Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Countdown to the MTC and My Farewell Talk

The Countdown to the MTC and My Farewell Talk

April 21, 2013

Blog #4

Well, today is the last blog I will typing up myself. The rest of them will be typed up from letters that I send to my mom for her to put on here. A lot has happened since I was last on here. First of all this is the schedule of what happened this past week.

15 April 2013 (Mon.) - Packed up

16 April 2013 (Tues.) - Took a plane to Denver, Colorado then another plane to Salt Lake City. From there we then drive the rest of the way back to Rexburg, Idaho.

17 April 2013 (Wed.) - @ 6:40 PM, meeting with the bishop for Temple Recommend Interview.
@7:10 PM, meeting with Stake President for Temple Recommend Interview

18 April 2013 (Thur.) - Called to do talk on the 21st. Topic: Leadership in the Church/Leader for Christ.

19 April 2013 (Fri.) - Drive back down to Utah. Left around 9 AM

20 April 2013 (Sat.) - Temple Endowment Session
- arrive at 7 AM
- begin preparing at 7:30 AM
- session begins at 9 AM
-Lunch at Olive Garden
-meet up with family to have lunch together
- Mom, brother, and grandmother gave me presents to help me with my mission.
Lunch ends around 3-4.

Drive back to Idaho and arrive around 10 PM.

Then, from 10 PM to 3 AM - I wrote my talk. I was then woken up at 7 AM by noises from across the hall.  Finally I was about to get back to sleep around 8 am only to be woken again. I never managed to get back to sleep. By 11:45, I managed to go over and edit the talk once again. I head upstairs and printed it out - 13 pages total. I stapled it and headed to the shower. Not to much later, I was delivering my talk. In fact here it is!


Examples of Leadership
Back when I was in the Young Women's, I spent plenty of time in the Bishops office. And no, I was not in trouble. I was reporting on a variety of things dealing with my position(s) that I held throughout my time in Young Women's. The first memory I have of being the Beehive president was first the setting apart and then later the same day reporting to the bishop on what was happening with the beehives. I wasn't just talking about the activities we were planning but the girls in the beehive group, active and inactive. The first month I did not have much to say as I had just been called that day but the next month, I was prepared.

My first counselor and I spent a couple of hours putting together little gifts and notes for each girl. During that month we managed to visit each girl even if it was to only drop off the gift on the front step. In addition to the little notes we had attached a short little getting to know you paper so that not only we could plan activities that the girls would attend but also so that we had an idea as to what each girl may need.

Each president was first to report on the people in their groups and then how to help them improve or even how to get them to come. I remember one girl in particular hadn't come in over a year. However, due to the little getting to know you sheet that was sent back to us – we discovered that she liked painting and drawing. Later that month, we had a local artist come in and do a little workshop; the girl began attending meetings more often.

One of the things that our bishop, Bishop Andrews, consistently reminded us was to return and report. Something happened with one of the girls or someone needed help planning an activity, well – return and report!

On one occasion a girl had communicated with one of the leaders saying that she was unable to come to church as her mom was unable to drive due to some medications she was having to take. After a few calls we were able to find another girl in the area to give her a ride. Not even a month later, the two girls were practically attached at the hip.

Some of the biggest challenges with planning activities for the Beehives, and then later on the Miamaids and Laurels – was the small amount of girls in each group. More than half of the time we would end up combining two groups or on an occasion or two – all three of them. One of the occasions where we had all three groups combined we were planning a summer activity. Our original idea was to do this sleepover for the activity. However, due to the lack of interest from the girls we came up with an alternative – going to the pool; every girl attended the activity.

Due to the small amount of girls I was in each of the presidencies more than I was not. If I was not the president, I was a counselor or a secretary. Around the time I was called to be a Laurel president, I was also called to be a Stake Representative for my ward. In the very first meeting I had with the stake, we were given assignments. Our ward was assigned decorations for that months dance. Keep in mind this was a Halloween dance. I looked at the representative for the Young Men in our ward and he looked at me and pointed to his notebook. I read the words “decorations – talk to ward, get creative; we need help!” I snickered a little but my note was a little similar without the plea for help.

The next week was our monthly BYC – Bishops Youth Committee and it was time to not only give the report for the Laurels but from the Stake meeting. Dennis, the Young Men's representative for the stake, and I spent a couple of minutes of going over our notes for the highlights and anything that needed immediate attention to those about 6 months in the future. The first thing we talked about in our reports once we were asked to report was about our assignment for the month – decorations for the Halloween dance. To my surprise, it was not just the Young Women that jumped on the bandwagon for making and putting up the decorations but the Young Men as well.

To help put things together in time for the dance, the Young Women planned an activity for all three of the groups in creating Halloween decorations and made it a contest; with a bag of candy for the prize on the most creative. The Young Men had an activity the week after that using that theme and expanded upon it. Bats, pumpkins, witches, and all sorts of Halloweens decorations were created. Then, it was time to get them put up for the dance. A sheet went around in both Young Men and Women's asking for volunteers. About 10 people volunteered. On the day of the dance, a couple of hours before, the volunteersalong with Dennis and Iput up the decorations and helped set up booths that other wards had brought in. The dance was a hit; the games were creative but had a few classics. The decorations simple yet creative. The music and food kept everyone until the very end. All together it was a hit.

On more than one occasion we had activities that were duds. Simply put no one showed up or it didn't end up very well. One one occasion we had a combined activity and it was the deacons turn to plan it. Unlike the Young Women's groups, the Young Men had plenty in each group. Because of this the deacons decided to not ask for help in planning their activity. They decided that they wanted to keep what they had planned a secret – they wanted to surprise us.

On the months leading up to the activity the representative for the deacons was asked multiple times each meeting if they needed any help with planning the activity or coming up with one. Each time the answer was no. When the activity finally came we all headed to the gym after we had prayer and announcements to discover that the deacons had no idea what they were doing. The deacons looked to their leaders and asked what they were doing. We were going to be playing glow-in-the-dark volleyball. While fun in theory, it was a disaster in the making.

Within ten minutes of the game, there was three bloody noses and a possibly sprained ankle. Things were not going so well. Instead of attempting to the save the night, the deacons decided to end the activity a little early. We spent the rest of the time eating refreshments and talking. While the activity was a good idea in theory, it was a failure in execution. The next time the deacons had a combined activity, they planned in advance and asked for ideas from the other groups; things went well that time. In fact, that activity ended up being one of my favorites.

One of the most memorable times of return and report being used that I have seen is when it happened to me. My visiting teachers had come to see me and ask how I was doing; I was not doing well. It had been determined that my gallbladder was no longer functioning properly; it would need to be removed. The surgery was simple enough, however, the recovery was what nearly did me in. Vicodin as a rather strong medicine took some time to get used to. I had taken the recommended dosage only to end up throwing up everything that I had eaten twenty minutes before. After a few more tries we talked to my doctor. He said to cut the dosage to a third of what was recommended and build up to the recommended dosage. After that things went a little easier, however, some thing were still a challenge.

On a day my mom was out, one of my visiting teachers came to visit me. She remembered that I had had the surgery recently and would more than likely being in a lot of pain getting up and down from the seats. A former roommate of hers had had the surgery as well and she called her to see what helped during that time. To my surprise the answer was having something to squeeze when the pain became to much; so my visiting teacher simply handed me a stuffed frog. Over the next few days, I used the frog a lot more than I wished to.

Scriptural Lessons on Leadership
Elder Spencer J. Condie from the Quorum of the Seventy touches upon a few scriptural lessons on leadership in his talk in April 1990's General conference. His talk called “Some Scriptural Lessons on Leadership” touches on 9 key points concerning leaders in the scriptures.

First, “ the Pearl of Great Price learn we that as Moses was called to become a prophet of God, he was taken to a mountaintop, where he beheld a panoramic view of all of God's wondrous creations. Jehovah gave him a vision of his immediate goal, which was to “deliver my people from bondage.” (Moses 1:26.) The Lord then explained his long-term goal: “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)”. In the Book of Mormon we read about the young prophet Nephi who beheld a vision on a mountain. Once he had envisioned the promise land, he could not be dissuaded from building a ship to take him there. (See 1 Ne. 11:1.) (See 1 Ne. 17–18.) From Moses and Nephi we learn that a leader must have a vision of the work which lies ahead.

The children of Israel were governed by judges for a period of more than three centuries (1429 to 1095 B.C.), following the Great Exodus from Egypt to the land of promise. These judges were then succeeded by a series of kings, the first of whom was Saul, anointed by the prophet Samuel. (See 1 Sam. 8-10.) For decades Saul enjoyed the adulation and support of the people. But then, lifted up in the pride of his heart, disregarded the counsel of the Lord's prophet. At that point Samuel reminded him of the time when he was little in his own sight (see 1 Sam. 15:17) and taught him that immortal lesson: “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). From Saul's life we learn that a leader must be humble and obedient.

Saul was succeeded by King David, whose forty-year reign is considered by many to be the golden age of Israelite history. Indeed, Jerusalem became known as the City of David. But despite his great leadership abilities, he was tempted to commit a very grievous sin, which he then compounded with an even greater sin. From King David’s life we learn that even kings must be careful. Leadership positions do not totally protect us from temptation.

After the death of David, his son Solomon ascended to the throne. In the beginning of his reign, Solomon prayed in deep humility: “Of Lord my God, … I am but a little child....Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people.” And God did give him “a wise and an understanding heart.” (1 Kgs. 3:7, 9, 12.) Armed with Spirit of the Lord, Solomon became God's instrument in building the holy temple for which Israel had hoped and prayed for many generations. But with the passage of time Solomon took him wives outside of Israel “and his wives turned away his heart” and he “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (1 Kgs. 11:3,6.) From Solomon we can learn that knowledge and wisdom alone do not qualify people to lead. Perhaps Jacob said it best: “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Ne. 9:29.)

After Solomon’s forty-year reign, his son Rehoboam went to Shechem to be made the king. He sought the counsel of the elders regarding how he should rule. “And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.” (1 Kgs. 12:7; italics added.) The Savior gave his disciples similar counsel when he taught them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35.) Within the kingdom of God, to lead is to serve.

But Rehoboam rejected the counsel which required him to humble himself and to serve others. Instead, he chose to reign over Israel with a very heavy hand, thus causing a great division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. (See 1 Kgs. 12:20.)

For the next 220 years the people generally set aside their sacred covenants, thus wandering in the ways of the world. Then a young man named Hezekiah began to reign in Judah. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” and “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel.” (2 Kgs. 18:3, 5.)Hezekiah gathered together the priesthood bearers of the day and said, “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” (2 Chr. 29:5.) “Be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God … but yield yourselves unto the Lord, … and serve the Lord your God.” (2 Chr. 30:7–8.)In response to this assertive leader, who was supported by the prophet Isaiah, “the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people” (2 Chr. 30:20), and “in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness” (2 Chr. 31:18).
From King Hezekiah, as from King Benjamin (see Mosiah 2–5), we can learn a very positive lesson on leadership: circumstances do not always need to remain the same. Leaders can make a difference! Faith in the Lord and high expectations can bring about a mighty change of heart among an entire people.

A great leader who had continually sought the will of the Lord was the Prophet Joseph Smith. His very life exemplified Paul’s admonition to live the gospel that we preach. (See 1 Cor. 9:14.) A great strength of the Prophet was his ability to delegate and develop leadership skills in those around him. The expedition of Zion’s Camp is but one example of Joseph’s leadership based upon the principle “Come Follow Me.” (See Luke 18:22.) At the conclusion of Zion’s Camp, the Prophet gave the newly organized high council detailed instructions regarding their callings and then told them, “If I should now be taken away, I [have] accomplished the great work the Lord [has] laid before me.” (History of the Church, 2:124.) Long before his martyrdom the Prophet Joseph was diligently training those who would continue to lead the kingdom after he was gone. Here is another important lesson of leadership: Leaders are duty-bound and obligated to prepare others to take their place at some future time.

Among the most righteous and effective leaders to ever walk the earth was Enoch, who persistently sought to save every single soul.
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness.
“And lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up in into heaven.” (Moses 7: 18, 21)

Note the reference to the “process of time.” A great leader must have high expectations, tempered with patience. In section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that Enoch was “four hundred and thirty years old when he was translated.” (Moses 7:49.) Perfection takes a long, long time. But still, we are commanded to become perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. (See Matt. 5:48; 3 Ne. 12:48).

From the most exemplary life of all, that of the Savior Jesus Christ, we learn perhaps the most important lesson of all. As the Savior was in the depths of suffering in Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed that the bitter cup might pass from him, adding in meekness and lowliness of heart: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42; italics added.) A leader in the Lord's kingdom must be meek and lowly of heart. (Alma 37:34.)

Example in History
Throughout history there are many examples of great leaders and bad leaders. However, sometimes they will live long enough to be both.

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the world was divided into two great war camps, one led by the conspirators under Brutus, and the other led by Octavius Caesar and Mark Antony, a friend of Julius Caesar. During the long, hard war that followed, Mark Antony distinguished himself as the greatest soldier in the world. And we might ask ourselves, “How did he do it?” If we can discover the secrets of his success, we can make them available to our own success bloodstream.

Following are some of the clues that have been given for the accomplishments of Mark Antony. “Armed with his convincing speech, the power of his logic, the courage of his leadership, and his own self-discipline, he swept everything before him. He took upon himself the hardest tasks with the most wondrous good cheer. He lived for weeks on a diet of insects and the bark of trees. And he won the unquestioned loyalty of his men, the acclaim of the people, the support of Octavius, and his own self-confidence.”

Opposed by such dedication and skill, the enemy generals one by one soon began dropping out of the fight. And when the war was won, Mark Antony stood where the great Julius Caesar had once stood as the master of the world. But when the need for struggle had passed, Mark Antony became idle, and idleness accounts for some of life’s most tragic failure stories.

Mark Antony went to Egypt where he fell in love with the bewitching queen, Cleopatra. He became a victim of the soft luxury, perfumed elegance, and immorality of the Egyptian court. His great mind became clouded by the fumes of wine, and he became what Plutarch referred to as a “Fishing-rod general.” As Mark Antony abandoned his better self he lost the loyalty of his men, the acclaim of the people, the support of Octavius, and his own self-respect. Finally a guard of soldiers was sent to take Mark Antony into custody and bring him back to Rome in chains.

It didn't require an army to overcome Mark Antony now. Just a handful of the meanest soldiers was all that was necessary. However, Mark Antony avoided arrest by thrusting a dagger into his own heart, and as he lay dying he recounted to Cleopatra that there had been no power in the world sufficient to overthrow him, except his own power. He said, “Only Antony could conquer Antony.” And then as he contemplated the arrival of the Roman soldiers and thought of the awful disgrace that he had brought upon his country and the shame and humiliation that he had caused his family, he made his last speech, which William Haines Lytle has translated into verse, in which Antony says to Cleopatra:

Let not Caesar’s servile minions
M Antonius.jpgMock the lion thus laid low;

Twas no foreman’s arm that fell’d him,
Twas his own that struck the blow,
His who, pillow’d on thy bosom,
Turn’d aside from glory’s ray,
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
Madly threw a world away.

Mark Antony had held securely in his hands the control of an entire world, and there was no one upon the earth with sufficient power to take it from him except himself. But every one of us has within his reach a world that is far more significant than the world which belonged to Mark Antony. There is no power in the universe that can come between us and the celestial kingdom, except our own power. Only Antony can conquer Antony.

Leadership: Where to Start
Leadership takes place in day-to-day life in addition to Church callings. You’ll find opportunities to lead in your family, group of friends, school, community, and ward or branch. So how do you learn to lead with confidence? A good place to start is with the teachings in the scriptures.
  • Prepare yourself through study, prayer, and faith (see D&C 88:118–19).

  • Seek the will of the Lord. When Jesus was on earth, He sought to know what His Father in Heaven wanted, and then He did as He was asked (see John 7:16–18).

  • Love those you lead (see John 15:10–12).

  • True leadership is about service. Remember the example of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 2:11–19).

  • Review the traits of leadership found in Doctrine and Covenants 121:39–45.

  • Remember Paul’s counsel to Timothy (see 1 Timothy 4:12–16). President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, explains: “Paul gave good counsel for all of us. Don’t worry about how inexperienced you are or think you are, but think about what, with the Lord’s help, you can become” (“Preparation in the Priesthood: ‘I Need Your Help,’” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 58).
How the Great Leaders Affect Us
In an article called “One Special Leader”, Sariah De Barros Ferreira De Silva touches upon how a leader helped her.

“I will always remember with gratitude one special leader who changed my life for the better. When I met her, I didn’t have many friends. I was not very talkative and would not smile at people. I didn’t participate in seminary or other activities. In fact, I went to church only on Sundays. And even then my thoughts wandered in Young Women class. Some of the girls tried to include me, but I closed myself off from them. When this leader first tried to get close to me, she didn’t have much success. At first I didn’t even know her name. Then she gave me a job to do and began to depend on me. I accepted the responsibility only because I didn’t know how to tell her no. Then, before I even realized it, she started to become my friend. I began trying harder and harder to fulfill my calling, and I began paying attention in class. I even started attending seminary and other Church activities. I also made friends with the young people in my ward. Soon the gospel was the most important thing in my life.

Who started all these changes in my life? It was my leader. Today when I look into her eyes, I feel an immense love and gratitude. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for the opportunity of having such a special leader. I am grateful to her for preparing me and being with me on the day I received my endowment in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. I am grateful for her example of love, a love I try to apply in my own life. Now that I am a Young Women leader in my ward, I hope I can do for my young women at least a part of what she did for me.”

Leadership is something that is constantly happening. As Brad Smidt said in an article called “Following the Leader” - We need to be careful in what we say or do, because so many people are watching—sometimes people we don’t even know.” (Sally Johnson Odekirk, May 2011). I bear my testimony that in a way we are all leaders, whether through our callings or a leader in example and that the perfect example of a leader is Jesus Christ himself. As Henry A. Kissinger said, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” I know that leadership in the church is important and Jesus Christ is the unequaled example of a leader. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Well written for having been written in 5 hours, right? You didn't see the rough draft. I found a couple of rambling sentences about my cat, Abby, this morning. I can tell I was a little tired when I was writing this. Jason said he noticed a few holes but with the amount of time I had to work with it was amazing. For the upcoming week this is the planned schedule, hopefully (fingers crossed, it stays the same). 

22 April 2013 (Mon.) - Packing!!
- Any last minute things I need to do 
- Setting apart as a missionary by Stake President at Stake Center at 8 PM.
23 April 2013 (Tues.) - Driving back to Utah
24 April 2013 (Wed.) - @ 1 PM, I report to the M.T.C.

That's all for this post! The next one will be from when I am in the M.T.C.!

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