Monday, January 28, 2008

We Thank Thee, O God, For A Prophet!


The news of President Hinckley's death spread like wildfire last night. We knew of it within an hour of his passing. Phone lines and Internet connections were flooded with activity as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contacted each other to spread the news. Even now, the blogs are flooded with stories and memories of President Hinckley. A fitting way to mourn a Prophet who encouraged the use of technology.

When I heard about his death, I was lying on the couch in my bathrobe, surrounded by used tissues. I'm still not quite over this sickness that has wiped me out for four days. But I had to take the time to write about our dear Prophet.

My first experience seeing President Hinckley was at an Area Conference in Pocatello, ID. We had driven up from Blackfoot to the Holt Arena early because my mother (or both my parents?) was singing with the choir. I must have been around 10 years old. Because we were so early, our seats were very close to the podium. I remember seeing President Hinckley --he was in the 1st Presidency at the time (for President Benson), and was speaking to us that day. I remember telling my mom that I thought President Monson was a better speaker, and I distinctly remember her complimenting President Hinckley. I wish I had remembered what she'd said --and what he had said that day. But her words left an impression that immediately made me see President Hinckley differently from that day on and I was no longer "bored" when he spoke. :)

[Brandon, you should leave your experience with President Hinckley on your mission in the comments.]

Since then, the last 13 years that he's been the prophet has been a wonderful time in my life. I finished high school and college. I married and had four children. I've seen many of the temples that have been built under his supervision. I've been so grateful for The Proclamation on the Family and The Living Christ document. I enjoyed every talk at conference, and every devotional while at BYU. I laughed at his quick wit and wonderful humor. My testimony was strengthened with each new piece of counsel and advice. I rejoiced with his optimistic attitude and genuine happiness for life. I mourned with the rest of the world when his sweet wife Marjorie died. The only thought I'm left with is how wonderful it must be for them to be together again.

I'll miss you, President Hinckley. Thank you for everything.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

What a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Feel better soon!

Biff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Biff said...

Here's a few thoughts and memories I have...

Howard W. Hunter was my "first" prophet. I remember going to general conference my Freshmen year at BYU in October 94 and standing in the tabernacle when he entered the room. I was overwhelmed with the spirit and knew that he was a prophet of God. I remember walking in the JKHB on campus on my way to my Humanities 101 class and hearing somebody say that President Hunter had passed away. It was a very short tenure, and I remember feeling very, very sad.

President Hinckley, for some reason, had always seemed like a boring, dry, business-like speaker up until them. I imagine he was just serving in his role as advisor, or maybe it was my lack of attention to conference. I was taking a "Teachings of the Living Prophets" class the semester that he issued the "Proclamation of the Family". Our instructor was awed by the proclamation and we discussed it in depth for many days. He helped us understand the significance of such a proclamation. Little did we know how many more significant things that President Hickley would accomplish.

I could write so many...

I left shortly thereafter for a mission in Perth, Australia. At the time we figured Perth would never have a temple. The minimum at the time was five stakes to even be "considered". Our mission had added a third stake shortly before I arrived, and added a fourth stake over a year later. The leadership was stretched "soooooo" thin, but it was the only way the local leaders thought they could receive the blessings associated with the temple. As missionaries, many of talked privately of how it could never happen, given the limited population and isolation. Later in my mission, while sitting in the Doubleview chapel, watching General Conference via delayed tape broadcast, President Hinckley made the announcement of the mini-temple. It was a powerful moment as we realized that the people we loved and served would have a realistic chance to receive the blessings of the temple. Several years later, a temple was dedicated on the site of our mission office. What a blessing.

Shortly thereafter, while still in the mission field, it was announced that President Hinckley would visit our mission. A prophet of the church had never vistied Perth previously. Members were "abuzz" about the privilege and opportunity. I was playing the organ at our mission conference when he entered the room. My companion sat on the front row (because I was playing the organ)... and got to shake his hand. I never received such a privilege. I guess I'm in the same boat as Glen Beck (http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/200/5127/). But the youngest apostle was accompanying him on this visit, and was discerning enough to put his hand on my shoulder as I continued to play and said, "Thank you, Elder." Elder Eyring quickly because a personal "favorite".

I've shed a few tears while writing this as I've recalled the affect that our beloved prophet has had on my life, and on the life of those around me:

The Three Things Each New Member Needs. The Perpetual Education Fund. The Living Christ. The Conference Center. Public Affairs. Preach My Gospel. Raise The Bar.

Wow... what a legacy.

As the news was confirmed Sunday night that he had indeed passed away, I didn't feel that sad. The sadness I felt was purely selfish, as I knew that he had waited several years to return to his beloved wife. I will miss his smile, his humor, and his personality.

Please take the time to watch his last General Conference talk, "The Stone Cut Out Of the Mountain" (http://broadcast.lds.org/genconf/2007/10/40/GC_2007_10_47_HinckleyGB__02381_eng_mv2.wmv) It takes on added significance as viewed as the capstone of his tenure. It is a fitting tribute to his legacy.

Then watch his closing remarks (http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-39,00.html)...

We hoped you would make it to next conference too, President Hinckley. We will miss you.

Cheryl said...

amanda-
Thanks!

Biff (a.k.a. my hubby)-
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and the links. They are great!