Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tragic News and Peace Which Passeth All Understanding

In Philippians 4:7 we read that "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"

It's been a hard couple of weeks.  We feel that we and many of the other missionaries

here have needed and then felt the peace that is mentioned in the scripture quoted above.  On February 9th we received a phone call from home about an accident in our mission that had been covered by KSL News in Salt Lake.  We quickly looked on our email to see a message from President Johnson entitled "Tragic News".  We were then so saddened to read of the passing of one of the sweet young sister missionaries in our mission due to a car accident that day.  She and three other sister missionaries were driving through an intersection in a town on the east side of the mission near Chambersburg, PA.  A school bus carrying 30 or so children ran a stop sign and ran right into their car.  After looking at the picture of the accident most people remark that it is a miracle that any of the girls survived.  Two of the sisters have finally been released from the hospital and are recuperating at a relatives home nearby and one of the other sisters is still in the hospital ICU Unit after having had seven surgeries so far for internal injuries.

Almost all of our thoughts and prayers have centered around asking for peace and comfort for them and their families and especially for the family of Sister Wells who passed away.  We had a mission fast a couple of days after the accident.  Our prayers have also been with President and Sister Johnson who truly regard these young missionaries as their own sons and daughters.  We know that it was one of President Johnson's worst fears that one of his missionaries would die or be seriously injured.

Sister Sadie Wells had been in the mission since last May.  We didn't know her, but remember seeing her at the transfer meeting when she first came into the mission a couple of months before Megan got here.
We probably saw her at other meetings as well, but she always served quite far away from us.  Megan knew one of the other sisters in the accident because they came into the MTC at the same time.

We think that Sister Well's sweet countenance speaks volumes about the type of person she was.  Her parents have expressed that they hold no animosity towards the bus driver or anyone else for the accident which we think also tells much about the type of family she comes from.

There were memorial services held almost every day this week in one part of the mission or another.  President and Sister Johnson have traveled to all of them and they will be speaking at our Stake Conference again on Sunday.  We can't imagine how they have been able to withstand the physical and emotional pressures they have been
under except by the Spirit of the Lord helping them.  We had our memorial service here at the Greentree chapel on February 18th. Both President and Sister Johnson said it has been one of their hardest weeks ever and yet one of their most spiritual weeks ever.  One of the comments made during the service was that when a missionary dies that the whole church grieves.  We really believe that.

At the service in Greentree a few elders and sisters who served with Sister Wells shared memories of her, President and Sister Johnson spoke, and Elder Butler was asked to give a talk on the Plan of Salvation.  It was a meeting that we will never forget.  The highlight of the meeting was the closing song by all of the missionaries.  We all sang a combined hymn of two songs "As Sisters in Zion" and "We'll Bring the World His Truth".  Anyone who has ever heard missionaries sing this arrangement of songs knows that it is hard to put into words the spirit of unity and strength that we felt.  President Johnson also shared a gift that the Wells family sent to all of the missionaries here.

It was a short message with a pair of colorful socks attached.

 Sister Wells loved colorful socks and they wanted each missionary to have a pair to remind us all of her and her example of "following in His footsteps".

As we have felt the loss of a fellow missionary we also had a sad happening at home the day after the car accident.  One of our good friends and neighbors had their oldest 12 year old granddaughter, Brinley, pass away.  We have known her grandparents and parents for years and we know that it is such a loss for their whole family.  She passed away at
her home in Las Vegas and some of her church classmates came to visit the day before.  They brought a picture painted by a woman in the church there.  The likeness of Brinley looks just like we remember her and shows her friends in the background.

Being here in the mission field we are constantly studying and teaching the Plan of Happiness that our Heavenly Father has created for us.  It does help us to appreciate more than ever that all of these trials are really part of that great plan.  They give us the experiences we must go through to progress in the plan.  One of the quotes that Jim used in his talk at Sister Wells memorial service is one of our favorites.  Knowing this truth about the resurrection definitely helps to give us the peace that we sometimes don't understand how we can feel in such difficult circumstances.

"All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful.  By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it..."                             Joseph Smith  

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