Monday, July 2, 2012

Elder Godwin's Farewell Talk from June 10th

 Hello, my name is Brian Godwin. I have just been called to serve in the Poland, Warsaw mission, yes, it is Polish speaking, and I am reporting to the MTC on June 20th, that’s why I’m up here today. I know that I am going to have a lot of new experiences and I wanted to speak about a topic that meant a lot to me, I came up with finding joy in what you do wherever you are. President Monson spoke on this topic as well, in a 2008 general conference talk he said the following:

“I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change. At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”
Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, or the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.
This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”  We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows”.

What I took from this is that we need to learn to live for today and take pleasure in doing what is right and showing love and compassion for those that we are with. For me, I am about to see a lot of change, going to a foreign country and teaching in another language, it will be important not only for me to have fun in the missionary work I am doing, but also to teach others where they can find joy.

I want to read you a story by Michael T. Smith titled The Happiest Day Of My Life

It started innocently.

Many years ago, I worked in an office with large windows that looked out over a busy overpass. I stood by one of those windows one day, when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact with me—naturally, I waved.

A chuckle escaped my lips as she turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of a year of window antics. When things were slow, I stood in the window and waved at the passengers who looked up. Their strange looks made me laugh, and the stress of work was washed away.
My co-workers took an interest. They stood back out of view and watched the reactions I received with amusement.

Late afternoon was the best time. Rush-hour traffic filled the overpass with cars and transit buses, and provided a wealth of waving opportunities for my end-of-day routine. It didn't take long to attract a following—a group of commuters who passed by the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. There was a man with a construction truck who would turn on his flashing yellow lights and return my wave. There was the carpool crowd and the business lady with her children fresh from day care.
My favorite was the transit bus from the docks that passed my window at 4:40 PM. It carried the same group every day. They were my biggest fans.

Waving grew boring, so I devised ways to enhance my act. I made signs: "Hi!","Hello!", "Be Happy!" I posted them in the window and waved. I stood on the window ledge in various poses; created hats from paper and file-folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo by bouncing up from below the window ledge, stuck out my tongue, tossed paper planes in the air, and once went into the walkway over the street and danced while co-workers pointed to let my fans know I was there.

I didn't know it then, but a bond was forming between my fans and I. The next spring, I discovered just how close we had become.

My wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted the world to know. Less than a month before the birth, I posted a sign in the window, "25 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY." My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, "24 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY." Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the bus, "What is ‘B’ DAY?" I just waved and smiled.

Ten days before the expected date, the sign in the window read, "10 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY." Still the people wondered. The next day it read, "9 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY," then "8 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY." My fans finally knew what was happening.

By then, my following had grown to include twenty or thirty different busses and cars. Every night, they watched to see if my wife had given birth. The number decreased and excitement grew. My fans were disappointed when the count reached "zero" without an announcement. The next day the sign read, "BABY DAY 1 DAY LATE". I pretended to pull out my hair.

Each day the number changed and the interest from passing traffic grew. My wife was fourteen days overdue before she finally went into labor. Our daughter was born the next morning. I left the hospital at 5:30 AM, screamed my joy into the morning air, and drove home to sleep. I got up at noon, and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window:


I didn’t stand alone that evening. My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved in the air, as every vehicle that passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter. Finally, the bus from the docks made its turn onto the overpass and began to climb the hill. When it drew close, I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped in heavy traffic, and every person on board stood with their hands in the air.

I was choked with emotion as I watched them celebrate my new daughter.

Then it happened—a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus. "CONGRATULATIONS!" it read.

Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence as it pulled away from view. More fans passed. They tooted their horns and flashed their lights to congratulate me. I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.

My daughter had been born fourteen days late. Those people must have carried that sign for weeks. Each day they must have unrolled it and then rolled it back up. The thought of them going through so much just to celebrate my new baby made me cry.

I made a fool of myself in that window for eight months. I made those people smile after a long day at work. They must have enjoyed it, because on the happiest day of my life they showed their appreciation.

That day, more than twenty years ago, changed me. I just wanted to make my day better. I didn’t realize how it affected others.

Ever since then, I try to put a smile on someone’s face every day. I compliment strangers on their clothing. I start conversations in elevators. I even make jokes in crowded New York City subways. Some may think I am stupid, but I know there is a chance that I’m making someone’s day—someone who may one day hold up a sign that says “Congratulations!”.

From this story, I took that it is the simple acts of kindness and acts of charity and Christ-like love that bring endless joy into our lives and the lives of those around us.

I want to end with a piece of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk from the October 2007 general conference titled Have We Not Reason To Rejoice? He says  “My dear brothers and sisters, there will be days and nights when you feel overwhelmed, when your hearts are heavy and your heads hang down. Then, please remember, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the Head of this Church. It is His gospel. He wants you to succeed. He gave His life for just this purpose. He is the Son of the living God. He has promised:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee” (3 Nephi 22:10). “I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (3 Nephi 22:8).
My dear friends, the Savior heals the broken heart and binds up your wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Whatever your challenges may be, wherever you live on this earth, your faithful membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the divine powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless you to endure joyfully to the end”.

I have a testimony of the importance of finding joy in what you do, one of my favorite scriptures out of 2 Nephi says “Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy”.  I know it is our job as disciples of Christ to strive to act as he would, and to show love and kindness to the people around us. I know that this is the true church, and I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to go and serve Christ and build up his gospel in Poland. I am very thankful for friends and family.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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