Monday, September 23, 2019

My Farewell Talk - 9/22/2019

"Hello! For those of you who may not know who I am, my name is Savannah Pursglove and I have been called to serve in the England, Manchester mission.  As Sam mentioned / Our topic for today is pretty perfect, “Obtaining and Bearing Testimony”.
At the beginning of June, I received my call so as you may imagine, I have had a lot of time to let my mind wander, and my emotions shift drastically. I have felt scared and panicked, wondering what in the world I was doing and if I was sane when I turned in my papers. On the flip side, I have felt so motivated and ready to go out, because I know my call was truly divinely inspired. If it wasn’t inspired, how else would I be going back to the motherland?
However, when I hit my 30-day countdown, I started panicking pretty badly and just thought, “What am I doing? No one is pressuring me to serve a mission. Why am I putting myself through this? I have school to worry about, what about my family and friends etc.” Fear definitely got the better of me, but looking back, I think that moment, as well as others similar to it during my life have possibly been some of the strongest testimony builders.
That I think is one part of my testimony. I know Satan is real. That sounds a little bad, but I know he is real, and I know he has the power and the knowledge of how to exactly tempt us to get us off the path. He’s been around for quite a while and he knows what he’s doing. However, I also know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have power over Satan. Unfortunately, and fortunately though, we were put on this earth to be tested and Satan isn’t going to give up easily.
For the past few months I have had the opportunity to be a substitute in primary. Being back in primary has taught me the simplicity of this gospel. I find myself repeating to them.
·       Heavenly Father loves you.
·       He has a plan for you.
·       He hears your prayers.
·       He sent Jesus to die for you, so you can return to Him.
We sing the articles of faith, teaching that we believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then repentance, baptism by immersion and receiving the Holy Ghost. That is how the foundation of my testimony began; by repeatedly learning the simple truths of this gospel, and memorizing the articles of faith so I could pass them off with my Primary President so I could get a popsicle. Heavenly Father loves you. He has a plan. He hears your prayers. He sent His son. We are His children. How great is it to know that? And we really know it!
A second huge part of my testimony is that I know the power of prayer is real. While you may not always get the answer you want, or even an answer at first, I know that if you truly are praying with real intent for revelation, it will come eventually.
For most of my life, I have wanted to go on a mission. However, during my senior year of high school, and the beginning of my freshman year at college, I really started to doubt whether I should go or not. I had plans for school and plans for my life, and nowhere did that include serving a mission.
Around the end of my first semester in college, I had decided I wouldn’t be going on a mission and was becoming irritated with the amount of people that would ask either where I had served, when I was leaving, or when I was planning on turning in my papers. I felt very bitter about the entire thing and began praying to tell Heavenly Father that I wasn’t going on a mission and explaining my grand life plan and how a mission just wouldn’t work with it. No Bueno! In my mind, during that time, I took the silence from Heavenly Father as a sign that He was okay with me not going on a mission. It sounds crazy, but during these few months, I felt like everyone was asking me or talking to me about missions, class lessons were about missions (classic BYU), my friends were telling me how they were starting to put papers in, I was getting emails from friends on missions asking when I would be going, devotionals and church lessons were taught about the importance, and blessings received and given during a mission, etc. I thought I was going crazy. Finally, I went to one of my friends one day to talk about it, and we discussed how I had been feeling like I didn’t need to go, and how I thought I had received an answer that I shouldn’t go. She then gave me some advice, and then bore her testimony to me that if I let God tell me what to do, that He would give the best plan for my life. I remember going back to my room and apologizing to Heavenly Father for trying to force my plans and thoughts on Him. I then asked if I should go on a mission, and I immediately felt this stress and relief from trying to push away the thoughts of a mission just disappear, and I knew that I needed to start on my papers. I do have a testimony of the fact that answers do come, and that Heavenly Father loves us so much, and has a perfect plan in place for us, and He is more than willing to help us if we are willing to reach out to Him and let Him into our lives.
So how do we gain a testimony? We are instructed to share what we know but how do we know what to know? In Galatians 6:7 it says, “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” No good thing comes without effort and sacrifice. If we have to work to gain a testimony it will make us and our testimony even stronger. And if we share our testimony, it will grow.
A testimony is a most precious possession because it is not acquired by logic or reason alone, it cannot be purchased, and it cannot be given as a present or inherited from our ancestors. We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God” 
So how do we receive a personal testimony rooted in the witness of the Holy Ghost? The pattern is outlined in the scriptures:
First: Desire to believe- In Alma 32 it says “If [you] will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, … even if [you] can no more than desire to believe” 
Second: Search the scriptures- Have questions and study them out. I have found that the more time and effort I put into my scripture study, the more I get out of it.
Third: Do the will of God; keep the commandments
And Fourth: Ponder, fast, and pray- To receive knowledge form the Holy Ghost we must ask Heavenly Father for it. We must trust that God loves us and that He will help us to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
We receive this testimony when the Holy Spirit speaks to the spirit within us. We will receive a calm and unwavering certainty that will be the source of our testimony. The core of this testimony will always be the faith in and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His divine mission, who in the scriptures says of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.
So, after we have gained this testimony. What is it good for? President Uchtdorf puts it this way,
A testimony provides proper perspective, motivation, and a solid foundation on which to build a life of purpose and personal growth. It is a constant source of confidence, a true and faithful companion during good times and bad. A testimony provides us with a reason for hope and gladness. It helps us cultivate a spirit of optimism and happiness and enables us to rejoice in the beauties of nature. A testimony motivates us to choose the right at all times and in all circumstances. It motivates us to draw nearer to God, allowing Him to draw nearer to us. Our personal testimony is a protective shield, and like an iron rod it is guiding us safely through darkness and confusion.
The power of your testimony can change lives. Those you encounter and even yourself. President Uchtdorf gave a talk in general conference many years ago called The Power of a Personal Testimony. He explains, “Our motives and thoughts ultimately influence our actions. The testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the most powerful motivating force in our lives. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the power of good thoughts and proper motives: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not”. The testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel will help us in our lives to learn of God’s specific plan for us and then to act accordingly. It gives us assurance of the reality, truth, and goodness of God, of the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of the divine calling of latter-day prophets. Our testimony motivates us to live righteously, and righteous living will cause our testimony to grow stronger.”
Though I have fears I also have a strong testimony of this gospel. One of my absolute favorite church quotes of all time is by President Uchtdorf again, “Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.” This quote was hung on the wall in one of my seminary teacher’s room and over time, I eventually memorized it and just had it in the back of my head. There have been, and still are some things that may not make sense to me, and they may confuse me at times, but something that I know is that as long as I hold strong to my testimony of the things I know are true, I can have questions and concerns, and still have a testimony and can stay strong in the church.
I am so grateful for the fact that I have had the opportunity to meet, and then become friends with so many amazing people. I have some of the most loving and incredible friends in the world that have taught me so much and have helped me even more. I also have had some of the world’s best teachers or coaches, and I am so grateful for everything they have taught me. I would most likely be absolute garbage without them. I am so unbelievably grateful for my family. My sister is one of the most loving and loyal people I have ever met, and I am so lucky that she’s my sister. My dad is decently funny, and does so much for me, and I take it for granted a lot of the time. And my mom is the absolute hardest-worker, who does anything and everything for her kids and I am so blessed to be able to have her. I wouldn’t even be able to go on a mission without her.
I know God lives. I know Jesus is the Christ, and our perfect Brother. I know Joseph Smith is the prophet of God and restored this gospel. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know President Nelson along with his counselors and the members of the 12 are called of God to lead and guide this church."

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My Farewell Talk - 9/22/2019
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