Sister Renee Fokken

My photo
Why hello! Welcome to my missionary blog! I'm glad you found it! As most of you well know, I will soon be serving in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission where I will take upon me the name of Jesus Christ and serve him for a period of 18 months, striving to bring souls closer to Christ. I report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 15, 2011 and will return home in December of 2012. While I am away, my lovely sister has taken the task to post on here my weekly e-mails home to the family! Feel free to read them or just glance at any pictures I'll send home! And always remember to be continually seeking for those who are looking for the truth and know not where to find it; our Father has sent me abroad to help gather his sheep in Germany/Austria/Switzerland and you can do so where ever you may live. :)

June 15, 2011

Farewell Talk

Good afternoon brothers and sisters. I pray that the Spirit will help me deliver my message I have prepared to the hearts of those who are in need of these words.
I want everyone to close their eyes. Envision your greatest desire. What does it look like? What does it smell like? Who is there?
You can open your eyes and/or continue to ponder if you’d like. I have grown up in this ward pretty much and would like to express, if I may, my love for this gospel, much thanks to many of you who were my teachers at such a young age to now. You have all helped me create my greatest desire. My greatest desire it to obtain exaltation. Listen to the promises of exaltation from the Gospel Principles Manual:
1) They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
2) They will become Gods
3) They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and
will be able to have eternal increase
4) They will receive a fullness of joy
5) They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have – all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom and power, going from grace to grace, until the fullness of the perfect day shall burst upon them.”
I don’t know who wouldn’t want those blessings in their lives? So what must we do to obtain such a perfect afterlife? We must desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. Dallin H. Oaks in his talk this last April spoke of “eternal desires.” He said that, “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.”
According to this quote, how important is it to have righteous desires? I would say very important. In the scriptures, there are several quotes about desires. Elder Oaks pointed out the story of Enos whom after he was forgiven of his sins, desired for the welfare of his brethren. In Enos 1 verse 12 he gives us a formula for which we can obtain all the blessings we’ve been promised. He says, “And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.” The three things Enos needed to receive blessings of the Lord are: desire, labor, and faith.
Two of my all-time favorite scriptures touch on all three of these concepts. The first is Alma 32:27 which says:
“ But behold if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”
I love how the Lord is so accepting of everyone. Everyone is on different levels of understanding and commitment. We each move at our own pace. Some have a strong conviction of the gospel due to the many trials they have been through, while others may be starting at ground zero, still struggling with that desire to believe and want to change and to become better. I testify that this scripture is true. Every trial we encounter we must start with a desire to overcome whatever we may be facing. Whether forgiveness of another, loss of a loved one, serving a mission, having a child, etc. We must have that initial desire to want to change. Sometimes it is hard. Trust me. There have been times when I’ve wanted to tell Heavenly Father, “No, they are in the wrong.” Or “But I don’t want to do that!” Elder Oaks states:
“Readjusting our desires to give highest priority to the things of eternity is not always easy. We are all tempted to desire…. Property, prominence, pride, and power. We might desire these, but we should not fix them as our highest priorities…All of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progression.”
Elder Oaks continues to say a little later in his talk and says:
“To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. For example, eternal beings forgive all who have wronged them. They put the welfare of others ahead of themselves. And they love all of God’s children. If this seems too difficult – and surely it is not easy for any of us – then we should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.”
We have been promised that, if we humble ourselves before Him, and have faith in Him, then he will make weak things become strong unto us. It is a promise. Once we establish that faith, we must act on it.
My other favorite scripture of all-time is found in Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21.
“ There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
We know that the Lord is bound to do His part when we do what he tells us to do. This alone motivated me to live righteously and obey every commandment He has given by way of scripture, prophets, local leaders, or personal revelation, I have chosen to do my best to obey His will for me. It has been a VERY personal decision though. As most of you know, I have been called to serve a full-time mission in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission. My decision to go has been a long process. I have pled with the Lord to let me NOT go… for some medical thing to happen, for me to get married, ANYTHING but go on a mission. As time went on, I remembered the covenant I made at baptism to obey all his commandments, to be “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places…that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.”
I knew the Lord had called me, as an individual to serve His children in the Alpine mission. Overtime, my desire to do His will, outweighed my own desire to be comfortable in my own little world and thus, I submitted my papers and accepted His call.
I love when Elder Oaks said, “Remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.” The desire to Follow the Lord all my days has been the best decision I have ever made and has never led me astray.
So what are some good “starter” qualities that we can work to obtain while here on earth? I would suggest that you go to the Lord for more specific qualities, but some suggestions would to start with the qualities of Christ. We can find “Christlike Attributes” in the scriptures. A good reference for which scriptures is the Christlike Attributes section of my future best friend, “Preach My Gospel.” Even when I wasn’t planning on serving a mission, I took what seemed like a little “personality Questionnaire” to find out what attributes you are living well, and which could use a little more tender love and care. The qualities listed are: faith, hope, charity and love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience. Under each of these attributes there are statements and you can rank yourself a 1-5 and if you answer honestly, you will find which areas in your life may be lacking. I would invite everyone to obtain a “Preach My Gospel” manual and to seek out these key traits that our Savior had. He is our ultimate example. He is the head of the church. And he is what we should all be striving to become. An eternal being.
I can promise you, there will be times when you will feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or of little worth. Do not give up hope! This too shall pass. We must keep moving forward in faith. Not just ordinary faith, but faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I promise that as you do so, the Lord will extend His hand of mercy, pronounce blessings that you need, and life will be much easier to endure. I promise you also that as you search the Book of Mormon daily, you will draw strength from His word. Always remember that we have a divine nature, not just young women, but we are all Spirit sons and daughters of God. Remember that we have a Savior that has suffered all of our burdens. He has fought our fight already. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If we are trying, He provide you with every needful thing. I know He will do this for you, because I have seen Him carry me in my times of trial and weakness. And since He is no respecter of persons, I know He will gladly do the same for you!
Sorry if I seem to be rambling, I just get so excited about the gospel sometimes. I have never loved anything more than I do this gospel. You can ask my family, they know all about my best friends because I talk about them all the time. And all my best friends know everything about my family because I talk about them all the time. Why? Because I love them. Over the last year or so, I have thought about the influence of the gospel in my life nearly everyday. The happiness that it brings to my daily life is more than I could ever hope for! There is a little book called, “Our Search for Happiness” by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I would recommend it to everyone! One day when I was feeling sorry for myself, which happens quite a bit, I thought this book would be able to help me out since after all, happiness is what I was searching for. I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, that the contents were simple. They are the basic doctrines of the gospel. :

-The Restoration
- The Book of Mormon
- The Priesthood of God
- God’s Eternal Plan
- Etc
At first, I was even more mad… I was like Heavenly Father really? Why? But I continued to read, and realized that Elder Ballard couldn’t be more right. This gospel brings a happiness that cannot be found anywhere else. We must choose now, to live it! I am so grateful for the opportunity to go forth and share the gospel which is also known as “the good news.” Personally, I think it is fantastic news! We are so blessed to know what we know! I just love this gospel…
I think one of the coolest things about the gospel for such a logical person as I, is how every principle is linked to each other. Which means you can create infinite circles. Now I know my topic was righteous desires but if you look at it, we start out with a simple righteous desire. This desire leads to action. This action increases our faith. Thus our testimonies increase which causes a stronger desire to be committed to the gospel. When we are more committed to the Lords work, our faith grows again and again and again. What starts out with a little desire to believe will actually initiate our eternal progression. I’m not saying there won’t be times when there will be little pebbles thrown on our path, I guarantee there will be! But it has been in those times, that I have grown closer to my Savior and needed to reevaluate and start to focus on what really matters most, sometimes rearranging priorities as needed, and again, commit myself to progressing toward my righteous desire. As I did so, I found that motivation to keep moving forward in the way of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, I know with all my heart, that this gospel is true. I have felt that tender feeling of the Spirit that has testified again and again of it’s truthfulness. The Lord is very much alive. He sent His son, who suffered for my individual sins, weaknesses, infirmities, sorrows, and everything else I have ever felt. Jesus Christ is our Savior. It is because of Him we can have the opportunity to return to the presence of God forever. There is no better place we can learn of Him than in the temple, the House of the Lord. If I could, I would live in the temple. I know someday, I can live in a place very similar feeling and I so look forward to that day. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It does not replace the bible, but it works with the bible. It is another testament of Jesus Christ and if we heed the counsel of it’s pages, we can come closer to God than by any other book in this mortal world. I know Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. He translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God. The Priesthood has been restored! I am so grateful for the priesthood in my life. It truly is the power of God here on Earth! Lastly, I testify that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God sent here to lead us in these later days to help us develop righteous desires and help us return to heaven, and receive exaltation! What an amazing blessing to have a modern day prophet in times like this in our world today. I am so grateful for the blessings in my life. I know this is where I’m meant to be and what I am supposed to be doing with my life right now. I know it is. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment