good, and you probably won’t even understand the words because it’s going to be in Spanish. It’s hymn 118 in the Spanish hymnbook, but it’s called Asombro Me Da which means I Stand All Amazed. This song is about my Savior and though some of you may not understand it, and my dad won’t understand it because my Spanish is horrible and my pronunciation is not good, but I hope that you can focus on either the tune or maybe just see Christ and what He has done for us. (sings first verse of Asombro Me Da)
I love all of you guys and I thank you for being here. I love my Savior and stand as a witness that He lives. I bear my testimony that Heavenly Father loves His name, our Eternal Heavenly Father, because He’s our Heavenly Father. That He loves us so much. And I love my Heavenly Father which is why I’m going to serve Him and those people He loves in Chile. And I bear my testimony to you that if you don’t know where He is, if you can’t see Him, He’s there and He is reaching out to you. He is on the other side of that door and you need to open it. Pray to Him, read your scriptures which contain His words and I promise you that you will feel the biggest love you could ever feel in your life, I promise you that. Do it! Find Him. Seek Him out because He wants you. I love you all, and I say this now in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.