I honestly don't know what to say and so I hope you will forgive me.
On Thursday I received a call from President Taylor asking is I could meet him at the mission office. Such a request always gets your heart beating really fast. When we arrived the solemn look seemed to confirm that this wasn't a trivial matter. President and Sister Taylor, Sister Morrill and I all walked in and sat around a table in his office where he proceeded to tell me that Uncle Jeff and cousin Cameron had been killed earlier that week. I can't really tell you how I feel or how I felt as I don't really know how that can be described. The Lord only knows what these things feel like. I was grateful for the tender moment when President Taylor laid his hands on my head and gave me a priesthood blessing that filled me with comfort and when I think of it now it brings back similar feelings.
In a talk I was reading this week I read this quote about the Savior "One of the attributes of the Savior we most appreciate is His infinite compassion." Struck by this sentence I decided to dictionary define the word compassion. The definition was trivial and had no connecting meaning to me, upon further searching I found that the word compassion comes from a root word 'compati' meaning 'to suffer with'. What great truth this sentence holds with such a definition. The Savior has infinite compassion because he suffered infinitely for all of us. And because of his suffering he has complete and total ability for compassion. After the death of Sister Parrish's family she had sent a gift to the mission from her aunt. A painting of the savior that was titled 'The Compassionate Christ'. In our times of deepest sorrow and suffering we can know that we have a compassionate Christ who in a very real yet not understandable way knows how we feel and how to succor us.
We all know the plan we learn in church called The Plan of Salvation. It has many names. I think we all have cause to wonder how this plan really comes into play and why things happen the way they do. Many of the people we happen upon who do not believe in God or who will not commit to any religion do so because of deep pain caused by death or misfortune. I don't think any of us fully understand the plan of salvation. Life is very short and yet somehow its consequences are larger and higher than anything we can imagine. In the sequence of eternity this life is very short. Just think. Because of the choices we make in this life our entire eternity hangs in the balance. Also thinking from the other end. We prepared the entire eternal time before this life for this exact time. Some of us are here just a short couple of years, others stay many decades, yet none of us stay forever. I think in the Lords terms "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). His plan is greater than we can understand and his perspective larger than we can see.
We know the Lord values families. Sister Julie B. Beck taught: “In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. … The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. … The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally.” His plan for our families is not just for right now but for eternity where we can dwell as glorified and perfected beings with our families forever. Someday our trials will have perfected us and refined is in a way that will allow us to live with our Father again. As I've reflected on the trials I have faced in my life and in particular this last 18 months which has been a time of immense personal shaping, I have realized that the Lord doesn't care so much about who we meet, or where we go, or what we do. All those things are important but don't really matter. What the Lord really cares about is who we become. He and he alone knows who he wants us to be. He and he alone knows what the depth of sorrow that must happen to get us to that point. He and he alone has felt every part of that sorrow. And he and he alone will be with us every step of the way. He and he alone will be there when we stand alone before the throne with nothing but who we are: no trophies, no scholarships, no popularity, no worldly or selfish things. He will be the one walked with us. He will be the one who will grateful and joyfully welcome us back to the presence of God. The journey is long, and the end not in our sight. But it is in His.
I greatly wish I could be with you in Colorado. And my prayers and fasting are with you. I love you all so much.
Sister Kaitlyn Beard