Hello everyone! It is amazing to be back! That is no understatement. I have loved seeing all of your faces lately and talking with each of you. It feels so good to be back in a ward you deeply love. This Aliso Viejo Ward is very special to me; you were the only ward I knew before my mission. It is pretty funny being in only one ward for your whole life, then 10 wards within two years.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Garrett Harrington. I am the son of Frank and Marianne Harrington; Travis, Ethan and Austin’s big brother. Some of you might know me better that way; I have been gone for a little while. I recently came back from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the Denver Colorado North mission, serving as a full time representative of The Lord Jesus Christ. It was great, it was also hard, but overall, it truly was a great experience.
I am also grateful to have the chance to speak today! I have been asked to speak on Enduring and Patience. I am excited to speak on this; I learned so many great things about these subjects while serving on my mission! I know this talk will be given as the spirit directs, I have fervently prayed and pondered about this talk over the past few weeks.
I have been asked to reference a talk by Elder Kevin W. Pearson; it’s titled: “Stay by the Tree”. It is from the April 2015 conference. I highly suggest we all re-read this talk when we have the opportunity. It is truly an inspired talk; for I know all the principles taught in it are true. I have seen what happens when we do the principles taught in it, I have seen what happens if we don’t do them. This is an inspired talk. The 6 principles taught in this talk.
Don’t forget to pray
Come unto Christ and be perfected in him
Press forward with faith
The book of Mormon is key to spiritual survival
Don’t be distracted or deceived
Stay by the tree. (Stay by the tree in the talk means to stay converted unto the Lord.)
Most of this talk will be special experiences from the mission that had these principles applied. I have three experiences I feel prompted to share with you. I will show how the principles were applied in these situations. I will share with you and then liken them unto yourself. I, myself will not tell you how to grow in patience and enduring, but I remember Elder Bednar taught me from a pulpit just like the one I am standing on now, you can still learn from those pews you are sitting in.
You can still learn, or act, if you will listen carefully and search for the spirit of what to act upon. If you listen to the Spirit while you hear these experiences, you will know what to do for you to grow in patience and enduring. Then do it. I know this is a true teaching of an apostle of the Lord.
So what is enduring, and what is patience? Enduring is defined in the dictionary very simply and shortly; it states, “Lasting, and permanent.”
Patience is defined in Preach my Gospel. Chapter 6: Christlike attributes, “Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious.” Capacity means the power or ability to do so. What is great about capacity is; we can increase the capacity of patience, and increase our ability to do so. So how do we develop more patience and enduring? How do we become more patient and enduring? We cannot develop them without God’s help. I promise you. I promise you; with all my heart we cannot develop them without His help. We truly need Him.
“Stay By The Tree” is an amazing talk. I remember this talk very well on my mission; it was the Sunday afternoon session. Apparently, after living in Colorado for a year one can develop allergies. During this General Conference weekend is when I succumbed to these allergies. It was difficult for me to open my eyes; so I pretty much missed most of the Sunday sessions, but I remember this talk very well. I had my eyes closed, trying my best to take notes and listen as best as I could, but it wasn’t very effective… I kind of drifted off, but then I remembered hearing this quote, “When trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply ‘hang in there’. Let me be clear; to ‘hang in there’ is not a principle of the gospel.” I opened my eyes, then jumped up in my seat and was fighting to have my eyes wide open for the rest of his talk and I did it! Ha ha It was an inspiring moment and I just love that quote! “Hang in there” is not a principle of the gospel.
Brothers and Sisters, when we see someone going through a hard time or a trial; it is a perfect time to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, or the plan of salvation, or just something from the gospel that will inspire them and help them to act, in applying a gospel principle. Not only will it help them in the long run, and in the short run, because faith in gospel principles is more powerful than the words we can ever give them. It gets them moving forward instead of ‘hanging in there’.
I didn’t survive the mission because I ‘hanged in there’. I survived the mission because I lived the gospel, as best as I could. Hanging in there won’t do much or it won’t do anything. We must do something about it. We must act, not be acted upon.
The first experience I feel prompted to share with you an experience about one of the coolest and sacred experiences of the mission that emphasizes the quote and the talk. You might have already heard of her and this experience but I taught a lady named Taneka. I loved Taneka so much brothers and sisters. She was incredible to teach and an amazing person in general. I loved her then, and I still love her for what she taught me.
While I was there in her ward, it was when I was about 10-12 months out. Taneka had a really hard trial happen to her. Her daughter passed away in a terrible accident. Previously, she never went to church. She just wasn’t interested in the church anymore. But then her daughter passed away… and she wanted answers to her questions about this extremely hard trial. She reached out to the Bishop, and there she learned about the temple. She could be sealed to her daughter, and also be baptized on her behalf, in the temple. Taneka started going to church, every week. She started praying, daily. She started to meet with us, weekly. She started to read the Book of Mormon daily, and I can tell you I saw a difference in her because of the gospel. It was a mighty change of heart in the short time I worked with her.
I saw her get better in her circumstance even though it was still hard. I saw her happy a lot more; not only because of the knowledge she gained, that she could be happy and be with her again, but that she didn’t need to remain in darkness. She can do something about this to make it better.
Taneka was a perfect example for me of learning about endurance. I am grateful that I had the chance to work with her. I know that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit were very much involved with her and knew her. I know they were very involved with us, to be used as instruments for them to work a great work. I got transferred out as soon as Taneka was doing so much better. Then I went back to see her five months later, she was a completely different person. She smiled when she saw me and was happy. It was hard to recognize her, or to even see any of her previous loss. She didn’t show a struggle, as she had before, though she mentioned it was a hard day for the family but she was holding up so strong. It was incredible to see what the gospel did for her. It was a complete transformation.
The 2nd experience I feel prompted to share with you was when I remember going through a really tough time when I was about 5 months out. I was just struggling with the work, and I felt I wasn’t cut out for being a missionary. I struggled very hard with rejection. I said a very meaningful prayer. I wanted an answer. I wanted to know He was there. I don’t quite remember what I asked for, I just remember being honest with him and listening for a long time. His answer came to me in a profound way. He said, “I know you are struggling and I am aware of you.” It brought peace to me. He gave me what I needed. He didn’t give me three new people who wanted to hear the gospel, he didn’t give me someone wanting to be baptized, or go to church with us. He gave me His love, and because He gave me His love; He gave me a power to keep going because I knew that He knew me and loved me and I loved him. “Loving others gives you courage, being loved by others gives you strength.” (Lao Tzu).
Heavenly Father is always aware of you brothers and sisters, I know He loves you. I know we can also feel the love God and Christ has for others too through missionary work. I know you can also feel it when you have a sincere desire to know the individual and a desire to help them; and help them. (Mosiah 2:17) “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (DC 4:2) ”Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;”
You will then start to feel of Heavenly Father’s and Christ love for them, and also start to feel who they are to them. Not just know but feel it. Then once you feel that they become of a priceless worth to you. It is a wonderful feeling. Brothers and Sisters that is missionary work, when you have a sincere desire to know the individual and a desire to help them, and help them, you are doing missionary work. “Preach the gospel and when necessary use words.” You aren’t just being an example when you do that, you are being an influence, which has a lot more lasting effect around people.
My 3rd experience, I was about 17 months out in the mission. This was the hardest time of my life, but what I learned and felt during it to get through it was one of the most amazing part of my life and I will never forget it.
There was a time when I felt I wasn’t liked. I didn’t do anything wrong, I just tried to help, and unfortunately pride got in the way of their progression. Pride is very ugly and destructive brothers and sisters, it ruins us and others. Pride leads to thinking about how to treat someone poorly, to put you on top. You should never think about how to treat someone poorly. Back to the story; I remember praying for them to try to develop love for them, and that they would do well in whatever they did, even though they were hurting me deeply. I did feel my love increase for them and my patience as well with them from praying.
I tried to treat them better, and love them, but then their language affected the way others saw us, and we then were treated poorly by others too. It was hard, I learned just a part of what Christ went through, despised for doing good. It was rough and I am grateful he did that for us too. I read the book of Mormon every day and I exercised faith by going out every day trying to find new people to teach, coming unto Christ as much as I could and something amazing happened brothers and sisters. There was a point where it was the hardest thing ever. I thought I had reached my breaking point, but I remembered feeling strength and peace to get through this hardest time. It was the enabling power of the atonement that brought me peace. The enabling power it did for me was to make me feel peace, when everything around me wasn’t peaceful, it was far below peaceful. I exercised my agency righteously and because I did so, I then accessed the enabling power of the atonement, which allowed me to get through the hardest trial of my life. It is a literal power brothers and sisters. Christ can heal us if we come unto Him. I am so grateful for His Atonement and I know that it works and that it is real. Not just meant for cleansing us but for enabling us. I didn’t share that to show you it was hard, I shared that because I feel the Spirit wanted me to show you the enabling power of the atonement.
So as you can see, the simple spiritual steps were applied in the hardest situations, and that’s what made the difference for us to survive and grow in endurance and patience. There is going to be times in our lives, where bad things will happen to us even if we are doing the right things and even if we are good people. When bad things happen to us, we will often think “Why me? It’s not fair!” You may be right, sometimes it is unfair, but that’s okay. Now when facing the unfair trial sometimes before, during and after the trial or all three, we then have the opportunity to choose to be bitter, chose to harden our hearts. Then we also have the chance to choose to be better, through God, choose to soften our hearts. Now this is what we want when facing an unfair trial. Sometimes we want the trial to be finished, and we don’t want to fight it. We want to see the finish line, but we don’t want to run the race to get there. Sometimes we actually don’t want the trial to be okay or better for us because we are still in the moment of facing the trial unfairly. The next one I am about to share with you is the most popular one I have seen. We want the trial to be better or okay, without it being unfair but, unfair trials will happen regardless of whom you are and what you are doing right. The only way for you to overcome the unfair trial is to keep going when it is still unfair, to press forward with faith. Why we struggle and where we struggle during the trial is the unfair trial and making it better are trying to be correlated, but where we struggle is where we overcome and grow so much as well.
Brothers and Sisters it’s been a remarkable journey, full of laughs, pain, and joy. I loved my mission. It was amazing. It was hard. But it was amazing. I can fully say that now.
I know this church is true. I know God lives. I know He loves us all, and I love Him. I know Jesus Christ performed an atonement to make us more free of pain, suffering, and our sins. I am so grateful for this. I love my Savior. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know He loves us. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I have read it and I have prayed about it. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and Thomas S. Monson is as well. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.