Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Farewell Sacrament Meeting

Eric spoke in Sacrament last Sunday, June 10, 2012. We had so many people come to Church to support him: my Dad flew in from Pennsylvania, my Mom and stepfather Russ came, one of my best friends, Richard Milenkovich, drove from California just for the weekend, my boss, Ezra T. Clark, III and his whole family, President Wayne Gardner and his wife, my stepson Andrew Hadder and his fiance, my bandmate Serge van Neck, and Debbi and Derrick Platt, to name a few. We felt very loved and blessed as a family. Later in the day, we met with a wonderful return missionary from the Micronesia Guam Mission, Chase Adams, who came with Travis Williams and shared his stories of the mission and allowed us to play his mission DVD for our open house Sunday night. We had so many people come from the Ward that we loved come wish Eric farewell. We also had extended family like Mark & Bee, Stephanie and Kat, Rey Martinez, Holly and Serena. It was wonderful to see everyone, and many people brought gifts for Eric. We simply had the most perfect weekend. 

Below is Eric's talk - I am posting it for those of our friends and family who could not make it. Unfortunately, you cannot feel the Spirit that was present at the meeting, but you can imagine Eric's sincerity as he gave the talk. 

          Good Morning Brothers and Sisters, friends and family. My name is Eric Hadder and I have been asked to speak with you today about sacrifice.
To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater goal or purpose. We read about sacrifice early on, starting in Genesis, in reference to animal sacrifices. The animal sacrifice was a symbol for the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. However after the Atonement of Christ, animal sacrifices where no longer needed, But instead Christ tells his disciples of another type of sacrifice. He does this in 3rd Nephi 9:20, which states;
 And ye shall offer for a asacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I bbaptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.
In the times before Christ animal sacrifices were required of the people. In modern times, we are commanded to have a “Broken heart and a contrite spirit” – this means a willingness to repent of sins, and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one's life with His commandments. This stands in stark contrast for most of the world. All around us, TV shows, movies, and other media encourage us to spend our time, effort and money on purely personal fulfillment. But those who choose to follow Christ focus on others. To follow Christ involves a sacrifice of what we do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary lives to be of service to others.
Every member of our Church has a responsibility to serve. Our clergy are not professionally trained or paid. Everyday members are called to lead and serve the congregation, and they are responsible for numerous Church meetings, programs, and activities.
The most well-known example of sacrifice in our Church history would be the Mormon pioneers. Our ancestors sincerely believed that they were obeying the will of the Lord to sacrifice everything they had: their possessions, separation from their family, even their lives, in order to establish the foundation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and build up the Kingdom of God on the earth.  In General Conference, Elder Oaks stated that today, the best-known example of unique LDS service and sacrifice, are the work of our missionaries. Currently there are more than 50,000 young men and young women and over 5,000 adult men and women serving a mission. Our Ward alone has approximately 10 missionaries serving in the United States and other countries, with two more serving in the very near future. Missionaries devote from six months to two years of their lives to teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing humanitarian service in more than 160 countries in the world. Missionary work always involves sacrifice. Including the years they give to the work of the Lord, missionaries leave jobs, college, sweethearts, and their family to serve others. Not only do they sacrifice, but the parents and other family members sacrifice too, in many ways, including providing funds for their support and going without the companionship of the missionary they sent.  
Our family has answered the call to sacrifice. After much prayer and prompting, I decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have been called to serve in the Micronesia Guam Mission and report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah this coming Wednesday, June 13th.  Although most young men go on their mission when they turn 19, I didn’t. I had every intention, and even had all of my paperwork filled out, however the timing just was not right for me, and my family. In the summer of 2008, my father was diagnosed with terminal angio immunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. My father was told he had, at the most, two years to live. As many of you know, my father is still with us today through the power of faith, sacrifice, prayer and the priesthood. The Bishop we had at the time my dad was diagnosed was a Doctor in Medical Research with the U.S. Navy, and he had access to up-to-date data on my dad’s specific type of cancer. He found the only research study published: a study of 100 patients over a 10 year period because this type of lymphoma is so rare. Of all 100 patients, none survived more than 2 years after their diagnosis.  Our Bishop was fully aware of how sick my father was, and he knew the prognosis was very poor. However, shortly after my dad was diagnosed, that same Bishop came to the hospital and gave my father a priesthood blessing. In that blessing, my father was told that his doctors would be able to treat him and that he would be able to provide for his family.  The Bishop stated afterward that he hesitated before stating these words, but went ahead with the blessing because this is what the Spirit told him to say.  My father has had to sacrifice with many health issues since his diagnosis, but he is still here.  But we have been greatly blessed by the numerous people – friends, family and Ward Members -  that have sacrificed in so many ways to help our family.
I received my mission call early this year, and I have been excited to serve ever since. However in mid April my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. This hit our family very hard. I knew what type of toll my father’s cancer had on him, and knew that the road ahead would be difficult for my mom. She has had surgery and faces six months of chemotherapy and radiation. But her faith has not waivered and she continues to encourage me to serve my mission. And once again, my family and I were given an opportunity to see the power of the priesthood and prayer, as well as the blessings that come from those who sacrifice for others. Once again, friends, family and ward members have come forward to offer help and support to our family. Many of you sit in the audience today. 
I have been blessed so many times in my life. I have been on the receiving end of many people who have sacrificed for me and my family. I feel that I now have been given an amazing opportunity to sacrifice in order to bring others to Christ. I am extremely happy and excited to serve the Lord in this mission, and to be of help in any way I can to the people of Micronesia.  I simply want to serve. I strive to follow Matthew 16:24-25: “For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us all, and we should follow his example.
Eric then bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the Church and closed his talk. We sang "How Great Thou Art" and closed with "Because I Have Been Given Much". It was a wonderful Sacrament meeting, and one I will never forget.