Sunday, August 20, 2017

Elder Underwood's Homecoming Talk

My name is Marshall Cluff Underwood. I just got home from serving in the France Lyon mission. I really miss it to be honest. I really really miss it. Usually when someone – I don’t know how many people here have been to church in France, I know there are a couple, but usually at the beginning of a talk when the person gets up they will say, “Bonjour.” And then everyone will answer “bonjour”. Bonjour means hello or good day. So are you ready to do that with me today?  I see some nods. “Bonjour” “Bonjour” Thank you. Those of you laughing know that I was lying, but it was fun. They don’t do that, but they should. Today I am going to talk about FAITH. I am so happy to have the opportunity to talk to all of you and to see all of you. You all look so great. I am going to start with my testimony in French. Ce que je m’apprête à dire ne peut pas paraitre cliche parce que je vais commencer par mon témoignage. Je sais que Jésus-Christ est le Sauveur du monde. Je sais qu’il est descendu de son trône divin et il l’a repris après son expiation glorieuse, et grâce à Lui nous pouvons vivre encore avec notre Père qui est dans les cieux. Et je dis ces choses au nom de Jésus-Christ, Amen. Amen.
I want to give a little disclaimer. I am going to share some stories about my mission today and the last thing – absolutely last thing – I want you to take away from this is that my mission was hard. There is my new difference between hard and trial of faith. I am going to go to the scriptures in Ether 12:5. A scripture that most of us know. At this moment, Ether is prophesying. He is prophesying great things. I imagine he is prophesying the coming of Jesus Christ. The people are not believing because they never saw him. I says, “And now, I, Moroni, will speak somewhat concerning these things. I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” So basically what he is saying, the question isn’t whether you see Him or not. The question is whether you are going to choose to have faith in Him or not. So I would say 100% that my mission was a trial of faith. That I gained a lot more faith on my mission than I ever could have at home, but it was not hard.
I had one great companion sitting down in the audience, his name is Braydon. I would like to start with a little story that we had together that really highlights the principle of faith. As missionaries, we have faith that the Lord will show us where to go, what to do and what to say. If you read Preach My Gospel, that’s all over in it. Where to go, what to do, what to say. And so one day, we were living in Bastia, which is a city on the island of Corsica. And we had some plans that fell through and so we prayed to know where to go. We had faith that God would show us where to go. We were led to a city about 30 minutes outside of where we were that we weren’t planning on being in that day. We entered the city and out other companion decided to take the third turn on the left. So we took the third turn on the left. We knocked on a couple doors and the third door we knocked on a little girl opened the door and looked at us like we were ghosts. Then she ran away. We expected her mom to come to the door, but her little brother came to the door and looked at us like “wow”. And then the mother finally came to the door. We kind of took a classic missionary approach “Hi we are the missionaries.” She said, “I know. I am a member.” And we were surprised and said “what”. She said she moved there a while ago and I have never seen you around here. No one had any clue that she was there on the island. I guess the point that that story makes is that doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just happen. We don’t just feel exactly where to go unless it is by the spirit of God. It is not a random work. It is not a work where we just decide to Port – to knock on doors in one specific area and spend a whole month. It specifically doesn’t just happen, especially because it happened twice.
Sorry if I pause. I am keeping tears and butterflies from flying out.
In the same area, we were still having faith that God would lead us where to go. We prayed one day and felt really strongly that we need to go to this one place. We went to this neighborhood. In French, a neighborhood is a quartier. We went to this quartier and there were probably 100 houses. We knocked on them all. No one – absolutely no one – was there to receive us. We got many doors slammed in our face. So jokingly we call it our quartier préféré which means our favorite neighborhood. We made a couple jokes throughout the weeks we would go back to quartier préféré. Until one day, we really felt like we needed to and that was interesting. It was an interesting feeling to have because we were joking about it, but it was very clear that we needed to go back. We went back and the same exact thing happened. That story illustrates that there are miracles at the end of faith. Always. But sometimes our faith is used for things we can’t see. For the first story, where we found that family, our faith was used to help out that family. In the second story, our faith was used to help us. It was really strengthening to know that God would lead us there twice just knowing that we would be rejected and we would leave with nothing. It reminds me of – it is easy to get down on yourself when you see that. You know that you are supposed to go there and then you get there and nothing happens. It is easy to get down on yourself with that, however, throughout the rest of my mission I learned through reading the scriptures that it happens all the time. We can take multiple prophets. Almost any prophet you can take – they have a quartier préféré story. Like Lehi – his city was destroyed. You have Abinadi. He was there to preach and he was burned at the stake. You have Noah – 8 people on the earth after you go prophesy. How about that? And then we have our Savior. He came to earth and his ministry was about 3 years long. It ended with his crucifixion and a small band of followers. I know that Jesus Christ leads this work. I know that He leads the missionary work of this church. He is the head of this church. That has been made known to me multiple times. The second thing that he will help us know, other than where to go is what to do. My first area was a Ville called Perigueux. There was a man there called us wanting to be taught and he lived about 30 minutes outside of Perigueux in a village called Riberac. It is a tiny little village. We went there and we started teaching him. After a couple weeks, we were planning on what we were going to teach him. This man, his name is David, he was doing something that wasn’t exactly in line with the teachings of the church. That was his job. He had this job. He had a family, 3 kids, and had a car. He was coming to church. He would save all his money throughout the week just to have enough for gas to get to church and back home and then he was at zero. He was done. One day we felt really inspired to tell him that if he wanted to continue and be baptized that he would need to stop his job. That is insane. That is just dumb. No one would think of that. A man that has a family – he is trying to raise his family – 3 young kids – we were telling him to take away all of his income. But we told him. It was a really tender moment. He said, “you know what elders, you are right.” And since then has made beautiful efforts to be able to put his life in line with the gospel. Throughout the rest of my mission I kept getting updates from him. “He just got the Aaronic Priesthood” “He got the Melkizedek Priesthood” I was so happy for him. He baptized his daughters. It is amazing to feel how much love you can have for someone when it changes their life like that.
I would like to share one more story about a woman named Amandine. This will illustrate the fact that God will tell us what to say. I served in Lyon, but I lived in a little city called Tassin-la-demi-lune. It is just a quartier of Lyon. We were walking down there – you can usually judge the size of a city by the number of bakeries. There were probably about 2, which means it is very small. We were walking by one of them and we saw a woman with her son and daughter and we stopped her. We tried to tell her about the Book of Mormon. We tried to tell her about coming to church. She didn’t want anything to do with us. That was ok. At the end of the conversation, we really felt that we needed to give her an invitation to the Paris temple open house. We gave it to her. That was about it. She even refused to take a card with our number on it. That is how much she was against it. A couple weeks later, after leaving our apartment and walking down the street next to our apartment, we ran into this lady again. Amandine. We talked to her and she made it very clear that she still was not wanting to talk to us, but we made the connection with her between the temple and her family. We had seen her with her family. And then she accepted to take our number. We said, “Amandine, after you read this brochure on the family – give us a call.” No later than maybe an hour and a half she gave us a call and said “I need this. I need this for my family.” We all need different things. The gospel never changes, but it is going to apply to us in different ways. Amandine would not have listened to us if it weren’t for her love for her family. And I know that that is a really big pathway into the gospel. Is loving your family. The gospel is all about family. As members of the church, (Marshall checked to see if his missionary tag was on his shirt. He said “sometimes I still check to see if it is there. My placard.) A lot of us will define missionary work as finding, teaching, baptizing. That is how many will define it. The purpose of missionaries is to teach repentance and to baptize converts. The only thing left out of that is finding. So missionaries do do (laughter – do do) They do a lot of finding and knocking on doors and talking to people on the buses, however, their purpose is not to find people. Their purpose is to teach them and to baptize them after they have received a testimony of Jesus Christ our Savior. That means for us as members – our purpose is to invite. And so, as we have faith in God, Jesus Christ, that we will have faith that he will show us what to say so we can invite people. I know as members, we are sometimes hesitant to invite people – except for the Union Park 3rd Ward – I see there are some people that are not members of the church in the audience and I want anyone here that is not a member that has chosen to come today to know that when we invite – it is because we love you. We know the gospel is something – the teachings of Jesus Christ are something that will turn your life into a better life. There is more happiness found in His teachings than in anything else. That is why we invite. This same woman – Amandine – we kept inviting her to do things. To read the scriptures. To come to church. She kept finding out that what she believed isn’t what she felt like was true anymore. After a while she got really frustrated with us. She said, “you know what elders – you are ruining everything I have ever known. You are tearing it down piece by piece.” We knew that, but we loved her. A couple weeks later she realized that her life, her beliefs, were being deconstructed, but God was reconstructing them at the same time into something that would make her so much happier.

A couple principles that we find in Preach My Gospel are to find people. That is our purpose as members is to find. Invite. As we invite – we find. There is one little analogy that I would like to share. Imagine that you are on a basketball team. Your coach comes up to you and says, “Marshall, Michael, Dayton, when you get out on that court – every time you shoot it is going in.” What would you do? You would shoot every time you got the ball. It is the same thing when we invite people. When we invite, we are successful. A missionary’s purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. Inviter les gens à venir au Christ. And as we invite, we are successful. There is one thing that President Bednar said. I will try to remember it exactly, but I might not. He said, “Some may say that baptisms are not decided by the missionary for it is a mortal decision that every investigator must make.” Right? “There is truth in that statement, but there is also truth in this one. There is a power that can cause a good soul. Souls that are good, but dormant. To awaken unto God and that power is faith.” That is something that I really believed in throughout my mission. It didn’t matter how many baptisms I got. It didn’t matter how many people invited us to teach them because it is really their choice. So I realized that faith is actual power. Faith can change a good soul that is dormant to a disciple of God. And that is what happened with Amandine. We met her twice and she was dormant. And then, by our faith she awoke unto God by her faith. In Preach My Gospel there are a couple principles of finding and inviting that I would like to share. The first one is that we are all part of the family of God. It makes it really easy when you are not inviting a stranger, but you are inviting a brother or a sister. In Romans 8:16, it says “the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if we are children then heirs. Heirs of God co heirs with Christ. I suppose the sorrows of this present time are not to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed with in us. So as we see that glory – that potential in everyone – it will be a lot easier to invite them. The other one is finding those that are seeking. In the latter times – in the Doctrine & Covenants – the Lord has spoken unto many missionaries and he has told them Thrust in your sickle with all your might because the field is white all ready to harvest. And that is something we need to have faith in. That those that will be invited will be invited and will hear the voice of the Lord. Multiple times in the Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord promises missionaries with sheaths upon their back. A sheath isn’t something small. That means that He is preparing people and we just have to have faith. I hope that you have found something in these stories that have touched you. That have made you think about missionary work in a different way. There are a lot of clichés that a missionary will give you. They are going to tell you that is was the best 2 years. He will tell you that he couldn’t have done anything better with his time. It is all true. It is a cliché because it is true. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to serve the French people and I am happy to be home. My first home of Utah – my second home in France. I would like to bear you my testimony that I know that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was born unto the Virgin Mary and that He came and he walked the roads of Palestine. Healing the sick and causing the blind to see. I know that He lives but more importantly I know that He lives I know that through Him and by Him we can return to live with our Heavenly Father with our families forever. Which is really the greatest experience that we could share with anyone. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017


I hope, for anyone that was reading these emails, that they were helpful or inspiring.

I have gained so much on my mission. Too much to fit in a last email.

In my departing interview with President Brown, we talked a lot about the temple. Oh, how I can not wait to enter once again the house of my God.

I know hat Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world and the Son of God. I have borne testimony of that for two years, and I will keep it on my lips for the rest of my life.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Marshall Underwood

Monday, August 7, 2017

Baptême de feu

Not much time today mom :) but I can tell you about a couple things.

I went back to Geneva his week and saw the MUELLER's. They are so great. Later that night in the apartment, I was praying just asking to be able to sleep that night. Knowing that it would be the last time I would see that apartment was heart wrenching. However, the conference was really good and a good way to go out.

At timeos baptism, the water was really hot. He took a while to get down into the water, but after that he went in easy :) the confirmation the next day was really special. I hope I will always remember these moments!

I love you so much!