To the best of my memory, I converted my notes from my Homecoming talk into the full talk. Here it is, if you would like something to read:
LOOK TO CHRIST
Malo e lelei si’i tuonga’ane moe tokoua. Koe ‘aho faka ‘ofo ‘ofa. Ofa atu kiate kimoutolu.
Good morning brothers and sisters. It’s a beautiful day today. I love all of you.
That’s what I just said in Tongan. At least I hope that’s what I said!
I have gained so much from my mission. And I’m not just talking about weight or gray hairs or tan lines! I’ve gained friendships that will last a lifetime with people from all around the world: Tonga, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, Tahiti, India, France, Italy, Iran, Canada, America, Samoa, Africa, Thailand, Chile, Japan, Germany, Holland… and of course Australia.
But there is one friend who I drew very close to on my mission. Some of you might have heard me speak of him in my emails… His name is Jesus Christ.
In February, Elder Renlund, the baby of the 12 Apostles, came to the Australia Perth Mission and we had a mission conference with him. He showed us section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This was a revelation given from Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith in 1832. A whole bunch of missionaries were coming home after their mission and Joseph received this revelation from Jesus Christ. In it are four commandments which I’ll let you find on your own when you get home, but I’ll tell you the fourth commandment that Jesus Christ gave. It’s in verse 77 of Section 84 in the Doctrine and Covenants. And as I read this verse, try to pick out what the commandment is. Jesus Christ says:
“And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach my gospel in my power.”
Did you catch it? Jesus Christ just told us to become His friends. Become as Christ Apostles. I’m sure they were some of His best friends. They weren’t just fishing mates, they were true followers – true believers, true friends with Christ.
Something that Elder Renlund said that stood out to me is that, “A friend makes everything known to his/her friend.”
I met a lot of people who would reject and tear down everything I hold personal and important in my life. Some, not all, but some would call God some of the meanest names I’ve ever heard. Some days I would go home at the end of the day feeling broken.
We’ve all felt broken before.
But I remembered something. On my name tag there are two names, mine – Sister Beardall, and Jesus Christ’s. I realized that when people were rejecting me, they were also rejecting Christ. I would remember that He felt what I was feeling too. My pain, my sadness, my anger. He completely understood how I felt, because 2000 years ago He knelt down in a garden called Gethsemene and He experienced and felt every feeling I would. He did this because He loves me, and because He wanted to understand how to help me.
So I began to Look to Christ. I stopped trying to do everything on my own. I began to plead for His help and His peace and His strength. I began to pray for humility and charity. I read about Christ’s life in the New Testament and The Book of Mormon, His wisdom, His miracles, His charity, His character. And when I felt down I looked to Christ, and He lifted me higher.
I made everything known to Him. I allowed Christ to become my friend, and I was happy.
You know when you are with someone for a long time, you start to be like them? You start to do what they do. Say what they say. Some spouses look like each other the longer they’re together. Some people even start to look like their dog…it’s true! I’ve seen it!
Well, the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we will begin to become like Him.
I want to share experiences of two people I met on my mission that truly looked to Christ and changed.
The first person was in my 4th area, Dianella, where the temple is. Her name is Belinda. At the time she was living in a Women’s Refuge. She had just had her 6 month old son taken away from her, and she had hit rock bottom. She decided that she wanted to change. She always told me that she wanted to feel ‘whole’ again. That she wanted to feel ‘one’ with God.
Belinda came to church every week. We taught her all the lessons, from the Restoration to the Word of Wisdom to Repentance to the Plan of Salvation. We taught her how to pray. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she read it! She started to change before my very eyes. She allowed Christ to finally help and change her. She threw her bad habits away.
Jesus Christ is the only one who can make us whole.
On September 23, Belinda was baptized! She now has her son back. She goes to the temple, and Christ is her friend.
One of my favorite quotes is from Elder Jeffery R. Holland. He said, “It is not possible for you to skink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” Belinda could tell you she was very, very low. But because she has allowed Him to, Christ keeps lifting her higher and higher.
The second person I wanted to talk to you about was one of my companions in my last area, Bellevue. Her name is Sister Johnson. She is the cutest little Malaysian I’ve ever known. I love her.
One morning we were going to District Meeting and it was POURING down rain. A few days before, we had thrown some really old progress records away. A progress record is a piece of paper that we use to report on the people we are teaching who are progressing. We write what lessons we taught them and what help they need.
Anyway, these records were from like, 2007. They were really old. So we just threw them away. Fast forward to the day of District Meeting. We were sitting in the car with massive rain drops beating against the windshield, and as we were about to pull out onto the road, Sister Johnson looked over at all the rubbish bins that were waiting to be emptied and she said, “Sis, I feel like I should get those progress records out of the bin. There might be people on there that we could follow up on. Do you think I should get them?”
I looked at her like she was crazy. Again, it was POURING down rain, and she wanted to go out and dig through the rubbish bin to find some progress records!!
She looked at me then she looked out the window then she looked at me again and I said, “You can if you want to…” I reached in the back of the car and gave her an umbrella. She got out of the car, and, in the rain, went over to our bin to get the progress records out. I sat there watching her in the quiet, dry car and my eyes started to tear up. I took a photo so I would always remember that moment:
She loved Christ enough to do that. When we look to Christ, we sacrifice our will, what we want, for His will, and what He wants. Sister Johnson was willing to sacrifice anything for Christ. I learned a lot from her example that day.
I LOVED my mission. It is the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life, because of the endless opportunities I was given to follow the promptings of the spirit and rely and look to my Savior for help and strength.
If you are thinking about going on a mission, DO IT!! It will change your life. And you will help others change theirs.
There is a poem that a returning member gave me and she said I should read it in my homecoming talk, so I will:
Highs and Lows
A mission is a strange experience;
It is a trial and a test.
A mission throws at you the worst;
Yet teaches you the best.
I’ve never been so happy;
I’ve never been so depressed.
I’ve never felt so forsaken;
I’ve never been so blessed.
I’ve never been so confused;
Things have never been so clear.
I’ve never felt my Heavenly Father so distant;
He’s never been so near.
I’ve never been so discouraged;
I’ve never been so full of hope.
I feel I could go forever;
I think I’ve come to the end of my rope!
I’ve never had it quite so easy;
I’ve never had it quite so tough.
Things have never been so smooth;
Things have never been so rough.
I’ve never traveled through more valleys;
I’ve never ascended so many peaks.
I’ve never met so many nice people;
I’ve never met so many freaks.
I’ve never had so many ups;
I’ve never had so many downs.
I’ve never worn so many smiles;
I’ve never worn so many frowns.
I’ve never been so lonely;
I’ve never had so many friends.
Boy! I hope this is over soon!
Man! I hope it never ends.
My mission in Australia has ended, but my mission here on earth hasn’t. I will continue to be a missionary and a disciple of Christ forever. I will be faithful to Him to the end of my mortal days.
I testify that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light. “Jesus is the LIGHT!” There was a member in my last area from Africa that would always say that with such conviction. Jesus is the LIGHT!! I testify that He suffered and died and lived again, and He did it because He loves us. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want ALL of us to return back to live with Them again and to become like Them. They love us sooo much! Because of the Savior, as we submit our will to His, and keep the covenants or promises we’ve made at baptism and in the temple, and as we repent when we fall short, we are promised we will receive eternal life!
I want to receive eternal life. I want to be with ALL of you in the Celestial Kingdom! Let’s go together. Let’s look to Christ. He will help us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.