Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good Luck Elder!

Today Elder Eastwood was dropped off at the MTC! We will all miss him so much, but we know he made the right choice to serve the Lord! We are so proud of him! His sister, Paige, will be running his blog, posting emails and pictures from Spencer so visit often!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spencer's Farewell Talk

Good afternoon, brothers and sisters! I’m excited to be standing before you on this beautiful day. I’d like to start off by saying, “Thank you.” I’ve never received as much support and kindness as I have in the past six months since I received my mission call. Everyone has always been so excited and interested in me serving my mission and for that I thank you all. I remember when I got together with some of my friends and read them my mission call. They all made the same last minute guesses that I’d be serving in Canada, a country that I have always wanted to visit. They were just as surprised and excited, as I was to read that I had been called to serve in Brazil!
Brazil never crossed my mind once when we were all guessing where I would be called, in fact, the only person in my family that guessed Brazil was my grandpa, who I am named after and who also served in Brazil, so that’s the family fun-fact of the day. But “It’s alright, the Lord moves in mysterious ways” and there’s no doubt in my mind that Brazil is where I am supposed to be for the next two years.

As I said earlier, I’ve been asked to speak on unity, which is a topic we hear often in the Church. It’s an attribute that we continually are told to bring into our lives. Unity means, “to be joined as a whole”; to be “one”. Throughout Jesus’ life, He taught many different concepts that can be tied into “unity”. One of these is a very basic concept that we have all heard many times: “love one another.”

How is it possible for us to be unified with one another if we can’t first love one another? Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ want our hearts to be “knit together”. That union in love is not just a simple idea. It is necessary if we intend to return to our Heavenly Father again.

In Doctrine and Covenants 38:27, Christ says, “…Be one, and if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” To be part of Christ’s Church, we must all come together as one. If we strive to be more Christ-like, as we are told to do time and time again by our prophet, then we should be striving to be kind and loving to every single person we meet. Christ never picks favorites; Christ never has conditions for His love. Christ loves everyone unconditionally. He is the ultimate example of “love one another”.

Possibly the biggest example of unity is the Godhead. Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Three separate personages, yet they are all united under one single purpose: “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. As members of the Church, we are all united under one single purpose as well. That purpose is to spread the Gospel across the world. And, when one thinks of “spreading the Gospel”, the missionaries of the Church are called to mind. They are the ones who are out in the world, spreading the Gospel, and bringing joy to so many people, every day for the two years that they serve.

Missionaries must be united with their companions; they must be united with their mission president and other mission leaders. But most of all, missionaries must be completely united with Jesus Christ. Christ can lead them to those investigators who need to hear the message the most. Christ can lead them to those who may already believe in Him, but just need that extra “push” and that extra confirmation of truth from the Holy Ghost.

With the Spirit, Missionaries are unified not only with the companion whom they are teaching with, but also with those they are teaching. President Henry B. Eyring once said, “The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony.” The Spirit leads to personal peace and to a feeling of union with others. The Spirit unifies souls. And unified souls lead to unified families, a unified Church, and a world that is at peace.

Our purpose as Latter-Day Saints is not only to spread the Gospel, we are to teach and uplift each other. Those of you that know me well know that my favorite band is U2. One of my favorite songs by them has a line in it that I think represents this purpose very well. It says, “We’re One, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other, carry each other. One.”

I think that this applies to us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together, in the Church, we are one. But we are not all the same. We all have different backgrounds, different families, and different lifestyles. We all have different things that we pray about and different people we pray for. We all have different blessings that are manifest in our lives.

But, as I said previously, we have one thing in common. We are all unified by our faith in Jesus Christ. We are all united under one cause. And because we are all here today, we are currently fulfilling our duty to God. This duty is found in Doctrine and Covenants 23:7, “Behold it is your duty to unite with the true church.” Because we have each other, to lean on and to depend on, it is that much easier to be united in the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Our trials are easier to get through when we have those we are unified with lifting us up and carrying us through the darkness and into the light. I know this is true because I have seen it happen right here in our ward. Though there have been many trials, many sicknesses, and we have lost a few of our dear brothers and sisters, we have always had the constant love and unity from other ward members to rely on. Seeing so many kind acts of service take place has strengthened my testimony incredibly.

When I received the topic of unity I was thinking of how I have seen unity in my life and several examples came to mind. One of the standout examples was watching Sister Biesinger visit the Forsey family multiple times a week during their family’s trial. Seeing the love, compassion, and friendship that Sister Biesinger showed to the Forsey family proved to me that unity exists, especially in the Highland 27th ward.

Another example is when my mom had surgery a couple months ago. The next few nights after she returned home, Sister Thunell, Sister Thompson, and Sister Lewis each brought our family dinners and were there willing to help my mom and my family with anything we needed. These simple acts show the unification of our ward. Even though they are simple acts and we may take them for granted, they all bear the same message, “We are here for you. We are going to help you through this. We’ll do it together.”

Having support from family, friends, and neighbors is a vital way to continuously feel joy in our lives. When we are unified together under a good cause, The Spirit is with us. Doctrine and Covenants 42:45 contains a phrase that reads, “Thou shalt live together in love.”

When we work harder to be kinder to our families and those we associate with, the Spirit will be in our homes. And when the Holy Ghost is with us, it will be so much easier to “live together in love.” Living together in love here on Earth is a great way to prepare us to have eternal life in Heaven with our Father. Because there, not only will we be with our families and those we love most, we will be in the presence of Our Heavenly Father: who loves us more than we can imagine.

Unity is important because who would want to travel through this life alone? We all know what it is like to experience loneliness. Likewise, we all know how it feels to be surrounded by friends and loved ones to help us on our way. Which one would you want to choose? I for one, as I’m sure everyone here, would rather have friends and family and, most importantly, the Savior with us. These people should be a constant blessing in our lives.

Friends can be the ones we turn to when we are having a bad day, when we are bored, or even when we are in need of a spiritual conversation. I recall one experience when I had gone on a camping trip with some of my friends. Around two in the morning, after a few of the other guys had gone to bed, a couple of my good friends and I stood around the campfire and had a wonderful and uplifting conversation about the Church. We discussed the scriptures, we discussed listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and we discussed the sacrifice that the Savior made for each and everyone of us. I will always remember being up in the forest, sitting under the stars. And I will always remember the amazing presence of the Spirit that I felt there that night. Some of the greatest spiritual discussions can come from friends. There is an amazing spiritual power when friends come together and bear their testimonies to each other about what they know to be true and right.

Families are the ones that will always be there, in this life, and in the next. We were born to each of our parents for a reason. We were given our respective brothers and sisters for a reason. One reason is so that we could always have a constant ring of support surrounding us. In a unified home, there is a warm Spirit of love. I know this to be true because I feel this spirit in my home every single day. And each member of my family plays a part in bringing this spirit into our house. Probably the most important part is the one played by my loving mother. My mom is the kindest person I know. She has taught me how to love everyone, to look past their faults and their missteps and to love them for who they truly are. My mom is the reason our home is such a happy home, filled with love. One of the things I love most about my mom is how she is always so happy to see me. Even when I came home a lot later than I was supposed to be, she wouldn’t get mad, she would just smile and tell me that she was glad I was home. That has always meant a lot to me.

My dad has always set an example of unity in our home, by not only being such a responsible and loving father, but by being a worthy priesthood holder. He has always put his children’s needs above his own and he is always ready to give a priesthood blessing when it is needed. My family is very blessed to have him in our home.

My sister invites the Spirit into our home by just being one of the happiest girls I know. She is always happy and excited and doesn’t find many things to complain about. In fact, I have never once heard her say something bad about someone else, which I think is amazing. She is also a really good sport, especially when I try to embarrass her in front of all her friends. My brother invites the Spirit by always using his upbeat and carefree personality to make us all laugh. Plus, he has just the right amount of “annoying little brother” in him. I’m very proud to say that my family is completely unified through Jesus Christ.

And that brings us to The Savior, who is the most stable person on which we can rely. He is always there and He is so close to us. I think a lot of the time we take for granted how close the Savior truly is to each and everyone of us. If we are struggling with preparing for a test at school, or a presentation at work, or preparing a farewell talk, or preparing for a mission – the Savior is there to help us and to guide us. I remember when I was preparing for my talk today, I confided in one of my best friends that I was worried I wouldn’t know what to talk about. Madi told me to just pray that the Spirit would be with me and if I did that, I would know what to say because the Lord would be there helping me. I am glad to say that that night I got on my knees and prayed to my Heavenly Father for help and for guidance, and the next day I was able to finish this talk.

I know that the Savior can be with us each and every day of our lives. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants 4:7, “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you”. The Savior is always with us; He is just waiting for us to ask for His divine help.

There are several ways we can receive our loving Savior’s help. One I have already mentioned is prayer. Another is diligent scripture study. The scriptures are wonderful tools that have been given to us for our day. There is not a problem that we will face in our lives that cannot be answered by principles taught in the scriptures. When we read the scriptures, the Holy Ghost can impress thoughts upon us that can not only help unite us with each other, but can help us do things that we need to, even though they may be scary or challenging. I will share an example of both of these with you.

For the past two months, I have been sending out a text every night to the priest quorum in our ward. This text has contained a daily scripture and a spiritual thought. My hope when I started this daily text was for the priests’ to become more unified by reading a daily scripture and that they would hopefully discuss these scriptures with each other. I was filled with the Spirit when the bishop told me one day that on a Wednesday night, each of the priests had shared how grateful they were for receiving these daily scriptures. I remember one time sending out a scripture about the importance of bearing our testimonies and how doing so can help others’ testimonies grow. One priest replied to me saying, “I was debating on whether or not to bear my testimony in seminary tomorrow and this scripture helped me decide that I should. Thank you.”

The scriptures can unite us, not only with each other, but also with our Heavenly Father. Every time we faithfully read the scriptures, temptation is pushed out of our minds. Every time we read the scriptures, we are brought closer to God. The scriptures, in my life, have been the single greatest testimony builder, especially when I have combined them with faithful prayer.


I would like to close with my testimony. I know that the scriptures are the true word of God. I know this because I have read them and learned for myself. I send out a challenge today that anyone who has not read the Book of Mormon all the way through to please do so! It is such a wonderful book. It is such a true book. I testify that the Book of Mormon was written for our day.

I testify that this Church is true. I can’t wait to get out on my mission and try to throw my arms around the people of Brazil as I teach them the things I know to be true. I hope that the Spirit will be with me every day, to help unite my investigators together in the Gospel. I know that families are a great way for us to become more united with our Heavenly Father. I want my family to know that I love them all very much and I’m grateful for the things I have learned from them.

I testify that God truly listens and answers our prayers. And I want my friends that are here to know that I know Heavenly Father is always listening to them. You do not have a problem in this life that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ cannot help you get through. Pray always that you may understand God’s will for you. I testify that these things I have said are true. I testify that God loves each and every one of you, as do I.

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