Good morning everyone. I cannot tell you enough how much I have been looking forward to being with you today. This sacrament meeting is just another big step in this major process that I am currently involved in, but yet another opportunity that I love and I am blessed to receive.
So, my name is Jordy Zimmerman, for those of you who do not know me. Please bear with me whether you do or do not. (smile). And just nearly 4 months ago I was called of God to serve a full time mission of 18 months for the church of jesus Christ of latter-day saints. I will soon be teaching the sweet people of Villahermosa Mexico and I couldn’t be happier. I'm sure few of you have heard of it, I hadn’t when I read the letter from the presidency, but Villahermosa is a small part of the state of Tabasco, way down at the bottom of Mexico in the base of the gulf. The internet has told me that it has an extremely tropical climate, with a 91% humidity and temperatures that rarely drop below the 60s. Rainfall is always expected with an average of a 60% chance of precipitation daily, and I should be prepared for every fruit imaginable in countless variety. Some “air conditioned” restaurants were an option.
-Grijalva and carrizal rivers confluence
Friends of mine that have been to surrounding areas have told me that I should be prepared to eat things I never could have imagined (good or bad..) and that the heat will consume me. They have also told me that iguanas, tarantulas, and especially mosquitoes will be common visitors, but the people will be loving and accepting of me with open arms and a desire to learn more about the messages of happiness and hope I will be bringing to them. However, as I will be in a group of the first American sister missionaries ever to serve in my area, it will be a completely new experience for everyone, not just me. All in all, I already don’t want to come home!
D. Todd Christofferson, april 2011 gen conf
“President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”
Years later, President Brown was a field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When a superior officer became a battle casualty, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but I cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:
“I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall.
“And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …
“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”
This story relates to every life in this room. We are constantly “cut down.” At times we feel entirely adequate for a position we must hold or a title we feel we should be given. Yet without humility, we are nothing. The most important way that I know of growth, is to be afflicted and proceed to endure the affliction in order to reap the rewards of its outcome. There is no escaping trials, no matter the perfection we feel we have attained. Trials or hardships come in every way imaginable, both big and small, but they are a gift to us. In disguise of course. Heavenly Father sees us for what we can become. He sees the good in everyone and knows that it takes certain people to bring that good out of them. Luckily our main goal is to return back to his presence.
No matter the mistakes we have made, or the extent to which they have been taken, we are blessed to have a way to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. It is through the Atonement of our literal savior, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” Jesus atoned for our sins, each and every sin that you or I have made. He took on every single pain that you specifically have felt out of his LOVE. And now we never need to feel alone because when no one else seems to understand, HE does. All of these acts are acts of love and selflessness. You are not meant to feel chastised and ridiculed when your shortcomings are brought to light, but gently reminded that there is a way to regain the possibility of eternal life. None of us are perfect, not even our loving prophet President Thomas S. Monson. God knew that we would make mistakes and knew that we would feel guilty for even the smallest of mistakes. The atonement is real. The blessings that we can gain from utilizing the atonement are many. If we would only pray to God often and accept our guilt and our faults, He is there and ready to take all of the pain, guilt, and suffering away. If there is anything eating away at you or hurting your relationship with others or with your Heavenly Father, I challenge each of you to pray with sincerity to God, with real intent, and that pain will be removed from your heart and you will KNOW what the next step to take will be. I PROMISE. It is an act that can’t ever fail.
-Testimony of prayer, define sincere.
So, we have a Heavenly Father that loves us without end, who gave us his only begotten son Jesus Christ out of love, who allowed his own suffering to pay for our sins because of love, and there is yet another gift. The gift of the Holy Ghost.
The spirit of God can dwell within us, on a daily basis, in whatever we do. When people say that they feel the spirit, or feel of His presence, it is a direct conviction from God that the things you are hearing are in fact true. The holy ghost is still and small, something so soft that can only be felt if we are patient and reverent and obedient. It testifies to me daily that this gospel is true. It is not only a part of me, but I am a part of it. We are one. I’d like to believe that people who know me and love me, will realize that they know God and feel his love. I have made such a point to be worthy and pure so that I can be the mouthpiece in the work of the Lord. So that other people will feel of His love.
“talk to them, see how you feel”
I strive to do that every day. I do my best to see people not as they are or define them by their faults, but to see them through the eyes of God, or see who and what they can become.
-story of woman and handicapped son, parking spot
I have had the most incredible opportunity to serve as an ordinance worker in the Newport Beach Temple for the past 2 months, and it is the most gratifying thing I could have imagined. The temple is a house of the Lord. You must be obedient and faithful to enter such a holy house. One of my privileges is to always make people feel welcome and feel as though they are at home. It is a place of refuge and of reflection. I get to spend time with some of the most devout and divine people that I have ever met. And I have found that it is the best preparation for serving a full time mission. While I am showing people the love of God while they are in His temple, it will be my responsibility to take that love to the people of Villahermosa. Some have never even heard of God, and some just want to have a better relationship with Him. I will be serving as a representative of the Lord. I am there solely to open my mouth and use my knowledge of things I have studied and learned all my life to aid the Lord as he speaks and influences through me. It is not a vacation or a time for me to find myself, yet I know that as I continue to seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost in order to teach people to recognize God’s hand in their lives, I will most definitely find myself through Him, just as we all can. I truly believe that forgetting ourselves is the only way to find ourselves.
President Hinckley, the former prophet of the church, once said:
“Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people. . . . Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Quite a simple suggestion to obtain true happiness. We need to always recognize God’s hand in our lives. The smallest coincidence is not a coincidence. It is a small miracle.
Missionary – someone who leaves their family for a time so that others may be with theirs for eternity
-representing not only the lord, but my family, this ward, this stake, this church community, and every member that wishes they could be in my place.
Things that are worth it are never easy, never quick, and never something that you haven’t had a thought to back out on. But they are so worth it.