Elder Bird

Elder Bird

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Farewell Talk

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters, I feel honored and privileged to speak to you today. I have been called to the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission.  I report to the MTC Wednesday September 2, where I will learn the Mongolian language and also how to teach English to the Mongolian natives. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the Lord in this calling. I thank all of you who have taught me, and helped me grow. I feel it a blessing to have known you. 

I am grateful for my family and friends who have sacrificed their time to come and be here for me and to share this time with me. I want them to know that I am truly grateful and deeply touched. 

First I will talk a little about the country of Mongolia and how the Church has grown there.  Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia and China and carries culture and language characteristics from both.  Mongolia is almost directly on the other side of the world, and carries similar landscapes and weather to Utah, except that during the winter months it can be as cold as 30 degrees below zero.  I have heard that it is a beautiful place, because much of the land is uninhabited and not affected by man. 
I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to meet with a couple that currently live in Mongolia.  The Husband served his mission there some years ago and his wife is a Mongolian native.  They told me about the country and the Church there.  It consists of one Mission, 1 Stake, 2 Districts and 23 Wards, with just over 10,000 members.  The church started there in the 90’s and grew very rapidly until around 2010 when the government started to deny missionaries visas and sent some missionaries back to the states.  The church is growing consistently, but there are only a handful of foreign missionaries, Foreign as in like me. With most of the missionaries being Mongolian Natives.  Imagine the challenge of serving a mission where you see your family and friends on a regular basis but cannot interact with them. 

As I embark on my mission, I can’t think of a better topic to speak on. It will be His work I will be doing, it will be His name I am representing, and it will be Him that I strive to be like. 

In Moses Ch: 1: V: 39 it says: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”

Jesus Christ was the ultimate example his mission was to atone for all the sins of this world; my mission is to help bring souls unto Christ so they can be redeemed of their sins and make sure what Christ did for us will not be for nothing. 

Russell M. Nelson gave the following address at a devotional delivered at Brigham Young University on August 18, 1998. 

“During His relatively brief sojourn in mortality, the Savior accomplished two overarching objectives: One was His “work and [His] glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The other He stated simply: “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done” (John 13:15).

His first objective we know as the Atonement. This was His magnificent mission in mortality. To the people of ancient America, the resurrected Lord gave His mission statement: “I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me” (3 Ne. 27:13–14).

After reading this, I came to realize Christ’s mission was to atone for the sins of this world. My mission is to bring souls unto Christ so they can be redeemed of their sins. 

Doctrine and Convents, chapter 18 gives some very important insights to this principle.

Verse 10 says; Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 

13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! 

Remember what His work and his Glory is? “To bring pass the immorality and eternal life of man” 

15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

So, everyone is important to the Lord. Every soul has worth in His eyes! His joy is great when we repent and come unto Him. He also promises us joy when we help others come unto Him.

In D&C 4 verses 3-4 it says
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; 

This scripture explains that we are called to do missionary work and now is the time, and if we follow the savior and serve obediently we shall bring salvation to our souls. 
The Bishop had us learn and memorize all of D&C 4 but he also had us read and learn 2 other quotes that I really like.
The first one is by Elder Bruce R McConkie, and is called My Missionary Commission

I am called of God.
My authority is above that of kings of the earth.
By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him--to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me.
My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine.
My Commission is to do what He wants done; to say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous Latter-day work.
How great is my calling!

I really like this quote because it sums up exactly what it means to be a missionary and what I am supposed to do as a missionary.
The second one is by the Prophet Joseph Smith,
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
This one is also great because it explains that the work will be done and no person on earth can stop it.  It also says the Truth of god will prevail no matter how bad the rest of the world becomes. 

Okay, you may be thinking that this is “Not for me”, or “There are 85,000 missionaries out there, why should I give up my scholarship when I wouldn’t be that good anyway?” You may also think that you don’t know enough, aren’t smart enough, or wonder why does God need me? 

All these questions and doubts are tools by which the adversary attempts to keep you from going on a mission. Remember how the Lord said the worth of souls is great? The worth of your soul is great, and He has even promised you salvation even if you bring but one soul to him.
Here is a story by President James E. Faust at the Priesthood Session in April 2001.

Those of us who have served missions have seen the miracle in the lives of some we have taught as they have come to realize that they are sons and daughters of God. Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, "I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized." Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, "Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?" "Yes." Then the man went on, "And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?" He said, "Yes." The visitor put out his hand and said, "I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission." That little Irish boy came to a knowledge of his potential as a son of God. Elder Callis left a lasting legacy for his large family. Serving as a mission president for 25 years and in his apostolic ministry for 13 years, he blessed the lives of literally thousands. I feel privileged to have known this great Apostle of the Lord when I was a young man.

Okay, let’s hear what Gordon B. Hinckley has said about this topic,

The world is our responsibility. We cannot evade it. I think of the words of Jacob in the Book of Mormon, who with his brother Joseph had been consecrated a priest and teacher unto the people: 

“And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence.” (Jacob 1:19.) 

I have found a verse in Doctrine and Covenants 88 that speaks on the importance of sharing the gospel.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 says Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. 

Think about that, every man that has been warned, needs to warn his neighbor. Because we have been blessed with knowledge of the gospel, whether we have always been a member, or if we have joined the Church later in our life, it is our responsibility to share the gospel to others. For young people, the best way is to serve a mission.

However if certain circumstances prevent you from serving a full time mission, do everything in you power to help the missionaries. Give them referrals; go with them when they teach lessons. Have them over for dinner, because if you do, the Lord will bless you. You feed them physically, and they will feed you spiritually. They need your support.

Okay, the missionaries cannot find everyone. Just think, 85,000 missionaries may sound like a lot, but in order for them to reach everyone on the planet; the missionaries need your love and support, but they are also here to help you. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard said

Remember, brothers and sisters, we’re not marketing a product. We’re not selling anything. We’re not trying to impress anyone with our numbers or our growth. We are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, empowered and sent forth by the Lord Himself to find, nourish, and bring safely into His Church those who are seeking to know the truth.

Viewed from that eternal perspective, what we are to do seems so simple and clear, but I know that member missionary work can be challenging and sometimes frightening. Please allow me to suggest three simple things that we can do to assist in this divinely commissioned responsibility.

First, we should exercise our faith and pray individually and as families, asking for help in finding ways to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to open the way. Prayerfully set a date with your family to have someone in your home for the missionaries to teach. Remember, brothers and sisters, this is the Lord’s Church. Let Him guide you through constant prayer. With a prayer in your heart, talk to everyone you can. Don’t prejudge. Don’t withhold the good news from anyone. Talk to everyone, and trust in the promised power of the Spirit to give you the words you should say. Let them make the decision to accept or reject your invitation. Over time, the Lord will put into your path those who are seeking the truth. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep, and they will know His voice, spoken through you, and they will follow Him (see John 10).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “It will be a great day when our people not only pray for the missionaries throughout the world, but ask the Lord to help them to assist the missionaries who are laboring in their own ward” (“Missionary Service,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 2003, 19).

Second, leaders must lead by example. The Spirit will prompt and guide you in finding those interested in our message. Your personal worthiness will give you the courage and the spiritual power to inspire you to actively help the missionaries.

Third, member missionary work does not require the development of strategies or gimmicks. It does require faith—real faith and trust in the Lord. It also requires genuine love. The first great commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39).

So let the power of love guide us in sharing the gospel with family members, friends, neighbors, business associates, and any other people we encounter as we go through life. Most everyone wants to enjoy peace and happiness. That is a natural human desire. People want to find answers to the problems they face. This is increasingly true in the world we now live in.”

Henry B. Eyring said

“Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed those as the first and great commandments. It is love of God that will lead us to keep His commandments. And love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him.”

3 Nephi 27 21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

M. Russell Ballard also said

“Our love for the Lord and appreciation for the Restoration of the gospel are all the motivation we need to share what gives us much joy and happiness. It is the most natural thing in the world for us to do, and yet far too many of us are hesitant to share our testimonies with others.”

Brothers and Sisters, if we continue to be diligent in sharing the gospel with others, we will be blessed. We will stand blameless before God in the last day. 

To the youth of this ward, I have only one thing to say to you, “GO!” If you go on a mission, the Lord will truly bless you. You will learn things you would never have had the opportunity to otherwise. You will grow in countless ways. It is true, and it is the right thing to do. The Lord has blessed me so much, with a wonderful family, with knowledge of the Gospel, and the freedom to worship as I choose. This is why I am going on a mission. I pray that you will all develop a desire to go on a mission. Now is the time for you to prepare. Learn all you can from seminary, Sunday school, your others classes, and continue to study the scriptures, and strengthen your testimony. 

In closing, I would like to bear you my testimony of the truth of the Restored Gospel. I know it brings happiness. It is the reason I am going on a mission. I want others to enjoy the blessings I enjoy.  I also know that the Lord will bless me through my diligent service.  Again I am grateful for this opportunity to serve the people of Mongolia.  I hope I can make a difference for someone so they can have the fullness of the gospel and understand that they are loved by the Savior and all he wants is them to make it back to him. 

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

My Acceptance Letter

Dear Brethren
Having been called to serve as missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I Hunter Paul Bird accept this call and all the duties and responsibilities that accompanies it. I will serve with diligence and to the best of my ability with the help of the Savior Jesus Christ. I have been awaiting this opportunity to serve since I was a young boy and cannot wait to become a full time missionary. I will strive to be like the Savior and bring many souls unto him, and help grow the kingdom of God here on earth. Our Savior Jesus Christ spent his life serving us and establishing the kingdom of God, and I am willing to sacrifice two years of my life to help spread the gospel to all ends of the Earth. I know I was called to serve in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar mission for a purpose, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and teach the Mongolian people, I also know it is where the Lord wants me to be. I understand this will be one of the hardest challenges I will face, but am ready to learn and grow from it. Again, I am humbled to be a Missionary of God and accept this privilege to be part of his great and marvelous work here on earth.

Elder Hunter Bird

My Mission Call