Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sister Martin's Farewell Talk

Feb. 23, 2014
Do you remember what President Thomas S. Monson said about member missionary work in the last General Conference? Well, I’ll tell you one of the things he said about it. “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together… in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him” We can’t leave missionary work to the full-time missionaries. He reminded us that “He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways,” and He told us that we are not alone in this effort, that “He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
There are so many ways that we can participate in missionary work. Today I will talk about how we have come to serve a mission at this time.

We are really excited.  A goal and desire of mine and Mike’s is soon to come about. It isn’t being fulfilled in the way we first intended, but it is now coming to pass.
Mike and I have desired to serve a couple’s mission for years, even prior to meeting each other. We had hoped to serve with our eternal companions, but it was not to be. My late husband, Farrell Sparti, was a convert to the church and so he did not serve a full time mission. We planned to serve a mission together in our senior years, but he passed away shortly after his 48th birthday. However, the Lord did bless us with an opportunity to serve together as Ward Missionaries in the Heber Stake before he passed away. So, when Mike and I were married 6 years ago, last week, it became our common goal.

We set a 10 year goal that we would get our affairs in order and prepare for a full-time couple mission.  Combing two households into one was a challenging task. We decided our motto was -Simplify. If we hadn’t used an item in 5 years, we got rid of it. We sold things and gave things away and got out of debt.
Sometimes are lives are similar. We have to stop and evaluate our lives, maybe limit some of our activities, and de-clutter our vision so we can focus on the things that matter most. Dallin H. Oaks, in a recent general conference taught “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”

 A year ago or so, I began having thoughts and feelings that I needed to do something different. I felt that what I was doing was good, but there was something better for me to do. I wasn’t sure what.  I talked to Mike about it and he said he had been having similar feelings. We weren’t quite sure we thought of several things, but still considered sticking to our mission goal 5 years away.
A few months later, our good friends, Ron and Naomi Dummar who were serving a mission, called us and said, “Guess what, we just got certified in scuba diving! Come visit us! I said, “no way, you can do that on your mission?”  “Are you sure we can visit you while you are serving a mission?” They assured us that it was. So we spent a wonderful week with them, even swimming and snorkeling, meeting lots of wonderful people. I only mention this so you realize that if you are thinking about serving a couple mission, that senior couples have allowances that younger missionaries don’t. Mike and I were thinking all the while, well in about 5 years we will be experiencing this.

When Mike and I returned from our vacation in July the spirit was working on us again, and we started seriously talking about serving a mission a year from then. We quickly checked our savings account to see how close we were to our goal. We were short. Oddly enough, Mike had a gun he had been trying to sell and it sold that month for the exact amount we needed.
We contacted Bishop Luke. He was unaware of our reason for our visit with him. As we walked into his office he had a very concerned look. We sat down and he asked, “What can I do for you?” We said, “We want to serve a mission, what do we need to do?” His countenance released, his whole demeanor relaxed and a big smile broke open. He said, “I don’t know. I’ve never done this before, but I can find out.” Which he did, and we were soon filling out our information forms online.

We had some concerns about what to do with our house, work, vehicles, and leaving family of 8 children and their spouses and as of this coming week -20 grandchildren. However, things are coming together and we can now see that the feelings we felt by the Spirit at the beginning of last year were prompting us and preparing us for this time. We know that this is what we are to do now. We will miss our family dearly, but happy that the power of the Internet allows us to see our family through video phone calls. 
October 15th we received our call to the Micronesia Guam Mission. We are the last ones in the neighborhood to receive our mail, so we called all of our children and asked them to get on Google Hangouts to do an Internet video conference while we opened our letter.

I’d like to tell you a little about Guam. It is the largest of the Mariana Islands, in the South Pacific. It is about 30 miles long and 12 miles to 4 miles wide.  It is 1500 miles south of Tokyo, Japan and east of Philippines.  The mission covers an area size of continental US, but total land mass smaller than Rhode Island.
Nephi and Jacob recorded prophecies in the Book of Mormon regarding the people on the islands of the seas:

1 Nephi 19:16 “Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord,

(Jacob) 2Nephi 10:21”But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea;
These promises are being fulfilled through missionary work. The first members on Guam came with the U.S. armed forces during World War II. It took years before The Micronesia Guam Mission was created on April 1, 1980.There has been much hard missionary work and patience since. The first stake in Guam was organized on December 12, 2010, Next month, March 16th , the day we arrive, just over 3 years from their first stake being organized, they will be forming the 2nd stake in the mission. We are excited and looking forward to meeting and knowing the people in Micronesia.
I called the mission office and spoke to Sister Prince. (Who we will be replacing and I discovered we worked in the same program several years ago-small world) She said they have a baptism every week. Last year 700 baptisms in the mission, & 48 baptisms in Barrigada Ward. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

Right now we are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world. Elder Neil L. Andersen said “Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries…If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart. “ (April 2013 General Conference)

I feel humbled to be called to serve as a missionary and to wear a badge each day that bears the name of Jesus Christ. It will be a constant reminder of my covenants of how I should always act. I know that He lives that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. This is His work and I feel joy in being able to serve Him.

I know that our Heavenly Father has a plan for us. There is a purpose to this earth life and our Savior is the only way to return to Him.
I know that Heavenly Father blesses us with the righteous desires of our hearts. He may bless us in another way than we thought, but he will bless us.

The Holy Ghost is a wonderful companion. I know that he whispers to each of us what is true and what we need to do.  If we listen to the promptings of the Spirit and have faith we can take the steps we need to.
I believe that the most important missionary work we can do is within the walls of our own homes. To teach by example and to teach to love to read the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is the word of God that leads men to Christ. Introduction pages state, “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon to ponder in their hearts, the message it contains, and then to ask God, …if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity.”

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