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Friday, July 16, 2010

Over in Cape Town South Africa....

Staring Sept 7, 2010  Elder Haws is on his way....

farewell talk...

Thanks Katrina, Caitlin, Kelsey and Heather for singing. Those are 4 special girls to me. All the early mornings in seminary, sitting in Sunday school, the countless church activities, and of course, the lame church dances. Thank you for singing, and for being such great friends and good examples for me.

Thank you Caroline and Derek and Sister Sharif for their remarks, and thank you all for being here today, and my Grandma coming all the way down from Logan.

Alright, for those of you who don’t know, I have been called to serve a mission in the Cape Town South Africa Mission! It covers the entire western part of South Africa and the entire country of Namibia. I sent in my papers and got my call on April 21st, so I’ve had my call for a while now and the anticipation and excitement is killing me! My report date is September 9th, but I’m traveling straight to the MTC in Johannesburg South Africa, so my plane leaves September 7th. I’m not looking forward to that 16 hour plane ride. So normally missionaries have their farewells closer than when they leave, but next week is High Council Sunday and there’s Stake Conference, and we’re driving my sister up to Utah State, so today is my farewell.

I remember when like Ryan Parker, Isaac Lew, Stephen Peterson, the Toolson brothers were up here and I thought I my mission was still a ways away, but here it is and I am so pumped to go. It just seems like yesterday that I was sitting over there, a small deacon feeling all nervous to not screw up on the sacrament and like drop the tray or trip over myself. Now I get to teach people about the sacrament. That’s so cool. And who knows, someday I might be sitting down there and be all nervous when Dusty Jr has to give a talk, or give his farewell.

So Brother Burstedt asked me to talk a little bit about how reading and valuing the scriptures enlarges our souls with faith in Christ. I’ll be referencing a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball in 1985 and a talk in this past General Conference by Elder Christofferson.

I decided to break down the topic into 2 parts. First. Reading and Valuing the scriptures. I feel like there’s a difference between reading the scriptures, and actually reading the scriptures. I discovered that for me personally, if I read my scriptures like right before I go to bed, it’s more like just plain reading. I don’t get as much out of it as I want, that’s because it’s at the end of the day and I’m tired and laying in bed and just want to go to sleep. I found it much more effective like in college to study and read the scriptures either first thing after I showered in the morning or in the afternoon sometime. I made it a habit to read my scriptures every day. And I think that started back in my freshman year of high school. In seminary they challenge you to read your scriptures every day, they even give you this cool little chart to track your progress. I set that next to my bed and pretty much never missed a day. That habit of reading everyday has stuck with me ever since.

I asked myself the question do I really “value” the scriptures? President Kimball said “Sometimes it seems we take the scriptures too much for granted because we do not fully appreciate how rare a thing it is to possess them, and how blessed we are because we do have them. We seem to have settled so comfortably into our experiences in this world and become so accustomed to hearing the gospel taught among us that it is hard for us to imagine it could ever have been otherwise.” Isn’t that so true? He goes on to say “During the war in Vietnam, some of our men were taken prisoner and kept in nearly total isolation. Permitted no access to the scriptures, they later told how they hungered for the words of truth, more than for food, more than for freedom itself. What they would have given for a mere fragment of the Bible or Book of Mormon that lay so idly on our shelves!” I thought that was interesting, out of all the things that they wanted while in jail, the thing they wanted the most were the scriptures.

So reading and valuing the scriptures enlarges our souls with faith in Christ. The scriptures teach of Jesus Christ and we know the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. So reading them helps us gain faith in Him and should make us want to be more like Him. In D&C 88:15 “And the spirit and body are the soul of a man.” Then we know that the first principle and ordinance of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And one of my favorite scriptures is Alma 32:21, Scripture Mastery, it says “And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” I know we can fill our souls with faith in Christ by reading the scriptures.

Elder Christofferson said “The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us not forget what we and earlier generations have learned.” And later goes on to say “The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life. And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about people, and events that we did not experience personally. None of us was present to see the Red Sea part and cross with Moses between walls of water to the other side. We were not there to hear the Sermon on the Mount, to see Lazarus raised from the dead, to see the suffering Savior in Gethsemane and on the cross, and we did not, with Mary, hear the two angels testify at the empty tomb that Jesus was risen from the dead. You and I did not go forward one by one with the multitude in the land Bountiful at the resurrected Savior’s invitation to feel the prints of the nails and bathe His feet with our tears. We did not kneel beside Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove and gaze there upon the Father and the Son. Yet we know all these things and much, much more because we have the scriptural record to enlarge our memory, to teach us what we did not know. And as these things penetrate our minds and hearts, our faith in God and His Beloved Son takes root.”

I know that if we read the scriptures diligently and ponder them, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will blossom.

I think President Kimball said it best “I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.”

I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and other scriptures that we have and know that they are true and were written for our day. I have personally read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants 6 times and put Moroni’s promise to the test. I got my answer. I anxiously look forward to the day when I get to watch my son or daughter read from the Book of Mormon. And whenever I travel, I always bring by Book of Mormon with me.

For work they flew me out to Colorado for a week. It was kinda cool because I thought I was all important, like going on a business trip. But we got there and we were working on this sewer in this small town in the middle of nowhere. I was working with 3 other guys that I had never worked with or even met before. They were for sure hard workers, and knew exactly what they were talking about and what needed to get done, but like most plumbers, they are some rough nosed men and speak what’s on their mind. These guys would tell dirty jokes, cuss all day, and drink beer at dinner, but they all knew I was LDS and thought it was pretty cool that I was going to South Africa for 2 years and asked a few questions. But I can remember one day we were there and something went wrong and all they used pretty much every bad word invented. It really bothered me. We had been working for 15 hours straight and didn’t even stop for lunch and I ran out of water and my feet were really hurting and I just wanted to lie down. We drove back to the hotel room and I just crashed on my bed and cranked the A/C in the room. I was absolutely exhausted but I had this weird feeling inside, like I wasn’t happy. Like something was missing. I hadn’t read the scriptures that day so even though I was way tried, that’s what I did. I busted out my Book of Mormon and listened to some General Conference talks.

I felt the spirit so strong in that cold lonely hotel room and put back on the armor of God. I was reminded of what Elder Ballard said “the Commandments of God have taken a beating.”

Up at Utah State our stake had stake conference in the Spectrum, where the AGGIES play. It holds 10,271 people, and it was pretty packed. The night before we had a basketball game in there, and we of course killed the other team by like 20. Just like we did the Cougars! Our fans are brutal. Some of our chants and things we say aren’t church appropriate. But it’s such a fun time. I’m defiantly gonna miss those games.

So the next morning I was way tired from the night before, but I still got there early and was standing there in my short sleeve shirt on in the freezing Logan weather. But we were all piled in the Spectrum, and as when the General Authorities come in, everyone stands up. Wow. I could literally feel the spirit when they walked in. It was incredible. Those guys are men of God. I remember it was Elder Rasband, and Elder Ballard and President Eyring! That’s a loaded program. It was absolutely amazing. Now I’m a dude, and didn’t take notes, so I don’t remember everything they said, but I remember how I felt.

If you think about it, most all of us have sat in thousands and thousands of church meetings, family home evenings, Sunday school lessons, fulfilling your callings, listening to conference, on your knees in prayer, and countless hours in the scriptures. You don’t remember everything. I’m sure most of us don’t remember much of what was said or the doctrine that was taught in those meetings. But the one thing that we all can remember is how we felt.

Later in the year Elder Hales came and gave a wonderful devotional. Same thing happened when he came into the Spectrum. The Spirit was there. And then the Logan Institute Choir sang “Come Come Ye Saints” It was unbelievable. There is such a great power in music.

But Elder Hales told this story. There’s 3 people that go into heaven. They get interviewed by an individual to see what door of heaven they are allowed to go into. The first person walks up and he is asked, “Do you know the Savior?” The man gives his answer and the interviewer says okay and points to a door. The second person comes forward and is asked the same question and has the same result. As soon as the 3rd person walks in to be interviewed, he falls on his hands and knees and crawls to the Savior and kisses his feet. Do we know the Savior brothers and sisters?

I read somewhere that while Christ was on the cross, one of the robbers that was being crucified alongside him looked over at him. “Jesus” he says painfully, “remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom!” I love that.

All the many experiences up at college and throughout my life have really strengthened my testimony.

I’m so grateful for the temple. I think most of us would agree that the San Diego temple is the prettiest temple ever. Since I prefer not to listen to the radio on the drive over to the temple, and I can’t stand the still silence in a car, so I made a great church CD, so I BUMP MOTAB to and from the temple. I had this spot up in Logan, on Old Main hill, that overlooks the entire Valley and you can see the temple. I liked going on Sunday nights and just get away from school, girls, and all the other pressures I felt and just look at the temple and those pretty mountains. And we think we’re close to the San Diego temple, well the Logan temple is like 3 minutes away from campus! It was great to just get a group of people together real quick after class or on the weekends and just go to the temple, then get some Aggie ice-cream after. The perfect date!

I’ve been super bummed that the temple has been closed these past 2 weeks. I think I need to have a little chat with President Olsen and tell him to not close the temple for 2 whole weeks ever again! But all joking aside, I love the temple. At the Logan Temple cornerstone dedication, President George Q. Cannon, made this statement “Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence.”

I was privileged to get to do baptisms in the Salt Lake temple with a good friend before I came home. And I don’t know what they’re pumpin’ in that water in the baptismal font, but it was super warm.

President Hinckley told a story of an old lady, a widow, in Idaho Falls, that did temple work for 20,000 people in her lifetime. That’s as many people that assemble for conference. She completed her 20,000 one on a Friday, and returned on a Saturday to do 5 more. The following week, she passed away. Just think of the wonderful and glorious reception she must have received on the other side.

I know that temple work is important and that there are countless numbers of people waiting for their work to be done. I read this quote by President Kimball “Some of us have had occasion to wait for someone or something for a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or even a year. Can you imagine how our ancestors must feel, some of whom have perhaps been waiting for decades and even centuries for the temple work to be done for them?” I know that they are patiently waiting.

I’m so grateful for the sacred ordinances that performed in the temple and comfort and peace I feel when I go. When I got endowed, I was shocked to see SO many members from this ward there to support me on that special day. I could literally feel the love that you had for me. That endowment session was packed. This ward is so great.

I wanna thank all of my Sunday school teachers and Young Men leaders. Wow. I appreciate all the sacrifice and effort they put into their callings. All the super fun campouts and high adventure activities will be things that I never forget. And mutual every week and coming to church every Sunday and listening to amazing lessons really strengthened my testimony.

I still have this quote/handout that Brother Landreth handed out in a Teachers Quorum lesson like 6 years ago. It says “Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life”

I’m so thankful for our good bishop. He’s the man. I’m also very grateful Bishop Hall and for his service in our ward. Bishop’s are the best.

I remember something Danny Hall said in his homecoming talk a couple years ago. He said “The Lord does perfect work using imperfect tools” I love that, and even wrote it in the back of my scriptures. But I decided to take it a step further and strive to be a sharp tool in the Lord’s tool box.

I know that the power of Satan is real, and he works the hardest right before you leave on your mission. He tries to fill your mind with as much doubt and fear as he can. I’ve felt that a little bit. Trust me brothers and sisters, I don’t know as much about the gospel as most of you in here. But that’s okay. Just as Elder Anderson says “you know enough”

I know that missions are hard. But I know that it doesn’t matter what you accomplish, it’s how hard you try.

Here’s a statement: All the greatest things in human life are one syllable things – love, joy, hope, home, child, wife, trust, faith, God. And I’m gonna add MISSION on there, even though its 2 syllables.

I want my family to know how much I love them! One thing that I’ve noticed when there’s a natural disaster or like during Hurricane Katrina, people longed for their family, and not necessarily food or shelters. What matters the most? Going up to college really showed me how much I really do Love my family, and just sittin’ around watching T.V. together, or all going on vacation.

I want my dad to know how much I love him, even though I can be a grouch sometimes. I’m sure this has been fun for him to go through this whole mission process with me. I don’t know how far along I would be in the gospel without him. I still remember when he baptized me on my 8th birthday right over there. One thing I will ever be grateful to my daddy is that he taught me how to tie a tie! I’m thankful that he got me into playing sports and him being my coach. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of our mannerisms are the same and the way I do things are just like he does it. And I work at Nu Flow, so it’s a lot of hard labor and work and I’m grateful that he taught me so many different things and the meaning of hard work. My sister and I were his personal gardeners and house cleaners. But one night I was out in our nice pool, and I looked around at the my nice area that I live in, and the clothes that I wear, and the vacations we have gone on, and the nice house that we live in, and I think of how many countless hours he has spent at work and all the sacrifices that he has made so that we can enjoy the things that we have. I love you daddy.

And my mom. Wow. 2 years without my mommy. I still remember the first time that I got sick up at Utah State, I went in the shower and just started crying because I wanted my mommy! But one time she sent me 20 bucks in the mail, that was pretty sweet. When I was playing football my senior year, halfway through the season one of our backup center, one of the nicest kids on the team, his mom died. He was simply dropped off by her at school that morning, then she went home to take a nap and then never woke up. Our team was a close nit group of guys. The coaches called a meeting that afternoon to talk about things. There were counselors there and everything. I can still remember sitting in the back in my wheelchair. After the emotional team meeting, school was over and guess who was there to pick me up. My mom. I have never been so happy to see my mom. It taught me a lesson, that life is a fragile thing. Don’t let one day go by and not tell someone you love how much you love them. I’m grateful for my mom and that she comes to church every Sunday, lives the teachings of the gospel and she sure does make sure that we are on-time. I’m a pretty big boy, and eat a lot, like every 2 hours I say “Mom, I’m hungry!” thankful for all the cooking she has done, most all of my laundry, and taking good care of her baby. There’s defiantly a special bond between a mother and her kids, and I have felt that throughout my 19 years.

And my sister. Oh boy. Where do I begin with you. I’m not gonna lie, living in the same house as you and sharing a bathroom with you sure has been an adventure! You always made me late for school almost every day, and then we disagreed on the radio station. But I have loved every second of it. Next to my bed I have always had pictures of Cache Valley and Utah State and stuff, and after I broke my foot, she moved all that stuff to the down stairs bedroom where I would be spending a lot of time for the next few weeks. And I can’t really remember, but after my surgery I was all drugged up and stuff, and she came in the room, or just picked up the phone and she said DUSTYY! She doesn’t know this, but it totally made my day. And I appreciate all the times she wheeled me around school and talking to me and helping me out with all of my girl problems. I’m really looking forward to her going to Utah State and know she’s gonna love every second of it. You’re my best friend Kelly, I love you so much, and I’m gonna miss you a lot.

Brothers and sisters, the Church is true. You know it. I know it without a doubt.

One of my all time favorite quotes is by Elder Worthlin “The simple secret is this, put your trust in the Lord, and do your best, and leave the rest to Him”

I’m grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord and all that he has blessed me with in my life. I’m so grateful for the Atonement, and am still trying to put my arms around and understand its meaning. I know of the power of prayer. I’m grateful for the Prophet Joseph Smith, and know that he restored the Gospel back on the earth in these latter days. I’m grateful for the living prophet on the earth today, Thomas S. Monson, I even have his signature on my mission call.

I feel like this is a great time to be a missionary. I’m honored to really be the first one in my family to serve a mission. I got some teenage cousins that are hopefully thinking about serving missions, so I’m blazing the trail for them.

President Eyring wrote the Fellowship of the Unashamed, and I’m gonna read it:

I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The Decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won't look back. Let up, slow down. Or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by Faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience. I am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach all know, and work till he stops me. And when He returns for His Own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My Banner will be clear.

I feel honored to wear Christ’s name on my chest for 2 years. I am grateful for the missionaries here in our ward, and love hanging out with them and driving them places.

I think I got called to the best mission in the world, even though I’ll be 9,894 miles away from home.

I can still remember the day I got my mission call like yesterday. I was in class and my roommate texted me and said it came. He was a big jokester, but I love him. He got called to serve in Helsinki Finland, I’m so excited for him. But I didn’t believe him, but sure enough, it came. I was so excited to open it. But I decided to wait till 9 o’clock that night to open it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I made it seem like a normal day, even though I knew what was in that letter was going to change my life forever. I even went to Wal Mart to get some protein powder, and even went to Institute that night and gave a devotional and my teacher thought I was crazy that I hadn’t opened it yet. But that night I had all my friends crammed in my dorm room and my family on Skype. Everyone gave their predictions and my mom said anywhere BUT Africa. So I opened it and South Africa and serving a mission there has been on my mind ever since. I honestly don’t think it has set in yet. That night, while I was on my knees in prayer, my heart overflowing and bursting with joy and gratitude, I asked the Lord if South Africa was the place I was supposed to go and the place where He had work for me to do. I received my confirmation that night.

I have this good friend and she told me this and it really hit me deep. Those people in South Africa are just waiting for me! I know that they were some of my best friends in the pre existence and they knew they would come into families without the gospel. There I promised them you would serve a mission to find them and bring the gospel to them. I’m keeping that promise to them. They are waiting for ME!

Just like Sister Hatch told me, “Look out South Africa, here comes Elder Haws!”

As a close friend once told me, “This isn’t goodbye, it’s just see ya later”

Brothers and sisters, this church is true. 2 years is a long time, and I will miss all of you so much, but the Lord has a work for me to do. It’s gonna be the best 2 years.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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