John and Christine’s Missionary Sacrament Meeting
As I sat in the Gunnison 5th Ward yesterday (Sunday, January 10th 2010) everything was vaguely familiar…many of the same faces, the warm comfortable chapel, Bro. Pickett at the pulpit welcoming all those who were visiting that day and a beautiful sense of peace. Just a little over 3 months previous we all gathered to celebrate Brad’s farewell into the mission field. Yesterday it was John and Christine’s turn. There’s nothing like witnessing a missionary preparing to enter the mission field. I loved it with Brad and I think even more so (if possible) with John and Christine…maybe because they are a little closer in age and I could see myself one day following their example.
I was impressed that all of Christine’s brothers, sisters, mom and dad and their families were in attendance. Many of the Jackson clan was there as well, including some of Brad and Gayle’s family. Whenever I’m surrounded by so many people that I love I always think I’m being given a little glimpse of heaven.
Marissa Pickett (the youth speaker…a relation to Stacy?) gave a great talk introducing the subject for the month—The Light of Christ. After she spoke Christine also addressed the theme. She did so by focusing on our responsibility to be good examples. She explained that their mission would not be a prosolyting mission but instead a service mission at the Jerusalem Center in Israel. John and Christine have been asked to oversee the medical needs and dorm room type parenting care of about 80 young men and women, students from BYU.
Christine shared a couple of stories she had heard from the orientations for this mission. One of the stories was about a group of students that had not received word about a riot/protest group that was about to overtake the area they were in. The BYU Jerusalem students (not referred to as Americans but as the Mormon kids) live a very high standard of morals and conduct. This group of kids would have been killed by the people rioting if it were not for the kindness of the town’s people and their willingness to bring them into their own homes for protection. They would keep them in their homes until they knew they would be safe. They did this because they knew “the Mormon kids” were good kids. Good examples.
Christine explained as a worker in the Jerusalem Center they would be held to a high standard as well. Women’s dress collars should come to the base of their neck (right below the throat), sleeves must be at the elbow, and skirts or dress length should be mid calf. She didn’t mention what the dress code was for men but I would assume it would be just as strict. These dress standards were especially important for the American women if they did not want to be thought of as loose women. Our news and media from the US does a great disservice to women when they are portrayed as immodest and available. Many people from other countries listen and learn from what they see on TV. Christine said she was having a tough time finding dresses that would cover the areas that needed to be covered. She had a thought to turn one of her dresses around and saw that it fit perfectly and because of the dress style it looked great!
Christine concluded her talk by expressing her deep gratitude for her family. Would this be a sacrifice…YES…but one that she was grateful for. She remembered a thought she had when they had completed their vacation to the Holy Land several years ago…a wish to be able to take just 6 months out of their lives and rent a little cottage on the banks of the Sea of Galilee to read and study the scriptures. She explained that in some way that wish had been granted through this mission.
John started his talk by saying when given this assignment to speak that he would agree on 3 conditions. 1—that it not be turned into a farewell, 2—he didn’t want a lot of people coming, 3—he didn’t want a dinner. Well he was granted none of those wishes! Good thing Christine got her way or we would have all missed out on a great day! John also told a Jewish lawyer joke…ask John (or Scott) to tell it to you cause I’ll get it messed up! John said he felt good about this day and as he thought about it he said it might have been a bit similar to each of our “farewells in heaven”. As we prepared to come to earth for our earthly mission, we probably gathered together, offered our love and support and gave an enthusiastic goodbye…we’ll see you soon. I liked that thought. And I’d like to think that many of those same people will be there for our “homecoming”.
John also talked about being very grateful for this call to serve. He said he wasn’t quite sure why they were chosen to go to Jerusalem when so many others were probably more qualified but felt very humbled to be able to serve his mission where Jesus had served his earthly mission many, many years ago.
John offered an interesting history of Israel and specifically the area where they will live. He said they sit on a big rock about 10 miles up from the Dead Sea, with cavernous roads for travel. He then told the story of the Good Samaritan. He offered a beautiful description of the story. From the description it was evident that John had traveled these roads and maybe knew and felt a bit more admiration and love for the Good Samaritan.
John thanked the good people he served with professionally, the 2 bishoprics he learned from and expressed love for his temple service. He felt strongly about the temple covenant to give all that we have. He said he felt that giving up a little (his medical practice, free time, etc) was easy, that not being able to be with family was going to be a bit tougher but felt that this was what they were called to do at this time, and he was excited about it.
Both John and Christine mentioned several times they so appreciated the support of their children and grandchildren. Not one of them discouraged the mission but instead asked how they could help get them ready to go. To give further witness of that all the grandchildren sang “Called to Serve” and they sang with great gusto! It was fun to listen and watch.
As we sat listening to John and Christine I took a moment to glance at a couple of family members. I saw tears, smiles, and a grateful pride. And most of all I saw beautiful faces with shining testimonies. Once again I felt grateful for gatherings that witness the love of Christ.
After the Sacrament meeting we all adjourned to Gunnison Valley High School…again a familiar place with lots of good food and great conversation. Thanks to Megan and Jennifer (there couldn’t be a harder working duo) and all those that helped prepare a beautiful setting for a fabulous meal.
We missed Bradley and thought of him often during the gathering but grateful for his example. The family missionary map now shows two arrows of family work in the mission field…Oregon and Jerusalem. I Will Go, I Will Do…good examples everywhere even in good ole’ Springville.