Jake- knowing that you won't read this until after you get home, I wanted to post this story that Gayla sent to me the other day. She is such a good friend to me, and she truly is one of the few people on this earth that really knows my heart. I am blessed that she followed the prompting to send me this story, because it is just what I needed to hear right now.
It has been really tough letting you go. I've always known that I was going to have to send you off one day,. I've always felt that you are meant to do great and wonderful things in this life. And, as you WELL know, the road to where you are now has been a tough one a lot of the time. Deep down, I really just wanted to be selfish, and keep you home with me.
In all of the craziness of the months leading up to your mission, with the accident, and so many changes and twists and turns, I never had time to anticipate how difficult it was going to be for me after you left. I miss you terribly sometimes. But, I am SO PROUD, and SO SURE of the man that you are today, and the man than you are growing to be. I love you buddy.
Marks of a Man-
As I jumped on board my flight from Miami to Salt Lake City, I paused for a
moment to catch my breath. Seated near the front of the plane was an
excited young man, probably 19, sitting with his parents. His hair was
short, his clothes new and sharp. His suit was fitted perfectly; his black
shoes still retained that store bought shine. His body was in good shape,
his face and hands were clean. In his eyes, I could see a nervous look; his
movements were that of an actor on opening night.
He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the LDS church.
I smiled as I walked by, and took pride in belonging to the same church
where these young men and women voluntarily serve the Savior for two years.
With this special feeling, I continued back to where my seat was located.
As I sat down in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise saw
another missionary, sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short,
but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously
returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had
The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed
to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years
that he had even slept, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
As I looked at his face I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the
chapped lips, the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida
His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart, and
I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand sewn with a
very sloppy stitch. I saw the name tag, crooked, scratched, and bearing the
name of the church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all
worn away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn, and white, the result of many
hours of humble prayer. A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that
really told me what kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that
made this boy a man.
His feet, the two that had carried him from house to house now lay there
swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn out shoes. Many of
the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by countless polishing.
His books, laying across his lap, were his scriptures-the word of God. Once
new these books which testify of Jesus Christ and his mission were now
torn, bent, and ragged from use.
His hands, those big, strong hands which had been used to bless and teach,
were now scarred and cut from knocking on doors.
Those were indeed the marks of a man. And, as I looked at him, I saw the
marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the
sins of the world.
His feet, those that had once carried him throughout the land during his
ministry, were now nailed to the cross.
His side, now pierced with a spear, sealing his testimony with his life.
His hands, the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and to bless
the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to hang him on
Those were the marks of a great man.
As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with
pride and joy because I knew, by looking at him, that he had served his
My joy was so great that I felt like running to the front of the plane,
grabbing the new missionary, and bringing him back to see what he could
become, what he could do.
But, would he see the things I saw? Could anyone? Or, would he see just the
outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead?
As we landed, I reached over and tapped the returning missionary to wake
him up. As he awoke, it seemed like new life poured into his body. His
whole frame seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his
face toward mine, I saw a light that I had never seen before. I looked into
his eyes. Those eyes. I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of
a prophet, a leader, a follower, a servant. They were the eyes of the
Savior. No words were spoken. No words were needed.
As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he
walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him, and found myself
walking the way he did.
When I came through the doors, I saw the returning missionary in the arms
of his parents, and I couldn't hold it any longer.
With tears streaming
down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son, who had been
away for such a long time, and I wondered if our parents in heaven would
greet us in the same manner. Will they wrap their arms around us and
welcome us home from our journey on earth? I believe they will. I just hope
that I will be worthy enough to receive such praise, as I'm sure this
missionary will. I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries
like this young man. I don't think I will ever
forget the joy and happiness
he brought to me that day.