My Farewell Talk, Frankfurt Mission

Ann Lewis

Farewell Talk 20 July 2023

The bishopric asked us to talk about Elder Uchtdorf’s April Conference message to parents on parenting.  In his talk, he reminds us that:

God has given parents the “sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to … observe the commandments of God.”

His message to all parents was this:

The Lord loves you.

He is with you.

He stands beside you.

He is your strength in guiding your children to make righteous choices.

Help your children build faith in Jesus Christ, love His gospel and His Church, and prepare for a lifetime of righteous choices.
Following Elder Uchtdorf’s counsel, the decisions we make can be a pattern for our children.  Our kids and grandkids watch us and see what we do.  They see what’s important to us.  They also feel our love for them and they know it would take something pretty important to pull us away from them.

In 3 weeks we are leaving serve in the Europe Central Area for the next 18 months.  Our primary assignment is to serve as area Church Communication specialists.  We’ll be stationed in Frankfurt Germany.  The Europe Central Area includes 20 missions, 34 stakes, 20 districts and 37 countries.

A few years ago, when we were called to be Mission Leaders in Yakima, Pres Eyring told us, “Your children will benefit more from you being away than from you being here with them.”  That thought startled me.  Could it be true??  It turned out to be true.  Miracles happened.  (Some of you know what goof-balls our kids were–and how they grew up while we were away!)

Now our kids have launched–they’re all married and starting their own families.

Paul Coelho said:

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.
They move on. They move away.
The moments that used to define them are covered by
moments of their own accomplishments.
It is not until much later, that children understand;
their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories
of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones,
beneath the water of their lives.”

What we do and the decisions we make have a great impact on our children’s lives.

Ezekiel 16:44   “As is the mother, so is her daughter.”

It is not until much later, that children understand; “their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the water of their lives.”

Isaiah 51:1 “Look to the rock from which you were hewn.”

I understand now that my story sits atop the stories of my parents and grandparents and every pioneer before them.  My people did hard things.  They accepted and were faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They crossed oceans, settled in new lands, opened shops, plowed fields and raised crops.  They worked hard and taught their children as I have taught mine and as mine now teach theirs.   Many of my people left their families to serve missions.  Knowing the cost they paid then makes me stronger now.  I will be true to them, to my children, and to my grandchildren by doing the same.

What is that COST?

In President Oaks’ April 2019 General Conference talk called “Where Will This Lead?,” he used a term I’d never heard before.  He called it “opportunity cost.”

President Oaks said:

“We make many choices between two goods, often involving how we will spend our time. There is nothing bad about playing video games or texting or watching TV or talking on a cell phone. But each of these involves what is called “opportunity cost,” meaning that if we spend time doing one thing, we lose the opportunity to do another. I am sure you can see that we need to measure thoughtfully what we are losing by the time we spend on one activity, even if it is perfectly good in itself.”

Opportunity Cost!  What a perfect label for something I think about All The Time.  Now I know what to call it.  I thought about one of the first times I became acutely aware of opportunity cost.  I was 22 years old, a student at BYU, living with roommates.  I was also preparing to be a missionary.  I had friends and roommates who questioned my desire to step away from our social world and dating for 18 months to go wherever I would be sent.  Several friends told me, “I’d rather stay home and get married than go on a mission.”

I left those friends behind and spent 18 months serving in South Africa.  I was 24 years old when I returned.  I remember visiting many of my old friends who had stayed at home to get married.  Many were still single.  I had gone and come back with the world in my heart, and they were much the same.   They had missed an incredible opportunity.
Descriptions of Opportunity Cost:  a benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else.  Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.  The opportunity cost is the missed potential gain from the choice that is NOT taken.

When economists refer to the “opportunity cost” of a resource, they mean the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of that resource.  If, for example, you spend time and money going to a movie, you cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you can’t spend the money on something else.  There can never be zero opportunity cost for anything that we human beings do in this life.  Every  choice has an opportunity cost.  There will be times when our opportunity cost cannot really be expressed in terms of money, but the cost is still there.

A few weeks after returning from our 3 years in Yakima, I made this journal entry:

27 July 2018

Today John and I went into our local Orem Costco to pick up some food, now that we’re home again. The parking lot was full of cars and there are new town homes surrounding it.  The mall nearby has had a face lift and now includes a splash pad for children. There seems to be more traffic and there are more people everywhere we go. We’re trying to get used to all the changes.

As we went into Costco, we passed the customer service and information desk. The same people who were there 3 years ago, were still there, taking returns and answering membership questions. It caused me to pause and consider where my life has taken me these last 3 years–to Washington and back, and through the hearts of 100s of missionaries and friends there.

I could have been standing behind one desk, or sitting in one chair, or talking to the same small circle of friends. Instead, I feel like I’ve been to heaven and back. I’ve met people and I’ve seen things and I’ve felt things that never would have happened had I stayed here. I occurred to me that I was handed a Gift in the invitation to go and serve in another place, away from my home and family.

Sometimes people talk about our mission like it was a great sacrifice and a noble thing we did. That’s not really true. Serving a mission is more like an offering given, a small offering. But God’s economy is vastly different from ours. We may think we are giving, but the reality is that we received WAY more than what we gave. We returned changed, with hearts brim full of hundreds of loved ones we never would have known and we had experiences that have changed who we are. I’m grateful for this incredible gift!

These recorded memories, along with stories of my ancestors make the decision to serve another mission easy.  This will be my 5th mission.  Each one has changed me in eternally significant ways.  In South Africa I learned to love the people of Africa and their humble and gritty lives.  In Nigeria, I learned to live simply, without running water or electricity.  I learned what is important to survive, and it’s not Stuff.  In Yakima I learned to open my heart to a family of young missionaries who became like my children.  In Mali and Cote d’Ivoire I learned that great things begin small and the gospel of Jesus Christ has the answer to all the challenges the world throws at us.

In every place I’ve served, Jesus Christ is the answer.  Serving Him brings Joy.  Teaching others of him brings them joy.  Even leaving our family brings blessings to them here, blessings beyond what we could have imagined or orchestrated ourselves.

Not everyone is able to serve a mission, but we can all think hard about the decisions we make about how to spend our time.  We can carefully consider the stories of our lives that our children will build upon.  We can be anxiously engaged in good causes and be examples to our family members.  As they gain wisdom, what is important to us will be important to them.

As you consider these things, remember what Elder Uchtdorf said:

The Lord loves you.

He is with you.

He stands beside you.

He is your strength in guiding your children to make righteous choices.

Help your children build faith in Jesus Christ, love His gospel and His Church, and prepare for a lifetime of righteous choices.

I testify that the opportunity cost or benefit or value of any service we render to help bring others to Christ is a gift to us and to our families.  We will never be the same.  They will never be the same.  What greater gift can a parent give?

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoy the things shared here.
This entry was posted in Ann Lewis, Lewis Family, Missions. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Farewell Talk, Frankfurt Mission

  1. Irene Bushman says:

    Thanks Ann for those inspiring words. Good luck in your new mission.. it’s not really luck is it. The Lord has his hand in our lives.

  2. Helen Dixon says:

    Ann, you’re amazing! You will be such a positive influence on the people you serve as well as on your family members who stay behind. And like you said, because of the service you render, you will come away changed. I’m so happy for you.

  3. Marilyn Rizley says:

    Ann; Your talk is pure inspiration for me to consider the “opportunity cost” each day and leading to eternity. Your mission to Germany 🇩🇪 makes me excited to the future of Europe while you serve with your sweetheart. I love Germany. I love you.♥️

Leave a Reply