Monday, May 18, 2015

My Farewell (Also My First Post)

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go.
Brothers and Sisters. Hello. My name is Ben Bondoc (soon to be Elder Bondoc) and, as you've probably heard, I have been called to serve a two-year mission in the Naga Philippines Mission. Before I begin, I would just like to thank my family members, mentors, and friends for coming to listen to me speak. It is an absolute blessing to have you here today. Each one of you has impacted my life, so much that I will take the lessons that I have learned from all of you and apply them not only on my mission, but for the rest of my life.
So I stand before you today as nothing but an eighteen year old who doesn't know what to do with his life. I'm not certain of what I want to do when I grow up(I feel like I'm allowed to say that), I don't know how taxes work, and I still call my dad whenever I need advice, even if it is girl advice, and even if my dad isn't the best at giving girl advice.  I hope you aren't expecting anything grand or wise from me because that's not what you are going to get. I'm neither eloquent nor deeply profound. Today, I want to share with you simply WHY I want to go on a mission.
It's weird. Growing up in the church you always think "A mission. Yeah. That's what I'm going to do." But you really don't think about why you want to serve a mission. And that was me. In the back of my head, I knew I was going to serve a mission, but I hadn't really set my heart on it yet or known why I wanted to serve in the first place.  It honestly wasn't until the first couple of weeks of college that I really put my soul into wanting to serve a mission. A lot of you might look at me and think "Gee. This kid is forgoing two years of his life. For what?" Well let me tell you. The answer is quite simple, really. Love. That's it. I want to follow Jesus Christ's example of pure and unweaning love. In John 13:34, Christ clearly emphasizes that loving others is a commandment. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." That idea to me is so appealing to me. I don't know what it is but going out and not thinking about me for once is amazing. I have the privilege to do good for others and completely forget about myself.
            Having finished my first year of college, I have learned so much. Every day of my two semesters spent at school I always pushed myself, but for my own personal gain. I would wake up, eat breakfast, go to class, eat lunch, study, go to dinner, sleep and then repeat the process all over again with minor adjustments that may have included spending time with friends and a little bit of slacking off. But ultimately, I felt like I was being a tiny bit selfish. Don't get me wrong, college is amazing and I can't wait to go back to finish. But as I have gotten older, I have realized that we sometimes forgotten to put others before ourselves. But I don't blame us. That's our nature. We want to succeed. But in as we strive to obtain that success, we put others by the wayside.  But that's not me. I want to serve.
            Service is something I've learned from my parents and that the gospel focuses on greatly. Story time. When I was in third or fourth grade I was waiting at an after-school program for my dad to pick me up. It was six o'clock, an hour and a half later than the usual four thirty when I was supposed to be picked up. My dad rushed in, signed me out and we left. As inquisitive as I was I asked my dad, "Dad, why were you late?" Here's what had happened. He was leaving work but encountered a homeless man. The homeless man asked my dad for money. My dad could have easily given the man spare change and left him on his way. But he didn't do that. He did more. He gave the man five dollars and a word of advice. He advised the man to take a bus to Catholic Charities and utilize their employment services. The man left, and that was it. My dad didn't expect anything more than for the man to waste that money away on something menial. Push forward six months. My dad was working as usual. It was a day just as any other.  A well-dressed man walked into the store asking for a "Ben." The man introduced himself as Derek.  My dad entered and talked to him. "I don't know if you remember who I am," Derek said, "but six months ago you gave me 5 dollars and said that I should go to Catholic Charities. That's exactly what I did. Now I have a job and an apartment. I just want thank you".  The man then reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. My dad just gave the man a big hug.  Brothers and sisters, you don't know the kind of impact your kindness has on others. One simple act of service could change lives. My dad dedicates his life to doing just that. I get the honor of doing this for two years. I get to focus on helping others find real happiness in their lives.
            There's a documentary on BYUtv called Two Brothers. It follows the lives of two brothers as they go through adolescence, college and eventually as they both serve missions. I watched an episode of the series that focused on Luke, one of the two brothers. He was called to serve a mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Throughout his mission, he kept a video journal. I witnessed some of the struggles of a missionary. Man, I watched this guy hurt. He struggled learning the language, adjusting to the new foods, and just adapting to the culture. He looks at the camera, teary eyed. As I watched, I could tell that he was troubled. Weeping, he says, "I honestly just want to serve."  Despite all the trials this nineteen year-old faced, he wanted to serve.  He wanted to be the best missionary he could be for the people of Cambodia. That is the kind of mission that I want to serve.  
It's going to stink sometimes. Oh man I'm going to have the rainiest of days, in both the literal and metaphorical sense.  It would be a lie to tell you that it's going to be amazing 24/7 and that I'm going to learn some profound lesson every day. To be honest, I'm anxious because I don't know what to expect at all.  But I know that as long as my heart is set on helping the lives of others and bringing them closer to Heavenly Father by any means, it will all be worth it.  
            So I want to love others. That's it. I want to wake up every day as a representative of Jesus Christ and make someone happy. I want to share the gospel and the message of happiness it has to bring, that it has brought true happiness into my life and that it can bring others that same exact feeling. I want to be an instrument in God's hands to bring joy and comfort into others' lives. As long as I get the opportunity to serve. As long as I can say that I have done my best to love others, I will be able to say that I have fulfilled my calling as a missionary. I wish you all the best and once again express my sincere gratitude for each and every one of you. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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