A ‘Married’ Man On A Mission! (A Modern Day Story of Faith and Love)

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TheDiscipleMD

I have often admired the stories of early church leaders who, in the 1800s left home and family, by responding to the prophet’s call to serve missions abroad. How could they have left behind their wives and often children to serve! What courage, faith, determination and testimony, I thought! Such stories litter the rich history of the church. It wasn’t till I became a man that I recognized how the history of such courageous men and women was so closely woven into my own life.

In October of 1946, my Father, 19, married my Mother, 17, in the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A couple of months later he left her in her parents care and departed his Southern Idaho home on a full-time church mission for two years to the Northwestern States Mission. Once there, he was informed a few months into his mission that my Mother was expecting. I can’t imagine what passed through his mind when the letter arrived bearing the news. Having served a two-year mission myself to Argentina, I was upset when I heard my baby sister was getting married! I really can’t fathom receiving news of becoming a new father while out in the mission field. A few months after my oldest brother was born my mother made her way out to the mission field with their new baby boy. Once there, she stayed a few months and then made her way back home only to discover later that, again, she was expecting.  Fortunately, my Father was able to make it home in time to witness the birth of his second son. If it wasn’t my own parents, I’m not sure I would believe such a story. But, as they often say, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Why would a man and a woman sacrifice to do such a thing?

My Mom has long since departed this life, but my Dad once again told  me the reason he ‘would do such a thing’ when I sat down this week and asked him about why he believed in the restoration of the gospel. As I listened to him, I wasn’t listening to a man who was just saying words. This was my Father! A man who I know has dedicated his entire life to the preaching, teaching, and the living of, the principles of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. He has walked the walk! He pulled out the Book of Mormon and read me this:

“And now, it came to pass that when King Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them. And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord…which has wrought a mighty change… in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually…And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments… all the remainder of our day…And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant…And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name…” (Mosiah 5:1-2, 5-9)

A year earlier, and though raised in the church, as an 18-year-old Navy seaman, my Dad had been truly converted by reading the Book of Mormon and was most impressed by the above verses. Since that time, he has dedicated his life to the building up of the kingdom of God here on earth.  He, like many before, had come to a determination that he did not want to have a “disposition to do evil, but to do good”.  The reading of the Book of Mormon had ‘wrought a mighty change” in his heart that exists to this day. My mother, full of faith, had a similar experience but at a younger age. And that is why a 19-year-old man, leaves his new wife, and goes on a two-year mission for the Lord. And that is why a young woman of 17 marries and then bears two children while supporting her husband in such a glorious cause.

So, as you can see, I don’t need to read the history of the ancient church nor the modern church to draw inspiration from the lives of those who gave their all in building up the kingdom of God here on earth.  I need only kneel over the grave of my Mom or embrace my Father who was married to my Mom on this day so many years gone past. In life and death they both understood and knew that they had become “sons and daughters” of Christ. They have lived and believed in the promises stated that day by King Benjamin:

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all.” (Mosiah 5:15)

My Father came home from his mission, graduated from Brigham Young University, and George Washington Law School.  He was later appointed an administrative law judge.  Both he and my mother have been faithful to the covenants they made as a young married couple and have spent their days in building up the kingdom of God.  All the while he and my Mom raised ten kids. Although my two oldest brothers were born under unusual circumstances I stand as a witness that all ten were born to a married man on a mission!

 

 

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