Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Unexpected Experiences

From time to time we all have opportunities to try and do new things. Sometimes these opportunities are welcome and sometimes we would rather avoid them altogether, but the opportunities to experience new things generally helps us to stretch our capabilities and grow as a person. I recently had an experience like this.

For the last 12 months I have been assigned to home teach a couple at the furthest corner of our Ward. From my house it took me about 40 minutes to get to the small town where they lived. The couple had never been active and did not seem interested in having a home teacher visit. At least that is my assumption since I was never able to locate the home. I called repeatedly and left messages but I never heard back. I sent letters to the post office requesting an address correction but I never received a correct address. I never met or heard from this couple so I decided to do the only thing I could.

Each month for my home teaching message I sent a copy of a General Conference talk and wrote a personalized message based on the talk. At the end of each letter I invited the couple to church or to at least contact me. I never heard from them, until 2 days ago.

2 days ago I received a call from the sister of this woman. I was informed that the husband died a couple of days earlier and they requested that I say a few words at the funeral. They asked me to keep it to under 5 minutes. I accepted the invitation but having never met the couple, I was a little nervous. I resolved to do the only thing I could, which was to speak about the plan of salvation.

I took off work for a couple of hours and drove to the grave site. I was on time but everyone else was already there waiting. I picked up a program to see when I would be speaking. I was struck with some fear and trepidation when the only statement in the program was "Elder Steve Westover- Officiator".

I approached the funeral home director as the appointed start-time neared. He asked if I was the minister who would be officiating. I told him who I was but asked him if there was a mistake with the program as I had not been asked to officiate. He apologized for the confusion and told me to "Go ahead. You'll do fine." So with no program and nothing more than plans for an extremely brief talk I approached the family and introduced myself.

As planned I spoke about the plan of salvation but went more in depth than I originally intended. I spoke about eternal families and the tremendous joy and hope we can all have because of the Savior and His plan. I concluded my remarkes and then dedicated the grave. Following the grave dedication a military honor guard saluted the war veteran. Despite being a brief service, I think it turned out well.

I was honored to have such an impactful experience and I'm thankful that other experiences had helped to prepare me for this surprising opportunity. I hope I will now have other opportunities to meet with this family and teach them further, assisting them back to the road of faithful church participation.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! the same thing happened to my Dad. He home-taught a little lady in a Concord trailer park for years. Never saw her in church. Her son passed away in San Francisco, apparently a skid-row drunk. She asked Dad to come to the service and dedicate the grave, and it turned out he was the whole program. The family was very grateful to and for him.