Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mission Addresses

Well.. I suppose this is it! I'm out of here for 18 months to serve a mission for my Church. 

I'd love to hear from you all so feel free to write me. I am having my facebook and blog updated for me so if you want to read letters I send home or look at pictures they will posted. :) 

My MTC Address (I will be here until Feb 12, 2013):

Sister Julie Elizabeth Hamilton
MTC Mailbox #368
GA-ATLN 0212
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

After Feb 12, I will be in Atlanta Georgia and my address will be:
Sister Julie Elizabeth Hamilton
Georgia Atlanta North Mission
1150 Cole Dr. SW
Lilburn, GA 30047

Thanks for all the support. I hope you all have a wonderful 18 months! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Farewell Talk

Here is my farewell talk for those interested in reading it. It is not word for word, as I changed verbiage as I was speaking. Enjoy!

I’m really excited to be here today! You guys are a really great ward but its nice to see people in the audience that I know. I’m so grateful for all my family and friends who came visiting. I am assuming some of you have no idea who I am so I thought I would take a quick minute to introduce myself. I am Julie Hamilton, the youngest of Mark and Holly’s 6 children, making Jared my oldest brother. I haven’t been in this ward much since they moved here because I have been attending school at Brigham Young University-Idaho where I have completed my degree in Social Studies Education, and I am so excited to be done! I have been called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission where I will gladly serve and preach the gospel for 18 months. The Bishop has asked me to speak on service, to do this I will be using personal stories along with scripture based references and conference addresses to teach and emphasize the importance of Christ-like service to all of God’s children here on earth.
            Rendering Christ-like service in any capacity brings an unusual joy into our lives. It is often hard to comprehend how giving of your time or energy without receiving immediate benefits could increase your own joy, yet it does. Our Savior has asked all those who believe on His name to serve. He stated, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”[1] As disciples, or followers of Christ we must actively spread the love of Christ to individuals through lending a hand. Our Lord has stated that our works define who we are. Therefore, if our desire is for others to know Christ through our own works, then our works must be good, simple, and pure. Through serving we help others come to know their own potential and worth as we spread the love of God.
Unfortunately selfless service is not always an “easy” to do. It is often difficult to put aside our own wants and desires to assist others in need, not because we don’t want to help them, we just simply get busy and sometimes its hard to step back and see the bigger picture. Luckily, we can always look to our Master Teacher and Exemplar Jesus Christ to see how to live a life with the big picture in mind. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught in his April 2009 conference address, “Our Savior gave Himself in unselfish service. He taught that each of us should follow Him by denying ourselves of selfish interests in order to serve others.”[2] As we come to know our Savior on a more personal level, we are better able to see the true purpose of life and setting aside our own wants and desires for the good of others becomes easier.
As we study the life of Jesus Christ we see the countless acts of service He rendered. During our study of His service we should take time and consider how we might serve in that same Christ-like manner. Then as we contemplate these acts of service we should seek for opportunities to put our new knowledge into action. For this talk I have tried to do just that. Please excuse me if my examples and applications are not perfect, but I will walk you all through some of my own thoughts and applications of Christ-like service learned from the scriptures. John chapter 2 tells the story of Christ’s first documented miracle of turning the water into wine. According to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible Christ asked His mother, “Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee?”[3] We too should actively seek opportunities to serve those around us by asking what we can do to help. In prayer we can emulate the Savior by asking our Father in Heaven, “Father, what wilt thou have me to do for thee?” It is good to ask for promptings to serve, but it is best to follow these promptings immediately so we can be the Saviors hands on earth when He needs us to help others.
I was a bit confused when I was reading this and noticed that Mary does not tell Jesus what she wanted him to do. The scriptures do not include Mary’s response to her Son’s question regarding what help she needed, perhaps she did not give an answer. In this story we see the Lord gave aid even without her explicitly stating what she needed. We do not know whether or not she gave an answer but I think there is a very important lesson we can learn from this example. There will be times when we ask others, “what wilt thou have me do for thee” and an answer will not come. Does this mean we shouldn’t serve? Well of course not! Certainly there will be times when we will serve without the recipient asking for help or knowing exactly what they need. In these cases we must follow the counsel of Sister Burton, the General Relief Society President, and “First observe, then serve.” We must try our best to determine the needs of an individual through prayer, promptings, and knowledge we have available. By doing so our lives will be enriched as we see the Lord working through us to bless the lives of others as He prompts our heart and minds on how to best help. Likewise those whom we serve will be able to see how they are loved, cared for, and that others are willing to help.
As I was preparing for this talk I tried to look back on a time where I was able to serve someone who hadn’t necessarily asked me for help. I remembered an experience I had on a specifically cold night it Rexburg. To help put this into perspective, yesterday it was about 16 degrees here in Sandy and it was -20 degrees in Rexburg. And I’m really excited because it was 66 degrees in Georgia, but that’s just a side note! I mean freezing night in Rexburg. This particular semester my college ward Bishop had challenged me to pray for service opportunities and then act upon the promptings, it was a challenge I accepted and am so glad that I did. This freezing night was a Thursday and I was rather bored waiting for my roommates to come home so we could hang out. As I was waiting for my roommates I had the thought “go to the store.” I took a second and wondered if there was anything I needed, I was a bit confused once I decided there wasn’t, so I went back to my very productive activity. As I continued staring out the window at the snowing parking lot for someone to come home the thought came again. “Go to the store.” This time I listened, I decided I would drive to the store and buy a delicious candy bar, hoping at some point I would learn why I felt I should go there. As I drove to the store I watched to see if I noticed anyone walking, because I always tried to give someone a ride home so they wouldn’t have to walk with their groceries. This time I saw a sweet Chinese girl carrying more than her weight in groceries getting ready to cross the street. I pulled over and asked if I could give her a ride, in her broken English she told me “Yes Please Yes.” As I drove her back to her apartment I learned it was her second week in America and she didn’t know her roommates well enough to ask them for rides. Meeting Ming was such a fun experience; I got her contact information and introduced her to my roommate from Hong Kong who helped her get more involved in the international organizations on campus. It would have been very easy for me to not follow a simple thought of going to the grocery store. I didn’t know Ming personally, nor did she ask me for a ride. However, I am so thankful that I did follow that prompting because I was able to meet a sweet girl and save her from the long walk to her apartment in the freezing cold carrying groceries. By more importantly I am thankful to have gained a stronger testimony that Heavenly Father cares about all of His children, and if we ask Him “Father, what wilt thou have me do for thee” He will give us ways to help. We need to act upon these immediately, because if we don’t, as selfish as it sounds, we will miss out on the great joy which comes from serving and being on the Lords errand.  
President Thomas S. Monson encourages us to seek to lift one another through service. He stated, “Whatever our calling, regardless of our fears or anxieties, let us pray and then go and do.”[4] As we pray for service opportunities they will come, however, if we do not act upon these promptings and opportunities it will eventually become harder and harder to recognize them as promptings of the Spirit. We should never be afraid or embarrassed to ask a neighbor or friend “what wilt thou have me to do for thee?” Everyone could use a helping hand at times, and by being the Lords hands in their life you will bring joy into their life as well as yours.
In Matthew chapter 25, the next scripture block I have decided to focus on, the Savior teaches us the importance of service and why we serve. In this parable Christ returns to the earth and separates the righteous and wicked. Christ speaks to the righteous and welcomes them into the Kingdom of heaven. Versus 35-40 capture a simple yet profound conversation between the righteous and the Lord. It reads:  
35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a   stranger, and ye took me in:
36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
            38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
            39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

As we serve those around us we are actually serving the Lord. I love verse 40 when it says “one of the least of these my bretheren” because to me it is saying “any one of my brothers or sisters.” We are all children of God, which means all people on the earth are our brothers and sisters. We ALL matter. The Lord finds joy when we serve any one of them. When He says “one of the least of these” I think how much He loves each one of us. He wants us all individually to be served and taken care of. His sheep are numbered and He knows them by name, He wants them to be watched after on a personal level. President Monson extends this same desire as he says, “We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. … We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.” As children of God, and more specifically Disciples of Christ we must always be ready and willing to serve when the opportunity arrives. We can serve at work, the bus stop, school, a neighbors home, church, the store, and wherever we are there are service opportunities.
I’d like to tell a recent Christmas Miracle story that happened to my sister-in-law Lindsey. Lindsey is a great example to me and all those around her, of how to love everyone you meet and always be willing to serve. While at Walgreens a few days before Christmas Lindsey noticed the young woman in front of her in line checking out. She could tell this woman was buying her Christmas gifts and doing her best give a wonderful Christmas to those she loved. Being the loving bubbly person Lindsey is, she and this woman entered into a wonderful conversation about the holidays and getting Christmas shopping done. Her new friend told Lindsey she had everything she needed, except the most important gift. The most important gift was a chocolate orange for her mother, the same gift her grandmother, who had recently passed away, had given her mother for years. In hopes that Lindsey would know where to buy one she asked, “do you have any idea where I can get a chocolate orange?” Just that morning a coworker of Lindsey’s had given her a chocolate orange. Lindsey had put it in her purse and forgotten about it until that moment. I’m sure smile on Lindsey’s face stretched from ear to ear as she replied, “Sure I do! Right here in my purse, its still wrapped and in perfect condition. Would you like it?” and handed the chocolate orange to her new friend. In that moment, Lindsey was able to serve helping to usher in a wonderful Christmas miracle because of her great love and desire to help anyone in need.
As we have Christ-like love in our hearts we are more willing to extend aid to others, we are also more ready to do so when the occasion arises on a moments notice. In Sister Burton’s address “First Observe, then Serve” in the October 2012 Ensign, there is a story of a six-year-old who understood the Saviors call for us to serve all the children of God. The child tells of an experience of helping others, they said, “When I was chosen to be a class helper, I could choose a friend to work with me. I picked [a boy in my class who bullied me] because he never gets chosen by others. I wanted to make him feel good.”[5] This child knew service should be given to everyone. We should all follow this child’s example by serving everyone around us, not just our friends.
Another way we can serve all of our Heavenly Fathers children is through temple service. The great news of the gospel and call to serve does not only apply to the living, but also the dead. As we do family history work we are serving those on the other side to prepare them for the opportunity to accept the gospel. In the temple we can stand as proxy for individuals to receive their saving ordinances and be sealed to their families. I have absolutely loved the opportunity I had to go to the temple often these past months in preparing to serve a mission.  I know the sacrifice of my time is truly minimal in the grand scheme of things when I consider the great blessings individuals can receive when I go and do their work in the temple. It was such a blessing to be able to assist children of God on the other side. I was always reminded of the love God has for us and why He asks us to serve.
As members of the church we have lots of different opportunities to serve. If you go on LDS.org and search for service there is a webpage that lists service opportunities by the amount of time you have. Whether its 5 minutes or full time the church has so many different ways you can go out and serve. For the next 18 months I am choosing to serve full time as a missionary where I will be given countless chances to perform acts of service and preach the gospel. A scripture which truly motivates me to “go and do” is John 21:15. It reads:
            15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

When making the decision to go on a mission I took me a long time. I always wondered what I would do if the Savior asked me “Julie, lovest thou me more than these?” Or more personally, “Julie, do you love me more than your great job opportunities, more than traveling, more than relaxing, and so on.” It was easy for me to answer “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” What was a little harder was responding to His call “Feed my lambs.” We can feed his lambs in many different ways. We can feed them at home, we can feed them at work, we can feed them every where. I have chosen to feed them In Atlanta Georgia. Sometimes I wonder if I am being a little selfish now that I have decided to go because I know my family and I will be blessed greatly as I give my life to the Lord for 18 months. Now that I have made the decision and my mission is so close I can’t imagine not going and serving the Lord and giving Him all I have for 18 months. I know it will be very hard, but I also know, like all service, it will be more rewarding then imaginable. When we serve we get to be filled with the love of Christ and see it in others. We start to see people differently, we start to see them as the true Sons and Daughters of God they are as we preform selfless service on their behalf.
I am thankful for the Gospel in my life for it brings the most joy I could ever imagine. I am so thankful it blesses us with service opportunities so that we are able to be filled with the love of Christ. I know God lives. He loves us. It is my prayer that we will all search for service opportunities and respond to His plea to “Feed [His] lambs.”

[1] John 13:35
[2] Dallin H. Oaks, “Unselfish Service,” Ensign May 2009
[3] JST John 2:4
[4] Thomas S. Monson, “They Pray and They Go,” Ensign, May 2002, 51.
[5] Linda K. Burton, “First Observe, Then Serve,” Ensign, Oct 2012