Peace be unto you in Arabic. Yes I can speak a little Arabic lol When I come home I'll speak some for everyone. This is a normal greeting between Muslim people. Well to be honest with everyone, I don’t really know what to talk about. Nothing really happened this week. I just want to share a story from my favorite talk from Niel L. Anderson that has been a strength to me my whole mission.
On June 12 of this year, I received an email telling me that the bishop from a Utah ward, his wife, and two of their children had been killed in an airplane accident. Bishop Mark Openshaw had been piloting the plane as it left a small airfield, when it suddenly fell from the sky and crashed to the earth. Bishop Openshaw, his wife, Amy, and their children Tanner and Ellie were killed in the accident. Miraculously their five-year-old son, Max, thrown out of the airplane in his airplane seat, escaped with only broken bones.
I learned that their son Elder Porter Openshaw was serving in the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission and that their 17-year-old son, Zane, was on a school cultural exchange in Germany.
I called Elder Openshaw on Christmas Island. Although heartbroken by the unexpected death of his mother, father, brother, and sister, Elder Openshaw immediately turned his concern to his two younger brothers.
Ultimately it was Elder Openshaw and his brother Zane who decided that others could help at home and that Porter should stay on his mission. They knew it was what their parents would want.
As I spoke with Elder Openshaw, I felt his sadness but also his unquenchable fire of faith. “I have the confidence,” he told me, “and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will see my family again. … Strength in our trials is always found in … our Lord, Jesus Christ. … God’s omnipotent hand has been so apparent in helping [me] and my brothers throughout [this] very difficult challenge.”
I met Zane for the first time at the funeral. As I looked at the four caskets before us in the chapel, I marveled at the faith of this 17-year-old as he addressed the congregation. “Today,” he said, “we have gathered with humble hearts and weary souls to remember the lives of my mom, dad, Tanner, and Ellie. … We have talked together, cried together, remembered together, and felt the hand of God together. …
“The day after I heard the news of the accident, I found a letter in my bag from my mom. In the letter she wrote: ‘Zane, remember who you are and where you come from. We will be praying for you and missing you.’” Zane continued: “There could not be more fitting last words from my mother. I know that she, along with Tanner, Ellie, and my dad are … praying for [my brothers and] me. I know that … they pray that I remember who I am … because I, like you, am a child of God, and He has sent me here. I testify [that] … no matter how alone we feel, God will not forsake us.”
My dear friends, your faith did not begin at birth, and it will not end at death. Faith is a choice. Strengthen your faith, and live to be deserving of the Savior’s approving words: “Great is thy faith.” As you do, I promise you that your faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ, will one day allow you to stand with those you love, clean and pure in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Thank you all for the support. I love you all and look forward to next week when I share what an apostle of the Lord taught all of us! (Elder Renlund is in Ghana this week!)