Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mission Blessings

I gave this talk in Sacrament Meeting, LDS Sacramento First Ward, January 22, 2012.

I’m not sure why I’m speaking twice in just a few weeks, but I figure this should get me off the hook for a while now—at least I’m crossing my fingers.

The scripture that Kaylonnie chose for her missionary plaque that hangs by the Bishop’s office is 1 Nephi 11:17.  Nephi has just been shown in vision the Virgin Mary, and asked if he understands what it means, or “Knowest thou the condescension of God?”  This is Nephi’s answer:

“And I said unto him:  I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

I e-mailed Kaylonnie and asked her why she chose that scripture, and this is what she said:

“I love that verse because as much as I like to think I know a lot, the spirit reminds me all the time that I really don´t know anything and I need to be humble.  Also something I see all the time here is people in the world are really confused and lost when it comes to their beliefs and how to live their lives.  Having a knowledge of the restored Gospel and knowing that Heavenly Father loves me makes EVERY minute of this work easier.  No matter how much we are rejected or have false doctrine thrown at us, I can remember this scripture and thank Heavenly Father that I don´t have to feel as confused and worried about life as most people in the world. Also if you run out of things to say, I was torn for weeks between 1 Nephi 11:17 and 2 Nephi 4:20-21.”

I looked up that second scripture, and it says:

“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.  He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.”

The scripture on her plaque means something a little different to me, though similar in a way.  I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and the love of Christ every day of my life.  That feeling of being loved is what sustains me.  I don’t know the meaning of all things, either.  There is a lot about the gospel that I don’t understand.  I don’t think we’re supposed to understand everything.  Besides that, I’m not a scholar; I have a very simple mind.  I was also inactive for 20 years so I feel like I’m always playing catch up.  I wasn’t raised in the church, really.  My parents joined the church when I was 10, but did not stay active very long.  I’ve learned, though, that understanding the gospel or understanding scriptures isn’t as important as being obedient to the principles of the gospel and having faith that what I don’t understand will be explained to me sooner or later, whether in this life or the next.

Sacramento First Ward has a very unique situation with three missionaries in the field at the same time.  I don’t think that’s ever happened in the many years that I’ve been in this ward.  I know it happens in other wards, but this is not something that happens in our ward.  It is a great blessing.

Each time my children have served a mission, our family has been blessed.  We never told any of our kids that they were going to serve a mission.  This was something that they chose for themselves.  As each one has left, I’ve wondered why they have such great testimonies and why they are so strong.  I was inactive all the time Molly and Hannah were young, and until Ezra was about nine years old.  Even though I was active when Kaylonnie was little, I still struggled for a long time.  I don’t know why these strong individuals came to me.  Maybe they needed to teach me.

I asked Danny how he felt our family has been blessed by our children’s missions.  He mentioned that he felt our kids have been strengthened in their marriages because of their missions.  I think he’s right.

One of the great blessings we have received as our children have served missions is being able to watch them really grow up.  The growing experiences they have in the mission field are invaluable.  There is no way you can put a price on that.  There is nothing that can replace it.  They go away as children and come back as adults.  They see people in the real world with real problems.

Ezra thought he lived in the Ghetto until he went to Uruguay and saw what it really means to be poor.  He saw apartment buildings that had no sewer hook ups, so when it rained the sewer ran down the street.  He walked up the hills in the rain against that sewer, and his shoes smelled like it when he came home.  I wouldn’t let him in the house with them.  He learned to appreciate the mail service in this country after living through three separate mail strikes in Uruguay in two years.  He also learned to appreciate the honesty of our postal workers because in Uruguay they open and steal anything that they can use or that might be of value.

Hannah went to Russia and learned about spousal and elder abuse, mental illness, and alcoholism.  She learned when she called the police in an abuse case, they won’t come until they know an ambulance is there, and the ambulance won’t come until the police are there.  When both agencies finally arrive, they look to the Mormon elders (who came quickly at her call) to go rescue the woman from the crazy guy who had beaten her within an inch of her life.  Hannah also learned that if you have to go to the hospital, you need to remember to take money and toilet paper with you.  She learned the meaning of freedom when she didn’t have it in Belarus.  Phone calls were tapped and e-mails were read.  She learned what it means to be followed by the police.

Molly learned about racial prejudice on her mission when she spent the night in a Boston hospital with a Hispanic woman who was in labor because no one else would go with her.  I find it interesting that Molly was later blessed with two adopted children.  One is full Hispanic; the second Hispanic and Polish.  Molly learned what poverty is when she painted over graffiti in a tenement building and helped put a roof on someone’s house to keep out the rain.

Kaylonnie is learning too.  She has also learned to appreciate the U.S. Mail.  Dad and I sent her three bubble envelopes of stuff for Christmas.  The first two envelopes were mailed right after Thanksgiving, and the third about a week before Christmas.  I knew she wouldn’t get the third one on time, but I was really hoping she would get the first two.  She didn’t have any of them for Christmas.  She e-mailed on January 9th and said that she had finally received one of the first two envelopes.  Last Monday she e-mailed and said she had finally received the other two bubble envelopes.  Just before Christmas she was thrilled that she had gotten several cards from her Dad and a second letter from Sister Conrad.  I think at that point she knew that was going to be it until after Christmas.  Fortunately, we were able to Skype with her for Christmas so we could actually see her face on the computer as well as hear her voice.  We’ve never been able to Skype with a missionary before, so that was pretty cool.  I don’t know what experiences she will have on her mission, as she hasn’t been out that long, but I do know that she will have them.  Just like the other kids, she will come home with a whole different view of the world and her place in it.  That is a huge blessing!

I’ll read just a small part of her e-mail last Monday:

“The weather is awful here!!  It is cold and it has rained every day this week! I would give anything for a raincoat and another sweater or two. Apparently the 6 months of DRY heat and absolutely zero rain starts in April. I thought I was on the southern hemisphere?!?  Apparently not!  I´m pretty sure my least favorite thing is wearing wet shoes every day and my second least favorite thing is running in the rain during exercises at 6:30 in the morning.  I thank Heavenly Father for Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays because I don´t have to exercise in the rain. :D And I loathe Wednesdays when I know there are four days of running ahead of me. HaHa.  As much as I walk and walk my hate of real exercise hasn´t changed. You´d think after walking miles and miles every day I wouldn´t be bothered by it.  I guess some things never change.”

Yes, she is having experiences in Brazil and learning a lot.  One of the things she is learning is that when the mission list says raincoat, even though there are no raincoats available in Sacramento stores in August, you listen to Mom and buy one on line.

There are other blessings that come through missions.  It was during Matt’s mission that I became active in church again.  I did not become active because Matt served a mission, but during that time the Lord was working on me through many different sources.  Everywhere I turned, it seemed, there was something to evidence to me that I needed to get myself back here.

For many years my family has prayed that my younger sister would find happiness.  She is five years younger than me, and has never been married.  She has been greatly blessed in her life in other areas.  She has traveled the world and seen and done things that the rest of us can only dream about.  She has had exceptional jobs that have brought her wonderful experiences.  The one blessing she really wanted, however, a family, never seemed to happen.  A while back she met a wonderful man.  He has two daughters; one who is almost grown, and one who still has some growing left to do.  We had been praying that they would get married, but things were moving pretty slowly—at least not as quickly as the rest of us would have liked.  We want happiness for my sister.  We love him and want him in our family.  We want my sister to have the opportunity to help raise his younger daughter.  As hard as we prayed, it didn’t seem to us like it was ever going to happen.  Then Kaylonnie left on her mission.  My sister’s wedding is now planned for April 7th.  They are not getting married because Kaylonnie is on a mission.  There is no doubt in my mind that they would have gotten married eventually.  My sister is too smart to let this guy go.  The timing of this marriage, however, is quite interesting to me.  Reasonable people might say that it would be better for them to wait for the economy to take an upturn.  My sister is the most reasonable person I know.  She is reasonable to a fault.  So it is nothing less than a miracle that this marriage is going forward in April.  That I will say is a missionary miracle.  If our family receives no other blessing while Kaylonnie is gone, that will be fine, because this is a truly wonderful blessing for our family.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Addendum:  While I gave this talk on January 22, 2012, I have waited until April to publish it here.  My sister is now married.  I didn't publish this because I didn't want to jinx the wedding!


  1. Another example mom - when I was on my mission, Michael came into the family!

  2. I wish I had kept track of the blessings the family received and which missionary was out. Years have numbed the mind, and I don't remember them all, but it started with Matt, then Todd, then your other three, and then Mark, and now Kaylonnie. With each missionary, profound things happened within the family. If you or any of the missionaries remembers what blessings occurred while they were out, I'd love to put together a list.