Thank you to everyone who came and supported Karissa at her farewell! Here is her farewell talk on finding comfort in the Plan of Salvation:
Ever since I opened my mission call and read those life-changing words in November, this day has seemed too far away to even contemplate. For those of you who don’t know, I had the opportunity to go on a humanitarian trip to Lima, Peru a few years ago to build a school and teach children English, and I truly fell in love with the work I was doing and with the people I was with, so returning feels in a way like I’m going home. Writing this talk and packing all of my bags over the past few weeks has been a whirlwind, and standing before all of you today just doesn’t feel like reality yet.
At times, life can be incredibly overwhelming and difficult. No matter how hard we strive to do right, things still happen to harm us, no matter how large or small. In Adam Sandler’s classic movie, Happy Gilmore, the main character, Happy, is uprooted from comfort when his grandmother’s home is going to be taken away from her. In order to raise the money to keep it, he has to turn to a sport he has never played before; golf. Happy is very out of place in this atmosphere. He is a poor, simple, and aggressive amateur in a world of calm, rich professionals. Despite all of this adversity, he has a mentor who helps him to focus and improve his game. This mentor introduces the idea of a “happy place”, a mindset that would bring Happy comfort and allow him to calm down, focus, and succeed in his golf game and his goal to win back his grandmother’s home. For Happy Gilmore, this “happy place” was on a beautifully groomed golf course where he got the girl and his grandmother got the money. This “happy place” ultimately led to his success in winning the championship and his grandmother’s house back.
Like Happy, I have two distinct “happy places” in my life. The first of these two is music. Whenever I am having a bad day or am struggling in general, playing my guitar or the piano transports me to another place; a mindset of free expression where I can lose myself in a melody and truly get my feelings out. My mother heavily encouraged my training in music from a young age, and this training has been instrumental in creating an atmosphere in which I can find expression and comfort. The second is golf. There is honestly no better place for me to feel comfort, patience, and peace than on a golf course. My father taught me how to golf when I was very young, and through practice and competition over the years, I have grown to love the game. The scenery is peaceful and beautiful, and the technical aspects of golf are primarily a mental game that leave room for constant improvement and get my mind off of the things that are troubling me for at least a few hours.
As much as these “happy places” have helped me to find comfort and peace, there are trials that simply can’t be solved by picking up a golf club or a guitar. In dealing with sorrow, such as the death of a loved one, a round of golf will not be enough to get us through and bring us the relief and comfort we need. In this instance, we can choose to find comfort in the Plan of Salvation; an eternal comfort rather than a temporal one. Preach my Gospel states that “God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body. God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth.” The Plan of Salvation is our plan to learn and grow from tests endured on this earth and return to live with our Heavenly Father after our work on the earth is completed.
In Happy Gilmore, Happy receives advice from a fellow golfer on his putting. The golfer tells him to “send the ball to its home.” In putting, the plan for returning the golf ball “to its home” is to find a putter and brand of golf ball that you feel most comfortable with and to practice, practice, and practice some more. The process is difficult and frustrating at times, but ultimately all of the time dedicated to the development of this essential skill pays off greatly. Your putting will never improve unless you choose to give it the focus and time that are necessary.
The same holds true for the Plan of Salvation. We all feel the desire to return to our heavenly home and live with our family eternally, but we often forget to make this eternal perspective a focus in our lives. Too often we find ourselves caught up in the stress of work, family, and school. These things can overwhelm us, but with the eternal perspective provided by the Plan of Salvation, we can find comfort. In D&C 121, we find Joseph Smith in the Liberty Jail. Joseph Smith pleads for the suffering and persecution of the Saints to end. In response to his pleading, he receives a simple, but powerful message, found in verses 7 and 8: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” Whatever pain we must endure in mortality, it is but a moment in eternity, and, if we endure our trials well, we will be able to return to our Heavenly Father and receive eternal life.
Over the past month, I had the opportunity to become an ordinance worker in the Draper Temple. I worked three days a week. Not only did I meet incredible people in the process, but I learned an eternal perspective. In assisting patrons and memorizing ordinances, I was able to learn the blessings and promises of the temple and understand the Plan of Salvation at a deeper level, turning the temple and the Plan into a third “happy place” of mine. On multiple occasions, I had the opportunity to just be alone in the Celestial Room, and I can honestly say that in times like these, my mind was focused on eternity and I have never felt a greater peace.
When Happy misses the putt, he starts screaming at his golf ball, saying, “Do you not want to go to your home?!?!” Like Happy, we may be frustrated when people reject our beliefs and the Plan of Salvation, for they are a great comfort and source of happiness in our lives. As frustrating as this may be, one of the most important parts of the Plan of Salvation is agency, or our ability to choose. This was given to us following the fall of Adam and Eve and provides for our personal growth. We have been given the opportunity to choose between good and evil, but we have not been left alone. Our Savior, the Son of God, sacrificed his life for this very purpose. He overcame physical death so that we may overcome the effects of the Fall and be resurrected and receive immortality, regardless of our choices. He also overcame sin by suffering for all of our sins, so that we may be cleansed of sin when we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. All pain, suffering, and sin can be cleansed and relieved through Him. He has felt all of the pain, stress, and sorrow that you have and He can relate to you on the most personal level. Christ truly understands you and, when you turn to Him, He will relieve you and console you. Preach My Gospel states that “As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however, eliminate our personal responsibility. We must show that we accept Him and that we will follow His commandments. Only through the gift of the Atonement can we return to live with God.”
Brothers and sisters, I testify that the Plan of Salvation can bring us incredible comfort when we focus on Christ and listen to the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our everyday lives. In focusing on an eternal perspective, I have found incredible peace, especially in my decision to serve a mission. Leaving my family is slightly easier knowing that I can bring other families the comfort of knowing that they can be together forever.
Se que Jesucristo vive. Se que este iglesia es la iglesia verdadera. Se que necesito estar en Peru ahora, y estoy muy agradecida por la oportunidad para servir mi Senor en este manera. Estoy muy agradecida por el apoyo y ayuda de mis padres y amigos en mi dicision para servir, y estoy tan animada para ser misionera. Me encanta este evangelio y todos ustedes. En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.
Special thanks to Mirtha Rasmussen for providing all the amazing Peruvian food at the open house afterwards and to Suzanne Plant for the photos and the scripture favors. Thank you to everyone for your love and support!