Monday, November 14, 2011

Justin's Farewell Talk (copy of the talk)

Yesterday, Sunday the 13th of November, Justin gave his farewell talk in church. He gave an amazing talk and his assigned topic was The Divine Nature of Service.  He spoke about being servants of each other so that we can be closer to God. He used a touching story about his friendship with one of his best friends, Josh Austin, who passed away 7 months ago, which helped Justin decide to serve a mission.  He even sprinkled in a quote by Gandhi and another by Bono, much to the delight of his dad (and everyone else, it became clear). He was confident and poised and it several people commented that it was apparent that he is ready to go out and serve and that he will do a great job.
After the meeting, we went to Duston and Kate Todd’s home for the luncheon and it turned out really well also. Dionne and I baked 6 15 lb. pork shoulder roasts and then pulled them all by hand for barbecued pulled pork sandwiches. Many family members and friends helped with deserts and salads and we served A LOT of Justin’s supporters.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the time to sit and talk and eat and send him off with lots of love and support. Kate and Duston were awesome to open their home to us and we’re so grateful for everyone that contributed. It would have been impossible without all of you.
It was requested by a couple of people that I post his talk here on this blog. Here is the talk, but keep in mind that he did ad-lib in some places and at the end, he thanked his friends and family and young men’s leaders.  He was especially poignant when he thanked his mom, Dionne, for everything that she has done for him and then when he thanked me, his dad, for the same.  I have to say that it was one of the greatest moments of my life and he’ll never know what it meant to me.  What a fantastic son I have.
The Divine Nature of Service
Hello Brothers and Sisters.  I am truly blessed to have such loving family and friends to come and support me while I make my way into the mission field to serve the people of Monterrey Mexico.  Thank you so much for coming out.
My talk today is on the divine nature of service and what my feelings about it are. 
It is the Lord’s will that we serve one another.
God wanted his children to understand that service is the most important commandment.  I have wondered why that is, during my life, but I think that I now understand His reasons.  First of all, we are His children.  He knows us and understands us. He said, in the book of 2 Nephi, chapter 2 verse 25 that “men are that they might have joy.” He wants us to have joy but He knows that true happiness and joy do not come from selfishness and isolation.  This kind of divine happiness—the kind that radiates within us and lifts us—comes not from worldly things but from serving our neighbors—our brothers and sisters here on Earth.
Also, as I said earlier, we are all brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. One of the most important ways that our Heavenly Father cares for and looks after His children on Earth is through the good works and service that are done to and by each other.  We all know the scripture from Mosiah where King Benjamin teaches us that when we are in the service of our fellow men, we are in the service of God.  During King Benjamin’s address that is found in Mosiah, he expounds on the beauty and necessity of serving God’s children, our neighbors. The scriptures found here, the words of this wonderful prophet, are such beautiful instructions regarding service.  Though the words are familiar, I would encourage each one of you to go home and open up the Book of Mormon to Mosiah, beginning in chapter 2 and read these excellent words of wisdom from one of God’s chosen prophets.
Heavenly Father sent His son to Earth to show us a perfect example of how to live more perfectly by loving and serving His fellow men.
It is important that we live to serve, as Christ did.  We can’t sit back and wait for service opportunities to fall into our laps.  It is important that we seek out those that are in need of help.  If we truly desire to be Christ like, then we must not stop serving. Christ set the example. He was very clear in His words that service and charity are divine and God-like and that by doing these things, we will become like Him. Serving is ACTING, not just talking.  Elder Theodore M. Burton once said “It is easy to say, ‘I love you.’ But love should not only be declared; it should be proved by actions. Love, unless demonstrated, is only a crashing cymbal or a booming drum which deafens the ears and does not soothe the soul”
We claim to be disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  To be a disciple means to be a follower, in our actions and in our deeds. We can read in the scriptures the many examples that are given about Christ serving those around Him.  He was not choosy.  He was not discriminating.  Many times He likened Himself as a physician, a healer.  He healed the physical bodies and He healed broken hearts. He sought out the most needy, the most sick, and served them. We, who are trying to be like Him, must do the same. If we are going to call ourselves His disciples—His followers in action, then we must do the same.  And don’t think for a second that the needy and sick are not all around us—they are.  They are everywhere.  As Christ said we “have the poor always with” us. President Howard W. Hunter taught us that, "We need to walk more resolutely and more charitably the path that Jesus has shown. We need to pause to help and lift another and surely we will find strength beyond our own. If we would do more to learn 'the healer's art,' there would be untold chances to use it, to touch the 'wounded and the weary' and show to all 'a gentler heart'".
On the night before Christ was crucified, He gathered together with his 12 for the feast of the Passover.  After the feast, knowing that His time on Earth was coming to a close, He rose, took off His clothing and, wearing only a towel, filled a basin with water, knelt before each of His disciples, washed the dust from their feet and dried them with the towel He wore. After He finished, He asked them “Know ye not what I have done to you? Ye call me Master, and ye say well, for so I am. And if I, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done unto you. The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he who sent him. IF YE KNOW THESE THINGS, HAPPY ARE YE IF YE DO THEM.”  Christ was demonstrating to us that we must all serve, no matter what our station in life is, if we are to find true and divine happiness.
Now, I want to share with you about a person that has influenced me to serve people in need; a best friend of mine that influenced me to serve a mission. Josh Austin was an ideal example to me of having the divine nature of serving all those around him, including me. He taught me and gave me a new perspective of life and how we should all live to serve each other. I remember times when we would just be hanging out, making plans to watch a movie or play video games when he would bring up people that he knew that needed help. For example, there was a co-worker of his that is a grandfather and is handicapped and needed help building a bed for his granddaughter who was staying at his house because her mother had been arrested. Josh, without hesitation, canceled our plans to do something fun and dragged me to the grandfather’s house.  I remember that I had a slightly poor attitude due to already having worked the previous week and wanting a relaxing weekend.  But Josh kept a positive attitude and a couple of hours later, we were finished with the bed.  The grandfather was so thankful and I was actually very happy to have had the opportunity to serve, even if it was on the weekend.  I was taught a lesson that day—to always look to serve without hesitation because, in turn, it blesses your own life.  I was amazed by how happy I felt and how the Spirit touched my heart and how much of an example Josh was to me. He tragically passed away 7 months ago.  When he passed away, I was so hurt and felt like I had hit a brick wall.  I had no desire to serve a mission before he passed.  I had high ambitions to do much more in life than to just spend 2 years serving a mission.  I was very prideful, only worrying about myself and my future.  I felt like I didn’t need God. I then lost one of my best friends, who had amazed me by his example. It took me totally by surprise and I was emotionally destroyed. Ironically, I really did need God in my life and God actually helped me. For some reason, I got this feeling that Justin Powell needs to serve a mission. God wants Justin Powell to serve people, just like Josh did, and to serve to the fullest. On April 9th 2011, I decided to flip my life around and serve a mission and to do it to the best of my ability, to look for those in trouble and in need so that I could serve them. Because I know that if I devote 2 years of my life to serving people, just like that 2 hours of service that Josh and I had done that surprisingly made me happy, I will make people happier and, in turn, I would become happy. Because of Josh’s example and because of the example of our Savior, I will devote these next 2 years of my life looking for ways to serve and putting myself in places where I will have opportunities to help as many people as I can in Mexico.
I challenge all of you to look to serve without hesitation.  It is the example of Christ that we must follow for it will bless others and in turn, you will be blessed. It is the ultimate medicine for sadness and a distraught heart.
Mohandas Gandhi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  I would add to that that the best way to find God is to lose yourself in the service of His children here on Earth.  Service is divine. Serving cleanses us; it brings more joy and happiness to others and, it brings so much joy and happiness into our own lives.  It is the way that we become like Christ.
There is another quote that was made by an inspirational humanitarian, the lead singer of U2, Bono.  He said this while giving an acceptance speech at the NAACP awards and it is a line that will stick with me forever. He said, “The poor are where God lives.  God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.  God is where opportunity is lost and lives are shattered.  God is with the mother who has infected a child with a virus that will take both of their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during war time. God, my friends, is with the poor and God is with us if we are with them.”
This applies to anyone who is in need and I testify that God is with you if you are with them, and to be with them, shake off your pride and heed the call of divine service--to serve all in need. Be like Christ and you shall be blessed and God will be with you. I am so thankful that I had a live demonstration of how God is with us if we are with the needy and troubled by having one of my best friends, Josh, in my life and now, for having the opportunity to serve the people in Mexico for 2 years.


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