While trying to catch up on our eventful summer there is a lot happening right now. I just needed a place to put down all these events and feelings that have gone along with them over the past week and a half.
I’ll start with Visiting Teaching. I visit such a dear lady named Barbara. She is 69 years old and has taught me so much about being a wife, mother and grandmother. I get as much or more from our visits as she gets from me. Last Wednesday her husband Leonard fell and broke his hip. He was 72 and has had major health issues and chronic pain for the past 10 years. He had hip surgery on Thursday and then remained in the hospital until he was supposed to move to rehab on Monday or Tuesday. The kids and I visited Barbara on Saturday. We took her some food and helped her pick vegetables from her garden and bring them inside. She talked about being alone, but also being strong. She talked about her love for Leonard and her desire to take care of him, like she has many times before. We left her that evening so she could rest and be ready to go see Leonard again the next day. When Brian woke up on Sunday morning he had a message that Leonard has passed away in the night. It was devastating news. Poor Barbara, my heart just ached for her. Her grandson, who lives next door to her, would be speaking in church that day for his missionary homecoming. And he did. And Barbara was there. We greeted her briefly with tears in our eyes. Her grandson paid a wonderful tribute to his grandpa as he began his talk. It was emotional and so tender. The next day Brian called me from work and said that Barbara had collapsed and was in the hospital. I could hardly believe it. Brian and I took the kids to a neighbor’s house that night and went to visit Barbara in the hospital. Her own medical issues had acted up under the stress of everything but she was stable and doing well. She was surrounded by family. Our visit was short but yet again, one where I left feeling better from being around her.
The week continued on and Brian received a phone call from his mom on Wednesday night. His sister Kim had been sick. When she went to the doctor they learned that her cancer had come back. I couldn’t believe it. It has been five years and her health has been so great and I think I just thought that we were home free. On Thursday we got more news that her tumor was spread across two lobes and therefore it was inoperable. It is so hard to bear the sadness.
On Thursday night at about nine o’clock Brian remembered that he had signed up to clean the temple from 9:45-midnight. He was physically and emotionally exhausted so I told him that I would go and he went to bed. What a blessing it was to be in the temple. I got to sweep and mop the stairs from the first floor to the basement. Then I got to clean the women’s and men’s initiatory rooms. It was peaceful and quiet. The work was a joy and went quickly, almost to quickly. I loved being in the temple, working, serving, in a way I never had before. I loved pondering the initiatory ordinance as I wiped and cleaned and dusted. It was such a blessing to be there.
Friday was the funeral for Leonard Maddox. Brian and I went together, although he had to sit on the stand as a member of the bishopric, so I sat with the second counselors wife. The funeral was lovely. It was a wonderful tribute for a kind, dedicated, righteous man. I learned from his example how to be a better wife and mother and friend. I was grateful to be there and support Barbara, who over the last year and a half has become so much more than just my neighbor who I visit teach. She is a true friend and shining example to me. But as I sat there, I watched Brian on the stand and tried to imagine what was going on in his mind. I knew there were thoughts of his sister and what may lie ahead for her and their family. My heart just ached.
Saturday was General Conference. Oh how I love General Conference! I honestly wish I could sit for all sessions of conference with pen in hand, listening attentively and taking notes. I have four children, ages 9 and under, it is not possible. But we have the tv on and we listen as best we can and enjoy the weekend of listening to prophets and apostles of God. Three new apostles were called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. It was a memorable moment. I love to raise my hand and sustain the prophet and those who serve with him. My heart aches when I hear that there is an opposing vote. I think, “They have no idea what these men have given to serve the Lord their God.” It makes me so grateful for these men and their testimony and example.
Sunday is always a little more relaxed and I’m usually able to listen to more of conference than on Saturday. President Monson was the first speaker in the morning. He started out so strong and true like he always does. Then, as his talk went on, he leaned over on the pulpit. You could see his physical strength was starting to fail him. He continued to speak, a bit labored, but he continued until the end of his talk. I wanted to rush up and hold him. I wanted someone to stand next to him. I then, I prayed. I don’t know that I’ve ever prayed for a speaker in General Conference at the moment he was speaking. But I did, I prayed in my mind and with all my heart for the Lord to strengthen His prophet. It was a remarkable moment and in know there were many sitting as I was and praying for our dear prophet. Elder Rasband stood up after him and spoke words of love and kindness which echoed all of our hearts.
President Eyring was the concluding speaker for the morning session. He spoke about the Holy Ghost. He told a few stories and closed with a story about his mother, dying of cancer. He told the experiences of his father who was guided, strengthened and sustained by the Holy Ghost in that time. It was not a coincidence that he told that story this morning. It was difficult and hard to hear because it hit so close to home. But it was exactly what we were meant to hear, because it is so close to home. My testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and His faithful servants was strengthened today.
It has been an emotional week and a half. I have seen the hand of the Lord many, many times. I have felt His spirit so strongly. My testimony has been strengthened. I love my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. I know they are in the details of each of our lives. “Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give.” D&C 67:2