I am so excited and nervous! but i know such wonderful things will be in-store for me! this last sunday i had the opportunity to speak at my church. below is my talk all about why i want to serve a mission and my belief in Jesus Christ! i hope you enjoy! xo -sorella fuller
Good afternoon brothers and sisters. I am so happy and humbled to be speaking to you today before I start missionary service in Italy. My heart is so full of love and gratitude at this time. I am so thankful that I can have this opportunity to speak in this ward. Even though my family no longer lives full time in this ward I still consider it my home. It is so great to be speaking to a congregation full of my ward family. I also am so incredibly grateful for all the family and friends who have made the effort to come here today. I am so touched by the support and I am so happy that I can share my testimony with you all.
I want to start off and tell you the main reason why I have decided to serve a mission. I feel so incredibly blessed in my life to have the knowledge of the gospel, blessings from the temple, the constant companionship of the holy ghost, and an eternal amount of love from my heavenly father. The amount of blessings are so overwhelming that I constantly am overcome with amazement. I have grown to realize that the only true happiness in life comes from the gospel. I have decided to be a missionary so that I can help spread God’s love and happiness to others.
Coming to the conclusion to serve a mission was not easy or even expected to me. Last year at this time a mission seemed a million miles away. I was about to move into the BYU freshman dorms…. Something that after hearing countless stories from my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins I had been looking forward to for most of my life. I also had an intense desire to get an education, to peruse a career, and make a name for myself. I couldn’t wait to embrace and soak in everything byu had to offer and peruse a career that lied ahead.
This last week marks one year exactly from my first week of college. And how things have changed. Instead of returning to Provo to continue my education and peruse my lifelong goals I will be returning to enter the Missionary Training Center. Many, including my closest family and friends wondered how did you have such a complete change of heart? I hope that today my genuine feelings of faith and love for this gospel will come across to you so that you may understand how much the gospel has changed my life and how I hope to carry that knowledge into the mission field.
Alma 5; 12 reads “according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart” Although the term “a mighty change of heart” is commonly used in regards to repentance, I would say that in the last year I have had a mighty change of heart in regards to serving a mission. I 100% credit this change to the power of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has bestowed upon me. I believe that God is in every little detail in our lives. In the moment we may not notice these details but looking back they will become clear to us as we examine and contemplate the tender mercies we see in our lives. One of these little details in my change of heart happened on move-in day at BYU. I noticed two beautiful girls who were moving in directly across the hall from my room. Not moments later they continued to invite ALL of the girls who lived on the floor into their room to get to know each other. I quickly learned that they were both Southern California girls who were nothing but kind, inclusive to everyone, beautiful, smart, and simply HAPPY people. Despite a slight intimidation factor they would later become some of my closest friends, one of which is here today. From our friendship I learned that they were BOTH recent converts to the church. Up until that point I had never had any close acquaintances that were converts. As they would tell me their conversion story I was touched by their undenying faith, and I was even more impressed learning how eternally grateful they were for the gospel. I remember thinking how amazing it was that because of others teaching them the gospel their lives and their posterities lives would forever be blessed. Becoming close friends with these girls was probably the first time that I opened my heart to accepting the idea of serving a mission.
By the end of my first semester I had had a wonderful college experience. I loved meeting new people from all over the country, I loved living in the dorms, being in a professional learning environment, everything… I love it all. I couldn’t wait to return for my next semester. However, this time was different than before. I had seen so many friends, including my friends across the hall submit missionary papers and leave for their service. Most of these people were sisters. I was amazed by how many girls had CHOSEN to leave behind college to serve the Lord. I started toying with the idea of serving. Every girl I knew that had left for a mission had characteristics that I admired. They were girls that I looked up to and wanted to be like. I knew that if I was to go on a mission it would require me to ask my father in heaven humbly if it was the right thing for ME to do and I would need to have a purpose.
Slowly and surly I would eventually reach my decision. It started with simple prayers asking for assistance in my decision making, then to constant scripture reading, then fasting. However I still had no answer. I was confused and distraught. I just wanted to have a yes or a no answer. However, I learned that the Lord doesn’t always work that way. I needed to turn my stupor of thought into clarity. Through this decision process it was the first time in my life when I had to recognize the spirit in making a big decision. I had to rely on so much faith to help me in this process, and I needed to strengthen my own testimony of the gospel so that I could carry it with me into the mission field.
I found this strength in studying and focusing my life around the life of Jesus Christ. In particular, recognizing and appreciating the details of the Atonement in my life.
President Holland teaches “Indeed the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event.2
The atonement literally means to be “at one with God” as we further study… we realize that we can never fully appreciate the grandeur of the eternal significance of the Atonement.
One element of the atonement that I am sure we can all relate to is the tender mercy that is given to us through the repentance process. Every sin or mistake that we make can be simply forgiven and made anew because of the mercy that is given to us. In life there must be justice in all things. God gives us justice so that we can receive the blessings from our good doing. With this justice we should also be punished for our sins. The laws of justice must be met… however, because of God’s mercy He made it possible. Through the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of his PERFECT son we are not punished for Adams original sin and all of our own imperfections. This idea of repentance was always hard for me to totally grasp. It was not until this last year as I prepared to serve a mission that I fully felt the love and mercy given to me through the repentance process. The comfort that comes from knowing that God has forgiven you and you have the opportunity to start anew is indescribable. As I felt the power of repentance in my own life I knew that this was just one of the many blessings offered by the gospel that needed to be shared. Everyone in this world deserves the knowledge of justice and mercy. It is crucial for our eternal salvation. In 2nd Nephi, Lehi teaches his son Jacob of the importance of mercy. He states in Chapter 2 verse 8 that ,
“wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, ad grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit.”
Another amazing blessing of the atonement that I have felt throughout my life is the comfort and blessing of NEVER being alone. Because of the Atonement no matter where in the world we are, no matter who we are, no matter what our circumstance we will never be utterly left alone. Throughout Christ’s mortal life he always was surrounded by people. He was born to loving parents, as he taught he had throngs of followers, and of course the companionship of his apostles. On the eve of his crucifixion slowly but surely Christ’s support circle of disciples got smaller and smaller. Then as he went into the garden of Gethsemane he continued on without companionship. While Christ suffered for our sins, as he bleed from every pore, as this perfect person suffered so that we could be redeemed, he had to do what is completely impossible for us to fully understand. To complete the suffering He had to be completely alone, meaning the spirit and comfort of the Holy Ghost was withdrawn in this dark hour.
Elder Holland explains this time of Christ’s suffering even more so saying,
“Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.”
This sense of loneliness made Christ weep out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” The miracle of the Atonement is that because of Christ’s love for us his suffering saves us so that we will NEVER have to feel alone. Never have to experience the suffering he endured on that lonely night in the Garden of Gethsemane.
God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost will ALWAYS be there for us. When I was sixteen years old I moved away from home to work as a Senate Page in Washington DC. As amazing as this experience was for me it was the first time in my life that I felt so helplessly alone. I had no family, at times I felt ridiculed by my teachers and bosses, I had no LDS friends, my ward building was temporarily shut down and moved too far away for me to reach Sunday meetings. On days where the stress of school and work was so intense and I would feel utterly alone and lack of support, In that dark moment of my life I had no other option then to turn to my heavenly father. I remember going in the bathroom of the US Capitol building, the only privacy I ever had, and falling on my knees begging for some support. From that prayer I was prompted to turn to my scriptures. I read in Alma Chapter 37 verse 36
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.”
I then turned the page and read in Chapter 38 verse 5
“ as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trails, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
When I read these verses I knew that they were a gift from my heavenly father sent to me for comfort. Those words have strongly resonated in me and help me any time I am alone. Three years later from that day in Washington I still cherish these scriptures in my heart.
What I learned was that no matter where I was or how alone I felt because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice I would never feel alone again. Not a day goes by now that I don’t think of the peace and love I felt from heaven during those 6 months in DC. In the moment it sometimes seemed too hard to bear but looking back now not only did it give me a strong academic and professional foundation, it gave me the greatest gift, the foundation of my testimony. A testimony that I will use not only as a missionary but for the rest of my life. As a missionary I know there will be days that will be hard, that I will feel alone and forsaken. I also know that everyone in this world have those days of feeling utterly alone. But as long as we turn our hearts tword Christ we will never be left alone. It is my prayer that as I enter the field as a missionary I will be able to express this message of comfort to someone. So that they can feel the same peace and support that I felt when I needed it the most.
Let us not forget the ultimate miracle of the Atonement. While Gethsemane and Calvary were such dramatic and traumatic experiences for the savior, on a beautiful spring morning, 3 days after his death, Christ came forth from his tomb as a resurrected being. This significance is that every human being, man and woman, good and bad, will be resurrected. Breaking Satan’s bands of death. Families will be rejoined, we will live in a state of spiritual happiness, and the love we have for each other will be overflowing. What a wealth of knowledge this brings us. I am so humbled when I think of the blessings of the Atonement. This is a message worth spreading to the ends of the earth.
As we begin to further understand the Atonement we will draw closer to God. For me as I learned and experienced the atonement in my life I was able to recognize and appreciate the love that God has for me. This overwhelming amount of love is what gives me faith and purpose. Once I recognized this love I knew the answer to all my prayers. I knew that serving a mission was right for me. My confusion of thought was put at ease and I knew that I needed to dedicate 18 months to His service.
Missionary work is an errand of God. As Moses chapter 1 verse 39 states
“For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
Missionary work, no matter if you are set apart as a missionary or simply sharing the gospel to friends, colleagues, and neighbors is not easy. In an address to the MTC Elder Holland stated,
“I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?”
I know that on my mission there will be days that I feel inadequate, when no one will listen, when I miss home, and my cell phone, and the language will seem impossible. I know that there will be days of sorrow and pain. I am terrified for the unknown that lies ahead and I feel totally inadequate. However because of him, I know that any sorrow will become peace, despair will become hope, and burdens will be lifted. This is the message that I hope to carry with me into the mission field.
In the beloved story of Les Miserables it addresses many themes that parallel to the Atonement and the gospel. Justice, mercy, forgiveness, redemption. However the overall theme/message of the story is summarized in the last sentence of the musical adaptation. This sentence states, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Not only does this touching sentence summarize the theme of the Victor Hugo classic I believe that it should summarize the theme in our lives. Because at the end of the day LOVE is what this gospel is all about. Every element of this church ultimately is all about love. The more we can show love to others the closer we will draw to God.
More then anything I pray that I will be able to give as much love to the people of Italy as I physically can. I pray that I can show others love the way God has shown it to me. Without God’s love I wouldn’t be here today.
I can’t say this enough but I am so thankful for this gospel, for my family, and friends that have been an example to me. Especially
· My extended family, for all being strong and faithful members of the church
· My cousins who have served missions and are currently serving missions. Even though they are not here today I hope that my gratitude will be expressed to them by the Spirit.
· I am so thankful for my friends who have never lead me astray and were such great examples to me
· My brothers for being so loving, kind, silly, and supportive
· And my parents for being a constant example of love and Christ like example that holds our family together
As I stand here today I want you to know that I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, of a loving heavenly father, of the holy ghost. I have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel and I for the atonement. I love this gospel, I love all of you, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen