Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Busy Days

Our last few weeks have seemed to culminate with one event after another.  On April 15th we attended our last Zone Training.


It was good to associate with such wonderful young elders and sisters again and share in the joys and trials of missionary work in the Lord's church.

We were surprised at the end of zone conference to receive a farewell cake and a poster signed by all of the missionaries in our zone.  What a joy and privilege it has been for us to work with them---and an added blessing to have our granddaughter, Megan, in our zone for much of her mission.

Then on April 20th we took our last temple trip while
on our mission.  It was a fulfillment of one of our wishes to take our friend, Charlette, with us to the temple.  She has been a member of the church for 10 years and has been working towards this goal for a long time.  We took her and another friend, Erica, to Washington DC on an absolutely gorgeous spring day.  Things were a little tentative up until the last minute.  We wondered if both or either of them would be able to go. It was so wonderful that they both made it.  Charlette was baptized in proxy for her mother and sister by Elder Butler. I was baptized in proxy for some of our own family names and I also did some baptisms for some of Erica's family.   There are many back stories and twists and turns associated with us being able to go that day, but we are just so grateful that we could make the trip with these two wonderful women.

We had our final interview of sorts with President and Sister Johnson over dinner at the Porch Restaurant in Schendly Park.  What wonderful eternal friends we feel that we have made with them.  We can't say enough about the love we have for them and the leadership and spirituality they each have.

Then Saturday, April 23rd, was also a busy day.  We attended and participated in planning the funeral of our good friend, Mel.  He had only been a member of the church a little less than a year.  We feel so privileged to have been able to know him.  He was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and chose not to undergo extensive chemotherapy, but instead wanted to spend his last days learning more about the gospel and enjoying life the best he could.  He rented a van once and took us and some elders to the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright home called "Falling Water."  Another favorite memory we have with him was the day he again rented a van and took us and the elders to the Columbus Temple where he did baptisms.

 He was very blessed to not be in a lot of pain for most of his last days.  His doctor had a hard time understanding how he could have such a good attitude and asked him if he would go talk to a large group of medical students about how he was able to stay so positive.  He said that when they asked him that question he responded that it was largely because of his Mormon faith.  Our Heavenly Father's plan of salvation for His children just made sense to Mel and gave him a lot of comfort.

He lived in an apartment on Mount Washington and
Very old and beautiful Allegheny Cemetery
had a beautiful view of the city of Pittsburgh.  Some of our favorite memories are of afternoon visits with him in his apartment during his final weeks.  He had lived in downtown Pittsburgh and worked in a flower shop for many years, so he knew so much about the city and it's people.  He had also been on cruises and trips around the world, but one of his final desires that he was able to fulfill was to visit Salt Lake City.  He later said that it was his favorite trip of all.  The mausoleum at the old and beautiful Allegheny cemetery is his final resting place and he made sure to have the letters "LDS" inscribed on the plaque by his name several months before he passed away.

Later that day we attended our last Senior Missionary Conference.  We are so grateful to have been able to make friends with so many other senior couples.  Our times of meeting together with them will be some of our cherished memories.  They have each seemingly given up alot of the comforts and joys of retirement to serve a mission for the church and have found, like we have,  new even more wonderful joys, memories, and blessings associated with that service.

We are reminded of something President Thomas Monson said back in 2003.

"The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more.  He has never forgotten me for it."

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