I’m so excited to give this talk about my mission, because I am looking forward to serving Heavenly Father and the special needs students at a seminary in Taylorsville and at another one in Riverton. Since most of you know that I’m autistic, and I’ve been writing to my sister, Teach, while she is on her mission, I’ve been worrying a lot about having to try to teach the Church to people at other places. I wasn’t excited about getting a front door slammed at me, or having people yell angry things at me like sometimes they do to her. Everyone near me has been telling me that a full time mission wouldn’t suit me, even the people downtown who do all the testing. They said it would be best to serve a mission near home, a church service mission.
The Bishop asked me to talk about service and why it’s important. There has always been a lot of service in our world. Parents serve their children by providing a home and food for them. Children serve their parents by being obedient, doing their chores and helping at home. Our greatest example of service is Jesus Christ. His whole life and mission was about service. And with his example, he wanted to teach us to love and serve each other. In Matthew 25:34-36 in the New Testament we read “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me.” He wanted us to know that if we are serving others, we are serving Him and Heavenly Father.
We should all want to serve, even if it is something that we think we don't want to do like pulling weeds for a neighbor or babysitting someone's grumpy 1-year-old. Do you know what’s making you think and say that you don’t want to serve others? It’s Satan that wants you to think that serving others is not worth your time and hard work. But Jesus teaches us to serve and love everyone whether they are members of the church or not. I would like to tell a story that talks about what true service really is when people were doing it after a natural disaster that occurred in Austin, Texas, last fall. (I like stories about Texas because that is where Sister Teach is serving.)
A torrential rainstorm that brought 6 to 10 inches of rain stalled over a watershed in southeast Austin prone to flash flooding on October 31. As a result, nearby Onion Creek rose 11 feet in 15 minutes and crested at a record 41 feet, leaving more than 600 homes flooded.
While no members of the Church or Church buildings experienced flooding, members in the area quickly went to work to help those impacted by what is being called the “Halloween Flood.”
One volunteer, Kevin Christensen of the Austin Texas Stake, showed up at the Dove Springs Recreation Center to lend a hand. He used his Spanish-speaking skills to translate for flood victims trying to communicate their needs to relief workers.
According to Brother Stewart Dickson, “Our response to this natural disaster is centered on our belief in Jesus Christ and in His teachings. Jesus Christ taught that we all have a responsibility to our neighbor. He taught the parable of the Good Samaritan. Simply stated, we follow Jesus Christ by reaching out to those in need.” That means that we should always try to be more like Jesus by serving those in need, not just people who are poor, homeless, sick, or injured, but everyone around us, even our families and friends.
There are so many choices for Church Service missionaries and lots of people have asked me why I chose to do a service mission at a special needs seminary instead of somewhere else. The reason is that I’ve been taking a bunch of Special Education classes at Salt Lake Community College that remind me of all those things I’ve been experiencing in my life while being autistic. Whenever I’m reading a textbook that says the differences between being people with disabilities and people without disabilities, I remember that Jesus loved all of us. He served all of us. He died for all of us even if we are not perfect. And none of us are perfect.
For each of the special education classes, I had to do a service project by volunteering at schools that have students with special needs and different disabilities. For one class I went to a special high school called South Valley School. It had a bunch of friends that I recognized from my educational life in elementary all the way through high school. Those people were the friends I remember from my cluster class. I was able to serve them by teaching them at a Home Service Center how to do housework, like setting up a meal and even cleaning it up after. It was fun to help my old friends learn how to do things and it reminded me how grateful I am that I can do things by myself.
In a different special education class I took I learned about every child’s special needs and struggles on different things. I was able to do another service for kids with special needs. This time I went to South Jordan Elementary, the school I went to when I was a child where I did cluster classes. I enjoyed serving those special needs kids in their cluster classes. I helped the kids learn how to read and how to share their wonderful talents. I’m sure they all have a very good future planned.
Right when I was doing my service at those schools for my assignments at SLCC, it helped me decide the future that would best suit me once I accomplish other things, like doing my mission, and graduating from college. My future career would be a Special Ed teacher maybe at South Jordan Elementary, as long as I get the degree and know how I can teach kids who are different that they can be whatever they want to be. Jesus and Heavenly Father love them and they care about their hopes and dreams. They love all of us, even those with special needs. I’m sure that being a Special Ed teacher will be part of Heavenly Father and Jesus’ plan of service for me. I am excited to get to know about their special talents and struggles that they may have and need help with. I am so grateful for everyone around me who has been serving me and teaching me how to have a good and happy life.
I just want to bear my testimony. I wish Sister Teach were here. she would be in tears of happiness to know that I am being set apart for my mission just like she is a missionary. I want you to know that everything about this gospel is true! I’m so glad that some members of my family have been baptized and joined the church, like my brother-in-law, Gamer, and my niece, Fajita, and my sister, Scout. They are so happy to know that they are part of the only true church.
I also know that Joseph Smith and the other prophets were real prophets and so is President Monson. I also know that Jesus and Heavenly Father exist, that they love us and they want us to love and serve each other. I know that missionary work is so important and we can all be missionaries to people around us so that they can learn the truth and be baptized.
I know that this may be a farewell talk, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll still be around, and some of you may ask me some questions about how my mission is going. I hope you do ask me some questions because I’m so excited to be a missionary! Thank you so much for coming today to support me and my family. We love you all. You are a great ward. We can already see so much service and love here. You are all doing such a good job trying to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.