Today, I had my farewell. Saying goodbye to all of my family and all of my great friends can be hard, but it is for the right reason. And I know Heavenly Father will guide me through these next two years.
Today was fast Sunday, so I actually gave my farewell talk last Sunday. Which I have written down and would like to share with you.
I hope each person that reads that talk gets something beneficial from it. It was pleasure researching the scriptures and presenting them. This will be the last time I will be writing on this blog. From here on, my sister will be taking over and posting the updates that I email her. I hope I can inspire and create a few smiles through this blog. If you are interested in taking an adventure to Zion with me, follow this blog! For the next two years I will be doing Heavenly Father's work, and introducing his love to those who have yet to feel it in its fullest form.
Good Morning brothers and sisters, My name is John Odland and I have been called to serve in the Independence Missouri, Spanish speaking, Mission. And I will be leaving for the Mexico MTC in ten days. And I would like to share with you a paragraph from a letter that my mission president sent me:
There are so many great Historical Church moments that have happened and will happen in Missouri. And I am truly grateful to be able to serve in Zion and I am really excited embark on this journey.
I am so grateful for my families support during this time in my life, and I love each and everyone of them so much. This past month my parents and I took a trip to Utah to visit the rest of the family. We started driving a couple days after I opened my mission call, and that is why many of you haven't seen me since I got my call. We were on a pretty tight schedule and I wanted to spend as much time with my family as possible. Along the way to Utah, a tire on our boat trailer blew, and we were forced to change it on the side of the interstate where there was barely a shoulder. While my mom was making traffic aware of the situation, and I was manning the jack, my Dad was like a one man pit crew. Unscrewing each lug-nut like he had a race to win. As soon as we got the spare tire on, a state trooper showed up and apologized for not getting to us sooner to assist in the directing of traffic. But he was very nice and helped us find a tire shop that was open. We got a new tire on the boat and put the spare back where it belonged. And then we were on our way.
To our joy and excitement, the next day our suburban, which was pulling a 7,000 pound load, decided to literally die on us. Leaving us in the middle of Nebraska with no way to haul our boat. We were able to find a small family mechanic that generously offered to buy our dead vehicle and let us rent a UHaul truck. From there, The three of us jumped in the Truck, packed like sardines, and drove the last 600 miles to Utah. We made it to my sister’s house late that night with numb legs and aching bodies. But it was all worth it, because I was finally able to see my sisters. They were very happy to see me but we still had one small problem. We have this big boat just sitting in front of my sisters condo and nothing to tow it around with. And everyone had got work off so we could all go down to Lake Powell and spend the 4th of July on the lake. We had one day to find a decent truck that would replace our suburban. I was able to find one on KSL that was exactly what we were looking for, and ended up being a perfect vehicle for us. Our family continued with our plan and had a great 4th of July celebration. During the rest of my time in Utah, I was able to get a few of my inactive family members to attend church with me for the two Sundays I was there for. And I would just like to say how grateful I am for the Ellsworth branch. Ever since I have been coming here, I have yet to find another branch or ward that has a better spirit, a better group of loving individuals, and a better sense of involvement, that beats the Ellsworth Branch. I am so thankful for each and every member. You have made my life and church experience so much better. I love all you guys!
Just having fun at Lake Powell
But going back to when I was in Utah, The ward we went to seemed like a newly developing ward with most of the men daydreaming about football or the beautiful mountains. But the speakers were good and they shared a message worth listening to. It felt good to get some of my inactive family members back into their ward again.
The Friday before we began our trip back to Maine, I went through the bountiful temple. You may ask, Why the bountiful temple when I have like 6 other choices within an hours drive. Well I've always loved the Bountiful temple and I think it looks stunning. And the inside looks even more beautiful. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go to a Temple that I chose, and avoided that lovely drive to the Boston temple. Now that I think about it, I just drove 4 days to go to the temple. Thats probably a record or something.
Soon after that my parents and I started driving back to Maine. But this time instead of loosing our car and being stranded, we took the lords route and went to Nauvoo. Were we saw some amazing performances that were done by missionaries and volunteer families. Each one we saw had such a great message and the spirit was so strong, as hundreds of saints gathered to watch our history be expressed through song and dance. Seeing those missionaries throughly enjoy performing and also speaking to the crowd afterwards, made me even more excited to go on my mission. Even though I wont be singing and dancing in front of hundreds of people (which is definitely for the better) I am excited to be able to share the gospel with people that are in need of Heavenly Father’s love. And I will serve Him to the best of my ability. After we saw a few shows we went to the Carthage jail, and stood in the very room where our prophet, Joseph Smith, was shot. It is truly humbling to see what Joseph Smith sacrificed for the restoration of this wonderful true church. I did not get the chance to go into the Nauvoo temple, but after my mission it is definitely on my to do list. After a day and a half at Nauvoo, we hit the road again and continued on home.
And now I stand before you today. Giving, most likely, my last talk in the Ellsworth branch. As I will be moving back to Utah and attending Utah State University after my mission.
As I prepare for my mission, I am so excited to have this opportunity to serve our heavenly father and help others feel his love. Heavenly father has asked us in D&C Section 42 Verses 5,6 and 8, to serve a mission. And it reads:
5 And I give unto them a Commandment that they shall go forth for a little season and it shall be given by the power of the spirit when they shall return.
6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.
8 And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region—
As we see right in the Doctrine and covenants we are asked by heavenly father to serve a mission and build up his church. There are so many families out there that are searching for truth but have yet to find it. And it is our job to introduce them to the gospel and plant that gospel seed inside of them. Without missionary work, many people wouldn't give the Book of Mormon a chance.
Ever since I was a kid I always thought that the missionaries where the “cool guys” that everyone wanted to hang out with. Missionaries carry such a great spirit with them and they conduct themselves in a manner of great reverence. I look up to the missionaries and I have always wanted to be just like them. As I have been preparing for my mission, I have come across some great scriptures that tell us what missionaries should do. But a lot of these scriptures can be applied to everyone. They are great standards to live by and I would like to share some of them with you today.
The first one is Helaman Chapter 3 Verse 35:
Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.
As our faith grows stronger our souls are filled with comfort and joy, and our hearts will become holy. This all comes from putting our faith in God.
The second scripture is Ephesians Chapter 4 Verses 29 and 31:
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
I think this is a big reason why my experience with missionaries is always so pleasant. They only speak kind things and I have never seen any of them get upset at someone. In my opinion, we should all take this scripture to heart and act kindly to everyone. Negativity only causes harm. We should follow the great example of the missionaries.
The third scripture is D&C Section 11 Verse 21:
21 Seek not to declare my word, but to first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
It’s hard to teach something you don’t truly know. That is why reading and studying the scriptures is a big part of missionary work. As we obtain more knowledge of his word, his spirit within us grows stronger. Giving us the power to teach more thoroughly and truthfully.
The 4th scripture is in D&C Section 84 Verse 85:
85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life. And it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
Missionaries teach by the spirit and they do not have a planned script that they read. I think I’m going to have to work on this one. but during a lesson the spirit will guide the missionaries to meet the investigator’s needs.
The next Scripture I’d like to share is D&C Section 4 Verse 2:
2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
Being a full time Missionary is all about complete devotion. They aren’t there for personal gain, they are there because God has asked them to be. Serving the lord is their main purpose. And serving the lord seems like a pretty good purpose for all of us! And I hope all of you strive to follow the missionaries example and serve the lord with all your heart, might, mind and strength.
Scripture number 6 is Mosiah Chapter 2 Verse 17:
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
By serving others, we are serving our Heavenly Father. I have always loved how service is such a big deal within the LDS church. Ranging from Boy Scouts doing service projects, to the whole stake getting together to clean up trash near the Penobscot. Missionaries give two years of their life to the lord, and I respect each and every one of them out there.
The last scripture I want to share with you is D&C Section 88 Verse 119:
119 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
Each and every one of us should make our homes a house of God, always make it inviting for the spirit. Two years ago the youth theme for the year was “Stand ye in holy places and be not moved.” The spirit should resonate within you, and bring Christ’s love wherever you go. People will notice, and they will want to know. How can I feel that joy?
I am so excited to begin this journey! Heavenly Father has something planned for me in Missouri, lets go find out what it is!