Good Morning and Happy Sunday!!!
I'm not sure how to start this post... I know exactly what I want to say and share, but it's near and dear to my heart and those are always the hardest ones to share. First because they are so personal and second because it makes me emotional and it's hard to post when you can't see through the tears.
On January 1, 2012 I wrote Spiritual Feasting #9. It was about the passing of my father-in-law. It was extremely hard to write that post but I needed to. I needed to share my testimony about the plan of salvation and that I know we'll see him again. It was apart of my grieving processes. I cried hard as I wrote that post. And the tears are already brimming now.
I want to share with you an experience that my brother-in-law had on his mission. Elder Stoker is serving in the Tennessee, Knoxville Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He's almost completed his 2 year mission and hearing the news of his father passing hit him hard. We were the ones that called him and my sweet husband was at a loss for words. He couldn't talk to his brother. They both sat there on the phone in silence unable to say anything to each other because their emotions were so raw. We put Elder Stoker on speaker phone and I told him what happened. He wished that he could've come home but he knew that his dad wanted him to stay on his mission and continue to serve the Lord and the people in Tennessee. Elder Stoker knew that the Lord wanted him to stay and that he needed to be here for the people in Tennessee. He didn't know why exactly, that he had such a strong feeling of needing to stay, but with in a week he was able to bare testimony about the plan of salvation and helped someone else, who was visiting the church that weekend, who had lost both her parents recently. He was able to bring her comfort through his testimony.
We got an email and a hand written letter this week from Elder Stoker. There was this women, Paula, that he had met in another area of his mission that they were trying to bring back to church. He was transfered out of that area and lost contact with her. Then a week or two ago, he was contacted by the bishop of the ward he was serving in. Paula had fallen extremely ill and it didn't seem like she was going to last much longer. She asked her husband to find Elder Stoker because she wanted a blessing from him. He had touched her so much. Her husband tried to find him but all the missionaries that he talked to kept saying he was transfered and they didn't know where he went to. Paula's husband was not a member of the church and didn't understand that being transfered just meant that he moved to a different area. He thought he gone come home. Paula was sad. She had really wanted to see him. Through the hospital, the bishop was contacted. Elder Stoker explained to us that his bishop really wanted to call the bishop of the ward boundaries that she was in to have him give her the blessing but he felt prompted to call the missionaries. So he listened and ask Elder Stoker and his companion to head over to the hospital as soon as possible because there was a sister there that needed a blessing. When he told Elder Stoker who it was his heart hurt. It was the woman he so desperately wanted to help but didn't get a chance to because he got transfered.
Elder Stoker and his companion rushed over to the hospital. They gave her a blessing and the hospital staff wanted them out of the room since she was declining rapidly. The rest of the family that was there and didn't quiet know of the connection that Paula had with him but they let them stay. They told the hospital staff that they were family.
Paula had become close to his heart and he watched her pass away.
He share that experience to us in the family email that he sends and then he also shared more details with us in the personal hand written letter that he sent to me and Marvin. He said that now he could understand what it was like for those of us who were there when his dad passed away. That he wished that we didn't have to go through that, but that when he was with Paula he felt and experience the most amazing peace. In his experience he felt that the veil was so thin between here and heaven. It was a wonderful yet saddening experience but he was grateful to have been there for Paula and her family and to understand what we went through here at home with his dad's passing.
He bore his testimony of the plan of salvation and that there is life after death.
This has been a rough year so far for us, but for him, I can't even imagine. To have his father pass away and then a close friend on his mission... This young man is an amazing example of a strong missionary and person with a strong testimony of who he is and what this life is all about.
I found this video clip this morning and wish it had been around last month.