Elder Bowden’s homecoming talk on Sunday, November 27, 2016:
(Preface: Bishop Jolley presented
Jordan his mission plaque and mentioned how missionaries change when they come home from their missions and yet they are still the same. He said that when he first saw Jordan that he commented, “Bishop, I see that you’ve gotten a little shinier on top!”)
I would just like to remind everyone, especially Bishop Jolley, that baldness is a sign of wisdom and it is definitely a compliment. I am not just saying that because the last person in the bible that made fun of a bald man was attacked by a bear and I would prefer not to be attacked by a bear. I think that baldness is a sign of spiritual power and Elder Jolley is really spiritual. To me I think spiritual power is… one of the great ways we can know what spiritual power is, to me is humility. I think of Jesus Christ and how humble he was. And how spiritually powerful he was. Because he looked for what God wanted of him and He did it. I think today, (pause), sorry, I want to speak Portuguese with you all because that is the language that God talks to me. But you guys will need to pray a lot for the gift of tongues to understand me. I love what it says in Preach My Gospel about humility. It says this, humility is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of spiritual strength. There’s a scripture that I really love in the end of the Book of Mormon. It’s a really famous one. It’s Ether 12:27. It says assim….it says this:And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
I loved reading scriptures on the mission. It was really awesome because you’d read a scripture and you’d ask your investigators what did you understand. They’d look at you like I have no idea but it was really awesome and it’s true. I’d like to think the same with this scripture. This scripture’s really awesome, but really did we understand this scripture? I love how it says that God gives unto us weakness that we may have… I wish you guys could speak Portuguese, it is so much easier… come unto Him. That we can recognize our dependence on Him. That through His grace we can be saved, that we can be humble and not have pride. I like verse 37. It really helps me understand why God gives us weakness. Half way through the verse it says assim. “And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.”
And I would like to ask you all a question. Are we seeing our weaknesses or are we having pride in our strengths? As a missionary you get to study the scriptures and learn a lot about the good examples that we have. And one of the examples that I love is in 2 Corinthians, Paul. He was a man who was made humble. He was doing everything wrong but God helped him know what he needed to do. Because of this, he learned that if he put his faith in Christ and if he did everything that Christ wanted, he would be saved, he would be happy, and have his family. I would like to read 2 Cor. 12 starting in verse 9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…. for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
I love how Paul could see his need for God. Through his weaknesses he could come to know his Savior better that he could know that Christ wanted to help us and wanted to help him. If we do not reach out for Christ, he cannot help us. If we don’t accept his hand to aid us in the things that we need, if we don’t recognize our weaknesses He can’t make us strong. I love this part because I like to think a lot about the mission and how at the start of the mission, I thought I knew everything but I didn’t know anything. Oh, Im gonna do everything and be an awesome missionary. I’m just going to read scriptures and its gonna go well. But really on the mission, you have a great purpose. You go there and everyone’s gonna accept me, and I’m gonna talk to everyone, it’s gonna be great. But as a missionary, and all that have served, know it’s not that way. A mission is where you come to learn your weaknesses, come to rely on God. I’d like to think about what is a mission? A mission is when you dedicate your life to following the example of Christ and in inviting people to have a better life. Inviting people to find an answer to their prayers and help them know what they need to do. It’s a really big responsibility. God is trusting in us or everyone who serves a mission to invite his children to know the right path. As missionaries we are called to help people recognize what God wants for them. And I think that this is one of the highest responsibilities. God is trusting us to have the courage to invite the people, to teach the people to work so that they can be happy for eternity. So that they can one day return to God, so they can be happy with their families. When I think that God trusted in me to help people be saved, to help people know that the right path, I think esta loco, that’s crazy. I wouldn’t trust in me. I’m just a young man who doesn’t know anything. Why would you trust me to help people be saved? But as Brother Whetten said, Elder Stevenson said and Pres Monson said, the lord qualifies who He calls. The Lord trusts in all of us. The lord can help us with our weaknesses with our inabilities. As a missionary you come to see that it doesn’t matter if you’re perfect it doesn’t matter if you do things wrong and you cant speak the language. What matters is if you trust in God and do your best to be humble and recognize your need for Him. I came to see that phrase is true. That the Lord qualifies who He calls.
As a missionary out there, I couldn’t even speak the language. I was speaking worse than I’m speaking to you in English. Still you could see the people understanding…the people feeling that it was true and wanting to change. There was an example of this. Her name was Maria Jita. She was one of the first ladies that I taught in
Brazil. She couldn’t read. I don’t know how she understood us. I was with my first companion and I didn’t speak Portuguese and he was Hispanic and we were just trying to teach everyone but didn’t know how. I was thinking a lot about this. How did she understand? How did she accept the gospel? I don’t even know if I told her anything that was of significance but she could feel it. You could see when she was baptized that her happiness was complete. She was just smiling and her life was always fine and she was grateful. She recognized her weakness and her need for God. Even though she had like 65-70 years she always walked to church. She was always there. She was always trying to help.
Another example is man named Ivan. He was a person who was the brother of my Ward Mission leader. And we were looking for people to teach but we couldn’t find anyone that wanted to listen to us. That really wanted to go to church that really wanted to progress. And we saw our Ward Mission Leader and talk to him and the Spirit guided us to ask if he knew anyone who wasn’t a member. And Ivan stood up and said I’m not a member. We just invited him and he accepted like it wasn’t even hard. We were like would you like to be baptized and he was like YES! I would love it! Please can you baptize me? And I was like this is awesome! I need to do this more often! It was amazing to me to see that, it wasn’t through my actions that this happened; it was through God who had prepared him.
One other example that I had on the mission is that again we were looking for people to help and we were lost. Everyone that we were teaching didn’t want to go to church or they already had their church and we decided to pray to find people. And sure enough we found the first person we contacted after the prayer accepted us. We went there he prayed and he received a response and he was baptized. Then he baptized his wife and his child. And it was just awesome! You could see that it wasn’t us that were doing the work, it wasn’t us that really changed lives, it was God. We just need to have the strength to realize our weaknesses that we need His help that it is not our work but it is the work of the Lord.
I love other examples from the scriptures. One example is David being a small, scrawny boy but facing a Goliath. A man much like my new brother in law, really huge, and a beard, really scary. When I realize I have a rock, I shouldn’t be afraid of him. Like David, he trusted in the Lord and because of his trust the miracle happened. Because of this weakness that he realized that it wasn’t him that fought against this mighty warrior, but it was the Lord.
Another example that I really love is from the Book of Mormon, Nephi. Nephi was a man who wasn’t perfect, that did a lot of things wrong but he also did a lot of things right. At the very start of the Book of Mormon, Nephi is asked to do something that to everyone seemed impossible. To his brothers it seemed impossible. They tried everything and they almost died several times but Nephi still went on. He knew that the Lord would qualify him. He would qualify the person that he called. Because of this, it wasn’t Nephi who did it, but it was the Lord who guided Nephi through his weakness. Knowing that through his own plans he couldn’t do anything, but when he let the Lord plan, everything worked out. And the same is for us. When we have the courage and strength to trust in the Lord He will help us.
I would like to share another scripture that is Mos…Moisius…Mosiah 4:6…Can you guys just learn Portuguese??? Haha! I would like to read close to the middle. “….that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—“
When we trust in the Lord, when we acknowledge our weaknesses, we put our confidence that the Lord will help us. I have seen this scripture come true many times on my mission, many times in my life. I testify that that scripture is true. That God helps the people who trust in Him. He doesn’t help just the perfect people. He doesn’t help just the people who are always in church, He helps the people who trust in him and keep His commandments. I think it is really fun how many times we can see people that have a response and so easily forget about it. There is a scripture in
Alma that says just this. In Alma 46:8Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one."
I think that many times we need to use the question that Uchtdorf said, that Peter said as well, “Lord is it I?” Lord, am I the one who easily forgets? Am I the one who receives the help and then immediately after forget that you changed my life, that you did all this for me? I would like for all of us to sit for a while and just ask this question: “Am I the one who easily forgets what the Lord has done? Am I the one that needs to trust a little bit more in Him?” I know that at many times we are perfect, we do things wrong. The Lord gives us this time to remember.
I love another scripture. I love lots of scriptures. This scripture is in Helaman 5:12. I would like to just read the first part. “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation..."
I love the beginning of this scripture, Remember, remember. How many times do we forget? How many times does the world forget? This world is perilous, not because of the wars that happen, but because of the pride that is in it. Of how easily it is to become prideful, of how easily, like that other scripture in Mosiah that says how easily that we forget our God and commit iniquities. These are really perilous times. but the Lord compensates for this by giving us chances to be humble, by showing us our weaknesses, that we can have truly spiritual power. That we may become as He is… that we can be founded on our Savior… that one day we can be a family forever. I know that this is true. I have seen in my life and in others that if we remember God, that if we remember our weaknesses and put our trust in Him, He will make us strong. I would like to close with my testimony. With permission form Bishop Jolley, I would like to do it in Portuguese. I’m sorry for those of you who don’t know the celestial language but just bear with me. (Translated into English)
I know that God loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, our Savior, and I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. If we listen and we put in practice what this book says, we will become humble and will be happier. We will become more Christ like. I know that my family can be forever if we do our part. It is my desire and my hope that we can all become humble, that we can become better, that we can recognize our weaknesses and our follies, that we can trust more in the Lord so He can help us. I love you all. This is the testimony that I would like to share with you all in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.