Farewell Talk

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My name is Elaine Janis; I am the oldest daughter in the Janis family, my family recently moved here in October while I was attending Brigham Young University Idaho.  I am a senior in the Interior Design Program and love every minute of it.

When I was growing up, I never thought a mission was for me. My family would be sitting around the table and one of brothers would start talking about missions. Without fail my brothers would ask, “Elaine, are you going to serve a mission?” at the time of these weekly conversations, I was under the impression that only girls that did not get married went on missions and trying to get my brothers off my back about serving, I would response, “Yes, I am going on a Mission Of Love at college and I will convert the One.” With this mission idea in mind I went off to college, where I discovered that I was being prepared for a different kind of mission.

Our bodies are coded by DNA, that is created by four chemicals which when sequenced correctly communicate how we are to be created and formed.  Like our bodies, our spiritual beings are also created by qualities that when sequenced properly by experiences create our spirits to become more like Godlike. This is also true in creating the desire and preparing to serve.  There are three key things that I have learned by creating my own spiritual DNA.

During my first semester, I had a hard time getting into the College Life. I had graduated early and only had about 2 weeks in between high school and college to prepare. I lived in a campus dorm, which in Rexburg is not a very happening place, since there is not enough housing for the freshman on campus many go to off campus housing their first semester. Using the same study and homework habits from High School, I quickly finished most of the semester’s homework by the halfway mark. I became very bored and homesick and called my mother daily.   Without delay my mother would say, “Elaine, if you having nothing to do and your homesick, you need to do service. Go to the temple; find a group on campus, doing something nice for your roommates.” Trying to follow my mother’s counsel, I signed up for Student Ambassadors, a group on campus that leads tours. Without realizing it, I took my first step in preparation to committing to share the gospel through a gospel-sharing mission by learning happiness in serving.

Service makes us strong in our faith and useful in His kingdom. Service gives us purpose and courage in life. It brings us closer to God and helps us refine our divine nature. It teaches us to love and understand our fellowmen, and it helps us forget about our personal desires, eliminating selfishness, pride, and ingratitude. It teaches us to think of the needs of others, which allows us to develop the virtues that the Savior possesses.

Kindness, love, patience, understanding, and unity will increase as we serve, while intolerance, jealousy, envy, greed, and selfishness decrease or disappear. The more we give of ourselves, the more our capacity to serve, understand, and love will grow.

Those who serve will always seek to please God and live in harmony with Him. They will be full of peace; they will have a cheerful countenance and a spirit of kindness.

Those who serve will strive to ennoble, build, and lift their fellowmen; therefore, they will find the good in others, and they will not find reason or have time to become offended. They develop the virtue of praying for those who criticize. They don’t expect recognition or reward. They possess the love of Christ.

Those who serve will always be willing to share what they possess and what they know at all times, in all places, and with all people.

Those who serve even in adversity will maintain a living hope of a better future. They will continue to be firm in the midst of a crisis because their hope is in Christ.

Those who serve will accept their assignments with humility, recognizing their limitations but convinced that two people can do all things they propose to do as long as one of the two people is God.

With divine inspiration, King Benjamin declared, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Those who serve will have greater understanding of the personality and attributes of God.

The second key to creating my spiritual DNA was that I learned that prepared me to serve was the art and love of teaching. Wanting to help students understand the vision of Brigham Young University-Idaho, a series of Seminars were created to help students realize the vision and become central influences of their own experience at BYU-I. I quickly volunteered for this new adventure in doing service. I was also called to be the Relief Society Gospel Doctrine teacher during that time.  Between teaching a very structured lesson plan and following the spirit with a plan I made myself, I learned to see the needs of the students by listening.  

A gospel teacher does not focus on himself or herself. One who understands that principle will not look upon his or her calling as “giving or presenting a lesson,” because that definition views teaching from the standpoint of the teacher, not the student.

As teachers we are the student, in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 and 84:85, Christ states.

Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men. Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

Once we have study it out in our own minds are we able to successful inspire others.

The third and last key of creating my spiritual DNA was learning the blessing of sacrifice. When the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished prophet Joseph Smith made a deal with a printer that if the copies could not be sold the printer would have the right of Martin Harris’s farm land. Martin Harris and the printer readily agreed on this deal and the printer made 5000 copies. Soon after the printing was finished and the books put of sale, Martin Harris noticed that none were being sold. Scared for his land, he went to Joseph and demanded a commandment from Heavenly Father on the sale of the copies of the Book of Mormon. The prophet, after denying a commandment to Martin Harris, received the revelation that is now Doctrine and Covenants 19.

 Section 19, lays out in detail the atonement and sacrifice that Jesus Christ went through in the Garden of Gethsemane. Through this telling, we learn that through sacrifice, blessings are received, we are also taught that we should look for these blessings and not complain. Looking for the blessings, I learned is hard sometimes. Soon after I learned that I was serving my mission in Manaus, Brazil, it was announced that my major, Interior Design, was to be cancelled, potentially not allowing all of the girls going on missions to graduate when they returned. Not knowing if I would be able to graduate when I return from my mission or be forced to complete everything in one semester, I sacrificed staying home and preparing for my mission for taking two religion courses in 7 weeks at BYU-Idaho and only coming home a couple of days every two weeks. I was not a happy camper but as the semester went on I realized that it was blessing in my spiritual preparation. I have learned more the past 7 weeks about the gospel then I have in the past two years of self studying and I was also able to meet another girl who is also serving in Manaus, Brazil, leaving two months after me.  

College has opened my eyes and lead me to be the most prepared I can be for my mission, without it I do not know where I would be. Each and every one of us needs to seek for our own key components that create our spiritual DNA that allows the creation of a spirit that is worthy to return to heavenly father, but how do we know how to start?

President Ezra Taft Benson said, Usually, the Lord gives the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded ‘in all things’. This attitude prepares men for godhood… Sometimes, the Lord hopefully waits for His children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences, or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward.

I know that if we seek….testimony.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN

 

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About elainejanis

My name is Elaine Janis. I am currently serving as a volunteer representative for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Amazon Jungle of Manaus Brazil. When I complete my mission I will return to Brigham Young University-Idaho where I am a senior in the Interior Design Program. Quotes that inspire me everyday are: "love life and it will love you back" "design is like unto the creation of worlds"

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