December 13, 2020


Temple Square (South 1 District)


Sister Alania Denney

Departing Talk

Normally, when sisters come up here the first Sunday of the transfer they mention how they didn't think they would be speaking this early in their final transfer. I could say that, but then I would be lying. Quoting section 3.4 of Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ, "Temple Worthiness includes being honest" (pg. 42). In that case, I must be completely honest and admit that I totally asked to give my talk today over 2 transfers ago. Go me. There was a reason though and I'll get to that. For those that are newer, I am Sister Christensen, one of the many. I was born and raised in Sin City, Las Vegas, and it is the one and only place I can think of as home. Today I’m here to share my thoughts on allowing God to set the path for you to walk on, so that you can achieve the most happiness in the things you are striving for. We can achieve anything, even the things we don’t know we want, with the knowledge that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). To explain this more I’m going to tell you a story. Some of you have heard this story, so try not to fall asleep. As I tell this story, it is important to note how God plays a big role in giving us the things we desire. This is the story of a woman who was born as an accident to a mother that was much too young to care for a child and a father that didn't really know what to do with a new baby. He tried but it was really hard on all parties. Forward a couple of years and she left home--on not so great terms with her parents--and lived on her own at a young age, about the age most of us are right now. She wanted to be happy, so she partied, drank, and had fun in order to be ‘happy.’ Time later, she discovered the happiness portrayed in that life did not last very long, or exist at all. This is when she noticed that she was missing something. No, it was not the gospel, yet. She wanted to feel loved and connected with those around her. She wanted to feel like she was important in other people's lives. So, she worked for that goal. She changed her actions and found better friends and started to feel a little happier. She wasn’t seeking God, but God was still there in the little coincidences of her life. He put people in her path to guide her back to Him, His way. This included some of her new friends who were a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church she had never heard of before. This woman as she began to improve her life turned to Family History. She had done some before, but she felt that spiritual prompting to dive into her ancestors and learn more about their lives and experiences. She started having a new goal of having a family, one full of support and love. During her research she discovered that her maternal grandmother was also into Family History, what a coincidence. She would visit her grandmother’s home to talk together about their shared love of Family History.
At this time she also started asking questions about the church with her friends and meeting with missionaries. When she shared this with her grandmother, she found that her Grandmother was in fact a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what a coincidence. I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my voice, because God is involved in every single coincidence we see in life. It doesn’t just happen, He puts it in our path. Her grandmother had married a non-member and as such her children were not as gospel oriented and quickly fell away from the church. Yet, she was still able to influence her sweet granddaughter as she searched for her own truths about God. God prepares people with the exact things they need to discover the truth and find the happiness they are searching for. Still, things are not perfect and doubts and trials will always come. We are going to pause right here and go to another story. This is about a young man who was raised in a good household filled with faithful members. I hope you all know where this is going. He looked up to His father who seemed so happy. He wanted to have that same happiness, so he followed after his father and decided to go on a mission so that one day he could marry a faithful woman and raise a loving family. He set out to London, England for 2 years away from home teaching the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was able to grow and learn a lot, while also increasing his testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now back to this woman. She was having a lot of struggles in life, just from the way life is. She would still feel lost and confused. On one of her down days it was suggested by one of her non-member friends, who knew that she was investigating the church, to write a letter to a missionary she knew that was serving in England, another coincidence. She wrote to him, with some odd questions too. She also received return letters from this Elder in England and it helped her to make that final push to be baptized in the church. To make those promises that God promised would give her the most happiness. Five days prior to the baptism, she was ‘convinced’ to go to the airport to see this Elder return home. That was probably awkward, but I wasn’t there. We sometimes like to joke that the spirit really works on us when it needs to. In her own words she said, “Hey, I am getting baptized Sunday, do you want to do it?” I don’t know what this Elder replied, but it was probably along the lines of, “OF COURSE I WOULD!” Fresh off the mission and one more baptism. On December 10th 1995, she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just this past Thursday, 25 years ago, my mother made a commitment to follow the Savior Jesus Christ. A commitment
that had been in the works long before she was born. Not long after she was engaged and later married to Jack the return missionary that baptized her. They now have three children, with one daughter on a mission to serve her Savior because of the testimony her parents helped her to build. Even with her challenges now, she is always grateful for the family that God has blessed her with. The one she thought she would never have, but God knew she would. This story seems really fantastical and it is easy to see God’s hand in everything that happened. Now that we reached the end of this section, we can see the whole picture. At the time of these events, though, I’m sure that picture was impossible to imagine. That’s the way life is. Every step we take seems so small, yet we look back and we have traveled for miles. All of our entertainment, stories, books, movies, comics have a beginning, middle, and end. We see the characters at the beginning and we see there change at the end. There are also some crazy things in the middle. When they want to give up, we say “there is a happy ending ahead,” “keep going,” and “you can do it.” When we see the end it makes the hard stuff in the middle so much easier. We start looking past the hard to the good at the end. The characters don’t see the end like we do, they don’t even know if there is one. They want to give up, but they don't. They make it to the end, no matter how long it takes. God sees our end. We have a lot of stories in our lives and He knows the happiness that is at the end of each hardship. He tells us the same through the spirit, “there is a happy ending ahead,” “keep going,” “you can do it,” “Jesus Christ is there to pave your path.” We are in the race of salvation. We aren’t going to finish it all at once. Every step takes us closer to our goal of helping others and ourselves to follow the path of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God sees your end, just as He saw the end for my mother. An end that included a family and a Savior. She still has more of a story. We aren’t perfect, we are still trying to learn. You are all in a small piece of your bigger story. When you feel those hard parts in the middle making you want to give up, not seeing the end. Keep going and try again. Keep taking a few steps everyday. You will look back one day and see the miles you have traveled. I told this to sisters before, but if you just grow 1% everyday. You will be 500% better by the end of your mission. God is beside you, so is the Savior. He loves you and wants you to find the things you desire. Work for it, he will put everything you need in your path. “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) I love each of you, because I know you are daughters of God. I hope you all remember that too. I pray in the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


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