Monday, June 30, 2014

that "Farewell Talk" thing

My name is Sydni Heron, but in less than two weeks I will be Sister Heron in the California Los Angeles Mission!

May I start out by noting that this is a talk about not judging, so it may be in everyone's best interest not to judge my speaking skills too harshly ...

Alma 34:32 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.."

It is a time to repent, to learn and to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Preach My Gospel we learn about nine Christlike attributes we should strive to have on our missions and throughout our lives. Those qualities are: faith in Jesus Christ, hope, charity and love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence and obedience.

There is one quality in particular that I love to learn and talk about, and that quality is charity and love. I believe that developing this quality makes our lives more interesting and joyful, and can be one of the most effective ways to build the Kingdom of God on earth today.


Fresh out of high school I moved to Ecuador. This was the first time eighteen-year-old me had been away from home, and eighteen-year-old me chose to go to a brand new country with a totally different way of doing and thinking, whose language she didn't even speak.

some of my lovely pretty-much-brothers and sisters

Needless to say, I had a lot to learn.

Sometimes when we as human beings come in contact with something new, we find it weird simply because it is different and we aren't used to it.

My first few days in Ecuador I found myself thinking that either everyone was weird and I was the only normal person in this country or that maybe I needed to readjust what I thought of as weird.

I quickly learned to adjust and grew to love a new Ecuadorian way of being.

There was one thing, though, that I couldn't shake.

To be perfectly honest, half of the nearly year I spent there, I was convinced that Ecuadorians were lazy. I worked in a health clinic and sometimes -- okay, lots of times -- they prioritized socializing or watching TV over organizing charts or other responsibilities in the clinic. Outside of work, I noticed a huge chunk of the community spent a large part of their day sitting outside talking to people as they walked by. Betty, the other American in my community, and I referred to this as "porch-sitting". My host family spent 90% of their free time hanging around the house.

At work and at home I was frustrated at their lack of desire to work. In my mind they were wrong and I was right.

I'm not sure exactly when or how, but things started to change. I began to relax a little more at work. I got to know many people because they would stop me as I walked by them porch-sitting. I grew to love staying in to talk and watch telenovelas with my family.

And then Betty and I tried porch-sitting...


I am going to be perfectly honest, porch-sitting in Puerto Quito is one of my favorite hobbies in the world. You just sit outside, enjoying the beautiful day and fresh air and people come to you. I got to know so many amazing friends through Puerto Quito porch-sitting.

one of my Ecuafriends acquired via porch-sitting

At the beginning of my year abroad I judged Ecuadorians' slow speed. I thought of them as lazy. At the end of my year abroad, I was anxious to return home to the go-go-go lifestyle of the U.S.

I think Ecuadorians enjoy the quality of time more thoroughly. I think sometimes Americans get too stuck on filling each moment of time and accidentally get ourselves stuck in the quantity of things done in a time vs. quality of time spent/enjoyed.

I now realize most cultural ways of doing things are not "right" or "wrong" -- just different.

The same goes with people.


The Preach My Gospel section on Charity and Love starts:

A man once asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36–39).

The virtue we learn of is charity AND love.

So what is charity, what is love and how do they differ?

Moroni 7:47 defines charity: 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ... continues that definition: Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul (see 1 Nephi 11:23).

As I understand charity and love, charity is the pure, unselfish perfect version of love.

"We are challenged to move through a process of conversion toward that status and condition called eternal life. This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity (see 1 Cor. 13). The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, 'the pure love of Christ' (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes" 

Marvin J. Ashton adds to the testimony that charity is not a single act or multiple acts, but rather it is a characteristic we develop. In the talk titled "The Tongue Can be a Sharp Sword" he states:

"Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself....

There are many ways we may grow our ability to have charity and love. Search "charity" on and you will find list upon list of way to strengthen that characteristic.

Today, may I suggest a maybe over-simplified idea on how to gain charity and love for your fellow man?

Just start practicing. Pray to have opportunities to develop it, and then start practicing.

In that same talk earlier referenced from Marvin J. Ashton he teaches us:

"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other" 


Before I close I would like to make a quick point that we may -- and should -- apply charity and love to ourselves.

Alma 34:32 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God..."

We are human and we will fail in this life. We will sin. But we are not our sins. Through the atonement, we may be relieved of the pain and burden sin causes.

Alma the Younger is my favorite example of this.

He spent many years, in his own words, "seeking to destroy the Church of God".

He sees an angel and is forced to deal with the pain of his sins. He describes how intense it was in Alma 36: 12-13

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul washarrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
 13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I wastormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelledagainst my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

Alma goes through the process of repentance and talks of the relief he felt afterward: 

 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember mypains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
 22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

Alma spends the rest of his life in selfless service to the Lord.

Alma the Younger was not his sins and we do not have to be ours.

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