Monday, July 15, 2013

My Farewell Talk!

Good morning brothers and sisters! My name is Devyn Phillips those of who don’t know I will be serving in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission. I’m going to be set apart tomorrow night and will be a real live missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints! I am so excited to start this new adventure of my life. My heart is so full of love for each and every one of you. I want to thank you all for supporting me and coming to listen to me speak today.

A lot of people ask me what made me decide to go on a mission… and don’t worry it will some how tie into my talk. The main reason that I decided to go on a mission was when my friend/coworker Courtney decided to go on a mission. She would share quotes and her own thoughts on a mission with me. Seeing her readiness to serve the Lord with all her heart really touched me and brought me to my knees in prayer to ask if a mission was right for me. I received my answer and now I am here. Courtney taught me through her example, to be obedient and do the things that the Lord asks. I know that through my obedience to serve a mission I will be blessed in so many ways as I go about blessing others lives with the gospel. The topic I was given is Obedience Brings Blessing from the last General Conference by Thomas S. Monson. I’m sure we all remember it because it was such an amazing talk.

Something to think about during my talk is a quote by Ezra Taft Benson, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” What are we doing to make obedience our quest?
I wanted to start off with my thoughts of what “obedience brings blessings” means to me and then take some thoughts from the actual talk. After I got my topic to speak on I was reading a story from one of my ancestors and I found a quote that I thought would fit in perfectly. She wrote, “I had never thought of that before nor had I thought of the principle of obedience planted within me. It was not to gain my mothers favor. It was to show the reverence I had for my mother from a child”. When I read this I thought of our relationship between us and our heavenly father and how obedience is showing a reverence and respect to our Father in heaven.  We are not just trying to gain favor in his sight we are showing a love and respect in following his ways.

Article faith #3 says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”.  In the guide to the scriptures it says in a spiritual sense obedience is doing God’s will. In D&C 105:6 it says, “People must be chastened until they learn obedience”. The word chastened means a correction or discipline given to individuals or groups in order to help them improve or become stronger. Throughout our whole lives we are learning obedience and we will never be completely perfect. We all make mistakes and that’s where the atonement comes in. I asked one of my friends what obedience brings blessings means to him. He said, “I have trouble thinking if you are perfect then you will be blessed but no one is perfect and if we are being obedient then we are using the atonement constantly which is the true blessing”. This is well said. The atonement is one of our greatest blessings. When we are being obedient we use the atonement to make ourselves clean again and worthy to enter in the sight of our Father in Heaven.

From preach my Gospel it says, “Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you don’t completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Strive to be obedient to the Lord and the living Prophet”. These are all such beautiful blessings of being obedient. Sometimes you are commanded to do something just to show pure obedience to your Heavenly Father. Obedience often times requires faith because you may not know the reason why except that you are growing closer to your Heavenly Father, which in its self is such a wonderful blessing.

L. Tom Perry says, “The Discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds an armor around you of protection and safety from temptations that beset you as you proceed through mortality”. The commandments aren’t meant to hold us back they are meant to set us free. They are meant to keep us clean, safe, and out of Satan’s grasp so we can return worthy to our Father in heaven. 3 nephi 14:21- Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of the father who is in heaven. D&C 14:7- And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.
 Our greatest blessing is the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Father. We can’t just say that we want to enter into the kingdom of Heaven we have to show that we are worthy to enter by following the commandments and using the blessing of the atonement.

I love this scripture:
Mosiah 2:41 - And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
The thing I love about this gospel is the happiness it brings and this happiness is from our obedience to our Heavenly Father. And I can’t wait to bring this happiness to others and see it influence their lives.

From “Obedience Brings Blessings” the talk given by President Thomas S. Monson he tells a story from when he was 8 years old. Him and his friend wanted to clear the dry grass out for a campfire that evening with some friends. They thought they could light the grass on fire and it would somehow magically burn out after it made a perfect circle. They were forbidden to use matches without adult supervision yet little Thomas S. Monson went in a got some matches struck the rock and watched the dry grass burn. They then realized what they had done and that there was danger so they ran for help. All the adults helped put out the fire before there was any terrible damage done. He tells of the lesson he learned that day about the importance of obedience. He states, “ There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety. Likewise, the lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our father in heaven.” This makes me think that our commandments are our true blessings if we are obedient to them they will bring us right back into our Fathers arms.
We can also receive knowledge to help us on our journey through this mortal life. At the beginning of the talk he says, “A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God”. What a beautiful thing to know that every question can be answered through our faith and obedients. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith the Lord states, “He that keepeth God’s commandments receiveth truth and light until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” All humans search for an understanding of life and our purpose and finding happiness. And I know that this knowledge is available to all of us as we keep the commandments. We came to this mortal life to grow and to learn and being obedient to the God’s commandments will give us a better understanding and purpose to our lives.
A quote that I really liked as I read this talk was, “A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing course-even obedience”. Through being obedient to our father in heaven we will never lose our way. The commandments are the way for us to make it back home. They are our guide.

            One of the many examples given in this talk from the scriptures is the story of Nephi. Nephi knew that the Lord would always provide a way for us to obey all His commandements.
1 Nephi 3:7 it says, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them”. And then in 1 Nephi 17:3 he goes on to say, and thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them;
Nephi always trusted in the Lord and did the things that were asked of him and was blessed accordingly. Our loving Heavenly Father will always provide a way. A way that is better than what we could ever imagine for our selves and that way is found by keeping the commandments set for us. They will always lead us in the right direction, they will strengthen us, give us knowledge, and bring us such great happiness to our lives.
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
 21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
This scripture sums it up. Our blessings come through obedience. We are only saved into the kingdom after all that we can do. So lets be obedient. Not just obedient, but show strict obedients to the Commandments of God.
I would like to end my talk with my testimony. I know that through obedience we can and will receive blessings. This Church is true and I can’t wait to bring this gospel to the people in Brazil. It may be crazy but I already feel such a great love for the people there. I am so excited to meet them, serve them, and teach them the Gospel. I know that we are all sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. He loves each and every one of us completely. We are so precious to Him and He wants us all to return to live with Him some day. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon and restored the true church back on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have read it and have felt the spirit testify to me the truthfulness of it. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet today. You can see in his eyes and hear in his voice that what he is saying is true. Our Prophet today will never lead us astray. He will help guide us back into our Heavenly Fathers arms. I know with all my heart the power of prayer. I feel my Heavenly Fathers loving arms around me as I pray. I know that He will always listen and answer our prayers. I love my beautiful family and I am so grateful to be ceiled with them through time and all eternity and live with them forever and I am so grateful for their love and support. I love this church and gospel and I want to be able to share its message with everyone I meet!
There is a last quote I wanted to share from Thomas S. Monsons talk.
“The knowledge which we seek, the answers for which we yearn, and the strength which we desire today to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world can be ours when we willingly obey the Lord’s commandments”
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Temple

I just want to start off by saying thank you to all the friends and family that came to support me as I went through the temple the first time. Sharing this beautiful moment in my life with all of you made it so much more special to me.

May 18th, 2013 will be a day that I will never forget. I love the temple so much. I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I love this Gospel. I love my parents for teaching me how important the temple is. I love my family and friends for supporting me and loving me. This list could go on and on forever. Right now in my life I am just so happy!

 While in the temple, I met the sweetest girl ever. And guess what??! She is going to be serving in the same mission and reporting on the same day! All I have to say is tender mercies from my Heavenly Father. I’m so excited to see her again whether in the temple or on my mission!

The temple and my opportunity to serve a mission has changed my life. I cannot express in words how blessed I feel and how grateful I am to be a part of such a great and wonderful work. The temple gave me one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and I can go back as much as I want and enjoy it and learn something new and precious each time I go. I feel the spirit so strong and such great happiness, comfort and peace as I attend the temple. I know that the temple is the house of God. The temple is a piece of heaven on earth to me. The days after I went to the temple and still, I feel the spirit so strong and I feel my Heavenly Fathers love surround me. I feel strengthened, motivated, and can feel my faith and testimony growing. I love the temple and look forward to going all the time.

I love the templeJ

The Call to Serve

I think that a lot of people would agree that during the waiting of your call to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the longest and most difficult wait of your life!!

When I finally received my call I was in the car with my mom. When she pulled it out of the mailbox she was screaming all the way up our drive way and all the way into our house! Not gonna lie I was freaking out a little too… okay A LOT!! This was the biggest moment of my life. I was about to find out where I would be serving for the next 18 months of my life. People of course made guesses as to where I would go but for me I couldn’t make a guess. I honestly had no idea!! 

But of course I got my call while my Dad was still in Alaska!! I couldn’t possibly open it up without my Dad there, no matter how much my Mom begged me! I decided I would wait till midnight when my Dad got home. What was I going to do to get my mind off opening my call? I was driving myself crazy!! So I left my call at my house while I went out for the rest of the day. But, Oh no! I had made a mistake. I had left my call just out in the open unprotected on the kitchen table. How foolish of me! As I walked back into my house my mom came up to me and said, “I am so sorry Devyn I couldn’t help it, I had to know where you were going. You are going to Germany!!” My heart immediately sank… that was my call… I was supposed to open it. Then I looked over and saw my call unopened on the table!! It was still alive and untouched!! YES. My Mom was just teasing me. I think if that really happened I would have died of sadness.

And so the Wait continued! My dad finally got home. Everyone was tired and cranky but they all stayed up to share this special moment with me. I sat in the big comfy chair slowly opening my call with my beautiful family surrounding me. What a wonderful moment! As I pulled out my call my eyes went to directly where I was going… I was in shock!! I was pinching myself cause I didn’t know what to do. I slowly said I’m going to Brazil. Then finally snapped out of it and read the letter out loud to my family

Dear Sister Phillips,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission..

I will report July 17, 2013 and be speaking the Portuguese language. Considering it was only February when I opened me call! I’m definitely going to have a long wait… 5 months! But, more time for preparation, I am really grateful for that.

I know this is where my Father in Heaven needs me to be. I know I was meant to share the gospel with the people of Sao Paulo Brazil. This may sound crazy but I already have such a strong love for the people in Brazil and for the place I will be serving. I can’t wait to get out and serve all ready!

The Decision to Serve

Like so many other beautiful young ladies in the LDS community, sitting during October 2012 General Conference when they announced the age change for women to serve from age 21 to age 19, we all looked at each other and shouted I’m 19!!

What it specifically was like for me on this day: As I sat there on my bed with my wonderful roommate Jamie listening to General Conference on the radio, President Thomas S. Monson made the announcement. The thoughts that came to my head was, “I’m pretty much 19… in 6 days!! I need to text my mom!” My mom obviously said, “ of course you should go!”

Through the whole General Conference I cried and cried and cried, I would have to say that, that wasn’t like me to cry like that. I was overcome by the spirit and it was so strong. Not realizing at the time that it was telling me that I NEEDED to serve a mission. That THIS is the path I need to take in my life.

After a while the excitement faded, yes the idea was always there in the back of my mind but I didn’t really ask my Heavenly Father to know if I should serve. One day my lovely co worker, who is serving in Russia right now, told me that she was going to be serving a mission. Courtney really inspired me with her thoughts and willingness to serve. Later, I decided I would serve a full time mission. Yes, I had received my answer. I had finally gotten down on my knees and asked my Father in heaven if a mission was right for me. The thoughts that came to my head were, “Why are you asking this? You know the answer. You’ve known the whole time. Now go talk to your bishop and start your papers”.

Knowing my luck, I wasn’t able to start my papers because I was going to be starting school and moving wards soon and my bishop wanted me to start and finish the process with the same bishop. During this waiting period my parents came to visit for Christmas. I then again asked my mom if she thought I should serve a mission. Of course she still had the same answer. Now was The Decision to go home or stay at school. I knew that I needed to go home and I didn’t ask any questions why.

It turns out that while in Idaho, my mom had gotten MRSA from a spider bite on her leg. She was down from the spider bite for two months while recovering. I know now that I was supposed to come home to help my mom through that trial. Everything worked out perfectly selling my contract, packing, and moving home. I felt like everything shouldn’t have been that easy. Also, my two sisters both came home and I’m so glad they did so I could spend my days before my mission with my beautiful family.

I packed up and moved home and started my papers as soon as I could!! I’ve already gotten my call but that’s for another storyJ

I know that with out a doubt the Lord was with me through that whole process. He knew what I needed hear, the experiences I needed to have to give me that little push towards The Decision. There are so many tender mercies that I can look back on and recognize. I’m so thankful for being able to see the Lords hand in my life, directing me, giving me strength, and never leaving me. I’m also so very thankful for my opportunity to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I can’t wait to begin my journey as a sister missionary!