Monday, January 28, 2008

When can I go to Heaven?

On the drive home last night, we found out President Hinckley had passed away. Luckily, as we recieved the news, we were coming to an exit so Shay could get off to let her tears dry. I called my mom and talked to her for a few mintues. It was very hard news to receive. Ever since he got very sick about two years ago, I had started to wonder how I would feel when he finally did pass. I never wanted to find out the answer to that question. At first, I was extremely sad. He was "my" prophet. The one whose talks and sermons helped me form the man that I am today. While talking to my mom, I admitted this was a very selfish way of thinking. He finally gets to rejoin his wife and live in a better place. Since hearing the news, I have reflected on how he has effected my life.

When I was around 12, I went to visit Gram in Salt Lake when she lived at Eagle Gate. Both Presidents Hinckley and Faust were in her ward. I had attended her ward a few times, but never had the opportunity to see President Hinckley there, as he traveled very often. This time, he walked in about a minute before the meeting started. Immediately, the whole congregation rose to their feet out of respect for the Prophet of the Lord. An amazing spirit could be felt during that meeting. After, he hung around for a few minutes outside the chapel. Gram leaned down to me and told me I could go shake his hand. I was a bit nervous, but very excited. I waited for the few people in front of me to talk to him, then approached. I stretched my hand out and he took it. Then, he opened his arms and gave me a hug. It was very unexpected. The love and power of the Prophet was evident to me, even at such a young age.

I remember the "B's" talk like I heard it yesterday. My youth leaders had told us that a special meeting with the President of the Church for just for the youth had never happened before. That was a great tactic to get us excited for it! In the months following that talk, we must have watched it 3 or 4 times. President Hinckley taught such deep, important principles with great simplicity; the evidence of a great teacher. To this day, there is a beehive hanging on my wall reminding me of them.

I always loved watching President Hinckley's conference talks. The way he pointed at the audience/camera when making an important point. The little fluctuations in his voice that conveyed the importance and emotion he felt about the gospel. In his later years, watching him carry his cane up to the podium without using it, all to follow his doctors orders of carrying a cane with him! What a simple lesson in obedience! His talks were the first ones that made me excited about General Conference, for reasons other than being able to stay home from church for the weekend.

His council is constantly bouncing around in my head. One talk that stands out to me was given right before the passing of his wife. It was called, To the Women of the Church. Never before had I heard such a powerful talk about the sanctity of women. It was given during the General Relief Society meeting, and for the next few years, many people quoted or referred to it often. While working in the office on my mission, we listened to many talks and conference addresses. I remember the day that one came on. From the beginning, I stopped what I was doing and listened intently. It changed the way I treat and think of women. I had a greater appreciation for my mother and sisters. In 10 minutes, I changed the person that I was. I believe that is a definition of power. An agent in change.

I have looked up to President Gordon B. Hinckley for as long as I can remember. When I really found out the church was true for myself, I had those feelings while listening to I Know that My Redeemer Lives with a picture of President Hinckley on a projector. I will always call him "my" prophet, but not in a selfish way. Like my mom and President Kimball, President Hinckley showed me what it was like to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Even as I sit here in the library writing this on a cold, blustery day, my head is filled with memories and my eyes are filled with tears of joy. I know I am not the only one that has learned so much from this Man of God. His travels around the world have been greatly documented, he has even left physical examples of these travels through the many temples built during his time as Prophet. The beauty of the gospel is that my testimony is strengthened by his passing. I know President Monson and his counselors will continue the plan that God had for His church in our day. As long as I am alive, I will use the principles and teachings of President Hinckley to increase my testimony and faith in Jesus Christ. We have lost a great man from this Earth, but he served well and will be a huge asset to the Lords work in the Spirit World. I hope and pray that I can be half the man he was.


Runyon Family said...

Dixon -

I loved your comments. He was such a special man, and will always hold a place in my heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Angela and Mike said...

What a tribute you gave to our prophet! I was so touched by this. Love Mom