This is a transcript of Hannah’s farewell talk – Some people requested a copy so we decided to post it here:
Hello, my name is Hannah Marie Hollberg. I will soon be known as “Hermana Hollberg,” and I think that’s how that’s pronounced… I actually don’t know Spanish, really. To be honest, I used Google Translate to figure that one out.
Just some general census information:
I’ve just turned 19 years-old this month, and I’ve been in the ward for 11 years now.
I just finished my first year of college at the University of Utah, and so far my plan is to major in Computer Science, more specifically Software Engineering, and I plan on minoring in Modern Dance.
You might have seen me in the neighborhood, I’ve spent the last year working at Caputo’s on 15th! I’m just finishing now as the assistant manager, which is something that I’m really proud of.
I was called on Feb. 27th to serve as a missionary in the PERU LIMA CENTRAL mission. Compared to a lot of missions in the rest of the world, this one is really small, it’s only the city of Lima. But Lima itself is a huge city, it’s the size of New York City! And it’s fully westernized, everyone there speaks Spanish, and my mission is Spanish speaking. So I’ll pretty much be staying there the whole time, no bikes, no cars, just on my feet!
So I’m reporting in seventeen days, which is really scary! If I do get my VISA, I’ll be going to the Lima MTC—there’s one down there, so it will be fully immersive, but I don’t find out if I get my VISA until about a week before I report so I might be going to Provo. So I’ll find that out then.
So yes, I am a science major. I really like logic and science, along with other members of my family. Something about it is having the surety of a single answer, I like how there can’t be an answer that’s not completely correct, like how there is when writing an English paper. It’s an answer. I find that really satisfactory for some reason… Haha but anyway every single answer or step forward in the sciences always begins with a question.
Well, there are a few particular questions we’ve heard in the world literally hundreds of times over and over again. There are three main ones, but I’d like to tack a fourth onto the group. They are:
1) Who are we?
2) Where are we going?
3) Why are we were?
4) Why do bad things happen to good people?
These questions have stumped man and woman alike for millennia. And it’s true: it’s hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed. I completely agree, which is why I have chosen to speak today about my absolute favorite gospel topic:
The plan of Salvation is “one of heaven’s best gifts to mankind,” and it is the root of all church doctrine.
It all begins in our pre-mortal life, meaning the life we lived before we lived here on earth.
Well, if God knows everything, why wouldn’t he just tell us what we would have done if we would have come to Earth? Why wouldn’t he have said “Oh, you would have done this, then you would have done this, you would have made this mistake, and then you would have been happy and it would have been awesome!” Well, my response to that is—to those parents in the audience—imagine if someone would have explained to you what it would be like to be a parent? They would say “Oh, you’ll have good days, you’ll have bad days, you’ll love your kids even though some days you’ll want to… throttle them…” I dunno I’m not a parent.
But anyway, it wouldn’t be the same! To me, I think of, what if someone would have explained to me “oh dance, yeah this is dance” in paragraph form. I would never know. I’d be missing out on such a big piece of my life. And it just really doesn’t make up for it.
That being said, a few main purposes of our mortal life were:
1) To receive a physical body
2) To gain experiences that we could not obtain in any other way
3) To prove our faithfulness through obedience to God’s commandments
4) To live in families and to seal children to their parents through temple ordinances
We knew about the plan before we were born. We in the church believe that there was a great council to explain the purpose of earth life, and that all of us who have lived on earth in the past, who are living today and who will yet live here were among the spirit children of God who chose to accept the plan to come to Earth and undertake the good and the bad that were waiting for us here. The plan was not forced on us, and it’s important to know that we chose this for ourselves, we decided with our personal agency.
We rejoiced in heaven for opportunity to come and experience life in its fullness for ourselves.
And yes, these four points made up some of the essence of plan – man would have the opportunity to work out his own salvation on earth, with God’s help
During the council, a leader was chosen to teach us how to follow the plan and to redeem us from sin and death. He would come to earth, and suffer through all of the sins and pain that everyone who would live on earth would ever feel, so that he could become the perfect judge. In doing this, we as individuals could apologize and repent for our mistakes, and try again every day. We could and be redeemed in the eyes of God. In order to do this, this leader had to have the strength of God himself with him. Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the father was our eldest brother in the pre-mortal life, and he volunteered to undertake the sins of our generation so that we could live.
The Lord promises that “For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
OUR EARTH LIFE
Once we were sent to earth, there was one particular key to our existence here. That is, that we were born to be real, not to be perfect. We were all sent here a little broken.
Along with these opportunities for opportunity and growth, we were given some flaws. We in the church call that the natural man or the natural woman. And me, the natural Hannah, I’ve got a list here, I’ve written downs some things! I am selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, irritable… I wouldn’t even like that kind of a person!
But the essence of earth life is opposition in all things.
There’s a famous quote by some philosopher, I think it’s Socrates or maybe Plato who says, “Oh you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” (Rolling Stones)
And so on Earth, it’s true! We experience hardship, trial, pain, temptation and sin. But we can also experience love, happiness, gratitude, peace, and joy, and all of the other beauties of the earth that we would never know otherwise! And our emotion, and all of the wonderful things! And that’s the purpose – to experience and grow in ways that we could not understand otherwise. If we just lived at one level of being content for a long time, we would not know that we were happy because that would be the only thing that we had experienced. And that was the greatest gift that Heavenly Father could have given us, was to give us the opportunity for the best happiness out there.
After we know this, the question becomes, how do we overcome and avoid the hardships where we can? Well, that’s where hope, grace, and the Atonement sets in.
The Lord is our advocate – Jesus Christ is on our team. Through repentance, I can overcome that Natural Hannah – I can be my very best self. I can try again, every day, and strive to have the positive qualities that I wish that I could have, like faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
Just as Christ healed the sick and performed miracles in his day on the earth, all of us can be HEALED SPIRITUALLY. Every one of us, and isn’t that a miracle? Every day.
D&C 58:42 says “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
And we all know the famous scripture that says, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
Along with the struggling of overcoming our own flaws, we have been given tests, covenants and commandments.
The way I see it, I see it like every person on Earth has a certain amount of allotted trials, say six pounds total, and some people have it all lumped together while other people have it all spread out and later in their life, but everyone in their life is tested to the very end, where they don’t think they can do it anymore. The very end of their wits. It’s hard first to know, sometimes people say “oh, this person seems like they have an easy life,” but we all should know that we’re going through terrible things at some point in our life, and in all seriousness, I take great comfort in knowing that on the eternal timeline of our lives, that the pain here we experience will be “but a small moment” in comparison with the eternities that we have planned for us.
My favorite scripture is in 3 NE 13: “Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.”
And to me, that’s Heavenly Father saying, “Look, there’s enough hardships, there’s enough worries in the world to go off of. If you just seek the right things that are close to your heart, it’ll be ok. No matter what.” We won’t be taxed, we won’t be trialed above what we can handle, and He knows that.
The next scripture I’d like to share is some of the very most powerful doctrine in our scriptures; In 1838, after the governor of Missouri had ordered local militias to exterminate or drive every “Mormon” from the state, while the prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in the Liberty Jail with a few other leaders in the most horrible conditions, barely surviving:
D&C 122 states “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
In the most horrible, darkest times of persecution in church history, the saints learned to face whatever life might bring, be it grief or pain, joy or sorrow, with light hearts, knowing that in the last day through the wisdom of the Almighty, recompense would be provided.
Isn’t that absolutely beautiful? And that kind of comfort is available to every single one of us, if we just reach out and we take it. I just love that, we WILL be ok!
It’s our choice how we react to adversity. Whether we rationalize or overcome, give up or endure, whether we become bitter or compassionate—it is our choice. And that choice will help determine how close we’ll come to the Savior’s way of living.
We believe that after death we move on to live in an existence known as the Spirit World, that we will be the same person that we were when we died, same soul and personality. I’m so grateful that we have the knowledge that we don’t just die and we either go to heaven or we go to hell – there is the Spirit World, another dimension on this earth where we can live in happiness and peace, or we can live with our regrets of things from our Earth. And after a period of time, when the Earth has nearly reached the end of its time being for trial there’s the resurrection – everyone ever becomes incorruptible, immortal living souls.
At judgment, we will be placed into respective degrees of glory that reflect how we’ve lived our life on earth with the knowledge and light we were given.
It is there, in the post-mortal worlds that families can be together forever.
Where there will be everlasting and eternal peace, joy.
We will know that yes, we will have endured to the end.
And looking back, it really will be a small moment on Earth.
MY PURPOSE AS A MISSIONARY
Why did I personally choose to leave school, everything that I own or know, pay money, live with a whole bunch of extremely strict rules?
I want to serve a mission because I believe it will be truly meaningful to me and to those I will serve. I think that bringing good into the world through service is one of the best ways you can spend your time while simultaneously conquering the natural selfish tendencies that are within every one of us.
I want to serve a mission because I believe that service is more powerful than selfishness.
It’s something I’ve kind of known I’ve wanted for myself ever since I was a kid, I could see myself doing that, I could see myself loving that, and I’m so grateful for the age change, it really helped me make up my mind. It’s made it so much more convenient for me.
And I knew it could make me into a strong, independent, brave person.
It could teach me to push through my weaknesses and many disappointments.
And once, actually it was back at Tom’s surprise party we had back in October at the ward, when I was trying to make up my mind on whether I should serve a mission or not: I was talking to Michele Berger and I said, “You went on a mission, right? Why did you go?” She said, “Well, I couldn’t see why anyone wouldn’t go, if they wanted to be the best mother that they could. It would build so many life skills. It was something that I wanted.” And I said “That’s…. brilliant!”
But anyway, I am genuinely excited about those four questions I read earlier, “Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Why do bad things happen to good people?” I am. Really, genuinely excited and I want to share that with people, if they’re interested in hearing it.
One of the very first things Preach My Gospel says is, “My purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
I just want to go down and bring hope, I’ll go down and I’ll say “Hey, I find hope in the Plan of Salvation, in the Atonement, Families, TEMPLES, the words of living/past prophets, and if that works for you, well then let’s hope together!”
My purpose in going is not to take away the culture and ideas of the people in Lima.
I’m going to spread a message of peace, faith, hope, charity and love. I’m going to promote the family unit and the sanctity therein, to discourage alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. I’m going to invite people to learn about the Life and example of Jesus Christ, the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.
If there is anything I wish I could tell the people of Lima, it would be that although we aren’t perfect, the Lord will bless us for the good we do in the world.
There are people on this world and outside of it who care about you deeply, who root for your success and are mournful when you are sad.
YOU MATTER. Keep your chin up. Let’s do this.
“Regardless of what you do or don’t have in this life, your deepest, most lasting happiness will come from knowing God’s plan and following it.
“We often fall into the trap of thinking a new car, job promotion, beauty makeover, or some level of fame will make us happy. And often they do—for a time. But it never lasts because wealth, power, beauty and fame simply don’t bring lasting happiness, as much as we wish they would. Rather, true happiness comes from following Christ’s example and developing Godlike attributes such as goodness, love, justice and mercy. It comes from serving others and helping them to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. It comes from overcoming the appetites of our human bodies and instead following the promptings of the Spirit. It comes from working hard and having a healthy lifestyle, friends, family, and personal achievements. Regardless of what you do or don’t have in this life, your deepest, most lasting happiness will come from knowing God’s plan and following it. He will reward us beyond our ability to comprehend in the life to come if we endure to the end and keep our covenants.”
I could really talk about the Plan of Salvation for days. It gives me so much hope. I mean, it’s something that’s been discussed on earth since the dawn of man. There is so much more I could discuss, but I think it’s important first that I say:
Brothers and sisters, I am so grateful to be called as a missionary for the church. I know that I have many weaknesses and that I could never be the world’s greatest, most perfect missionary, but I am so immensely grateful for the opportunity.
I know that the next 18 months are going to be some of the very hardest months of my entire life, where doors will be slammed in my face, I will be mocked and my very deepest, most special testimony will be utterly rejected, but that they will also be the very best 18 months for my whole life. I’m so thankful that I was able to make this decision by myself, for myself.
I am so grateful for Moroni’s promise in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, where he says “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
I am so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I have taken Moroni’s challenge into my own heart and I have learned for myself, in the most personal way, of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have felt the burning in my heart, saying that the Plan of Salvation is the layout of this life here on earth, and that we will have an eternity of peace in the next life if we can hold on to the things close to our hearts, which are most dear and important. I would not be going out and dedicating a strict 18 months of my life preaching the gospel and spreading this message if I did not know with a surety that it’s the truth. This is truly why I am going.
Brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all of your encouragement over the years. It’s meant the world to me. I would not be in such a happy place in my life if it wasn’t for the unity in this ward and community, and also the support of my family. Thanks again for all of the love, and may God be with you until we meet again.
Hannah and Family after the farewell, June 30 2013