This past week has been crazy!! I don't have a lot of time because my companion doesn't stay on the computer for very long, but I have to say that she is hilarious, and crazy, and awesome haha. It's going to be fun! :) My new area is really really nice....I've noticed two things about this area so far and that is: 1. Everyone and THEIR DOG is very very well-off and 2. Everyone is super friendly, more so than any of my other areas. Like I said it's going to be fun here!! :) Oh! Also, the Sister Training Leaders that we will be going on exchanges with are in Lilburn...my first area, which means....I WILL GET TO GO BACK!!! :D I'm sooo excited for that!!
As you know there was a car accident a few days ago here in Georgia involving two Sister Missionaries from my mission. One of the Sisters did not make it and the other is in the Hospital due to injuries from the accident. When I heard about the news I couldn't believe it. I thought it was some sick joke, and then we got the phone call from President confirming what had happened. I didn't know Sister B very well because she had just come out, but I did know Sister B a little bit. I met Sister B when she first came out. I remember that she was really out-going, super nice, and had a great smile that was just contagious and I remember thinking about how she seemed like she had been out longer than just a few weeks. Sister B was a very special missionary. I know that Heavenly Father needed her strong spirit and I feel honored to have known her for the short time, that I did.
Our Mission President said this,
" Dear fellow servants,
Sister Bennion and I want you to know how much we love each and every one of you. We know more deeply than ever how dear you are to us and to our Heavenly Father and His Son. We’d like to share with you a couple of missionary stories that are dear to our hearts and can be applied to this difficult experience we are all sharing with the Barnard and Beckstrom families.
In 1894 my great-great grandfather, Ezra Clark, sent one of his sons on a mission. John Alexander Clark was called to serve in the Ottoman Empire, which included Turkey and the Holy Land at that time. After learning Arabic in Syria, his first assignment began in about August 1894 in the town of Haifa, located about 100 miles north of Jerusalem. But, he contracted smallpox and died in February 1895. The family was not permitted to have his body sent home to Farmington, Utah due to the smallpox epidemic, and his body was hastily buried in a small Christian cemetery in Haifa, next to John Haag, a missionary from Payson, Utah who had died there two years earlier. Ezra Clark was brokenhearted, but he paid for two identical headstones to be built and installed on the graves of the two missionaries. Each tombstone is about 5 feet tall including a 3-foot Greek-style pillar sculpted to appear broken, symbolic of being cut down in the prime of life. Elder Clark’s mission appeared to be a sad failure.
In the 1970’s, the church began the process of trying to achieve formal recognition in Israel so that the church could buy land and build buildings. Much opposition was encountered. One of the major hurdles was that Israeli law stated that no new religions would be permitted unless they could prove that they had been established prior to 1948 when the Jewish state of Israel was established. The headstones for these two missionaries provided the necessary evidence, formal recognition was achieved, and the BYU Jerusalem Center is the result. (Incidentally, we have heard that the Center is designed for easy conversion into a temple someday.) A seemingly fruitless mission cut short by tragedy bore precious fruit nearly one hundred years later. The Lord is truly in charge, He knows all things, and He guides His work of salvation. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
You all know our special daughter Christine. During her delivery the umbilical cord got pinched, and she suffered severe brain damage which was immediately apparent through multiple seizures. The extent of her injuries were not known immediately, and we did not know if she would live or die, nor what level of functionality she might reach if she lived. We prayed and fasted and administered to her, but nothing changed. My older brother, full of faith, asked if he could give her a blessing, and of course we said yes. Again, nothing changed. My brother was highly concerned by the apparent failure of the blessings, so he prayed to know why. A few days later, he said, “I asked the Lord why the blessing didn’t seem to work, and I still don’t know why, but I did receive the answer that it was not because of any lack of faith.” Christine has not (yet) been healed, but her presence has blessed us and our children in countless ways.
Sister Bennion and I assumed that we would not be able to serve as senior missionaries because no dependent children are allowed. But the call came, and we went to Elder Robert D. Hales’ office to be set apart. Elder Hales asked if he could give Christine a blessing, and of course we said yes. He blessed her that she would impact for good the lives of members, missionaries, and non-members during our mission. Although not formally called as a missionary, we know that she has serves alongside us, and you, in her own special way.
On the first Sunday following Christine’s birth, I attended sacrament meeting by myself since Sister Bennion and our twins were still in the hospital. I was touched forever by the words to a special musical number that Sunday: “I do not ask to see nor understand, only that thou wilt be constantly near to me, holding my hand. dear Lord, holding my hand.”
We feel like Nephi when the angel asked, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Our reply is the same as Nephi’s: “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (I Nephi 11:16-17).
Like Nephi, we do not know the meaning of all things, but we do know that the Lord loves us and our dear Sisters Barnard and Beckstrom. We’d like to share with you the final sentences in Sister Barnard’s final weekly email last Monday: “I am holding fast to the promise that if I work hard out here and give it my all that God will take care of the rest. I know that this is where I need to be, even if I think I could be used elsewhere as well. I'm needed here, at this place, and at this time. Love, Sister Barnard”
We testify that the Lord lives, that He loves every single person on this earth, and that He and His son and His prophet have called each of us to serve here in this special place at this special time, and there is no more important work that we can do now. “Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth” (2 Nephi 2:8).
We echo the inspired words of Sister Barnard: If we work hard out here and give it our all, God will take care of the rest. This is the place where we are needed at this time.
Of this we testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
I testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He is our hope. As someone very wise once told me, "What mortality robs in a moment, the gospel of Jesus Christ restores for eternity." That is my hope and my joy.
I love y'all soooo much-ooooooooo!!!! Remember this: y'all are always in my prayers. Always. Y'all have a blessed week!!
Lots of love (from your favorite Sister Missionary),
Sister Megan Rice