Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sometimes it just feels right

Once everyone got back from holidays and school started, the wards started having ward council. During our first ward council the Bishop asked us to try and check on a member they hadn't seen for quite a while and they wanted to be sure he was OK. His name was Mel and he was one of the founders of the Church in the Peace Country. Heavenly Father helped us find Mel's house which was unmarked and out in the bush. His son Peder wasn't so sure he wanted us on his property. But when he saw we were missionaries we were greeted. He even invited us in to see his father, Mel. Unknown to us, that day was Mel's 93rd birthday. He was eating a bit of supper. He reminded me so much of my Dad, I just wanted to hug him and hold on to him. I'm sure he wouldn't have liked that.

It just felt like we were supposed to meet Mel and Peder, so we went to the house again and took Mel some oatmeal raisin cookies so we could get to know them better. They are his favorite and he enjoyed eating them. We intended to get back, but before we could make a third visit, Peder called us and Mel was in the hospital. We made a visit there. We visited every couple of days at first and then a little more frequently. One day Peder called and said "Dad just passed away, can you come?" We went to be with Peder and stayed with him 7 hours until the doctor came and pronounced Mel dead. Normally it wouldn't take that long, but Peder wanted the family doctor.

We had known Mel about 6 weeks. He didn't say many words to us, but we talked to him. We visited with Peder while he was at the hospital with his Dad and at a care center as he visited the "Dude". He told us lots of stories about his Dad, and with his Dad, and about the Peace Country where we are serving.  We love both of these special men, Mel and Peder.

The "Peace Country" known for its Prairie, the Boreal Forest, the Rocky Mountains and the Peace River, one of the longest river systems in Canada. Cities include Grande Prairie AB, Dawson Creek BC and the city of Fort St John BC. The Peace Country includes many Hamlets, Towns, Cities, Rural Farms and Ranches in north western Alberta and also north eastern British Columbia. Many refer to it as the Mighty Peace Country. 

Mel on his 90th birthday.

Mel had been a scouter in the Peace Country since he moved there from Saskatchewan in 1961. The local Scout Council wanted to have an Honor Guard at the funeral. Peder wanted me to be part of the Honor Guard. (I knew bringing my scout uniform would come in handy.) I read the tribute of the Old Wolf.

The Old Wolf has gone on to the Happy Hunting Ground.
We wish him all the best as he continues on his journey.
May the wind always be at his back.
May his compass always point true.
May his canteen always be full.
May he always have a warm bedroll.
May he always have dry matches and dry wood for his campfire.
May each night be a celebration - a big roaring campfire with songs and laughter.
And, may every hunt be a good hunt.
May the angels watch over him.
Good night, good hunting.

We went with Peder and the rest of the family to the cemetery. I took pictures of the road because you would never believe it, but they are nowhere to be found. I can explain it and I think you can imagine what it was like. The road in front of the little country cemetery was a mud quagmire. The cemetery is little and cars don't go into it. The cars parked on the side of the road and just sunk into the mud. The middle of the road was like sticky slime. It splooshed and splashed with each very careful step, so that mud was splattered on our lower clothes. It was snowing so we didn't stay long.

We returned to the church and all the people from the funeral were still there for a luncheon of finger foods. There was an  outpouring of love for everyone who knew Mel.

Now let me tell you about Chris, the "Dude". Chris was in a quading (four wheeler) accident 28 years ago, when he was 17. His injury left him as if he is paralyzed. He has full sensation in his body, but has no control over it, so he can't sit, stand or walk. He can't swallow so he has a feeding tube and he can't talk. His mind is totally functioning. He was from Grande Cache, two hours away. After he came out of the hospital in Edmonton, he came to Grande Prairie to be closer to his family. In 1998 Mel and Peder were assigned to home teach Chris. He didn't have a lot of visitors at the time. Mel and Peder have visited Chris three times a week ever since. They have taken other members of their family to see Chris, who has been nicknamed the "Dude" They have also included the missionaries serving in the area to see the Dude on Saturdays. We started to include ourselves in this as well. Mel stopped attending these visits in December.

Peder has the Dude's room decorated with things to look at. He keeps the Dude engaged. He gives him a spiritual lesson every time. He walks him around the care center and on good summer days will push him to a park a mile away. Peder quips that he has told the Dude more about his mission to North Carolina longer than he even served the mission.

The Dude loves his lumberjack hat. He has a hat collection of all sorts of hats.

All the missionaries have written their hometowns on labels and they are all over the wall.

This wall has some of his memorabilia.

He can sometimes make his right arm do what he wants, especially in a sword fight. He is taking on Elder Brown and two other elders in these pictures.

There is a small refrigerator in his room. Peder keeps a few of Elder Holland's favorite soda pop in there in case Elder Holland ever happens to visit the Dude. I don't know the significance of this. Every guest is offered a beverage when they visit Chris.

It takes a long time to communicate with Chris. He can answer yes and no questions with two of his fingers. It is slow going, but can be important. Chris communicates really will with me with just his smile and his eyes. He has heard all of Peder's stories for years and he seems to be enjoying mine on the times we go in to see the Dude and Peder is not there.

One of the highlights of our mission is meeting all three of these special men. God knows and loves each of these men.

I know God is our Father in Heaven. He knows all of us personally and loves us more than we can comprehend. He wants us to be happy in this life and return to live with Him. He provided a plan for us to accomplish that. The plan is called the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses all who accept and live it. It is in the family that we learn these truths and happiness the best. Family relationships can be challenging at times, but our Heavenly Father blesses us as we strive to learn and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

God talked to His prophets and His word was recorded to His children who lived in the Holy land in the Bible. Some of the prophets He talked to were Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. He also talked to His prophets who were living in the New World, the Americas. And those prophets recorded God's word given to His children living there. Some of those prophets were Lehi, Nephi, Samuel, Mormon and Moroni. God's word to His people in the Americas is recorded in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. All scriptures teach about God and are a special witness of His Son, Jesus Christ. He gives revelation (direction from the Lord) to the people,  Prophets hold the priesthood, or the authority to speak and act in the name of God to lead His children. When people follow the prophets they receive the blessings God has promised to His children.

The prophet who is Heavenly Father's representative today, is Thomas S. Monson. I know President Monson is our prophet. It was revealed to me by the Holy Ghost. I testify that these things are true.

I know God knows and loves all of you. And I love you, too.
Sister Brown, Robyn, Mom, and Grandma


  1. How wonderful you were able to connect with Peder so you could be a support to him when his father died.

  2. I love hearing about your mission. It makes me a little homesick for my mission. It was hard work, but lots of fun too.