Today’s guest blogger is near and dear to my heart – my youngest sister and sibling, Rebecca! (Yes, she is seriously that gorgeous.) In August she returned from her 18 month mission to the Chile Rancagua Mission. Previous to that she attended BYU, then FSU where she earned a masters in Public Relations (or something like that). Can you tell I’m the one writing her bio?
Rebecca is happy, witty, smart, and easy-going which means she is great company. Other likes of hers include soccer, Scrabble, and studying her scriptures. In short, she is awesome!
When my sister asked me to do this post, I wasn’t sure where to go with it. I was only nine when President Hinckley read the proclamation. As I’ve thought of how “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” has impacted my life, I’ve been reminded of the blessings I have received because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The proclamation on the family is a summary of the most essential doctrines that we share as an LDS church. During my mission in Chile I realized that we could teach just about any of the basic doctrines of the Gospel using the proclamation. But on a personal level, and as with most things, I learned how important this document and the principles found therein are through experience.
All human beings, male and female are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.
When I was a teenager my dad decided he wanted to learn about astronomy. He bought a telescope, some books on the stars, and with a little coaxing he would push my brother, my mother and I outside to stargaze. Usually the coaxing went something like, “there’s going to be a meteor shower tonight! They say it’s supposed to look like Star Wars in the sky!” (Later he would mutter the addendum, “… in INDIA, it’s supposed to look like Star Wars…”). We, I think, pretended we minded. It was cold and usually damp from the morning dew that collected on the tops of our blankets. But mostly, we treasured that time together. We would often be out all night, only to arise (my brother and I) to go to early morning seminary (the LDS Church’s 4-year religious study program for high school age student). I’d doze off and on throughout the night, waking up to find that mom and I were the only two awake. So we’d chat, then doze again. Then Dad and I would be awake. We’d chat, then doze again. Being the youngest of five, I compared myself often to my siblings. I worried on occasion that I wasn’t as smart as they were, or as talented, or that Mom and Dad would somehow be disappointed in me. Those nights stargazing I knew beyond all doubt that none of those things mattered to my parents. I was theirs and they were mine. The personal relationship I developed with my parents during those cold nights helped me to understand better the love of a Divine Father whose children we were and who created the stars, and all of His other marvels, that we might gaze upon and enjoy them. I had a divine destiny that my parents helped me to feel and understand.
The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
Around the same time as Dad was getting into astronomy, I was taking my first Spanish classes. Spanish was harder than I thought it would be, to say the least. I felt there was no way I was going to be able speak it. My Mexican grandparents spoke very little English and they were, for the most part, the only motivation I had to continue learning. I went to college and continued taking Spanish classes. The forbidden language (it was the language my parents spoke when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying) began to feel less mysterious, but I still could not speak it well. I was happy, nonetheless, that I could at least understand my grandparents. But more than anything I wanted to be able to converse with them, to know them as I did my other grandparents.
In the fall of 2009 I decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Papers were sent in and soon a call arrived to serve in the Chile Rancagua Mission, Spanish speaking. I was thrilled. On my mission I still struggled and, often, felt as though I was not progressing in the language. But little by little I found that I could, with confidence, converse and teach in Spanish. I looked forward to seeing my grandparents and having those long desired conversations with them.
But while still on my mission, in May of this year, I received an email that strengthened my testimony of the eternal nature of families. My Guelito (grandpa) was dying. I was informed he probably would not last the week. At 93-years-old he’d suffered a heart attack. I would not have that conversation with him. Not in this life. But I knew that one day I would and that was enough for me. There is a plaque my mission president had hung on his wall that read something to the effect of: “Missionary: person who leaves his family for a brief time so that other families can have theirs eternally.”
The everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way through which I will be able to speak with my grandfather and he with me and we both will be able to understand one another.
The Family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ… In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
I think as a child I under-appreciated what I felt in our home. Beyond the knowledge of where we come from, why we’re here and where we go after we die, the Gospel gives us immense joy, peace, increased love in our homes and hope for what lies ahead. The feelings of comfort and peace I had the week my grandfather died were not new. They were familiar celestial nudges I’d been able to feel all my life as my parents worked to have a home where the Spirit of the Lord could dwell.
One of my favorite memories of my parents is when my brother and I were teenagers and both our parents were in leadership positions in the Church which required them to be out of the home a lot, visiting other Church units and preparing for large activities. One weekend Mom and Dad both had big activities to prepare for, including a talk my father had to prepare to give to a few thousand people. Mom’s activity involved a big dinner for several hundred women in the area. I remember Dad had just come out of a meeting. He was in his suit. He walked into the kitchen, took off his jacket, put on an apron, and started to help my mother cook for the activity. Neither felt their assignments were more important than the other’s, but both had the love and admiration for one another to ensure that their spouse had success in their responsibilities. Standing in the gymnasium that day and watching my parents from afar, I learned what it meant to be husband and wife for time and all eternity.
As missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nearly always the first two principles of the Gospel we would teach were that God is our Loving Heavenly Father and that the Gospel blesses families. I am grateful to know that that is true. The family is divine for He it is that created it is so. We each have a divine destiny, and it is in the family that God allows us to begin that journey towards the eternal rewards and blessings He has in store for us.
Thanks, Rebecca! We really have been blessed with wonderful parents and siblings, haven’t we?
How has The Family: A Proclamation to the World impacted you? Write a blog post and link to it here!
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