Nov. 10, 2016
Good afternoon brothers and sisters! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Vanessa Ratunuman. I have been called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have been called to serve in the Indonesia Jakarta mission teaching the gospel in the Indonesian language and I report to the MTC on December 7 (which is in 23 days but who’s counting..) I am soooo excited.
I would like to start off my talk by expressing my deep gratitude for the amazing people Heavenly Father so graciously blessed me with.
- First off, I’m especially grateful for my family here on earth and their examples of unconditional love, service, and hard work. They have taught me and helped me grow beyond measure, and I truly love them with all of my heart.
- I would like to express my gratitude for this amazing ward. When my family first joined the church, this was the ward that built us up and made us feel welcome, loved, and took really good care of my family. This is the ward I grew up in and as I look into the crowd, I see our previous bishops, sunday school teachers, primary teachers, young women’s advisors, friends, and most of all, this ward has truly become my family and I feel so blessed to stand up here and look into the crowd of so many people that I love with all of my heart..
- And I’m so thankful for my dear friends from middle school and high school and BYU. You guys have also helped me grow in so many different ways. Thank you all for your love, support, and your influences on my life.
Throughout this week, I have pondered quite often in what I should say in this talk and I pray that the Spirit will testify of the truth and that the Spirit may be the one to teach and touch each of our hearts.
I believe that Heavenly Father has prepared me to go on a mission, in His own way, without me knowing it. I believe that Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for each and every one of us and that with faith and trust in Him, our choices we make throughout our life will be inspired by Him. Thomas S Monson once said, “Decisions have their eternal consequences. Our lives will depend upon the decisions which we make—for decisions determine destiny. ”
I want to share with you of my story and how I came to understand that serving a mission is what I wanted to do and what I personally needed to do here on Earth. I have felt God's love for me, and I have felt the Spirit provide light and inspiration into my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I was pondering on my thoughts and trials, and I decided to fast for a few personal things, and specifically for peace and comfort as I prepare to go on my mission in just a couple of weeks. I prayed for these things, with all my heart. One sacrament meeting, I felt an overwhelming sensation of love, and joy, and comfort. I had the strongest impression of missionary work and suddenly, thoughts were spewing into my mind. I thought of the story of my parents, my sister, my grandparents, my friends, and myself. I thought of how missionary work plays a huge role in my life, and how I would not be where I am right now without it. I thought of how God truly does have a Plan, and how that Plan of Happiness revolves around the doctrine of eternal families. I thought of how perfectly missionary work ties in with God's Plan and eternal families.
I believe that God answers my prayers, solely through the people around me.. and as I sat in that sacrament meeting and thought about my family, and my friends, and their stories and their testimonies, I was able to feel the Spirit. I was able to recognize the common theme of missionary work and eternal families. Because of that, I felt very inspired to share about the impressions I have felt and the stories in my own life that I have been prompted to share.
My parents are hard working immigrants from Indonesia. In 1996, they decided to move to America so that their future kids and generations could have better opportunities in education, and most importantly, more freedom in being Christians. They worked hard and saved up to come to America, and brought my sister since she was the youngest at the time. I was then born in America in 1997, and my brother was born in 1998.
When my sister was 12, the missionaries knocked on our door. She let them in. She then started taking discussions with them, and next thing you know, she was getting baptized. A 12 year old. You would think a 12 year old would not be able to comprehend the principles and doctrines of the gospel.. But the fact that my sister got baptized at 12 years old, testifies that the Spirit is the one that converts and that faith plays a huge part in making big decisions. Her influence impacted my parents. My parents were then baptized a year after my sister was baptized.
At the time, I was only 6 years old. So when I turned 8, I chose to be baptized.. along with my little brother. Fast forward to a few years- One of our close family friends, Andrew Smith, got called to serve in Jakarta, Indonesia. He then was transferred to a small town called Manado, which is where all of my aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, everyone lives. I don't believe in coincidences, I know that this was all in God's Plan. He was able to teach my grandparents the gospel. He then baptized my grandparents.
All these events-more specifically, all these decisions- have molded my life into a series of miraculous events. My parent’s difficult choice to come to America resulted in finding the gospel. The two elders that knocked on my door changed my life and generations and even eternities to come. The choice of those elders serving a mission resulted in the two elders to get called to California, where they knocked on doors, and found my sister. They taught the gospel to a 12 year old, who influenced her parents, along with the rest of her family. That family has been praying for years for our family in Indonesia to hear the gospel, and then a close family friend is called to serve there, and then got called to serve in the small town of my family, which resulted in my grandparents to be baptized. That same family has continued to pray long and hard for the rest of our family in Indonesia. And I being a part of that family, have personally prayed to go back to Indonesia for as long as I can remember.. To simply meet them and love them and in hopes of sharing the gospel to them.
I never would have thought I would be serving my mission in the land of my heritage and I know that this is a huge blessing. It has been a miracle and it’s still so hard for me to comprehend the fact that I have been called to serve in Indonesia, to share the gospel with the ones I have yet to meet and the ones I know I will love with all of my heart.
Because of these things, I am here. I have the gospel in my life because Heavenly Father sent two elders our way and my life has been changed forever. I have seen God's hand work in my life. My dream of going back to Indonesia- the land of my heritage, where all of my family members such as my grandparents, uncles, cousins, and so, still reside, to teach the people of Indonesia of the beautiful and true gospel of Jesus Christ has come true.
This is the story of the two elders who changed my life, my sister's story, my parent's story, my family's story, my friend's story, and now this is my story to tell you. My life is not just a series of random events, it is a series of God's events in His timing. Right now as I realize I am going on my mission so soon, I feel peace and joy and so much excitement. I know that I owe it all to the Lord. I cry thinking of the people that are waiting for me to teach them the gospel. I want to bring that sense of joy and comfort that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into my life and I want to share that with everyone around me. I want to go on a mission to bring the world His truth, and I know that looking back on my life, God's hand is evident in so many ways.
Each of us are here for a reason. We all have a purpose to our life. I think as members of this church, we have an eternal responsibility to serve and to love our brothers and sisters. We have the responsibility of sharing the gospel to those around us. Henry B Eyring stated, “Your life is carefully watched over, as was mine. The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know. He is kind and He is all-knowing. So you can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn in preparation for the service you will give. You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not. But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased, and you will be grateful.” We as disciples of Christ must continue to look unto Him for guidance, and for those opportunities to find those who are prepared to hear the gospel and to those who need that extra boost of love, and service.
I know that-
- I am a divine daughter of God.. That we are all children of a loving, kind, and all knowing Heavenly Father.
- I know that Jesus Christ lives. He is our brother, our friend, He is our Savior. He died for us, and suffered for us. He knows us. That through the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins. And that we can be like Him.
- Heavenly Father has a beauitful and indiviual plan for each and every one us.
- That trials are God’s way of helping us to become who He needs us to be. It’s His way of helping each of us to learn and grow and our opportunity to strengthen our testimony
- That Thomas S Monson is our prophet today & He is called of God
- That Joseph Smith restored the true church
- That prayer is REAL. If youre ever in doubt, if youre hurting, I promise that if you get on your knees and ask for comfort, then He will provide the comfort that you need. He will never leave you comfortless.
- The Book of Mormon is true. With prayer and faith, and a tesimony in this book, it will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.
- God is real. Jesus Christ is real. Their love for each of us is real and what’s most important is to share with others of this knowledge of the gospel & their love for us.
I would like to end with my favorite scripture which is Alma 26:12- Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise His name forever.”
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank you so much to my sweet family and friends who have made this day so special! Truly one of the happiest days of my life. I love you all with my whole heart!
My lovely family & the Smith family!! I love them so much!!
My BYU best friends!! Missing a couple of us, but wow, I love them so much!
Some of the greatest high school friends/BYU friends!!
My best friend, Alli Zundel, gave her farewell today too!! She is going to be an extraordinary missionary and I am so proud of her. She's taking off to Tokyo Japan on her mission and leaves for the MTC this Wednesday!!
Long live VAS!!!
Our favorite girls we used to babysit- now everyone is all grown up!
My second pair of parents- Bro & Sis Taylor!
Dan & GMoney
Ratunuman fam loves food
More childhood friends- Playdough, Spence, Antwon, Dabey