I don't think words can properly portray how I am feeling today. On Monday, my mission, the Washington Vancouver Mission, received the tragic news that one of our sweet and beloved sister missionaries, Sister Jensen Parrish, would be going home to Idaho for a family funeral. Our mission president, President Taylor, and his wife just received news that Sister Parrish's parents and two younger siblings had died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning (from a faulty water heater) and they had to tell her the sad news. Please read more about this story and keep this family in your hearts and in your prayers.
I have often wondered what is to be done in a situation like this. How can you comfort someone when you have NO IDEA the extent of the pain, suffering, or heartbreak they are feeling. I have personally never liked it or felt comforted when, in times of my own despair, someone says, "I know what you are going through,” or “ I know exactly what you are feeling,” because they don't. No one does. Everyone mourns differently. Everyone feels things differently and reacts differently, based on their experiences that have contributed to the person they are. Our mission president and his beautiful wife told us of the immense pain they felt having to relay this message to one of the greatest and most beloved missionaries in our mission. Can you just imagine the pain they must have felt?
What I wanted to actually write about today is courage and strength. Courage and strength I do not possess. However, every single missionary was touched by and lifted in our zone conference yesterday, as our wonderful mission leaders spoke of Sister Parrish and her strength and courage. I can imagine in a situation like this my mind would be flooded with questions such as:
Why would God let this happen to me? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why now? I was promised they would be safe, protected, etc.
Our mission president then proceeded to talk about some of these things and ultimately, a man of great humility and knowledge, he concluded by explaining: "I don't know. We cannot comprehend what God can comprehend. But He asks us to trust Him."
Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,"
Our mission president then proceeded to pass out copies of a painting of the Savior to all of the missionaries. The picture below was of a painting that Sister Parrish loved dearly and she showed it to President and Sister Taylor upon her arrival in the mission field. The painting is called "The Compassionate Christ" and contains all of the eye colors in the world in His eyes - so that whenever we look at it we can identify with and see ourselves in his image.
President Taylor also let us know that one of Sister Parrish's deepest sorrows was that she could not be there that day to give us all the picture and to see our reactions. She wanted so badly to be there with us, if this gives you any insight into the purity of this sweet sister missionary’s heart. What a woman!
The spirit was virtually tangible to all of those present at our zone conference yesterday. We felt of our fellow missionary’s strong spirit and courage, something unknown to the average person. We felt of Sister Parrish’s love for the Savior and all of his children. Through her strong testimony that was relayed to us through "The Compassionate Christ," we felt of HIS love for all of us.
I love being a missionary because the longer I serve the more I realize that God has a plan for us. He has a beautiful and eternal plan for all of us to return to live with Him again someday.
Please, read about God’s plan here at this link! If you have questions, ask me or ask any missionary. We don't have all of the answers, but we know who does!
Sister Audrey Denison