August 4, 2008


When I was first learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I remember being taught about Modern Day Prophets. I was taught that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that there are Prophets on the earth today. They are inspired men called to speak for the Lord as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, and Mormon. I remember wondering what a Prophet today might tell his people. I discovered that twice a year the church holds a worldwide conference in Salt Lake City. It is during this conference that the Prophet speaks to the members of the church. Like Prophets of old, Prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach his gospel. Over the past 22 years I have been taught and inspired by the council of our Prophets. I know that our lives have been blessed for heading their advise as we strive to become better people and raise responsible children. The Prophet of our church today is Thomas S. Monson. I love President Monson. He has lived a life devoted to Service. He is truly a man of God. I would like to share a little of a recent message he gave.

Doing Something Today

"How fragile life, how certain death. We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask, “What are we doing with today?” If we live only for tomorrow, we’ll eventually have a lot of empty yesterdays. Have we been guilty of declaring, “I’ve been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan to take the first step—tomorrow”? With such thinking, tomorrow is forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them today. As the familiar hymn teaches:
There are chances for work all around just now, Opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,” But go and do something today.

Let us ask ourselves the questions: “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” What a formula for happiness! What a prescription for contentment, for inner peace—to have inspired gratitude in another human being.
Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,”
we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s immortal Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: “Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
Marley added: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. I love his line,

“I am not the man I was.”
Why is Dickens’s Christmas Carol so popular? Why is it ever new? I personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way—become a guiding star for some lost mariner.

If I have learned anything on this mission it is to live in today. To make the very best of what we have been given. When we first arrived in Ukraine I was so homesick. I would have given almost anything to see my family one more time. I remember as we were preparing to leave for our mission how I cherished each day that we were together. I wrote letters to my children and grandchildren expressing how much I loved them and would miss them. I wrote and told them all the special things I loved about them and how much I valued my relationship with each one of them. As the day to leave the Country approached and we had parted with most of our worldly possessions I found myself clinging to my family. I wanted to spend as much time as I could doing all the things that had previously seemed so mundane to me like playing with my grandchildren, or watching my son wash his car, or having my daughter lay her head in my lap.
There is a poem about life that talks about putting our families first. It goes like this........

One hundred years from now
It will not matter what kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But one hundred years from now
The world may be a little better
Because I was important
In the life of a child.
~Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

It became brilliantly clear to me as I was saying good bye to my children at the airport that their presence in my life had changed me. I remember standing at the bottom of the escalator. They had walked us as far as they were allowed to go. We couldn't put our good bye off any longer. At that moment time stopped. Nothing else seemed to matter. I wanted to remember everything about them. The way their eyes sparkled, the way my now grown sons hand felt in mine, the way my daughters smile radiated, and the sweet tender words my son-in-law spoke to us as we all embraced one last time.
It was at that moment that I realized what a gift I had been given to raise these two children. How blessed we were that our daughter found such a perfect match for a husband. What a blessing it is to be a mother and to have a loving, kind man as the father of my children. I could feel my heart ache as I grasped my husband's hand and walked away from all that was dear to me.
I know some of you may be thinking why would you do that? I wish I could eloquently put into words why. I will try by saying, because I love the Lord, I know that he has showered me with blessings. I know that by obeying his commandments I have had a peace in my life that surpasses anything I could have ever imagined. I have a Heavenly Father who has healed my broken heart, has shown me the light when I could only see darkness. The world is filled with people who suffer, people who have been wounded emotionally and physically by the pains of this world. I just found myself thinking "how can I not go". When there are so many people out there who need to know that there is a peace that awaits them. There is a light that can fill their soul with peace.
It has been 9 months since that day at the airport. When we left California to serve a Humanitarian Mission in Ukraine I thought of how rewarding it would be to be able to relieve the suffering of the poor and needy with badly needed "material things". What I could never have known was, how much more important the expressions of love we show here are to the people of Ukraine. They are amazed that we do this. They don't comprehend why our church would just "donate" the items we deliver and that we expect nothing in return. When I stop to help someone on the street and I look into the eyes of "one of the least of these", my heart fills with a love similar to the love I felt for my children as I stood in the airport. It is at that very moment that I am filled with gratitude to be able to be an instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father.
I know that these moments must be cherished. In coming to Ukraine I have been given another gift that I need to fully appreciate. This moment in my life is but a small moment. Every missionary that goes home and writes to us says, "I miss everything about my mission." I want to enjoy everything about my mission while I am here in Ukraine. And when I go home I want to enjoy everything about my life as a wife, mother, and grandmother. I want to be happy in the moment. I want to be filled with joy and thanksgiving. I pray that we can all live our lives so that we don't end up with alot of empty yesterdays.

4 messages from friends and family:

Jane Anne said...

You really put everything in perspective. It's great.

Mary Ann said...

I wish I could push "print" and be able to copy what you just wrote! Thank you for your tender words and for sharing your mission with others:)

dixiewhitehead said...

You are an instrument in the Lord's Hands in so many ways, not one of the least are your blog entries. You won't know how many hearts you have touched, just as you won't know fully all the good you have done in Ukraine. But you will feel His love and feel your life blessed because of the time and effort you have spent in serving. You truly went on your mission for the right reason, because you love the Lord. You have touched my heart. Thanks for your eloquent and sincere words again today.

samnarene said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and testimony. You have a very uplifting blog, and it's a nice place to come for a visit. I enjoy reading what you write, listening to your music, and seeing a glimpse of your mission through your photos. I will return!

Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music

click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting


OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)




Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg