I don’t think I can look back in my life and choose another instance where I have felt happier that I do right now. I know that this happiness comes from the fact that I have this unique opportunity to share the message of faith and hope in Christ.
I cannot express to you all how much I am looking forward to devoting all that I am to my Savior and letting him lead me to those people that are just waiting for me. I have a testimony that the Savior loves me and all His children and that He wants to do everything He can to bring each and everyone of us back to Him. I know that is the reason why I have been prepared to go serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas.
If I look back on certain instances in my life, I can truly see how the Lord has been preparing me for this specific mission to go serve the people in Houston. In my journal there are quite a few entries that express sweet and humble desires to go serve a mission. There were even a few entries of me pleading and hoping so much that I could be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and go serve.
Not too long ago, I found a scripture (D&C 4:3) that reads, “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work.” To me it became very evident that I was having strong desires and that the Lord wanted me to have these desires.
In early September of last year, I was really trying to seek out and find what the Lord wanted me to do with my life. I can see an interesting shift in my journal because I express how I felt stuck. To give you an idea of what I mean, I just felt like I wasn’t excited about my major and I really wished I were older so I could just leave on a mission. I remember is being a really frustrating time for me. I started exploring other majors because that was really the only thing that I felt I could focus on at the time. But I was very unsatisfied.
The year prior to this, I made the habit to attend the temple once a week. But when all this frustration was going on, I found myself in there a lot more because in the temple there I found the peace that I needed. The temple helped me feel at ease about not being able to figure out what I was suppose to be doing with my life because I knew the Lord loved me and would take care of me because I was doing everything I could to be close to Him. It really helped me to remember that God is perfect, all knowing, and He has a plan that is specific for me. But more importantly it helped me to remember that His timing is not always my timing and I have to trust in that.
However, as this pattern went on for a little, I felt like I needed some answers because I had to start making decisions. I was really wanting God to speed up his timing.
Finally while I was in the temple, I again felt a really strong impression that I was to serve a mission. However, I also had the impression to continue with the education that I was currently pursuing. To me, when I got this answer, I felt even more confused. The two just did not seem to mesh together. If I left on a mission when I was 21, I would most likely only have 1 semester left of college and I would have already applied to graduate schools. As I was leaving the temple, I don’t think I can remember any other time where I have felt more lost. I felt like I still didn’t have a set plan and that was the thing I needed most.
Even though I had exited the temple, I remember that I wasn’t quite ready to leave the temple grounds. I did not to leave with these feelings so I sat in my car for a while. I then decided to pray.
In that prayer I asked to know what I was suppose to do. I remember telling God that I am ultimately clay in His hands and that I want Him to mold me how He will. I also asked for comfort to know that the feelings I was having earlier were from Him.
After that prayer, I felt the words, “Patience, Mackynzie. Just be patient.”
Immediately I was comforted that these were the words of my Heavenly Father, reminding me that He takes care of all his children and that He was going to take care of me.
Well, the weekend after this experience was the church’s 182nd semi-annual general conference. At the forefront of this conference, President Monson announced the lowered age for both young men and young women to serve a mission.
Once I heard the announcement that all worthy 19-year-old women could be qualified for full-time missions, I knew I had gotten my answer and I knew why I had to be patient. I could not make my plan yet because God had not given me all the tools to become who I was suppose to be.
I have a testimony that all things fall into place at the right time. I know that what has gone on in my life has not happened by mere coincidence. I know that I am being guided by God to be who he needs me to be and do what he needs me to do.
In the scriptures we learn that through the meek, the Lord moves forward his work. I know that the Lord is using me right now to further his work.
The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, “I will hasten my work in my own time.”
I know that right now is the time that the Lord was referring to in this revelation and I know that I am a key part in His work for the people in Houston, Texas.
The neat thing about my journey towards feeling like I was called of God to serve a mission is that it was not only personal for me but that so many other girls were having the exact same or very similar experiences. This experience helped strengthen my testimony that God knows each of us personally and that He answers our prayers. It also reiterated to me that we all are here on earth for a reason and that God’s hand is in the details of our lives.
I believe that we have all been created for things greater than what we can comprehend. I know that God has so much that he wants to offer us; we just have to be “patient and long-suffering” in order to receive it.
A common thread that I have seen throughout my life and just recently in feeling ready to serve a mission, is that I have been able to get to a point with God where I understand His plan, submit to His will, and obey His counsel.
I’ve learned through this experience and many others that when I stop praying for what I want, the Lord is able to take charge in my life and miracles happen.
Elder Christofferson gave a phenomenal talk in April of 2011 titled, “As Many As I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten.” If any of you haven’t heard this talk, it contains the story about a currant bush that President Hugh B. Brown shared many years prior. I would like to share this story with you now.
President Hugh B. Brown once purchased a very run down farm in Canada. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth… And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me… How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bust, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, “thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.”
This is one of my favorite talks ever given because I feel like I can relate to this little currant bush. As I shared earlier, I had all these righteous desires to pursue an education, to serve a mission, and to use my talents but I felt like something was keeping me from achieving these goals at that specific time.
I know we all feel like we have righteous desires, and I know that we all get stressed and discouraged because we are sometimes not able to act on these desires. I know that I was. But the important message that we are to draw from this story is when the gardener returns to the bush and says, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I now what I want you to be.”
I know that God loves each of us and is aware of the things we go through in our life. He has a plan for each of us and is wanting us to turn to Him so He can help us find our way back to him and achieve our righteous goals. It is so important for us to trust in that knowledge and let it change who we are.
It is not enough for us to be convinced of the gospel. We must act and think so that we are converted by it. The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. It requires us to give all we are to God and let Him mold each of us. In order to do this, it is not enough for us to just go through the motions.
Elder Bednar stressed, “The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits requires to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
By being a member of this church, I have learned that
1. When you want to talk to God, pray
2. When you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures
3. When you need God close, go to the temple
4. When you need strength from God, keep the commandments
For me, these have been the steps towards happiness because they are actions that are causing me to become closer to my Savior. Because of this, I am able to more clearly understand and gain perspective of my Savior’s plan for me, I am more willing to submit to Him, and I am able to- more committedly- endure to the end.
Growing up in Southern California as a latter-day saint was not easy for me. I struggled with the fact that there were very few Mormons my age. Every night in my evening prayers and most fast Sundays, I would ask that a Mormon girl my age would move into the area.
This continued for a few years. During my sophomore year of high school, I decided that I was wanting to transfer to LCC. One of my best friends, who happened to be Mormon, went there and I was a little envious of all her Mormon friends. I so desperately wanted to be a part of that. My parents started gathering the necessary paperwork and we were beginning to make the provisions needed for this transition.
As we started getting this process going, I felt the urge to pray to my Heavenly Father. I prayed to let him know how happy I was that I was finally going to be surrounded by people of my faith. However, during that prayer, I felt that this was not the right decision for me and that I needed to stay at San Marcos High.
Honestly, I remember feeling crushed. I didn’t understand why I was supposed to stay somewhere if I was so unhappy.
Even though it was hard to stay, I obeyed the prompting that I had to stay at San Marcos.
In the scriptures we are reminded that it is not the work of God that is frustrated but rather that it is the work of men. I can confidently say that the prompting I had to stay at San Marcos was divine. Choosing to obey that prompting was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
That decision has impacted the very person that I am today. I would not be nearly as strong in the gospel and as prepared for my mission as I am if I chose to ignore that prompting.
At San Marcos, I made friendships with the most amazing and most unique individuals. It was these friends that helped shaped me into who I am today. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this restored gospel and am willing to share this testimony because my friends taught me to be confident in who I am and in what I believe.
By submitting to the Lord’s will for me, I see that he in turn gave me “soul-stretching” opportunities. I have grown so much as a person because I chose to obey. I know that staying at San Marcos was part of the Lord’s plan for me because I needed those friends and experiences that I could only find at San Marcos.
Submitting to the Lord’s will and becoming receptive to the spirit is essential. I understand that we don’t always know what will happen when we decide to put the Lord first. But I want to assure you all that it is okay that we don’t know. We just need to find hope and trust in the fact that when we put the Lord first, we are on our way to where we need to be.
Another thing that I have learned while trying to turn myself over to God is that God loves me unconditionally. I know that He knows my weaknesses and that He loves me despite my weaknesses.
In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.”
I am so grateful that we have a Savior who has paid the price and made it possible for each of us to find our way back to the right path. He has given and will continue to give us the tools we need to be successful in this life. I am also so grateful that through Him we can be changed so that we will want to stay on that right path.
Professor Brad Wilcox stated, “The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that- miraculously- we can feel at home there.”
When I go to the temple, I get a glimpse of what I think heaven will feel like. After my friend went through the temple for the first time, we were talking and she was saying how she loved being in the temple because she knew that she was worthy to be there. I also know that the temple can feel safe and comfortable when we use the atonement and let it change who we are. There is a happiness that we cannot find anywhere but in the temple. Similarly, I know that when we turn towards our Savior and let him act in our lives, we will want to be in God’s presence and we will feel that happiness and comfort with him.
I am so excited to share that message with the people of Houston, Texas- that we have a way to be with God forever. I am excited to see how the Lord will change people’s hearts to bring them to this gospel and help them find everlasting happiness.
I know that the Savior has the power to change us when we decide to turn to Him and let him in to our lives. Christ can literally act on our very being and live in us because of the atonement.
When we let him into our lives we are able to progress in the right direction because it is Christ that gives us the power and strength to live and endure to the end. I know that all good things come from Christ.
When we are constantly using the atonement and are trying our very best to submit to the Lord’s will, I know that he is pleased with us because it shows that we are trying to become like our Savior.
Our Savior was the perfect example to us of righteous living. He was a missionary throughout his life. He taught us how important it is to serve and to love one another. His whole ministry was dedicated to make everyone feel good about themselves despite who they are and what they have done. Similarly, Christ asks that of us.
He can help us get there. He is waiting for us to look for his help so he can graciously show us the way.
Brothers and Sisters, this gospel can change your very being when you choose to live by its teachings and follow the example of the Savior. I know this because I have been changed.
I love my Savior.
I know that loving Him is no feeble task.
But I also know that there is nothing I would rather do.
· I have a testimony that through Christ, all things are possible
· I know that we have a God of miracles and I have seen those miracles in my life
· I know that the Lord’s timing is perfect and I trust in it with all my being despite how hard that may sometimes be
· I am so grateful that we have modern day revelation and that we have a prophet who leads and guides this church today
· I believe that Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayer and because of that answer, he was able to help restore the true Church of Jesus Christ back on the earth
· I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ and I am grateful for the spirit and guidance that it brings into my life
· I know that families are central to God’s plan and that we are able to live with them for eternity in God’s presence. I love my family so much and I know that we have been sent here specifically together to help each other grow and learn to love
· I also love this ward family and I am so grateful for all of you who traveled to be here today. You have all helped build my testimony through your examples of righteous living and I cannot wait to take this testimony to the Spanish people of Houston, Texas.