Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Am On My Way!!!

Hey everyone I am leaving for the Dominican Republic tomorrow! I am so excited and I cannot wait! My address is posted on the left column of this blog, but it can change so check the blog before you send anything! I would be thrilled to receive any and all letters :) My parents will be posting my emails home and any pictures I send each week. I love you guys! Thank you for your support and friendship! Posted below is the farewell talk I gave in church this past Sunday. See you all in 18 months! God be with you til we meet again!

My Farewell Talk-given at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Good Morning brothers and sisters
Wow this feels so surreal right now. I cannot believe this day is here. I leave on my mission in 3 days!

As I was thinking about what I would share today, my thoughts were moving in a million directions. All of you have left such an impact on my life and I want so desperately to be able to say something that will touch your hearts. There are so many different things I want to express and I felt like I could not adequately express any of them. I came upon a scripture in the Book of Mormon that sums up how I feel.

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." (Alma 26:16)

My heart is so full today.  I feel so much love and joy and gratitude for my Heavenly Father, for my Savior, for the opportunity to serve a mission, for all of you that I could not possibly express even the smallest portion of what I feel. But I will do my best.

Today is fast and testimony meeting. I feel very blessed to be able to share my testimony with those I love this day.

A testimony are the things an individual knows and believes to be true because of personal spiritual witnesses received by the Holy Ghost.

The foundation of my testimony is that God lives. I am His daughter. He loves me. He loves me perfectly and infinitely. I know these things to be true because there have been countless times in my life where He has shown me of His unmistakable awareness of me and of those around me.  Our God is not a passive God. He is impeccably involved in each and every aspect of our lives. We need only to open our eyes to see God’s presence daily.

The past couple of years have not been easy ones for me. It has been a time where my faith has been tested over and over again. It has been a time where I really had to find out for myself what I knew to be true. I have had to accept that sometimes in life we do not know the future. It is in these moments where we must "Trust in the Lord with all our heart; and lean not unto our own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

I have often turned to God in prayer and have said, “Heavenly Father I am doing my very best and obviously it is not good enough but I want to please thee. Help me to find peace of mind and strength to endure this trial.” I can testify to you brothers and sisters that God has heard my prayers, and He hears you. Answers may not have come on my own time table but they have come.

I had an experience with this my Senior year of high school. It was a trying year on a lot of different levels. I came to the point where it all became too much. I needed to somehow find peace and understanding. I prayed and I prayed but the peace was not coming. I was beginning to grow rather frustrated with God because I felt like I was doing the things I was supposed to do, but I had found no relief. I turned to my parents for comfort advice, but even their wise words could not ease my mind.

I went to bed feeling defeated and woke up early the next morning for seminary. As that seminary lesson unfolded it spoke directly to my fears and concerns. We watched a couple videos and each 100% applied to what I was struggling with. My wonderful mother was my seminary teacher. I was convinced that she had lovingly changed her lesson to fit what I needed to hear. I approached her after class and thanked her for preparing that lesson for me. And then she said something I will never forget “Carrie I wrote that lesson long before you ever came and talked to me. It wasn't me, but your heavenly father who knew what you needed to hear.” Never before had I realized how real God’s love is and how much He cares about His children, not just as a whole, but as individuals. I thought to myself there are so many important,crazy, wonderful, horrible things going on in this world all of the time. So many things for God to take care of and He loves me so much that He felt it was important to send a message for Carrie Hansen. In that moment my trials did not go away, but it was as if God was telling me “Carrie I am here. I am aware of you. Trust in me and it will all be all right." This instance was not a solitary event. It has been followed by several just like it. I know God lives because I see His hand working in my life daily. Each time I have wondered if God has abandoned me He has always proved me wrong.

I also have a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He too lives. The most central part of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the atonement. We learn that this is where Christ took upon our sins and paid for them so that if we would repent we would be able to return to our Heavenly Father. We being mortal are not capable of atoning for our own sins. We do not have the power, but Christ being the only begotten of the Father did have the power. The power to pay for our sins and to overcome death.  It had to be Christ. Without Him we would have been forever lost.

But there is another aspect of the atonement that is dear to my heart. In  the Book of Mormon  it says,

"He will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12)

Then in Isaiah it says,
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4)

Christ not only took upon Himself my sins, but also my, pains, my sorrows, my anxieties, my fears. He has felt all I have felt and therefore knows exactly what I need to be healed. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be healed from sin but also from the pains of this world that occur because of no fault of our own.

The atonement is all encompassing. Through Christ I can daily become better, more like Him. The Savior said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)  To me this often seems to be an impossible task. And alone it is. But I testify to you that through Jesus Christ, not independently of Him, you and I can be made whole, we can become as God is.

I also know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are the word of God. I know this because as I read the scriptures daily I find answers to prayers. As I read the scriptures and live their teachings, I feel the Spirit testifying to me of its truthfulness and I feel closer to my Savior. I am a better person because of what I have learned from the scriptures.

I know that this life is not the end, We lived with God before this life and we can live with Him again. We are eternal beings. This life is only a small snippet of time in our eternity, where we have the opportunity to show our devotion to Him.  Because Christ overcame death we too will live again. Because of the atonement if we are obedient and repent when we stray we will return to live in God’s presence, with our families forever.

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is Christ’s church restored through the prophet Joseph Smith to be how Christ would have it be.

I know that we have a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. God has said  "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," (Amos 3:7) and I know that holds true for today.

These are some of the things I know to be true. I am often asked “Why are you leaving your family, friends, school, everything behind for 18 months??” To be perfectly honest I logically know that a mission is a sacrifice but most of the time it really does not feel that way. Rather I feel that in some small way by sharing His gospel with my fellow brothers and sisters I am showing gratitude for all I have been blessed with. And honestly I cannot think of anything more fulfilling then to share the gift I have been so privileged to receive. The Savior said “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32) I have been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and with that conversion came a deep desire and responsibility to share the joy and the peace and the direction that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. I cannot wait to share His message with the people of the Dominican Republic. I also know it will not be easy. I am scared out of my mind. There have been days where I have wondered if I really was capable of being a missionary. But every time it has been confirmed to me that this is what I am supposed to do, so I will press forward with faith. I know that the Savior is by my side.

My favorite scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 68:5-6. It says,
"Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."

I know that when I speak and live in such a way that testifies of Christ He will always strengthen me and make up the difference. I trust in Him.  He is my friend. He is my brother. He is my Savior. And with Him by my side I know that i have no reason to be afraid and every reason to be joyous.

I love my Savior. I love this gospel. I know that in it is found true happiness, and purpose.

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

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