Saturday, September 2, 2017

Two Weeks and Counting!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.

We got here to England two weeks ago yesterday.  We started out in a temporary flat that we stayed in for ten days until the missionary couple that we replaced, the Goodsells, went home.  They spent those ten days training us and showing us around.  We love them and are sorry that we didn't get to actually serve with them for longer than ten days.  They are much loved by the missionaries and the ward and YSA members and will be missed.

We are now in our permanent flat and expect to be here our entire mission.  It's in a lovely spot in south west London.
Looking out of our kitchen window, we see a lovely grassy area and across the street from that is a humongous park.  I will be doing some walking around that park to get some exercise.
Living in a temporary flat in Sydenham was fun.  It used to be an Elders apartment so Sister Goodsell and some of the sister missionaries came and gave it a good scrub before we got there.  It was pretty big and roomy.

Learning to drive in the craziness of London, on the left side of the road and down extremely narrow streets has been hair raising and a bit of a strain on our nerves.  Today both Elder Pearce and I took turns driving home from a weekend zone conference and felt like we did a much better job of driving and not reacting to each other's driving.  We work as a team to navigate the roads.  We couldn't possibly get around with our our Satnav or maps.  Tonight we couldn't even find the Tesco (grocery store) that we were looking for even WITH our satnav.  We might just figure it out about the time we go home in 18 months.

In response to my sister-in-law, Caroldean, posting about someone honking behind her, I thought about all the times I've been honked at these past two weeks.  The honking is getting less frequent but most of the time it's well deserved.

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Honking

We've had a LOT of honking at us in London this past week.
Dear person honking behind me, I'm not challenging the double decker bus.
Dear person honking behind me, I'm not entering the round about when I don't know where that ambulance is going.
Dear person honking behind me, I can't go forward until the car coming in the opposite direction on a two way street that is barely wide enough with all the parked cars on both sides for one car to get through without breaking off mirrors, gets through.
Dear person honking behind me, sorry. I totally screwed that one up, sorry!
Dear double decker busses, please don't run over me!
Dear pedestrian dressed in black at night crossing outside the crosswalk with no street lamps, please wait for your light!
Dear motorcyclists! Please don't assume I see you coming up so fast cutting the lanes!
Dear person behind me honking, why do so many lanes merge in the middle of an intersection?
Dear person behind me honking, I have absolutely no idea why you just honked at me.
Dear person behind me honking, if I go faster I'll get nailed by the traffic camera.
Dear person honking behind me, if I go any faster over all these speed bumps it will wreck my car!
Dear person behind me honking, Oh, it wasn't me you were honking at....I think....
Dear fellow Londoners, thank you for your patience while Elder Pearce and I learn to drive here!



Our maiden voyage the very first day we were here ended up with us destroying the tire on our car.  Running into curbs isn't so good for them.



We have really enjoyed getting to know the people in our area, both the missionaries, YSA's and ward members.  We are in a very ethnic ward with people from Africa, Jamaica, South American, Spain, England and who knows where else.  It's awesome having so much diversity.  I look forward to learning more about everyone cultures.
The YSA council comes over every other Sunday evening to make plans for the coming weeks.  They are a fine group of young adults.



We came at just the right time of the year.  Everyone seems to be getting a last outing in before the end of the summer.  Riding for about 2 hours in a tour bus, we went with the Crystal Palace ward to Bournemouth Beach.


We spent the last few days at a senior zone conference in Exeter and touring around a bit in Southern England.  The first night we introduced ourselves and heard a few words from our mission president, President Gubler, and his wife.  They work so hard!  What a job to be responsible for so many missionaries.  We will do our best to not be a burden to him but to lighten his load.

It's late so I'm just going to share about a very special experience that Elder Pearce and I had on the very first leg of our flight from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.

We got to the airport plenty early and were sitting in the waiting area with Elder and Sister Hatch who were with us in the MTC and are in this mission as well.

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The time came to board and Dad and I got on as quickly as we could.  The window seat was not occupied yet and since it was a pretty full flight we knew that someone would be coming in.
Before too long, a woman apologized for needing to get into the seat and Dad and I got up happily to let her in.  Well, maybe not so happily because as I backed into the isle I stomped on Dad’s toes.  He had already taken his shoes off.  Owie!
Anyway, we all got settled and underway. 
My first inclination was to start knitting but I decided instead to be friendly with the woman sitting next to me.  I asked her if Las Vegas was going home for her or if it was just a connection to somewhere else.  She said it was home and then suddenly  blurted out that it was no coincidence that she was sitting next to us on  the plane.  She said that she was having a really really hard day and that she was on her way home from spending time with her mom who had just died.  I asked her if she needed a hug.  She immediately said yes and just grabbed me and allowed herself to be hugged for a couple of minutes as she cried.
Her name is Kristy.  She then proceeded to tell us that we were an answer to her prayers.  When she had been feeling so badly on the first flight from Seattle, she was praying to find someone to give her a hug.  She had seen us in the waiting area and felt like she needed to ask us to help her and hug her but she didn’t because she didn’t know how we would react and that we might think she was weird.  Then she got on the plane and found that she was sitting right next to us.  She had seen our badges with “Jesus Christ” on it and felt safe with us.
The amazing thing was, as an afterthought when we checked in, Dad asked if we could change seats so that he could have and isle seat.  No big deal.
All these wonderful things came together for us and her.  We talked the whole flight and asked her questions about her mom, her family and just let her talk.
We also talked to her a lot about the grieving process and how Heavenly Father can and was helping and comforting her.  She exclaimed over and over again how she knew that we were sent to her.
Mostly she just needed to talk and to know that what she was going through was normal even though it was so painful and that someone cared.  I also suggested to her that a wonderful place to go to feel peace and comfort was the grounds of the Las Vegas temple.  It’s such a beautiful place and you can really feel the Spirit there.
Earlier that morning as Tony and I were saying our prayers I asked that we would be able to be the answer to someone’s prayers. 
It was a wonderful testament to us that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  That he is aware of our sorrow and pain and will use each of us to help bare the sorrow of another if we are listening and are willing to be guided.  I’m so thankful that we were able to help her.  We found each other on Facebook and have chatted a bit back and forth.  

We miss home and family but are so grateful for this opportunity to serve.  We know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.  We need to open our hearts and allow those answers to change us, comfort us and help us.  We need humility.

I brought these peg dolls and this piece of agate from home.  They represent my daughters, grand daughters, sisters and mom. They make my heart happy.  Now I need to find something to represent the men in our family. 


It's really quite wonderful to be able to see Eric and family on occasion.  We spent a few hours here at a beautiful park in west London called Richmond Park.  These Red Deer or Kings Deer roam freely and have no concern whatsoever about people being close by.

One of the really special things about being here in this part of England is that I get to schmooze with my England grandbabies.  Hugo and I were working as a team to take a selfie.

Mission life has been wonderful so far!  It's time to buckle down though and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bring souls unto Him.






Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Love Him. I'll Serve Him. He is my Savior.

My Savior, My Brother, My Friend

The time is almost here.  In just a few short days we report to the MTC to start training for our mission.  I have had many tender moments as I think of leaving all those I love and will miss so much.  Tears have come to my eyes as I have sat with grandchildren on my lap or watched my children together this past couple of weeks.

When Tony and I served in the MTC for four years working with the young men and women who were there getting ready to serve their own full time missions.  Many came with heavy hearts.  There were many worries about problems at home.  Sickness, financial burdens, family struggles and homesickness.  Leaving home is hard.

The scripture we shared quite often with our missionaries comes from Doctrine and Covenants 100:1.
The background of this revelation to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon  is they had been absent from their families for several days as they went out to preach the Gospel.  They had left their families in dire straights but followed Heavenly Father's will to go bring others unto Christ.  They were worried about their families.  Their hearts were heavy.
The scripture reads:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.


As Tony and I prepare to leave, we are exercising much faith in the message of this scripture.  We have family concerns and many who count on us for different reasons.  We have faith that Heavenly Father will take care of our loved ones.  He can do it much better than we can.  He knows their needs, loves them and knows how best to help them.  The Lord will provide.  We know that our family will be blessed as we serve Him with all our hearts, might, mind and strength.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Grandbaby, Change in Mission Assignment and Travel, Change in MTC Plans!



The time is coming so fast!!  When we first got our call back in March, four and a half months seemed like forever until we would be leaving.  Now it's flying by.  Time seems to have both speeded up and slowed down at the same time now that we are getting so close.

It has been hard getting ready because we can't really pack until it's time to go but I have slowly been getting some organization done and have been going through about 20 years of collecting stuff since we moved into this house.  I have thrown away (Oh look!  This medication expired 10 years ago!), given away and now will be packing away a lot of stuff that we won't be needing on our mission. This will give Andie a clean and mostly empty room and bathroom to move into while we're gone (at least my half of the space will be packed up).

Tony and I (we are still Tony and Carrie until August 7th then we become Elder and Sister Pearce) recently went to Portland, Oregon for the birth of our 18th grandchild, Luci Yulia Rose Setzer.  Born to Lydia and Trevor.  She is a beautiful little girl.  Lydia and Trevor are wonderful parents.  The next time we see her she will be a toddler! They are hoping to come to England and visit while we are there.  We're hoping as well! We LOVE being grandparents!  It brings us so much happiness and joy!  Thank goodness for SKYPE! We will miss our family so much!

The very first day we were in Portland, we were on our way to visit with my bonus Dad, Bob Garrard, in Newport, Oregon, which is several hours away from Portland on the beautiful west coast. As we were driving we got a call from President Gubler telling us about a change in our overall mission assignment and also letting us know where we will be assigned for the duration of our mission.

He got permission from church headquarters to include YSA (Young Single Adults) in our mission assignment.  In addition to our Member Leadership Support calling we will be teaching Institute and missionary prep classes and helping with the YSA activities.  We will also be helping out the young missionaries whenever we can and helping in the ward and stake we are assigned to.

Because of the additional responsibilities we will be at the MTC for three days longer and will be getting trained for CES (Church Education System) responsibilities.  This is quite intimidating to me. Sit with me in the living room or get trapped in a car with me and I can talk your ear off and impart to you all my amazing years of wisdom, knowledge and stories (until your eyes roll back into your head and you wonder if I will ever shut up. Kind of like this post), but get me in front of a class or congregation and I get terrible stage fright and don't seem to be able to put together my thoughts and give a cognitive presentation.  Most people don't believe me that I am basically a shy person.

I have great faith that Heavenly Father qualifies those whom he serves.  I also know without a shadow of a doubt that if we are willing to listen with our heart, without any criticism of the person who is speaking or teaching and they have tried to prepare and are doing their best, the Spirit can and will teach you what YOU personally need to hear.  I truly believe this is how all teaching in the church happens.  Whether it's missionary work, lessons on Sunday, Sacrament meeting, Temple attendance, reading the scriptures, etc.  I know He will help me if I put the effort of preparation and faith.  I'm counting on it!

See how I wander???!!!

Getting back to where we will be assigned, we will be in a ward west of London in a village called Wandsworth.  President Gubler told us the ward there has members from all over the world.  We are SO excited!  There is so much we can learn and people and cultures we will get to know and love. We are so blessed to get this assignment.

This is a map of the England London South mission boundaries.  On preparation days we will be able to do a bit of sightseeing as long as we stay within the mission boundaries but we can get special permission to go outside mission boundaries. Since so many have mentioned that they want to come and visit while we're there, we will be able to visit some wonderful places.




This map shows where Wandsworth is in relation to London.  Eric tells us it's pretty much in London proper but a nice area.  We will be living in a flat with two bedrooms, living room, bathroom and kitchen. Tony and I will have fun learning to share the bathroom!
On Monday we were able to take a tour of the MTC and see all the new buildings that have just been finished and opened up for use.  It was very nostalgic for us to be there as we served in MTC branch presidencies for four years.  The open house is just getting going so if you are interested, you can go and see it for yourselves. The new buildings are pretty amazing and the new outdoor areas are welcoming and inviting.
There are amazing murals on the walls depicting the life of Christ and other beautiful artwork.


Tony and I have been really looking forward to our MTC experience.  Even though we live close enough to commute there daily, we decided we wanted to stay at the MTC and get the total immersion experience and that was our plan. Yesterday however we got a call from the MTC asking us if we could stay in our own home and come down daily.  Apparently they have so many missionaries arriving at the same time as us (Summer is the highest occupancy at the MTC) that they are having to find hotels to put everyone in.  Some almost as far away as we already are.  I'm assuming all the hotel missionaries are senior couples like us.  We are a bit disappointed but more than willing to stay in our own beds on Purple for another week and a half. We will study, eat lunch and dinner with the other missionaries, then come home to sleep and prepare for the next day.  Depending on traffic, it will add one and a half to two hours of commute time every day.

I wish everyone could experience the Spirit that is felt at the MTC.  It can be overwhelming and beautiful.  Many tears are shed and hearts are opened as missionaries come to be trained in how to teach and learn languages but more importantly, to come to Christ themselves so that they can know what having His spirit with them always really feels like.  It's amazing!

Click on the below link to see information if you want to take a tour.  Children are welcome.  It's fun. You will get to see where the missionaries eat, live, study and you will get to see rooms inside the new classroom buildings.  Missionaries who are actually at the MTC right now getting ready to go to their various missions join with you in line on the tour as you go through so that any questions you want to ask, even if it's about themselves or where they are from or where they are going to serve can be answered. At the end of the tour there is a short video in one of the new buildings explaining the purpose of the MTC and of missionary work.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681260/Public-invited-to-tour-new-facilities-at-Provo-Missionary-Training-Center.html

We will be speaking in Sacrament Meeting (Our non farewell) at 1:00 p.m. on July 30th in the Alpine 4th Ward.  The address is:  910 South High Bench Road, Alpine, UT 84004.
All are welcome who want to come and we will have an open house following Sacrament meeting at our home.  If you want to stay for all three meetings then come over to visit, you are more than welcome to do that as well.

We will be flying out on August 17th.  Then eighteen months of devoting all our might, mind and strength to serving our Heavenly Father and his children.  What a wonderful time of life this is!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our next Phaze.....Senior Missionaries!

It's finally here!  Our mission call!
About 5 1/2 years ago we were ready to submit our applications to become a senior missionary couple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  At that time it was not to be.
Tony was called to serve in the Provo Missionary Training Center and I was to accompany him as he became first a councilor in a branch presidency and eventually a branch president to missionaries going to the Philippines.  We weren't in the least bit sad!  We LOVED serving in the MTC and were sad when we were released.
Since this is a 4 year calling, we had to put our mission plans on hold.
At the end of 4 years we were released but so much was happening with our company, it still wasn't a good time to go.  I'm sure we could have kept having that happen but finally after another year we just said, "Let's GO!"  There will never be a "Good time to go."  There will always be things happening at work, babies being born, family members with special needs and the list goes on.  We just needed to bite the bullet, exercise faith and submit our applications.
In the meantime, our dear friend who was our first branch president at the MTC, Ron Gubler, was called to be the mission president of the England London South mission.
For many years I have been saying and wishing aloud, that if I could pick the perfect mission to go to it would be the London South mission.  After all, what could be better than going to a foreign mission and still be able to visit with some of your family.  Eric and his family have lived in England, just 5 minutes away from the mission office for about 10 years.
To make a long story short, President Gubler requested us, we were more than willing to accept that call (although we did put on our papers that we were willing to serve wherever Heavenly Father wanted us to go).  When the call came, it was indeed to the England London South mission to serve as MSL missionaries, or Member Leadership Support missionaries.  We will be helping out the leaders of the local unit where we are assigned in whatever capacity they need us to.  We will also be finding service projects to participate in, driving young missionaries around and even do some sight seeing.
We feel like we have been blessed so abundantly and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ so much that it's the least we can do to go for 18 months to serve.
The rules for senior couples are different than for young missionaries.  We will get to Skype with our grandkids and kids, make phone calls home whenever we need to.  We don't have to keep the same long hours that young missionaries do because after all, we ARE seniors!  Another difference is that we don't get moved around to different areas like the young missionaries do and we get to keep the same companion for our entire mission!  That's a bonus!
We report to the Provo Missionary Training Center, the same one we served in for 4 years, only this time as missionaries ourselves, on August 7th 2017.  We will give our farewell talks in Sacrament meeting on July 30th.
I'm so thankful to be able to have a good part of the summer to hang out with our family before we go.  The past 2 1/2 months since we got our call has flown by and I'm starting to get a bit anxious about getting everything done that needs to be done before we leave and also getting some butterflies in my tummy about the whole prospect!
Emily, Luis and Olivia will be living here, as well as Bryan and Andie and her current roommate.
What an exciting time of our lives!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

This Special Easter

As this Easter has approached I have been caught up very much in the whole meaning and how very much it means to us this year.

One year ago the day after tomorrow (the day after Easter) Carissa Marie Pearce passed away. A tremendous amount has happened in our family in the past year. About a week and a half before Carissa died, Lydia gave birth to beautiful little Zoe, and placed her for adoption with a wonderful family. Then Carissa died. Two weeks later my Dad got seriously ill while we were visiting in Texas for Dallas and Lynda's wedding and we thought we were going to lose him. One month after Carissa passed away Maxine Law Pearce, Tony's mom, passed away.

While we were all still reeling in shock and pain from everything else, a month later as I sat contemplating everything that had been going on, I thought to myself, "Wow! It's been a whole month and nothing terrible has happened! The next day Dan and Andrea Rae announced they were getting divorced. This was so unexpected and we were already so vulnerable that it set us back on our heals. We were heartbroken that they were going through such difficulties in the midst of everything else.

As the year went on, it seemed that we were beset by calamity on every side. Our company was struggling with ongoing lawsuits, and it seemed that they would never end.

We did have very happy times though. We added two beautiful little grand daughters to the family when Eric and Leanne had their first baby, and Tomi and Dan had their third. Nick and Crystal got married after having dated off and on for about 3 years. Then to our surprise and delight, Dan met, fell in love with and married a delightful young woman named Carrie whom we all adore. She brought with her another beautiful grand daughter, Taya into our family circle.

It has been an amazing year.

I have thought and thought and thought about Carissa and what it meant to have her in our lives and what it means now that she is gone. I have to admit I have had a tendency to shove it to the back when the feelings start to well up and tears are close to the surface. I have had some amazing days in the temple where I felt very comforted and blessed and even had what I call "My Carissa Day". It has all felt very surreal. I think when I think about the reality of her not being here, it's still hard for me to believe and really comprehend.

I have gone up to the cemetery many times to put fun little holiday things on her site (there is no stone yet) and it's really sad to think of her body being there. It really brings a finality to it all. She won't be coming through the door. She won't be going to the store with me anymore to fight over who gets to push the cart. She won't be there to drink the rest of my mostly full drink that I always brought home to her. She won't be with Tony and I when we go to the movies. She won't be with us to do all the things that she loved to do. It's hard to think about.

Today we had the Family Easter Egg Hunt. The pictures from last years Easter Egg Hunt show Carissa as excited as ever pulling her little oxygen tank around with her as she gathered up the Easter Goodies. She was as a little child. She never stopped believing. She loved Easter. She loved sharing what she had in her basket. She loved all the holidays. Today was a bit hard. I missed the magic that she brought to the Easter festivities.

Today I so very much miss our beautiful Carissa. Today I rely on my faith in the Atonement. My faith in the Plan of Salvation. My faith in my lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His mission here on earth. My faith that we will be reunited with Carissa again. Any other thought than that would be just too much to bear.

I am also filled with thankfulness. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father lent this choice daughter to fill our home with unconditional love. He sent us our own personal teacher to teach us all how to treat each other, how to choose to act even if it was contrary to how we felt. He gave her to us for a 22 short years to help us through some really tough times. Every one of us felt like she had been sent here especially to help us as individuals.

She taught me personally what it truly means to love unconditionally. I use those lessons over and over. She was a living example of true, Christ like love. How thankful I am for that.

I am thankful for this time of year to reflect on Christ's mission here on earth. I am thankful that through the atonement, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. I am thankful that some day I will hear Carissa's delighted laugh again and feel her arms around me giving me a squeeze that takes my breath away. I will feel her hand slip into mine as we walk together. I will get to watch as she administers to others with so much love and compassion. I will get to watch as she plays with the children whom she loved so much. I will get to listen as she bears special testimony of the gospel, Jesus and her Heavenly Father whom she had a sure knowledge of their love for her. I will get to continue to learn at this great daughter of God's feet. I will get to be with my Carissa again.

Easter is a time of hope.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nine Months since Carissa Passed Away

I have joined a little group of moms who have lost children with Down Syndrome. The ages of the children are different as are the causes of death but one thing remains the same, we have all lost a beloved child.

As I have been emailing back and forth it has made me want to document more what our thoughts and feelings are about Carissa, what she taught us, how her example continues to teach us and how much we miss her. It occured to me yesterday that it was the nine month anniversary of when she died.

I wanted to post this wonderful tribute that Amy put together so that others could enjoy it. When I can figure out how, I will also post the video of Dan's amazing talk that he gave at her funeral. For now, I will just post the text.

I am so thankful for the love that our family has for each other and that our children had for their sister and I hope that you will be touched and reminded of what an exceptional young woman Carissa was.


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When Carissa died, her oldest brother Dan wanted to speak at her funeral. It was such an amazing talk and meant so much to all our family and many others that I am posting it here. I hope it can help others as it has helped me. Thank you Dan, for such a wonderful talk and inspiration.

Carissa – A Pure Heart by Dan Pearce

Carissa’s shining life and example really cannot be expressed over a pulpit. It had to be felt, experienced, and witnessed, as you all know.
Carissa understood love probably more than I or most of us will ever be able. She could feel inside a person’s soul and somehow, could even feel the pains of a person’s heart. If that person’s heart was hurting more than usual, she could sense it, and she would do what she did best, which was to help start the healing. It usually started with a question of concern, then a big smile, then one of her big Carissa Bear Hugs. Then, the verbal praises would start and not let up until she sensed that your heart was at peace again, even if it took weeks or months. She would laugh, and tell you repeatedly over the course of days, “You’re my favorite.” “I love you this much.” “Hello my beautiful.” “Hello my handsome.” And other wonderful things. Then, when you would leave, she’d get out a notebook and her big bag of colorful pens, and write you a letter or two, telling you how much she loved you, how much she loved her brother Jesus Christ, how much she loved God, and how much They both loved you. You see, Carissa understood God’s love for us, and she never hesitated to share it.
Carissa loved to make people smile. In fact, she loved to make whole congregations smile. Anyone who’s ever been to any ward that Carissa was in on Fast Sunday, has heard her bear her testimony. She was always first to head to the front, and she never missed an opportunity to tell the world of her love for the Savior or the Gospel. Her testimony was simple, and was worded something like this, “I’d love to bear my testimony, I love my mommy. I love my daddy.” And then she’d start looking around, and whoever she made eye contact with, “I love my brother Danny. I love my sister Amy so much. I love Jesus Christ. And I love the scriptures. And I love Joseph Smith. And I love President S. Monson. And I love my daddy.” (Dad always seemed to be mentioned two or three times). And sometimes she’d throw out a plug for the family business or let a few of her frustrations out between those statements of love, “And I love my brother Andy on his mission. And Amy stole the fish crackers and took them to her apartment. And I love Jesus Christ, my brother. And I love Mr. Pool.” Then, after closing, and effectively bringing the spirit strongly into the meeting, she would shake hands or hug each member of the bishopric, as well as anyone else on the stand. As she made her way to her seat, she would shake hands with members of the ward all the way down, waving to people, smiling, and feeling on top of the world. There are a lot of people who are going to miss that.
Carissa was not bound by pride, ego, time, or selfishness, a few of the struggles that many of us so naturally have. She was never too busy to visit or care for the sick. She never received a church calling that she didn’t complete with 100% vigor. She never thought herself better than another human being, ever. Think about that. She never thought herself better than another human being. How many of us can say that? She never hid her talents from the world. She never withheld her praise from anyone. She never compromised her values. She never believed that there was a reason to not show her love to others, and certainly never believed there was a reason for others not to love her. The scriptures repeatedly tell us that since the fall, man by nature became carnal, sensual, and devilish. Perhaps because Satan could have no hold on Carissa’s heart, she was never any of these things, and this is the reason she has so many people who loved her as is evidenced here today.
Carissa had a pure heart, purer than any person I’ve ever met. I am brought to ponder, reminiscing on her perfect testimony and unworldly love for the Savior if Christ’s words weren’t fulfilled while she was still here on the earth, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Whether then or now, I am confident that Carissa has seen her Maker and that He has welcomed her back with open arms.
Lastly, I want to talk about Carissa the missionary. I believe with all my heart that Carissa was put into this family, into this community, into this world, to bring souls to Christ and to lighten people’s lives. Jesus taught that the handicap are here for this very purpose. When his apostles saw a disabled man and asked the savior if that handicap was because of his sins or the sins of his parents, Jesus responded, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Carissa was given an extra chromosome so that the works of God could be made manifest in her.
One week before Carissa died, my parents were out of town, and I was summoned to the hospital (where Carissa had just been admitted) to give her a blessing. As I laid my hands on her head, the spiritual pathways between God and man opened and I could not deny that the words coming from my mouth were not my own. It was a very interesting blessing for me. During the blessing, I saw Carissa on the edge of death, hooked to tubes and monitors, surrounded by doctors and family. At that point, none of us had any reason to believe she would ever get to this point, and as I saw this happening, the words of her blessing that came were something like this:
“Carissa, we bless you that your sickness will be a means of bringing many souls to their knees and ultimately to our savior Jesus Christ, for God’s work and glory is the immortality and eternal life of man, and sometimes He uses people like you to carry forth his purposes. Christ will carry you through the hardships you are about to face, so don’t be afraid. Only after those souls have turned to Christ, will things get better for you.”
Then, in her final hours, when her body had given up on her, and we knew that death was upon her, I stood alone in that room holding her hand and pleading with God to please make things better like he had promised in the blessing; it was time to heal her. She had reached the point of her blessing that I knew would arrive, and now it was time for God to do his part as promised. Then, while in my deepest pleadings, the spirit rushed into my soul and my eyes were opened for a few moments. I can’t describe what I saw or felt, I only can tell you that a true look at what Carissa had accomplished on this earth was shown to me, and I also knew right then that her work was done and that things would indeed get better for her, just not here. I stood in tears, stroking her face, and whispered over and over, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to be like you.”
I encourage all of you to spend the rest of your lives trying to be more like Carissa. Promptly forgive those who have wronged you. Sing with all of your heart, even when you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Stop caring so much what you look like. Stop caring so much what people will think of what you say and do. Fulfill your religious duties with excitement and vigor. Love attending church. Love sharing your testimony and be one of the first ones to the front. Serve your neighbor and buoy those who are down. Stop worrying about what others will think! Worry about what God will think and act in such a way. Forget about your job for awhile. Forget about your sports games and time-wasting habits. Look around you and find someone who could use a “Carissa Bear Hug” or maybe just a warm plate of cookies. Don’t judge others. Smile and introduce yourself to strangers. Express your love for all in all times and all places. For truly, these are lessons that Carissa taught all of us.
Carissa was my hero and role model, and I have a testimony that her time here was done, and that her mission has been fulfilled. Just before her death, as Carissa was completely sedated, unable to hear or respond, I found myself alone with her once again, pleading with God for comfort as I held Carissa’s flaccid hand. Christ said, “Blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I leaned over and whispered through choked back tears, “Carissa, are you okay to go? It’s okay if you need to go.” Suddenly her hand squeezed mine with the same love and strength of one of her famous Carissa Bear Hugs and a warm comfort rushed over my entire body. Even in her final moments she made sure to comfort someone else. I know that many others had similar experiences that day.
Brothers and Sisters, Carissa was okay to go. She had no regrets and no reason to fear. She left this world as perfect as when she came into it. She was okay to go.
Let’s all consider our lives and live in a way that will make it okay for us to go when the time comes. Let’s all try to be a little more like Carissa.
I say these things in Jesus name, Amen.

Two Weeks and Counting!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. We got here to England two weeks ago yesterday.  We started out in a temporary flat ...