|Skylar- July 22, 2012|
Hello everyone. For those of you who don’t know me; my name is Skylar Black. I have been called to the Ecuador Quito Spanish speaking mission and I leave this Wednesday for the Provo MTC. I’m not nervous about speaking but my throat is dry and my voice might crack while I’m speaking. If it does its okay to laugh about is because it IS funny.
I have been asked to speak on a talk given by Elder Ballard in this April’s General Conference. It is titled “That the lost may be found”. It focuses on the importance of families. Since missions are focused around families, this is the perfect topic and I’ve prepared it with a mission context.
Elder Ballard focuses on 4 points in his talk which will be the framework for my talk as well. The 4 points being: 1. Prioritizing 2. Do things in the right order 3. Husbands and wives should be equal partners in marriage and 4. Use the family resources of the church.
First is prioritizing. Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home. President David O. McKay’s said it best when he said “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”. A strong family is critical. In the context of going on a mission, how serving a mission supporting my family? Me, being the oldest of the kids in my family, I have been told a bazillion times that I have to set a good example for my brothers and sisters and that for good or bad, they follow my example. I don’t know of a much better way to set an example for my family than by being willing and worthy to serve a full time mission. Hopefully my brothers and sisters seeing how awesome I am will inspire them to be as cool as me. Aside from me supporting my own family, on my mission I will be helping other families to be able to support themselves by helping them to come unto Christ through the restored Gospel. In Elder Ballard’s talk he counsels parents on how to keep their children on the right track, he says, “Organize your personal lives to provide time for prayer and scriptures and family activity. Give your children responsibilities in the home that will teach them how to work. Teach them that living the gospel will lead them away from the filth, promiscuity, and violence of the Internet, media, and video games. They will not be lost, and they will be prepared to handle responsibility when it is thrust upon them.” As a missionary I will be helping the parents, who are also God’s children, to do these very things. Again, teach them to organize their personal lives to provide time for prayer and scriptures and family activities. And that living the gospel will lead them away from filth, promiscuity, and violence of the Internet, media, and video games. They will not be lost, and they will be prepared to handle responsibility when it is thrust upon them.” Our job as missionaries is to help others develop a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father so that when the missionaries leave, they will be prepared to choose the right on their own, rely on God and lead their family down the straight and narrow once the missionaries leave.
Second, we need to do things in the right order! Marriage first and then family. Too many in the world have forgotten this natural order of things and think they can change it or even reverse it. Recent statistics say that 40% of children in America are born to unmarried parents. It is apparent that traditional values in the world are being degraded. Unwed parents are also common in many places outside of the United States; including where I am serving. As representatives of Jesus Christ it is our responsibility to show others that the best route is marriage in a temple. President Packer said, "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.” I can think of no greater blessing to families than enabling them to participate in the ordinances that are performed in the temple and allowing them to gain an even closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. Helping families be sealed in the temple, along with helping them to come unto Christ is our ultimate goal as missionaries.
Third, husbands and wives should be equal partners in marriage. In today’s society women are continually comparing themselves with men. They argue that women are perfectly capable of performing any occupation that men do and can do it just as well or better. Although women can and do well in the work force that should not be their primary role if possible. I couldn’t find the talk, I believe it was by Elder Holland, if anybody knows the reference, please let me know. Paraphrasing him he said, “Women should not compare themselves to men, they need not stoop to our level”. Having different roles does not mean that one is better or inferior to another. Men are meant to be the head of the home, and women are meant to be the heart of the home. There is no shame in a woman staying home and righteously raising a family while the husband is working to provide for the family. Part of a missionary’s job is to help others see that husbands and wives have equal roles. When they marry in the temple they become partners for eternity and they need to know that it is a combined effort of the two that will ensure eternal happiness of themselves and their children.
And finally, use the family resources of the Church. In raising children, families can draw upon the help of the ward. Support and work in tandem with priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and take full advantage of the Church’s youth and family programs. I can attribute where I am today in part to the young men’s program and scouting. The Mutual program helps build every aspect of life: social, physical, educational, mental and spiritual. A wide array of activities help prepare young men and women for missions, marriage and raising children by strengthening their relationship with our Heavenly Father and providing knowledge and experiences that will help them throughout their entire lives. The scouting program teaches various skills and helps young men build character through service to neighbors, communities and many others. Inviting investigators to mutual, scouting or other ward activities is a great way to get them involved in the ward. One of the most important things for an investigator to know is that they are welcomed into the ward. If the parents feel that they and their children are welcome in the ward they are much more likely to continue their church attendance. I believe this goes for the families of the active as well. Attending church activities will help strengthen the camaraderie of members within a ward and also help strengthen their own conversion and testimonies.
In closing I would like to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know this because I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and God told me that it was. I know the Atonement is real and that anybody can use its power. I also have a testimony of prayer and the spirit it brings and the closeness that you can have with Heavenly Father through prayer. I have lived in this ward for 14 years and it’s been awesome. I’ve had so many great leaders and teachers in this ward and I thank you for all the time you spent preparing lessons and activities and helping me prepare to serve a mission. I have many memories of scout trips and they were always one of my favorite things to do. I would like to thank all the family and friends that have taken the time to come and support me. I want my family to know that even though I tease them a lot I still love them, I know it will be hard to have fun without me, but try and manage somehow. Again I know this church is true and I'm grateful to be able to serve the lord and his people in Ecuador. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.