I was working at the preschool today, and there are stories to come later about that. When I got home and looked at my inbox, I learned that a very dear man passed away yesterday morning. His name is John Hadfield. He was my first Mission President. Most of you don’t know him, so let me take a stroll down memory lane.
When I arrived in Chile, he greeted me with a smile and a handshake, and his lovely wife took me in as if I were her daughter. The first place we went after the airport was the big hill with the huge statue of the Virgin Mary. There was a beautiful view as we could see Santiago from up there. He gave us some loving words up there and we headed to the mission home to prepare to meet our companions. Elders upstairs, Hermanas downstairs for showers and naps. I insisted I was not tired, and the Hermana told me I would be, and to take advantage of it, as it would be my last opportunity for 18 months. I had no idea just how true that was at the time. They told us they love us and sent us off with our trainers.
Three months later, less than a week with my second companion, and I had an accident. Carbon monoxide poisoning put me in the hospital. (At some future point I will write more about that.) I was in and out of conciousness, but the first face I saw that I knew, was Presidente. It was a scary time for me, I did not understand what was going on or really even where I was, but I saw Presidente and Hermana, and the love and hope I saw on their faces gave me strength. They brought me three roses when I was recovering. I kept the roses have and dried them and have them laminated in my album as a special reminder.
Almost two months later Presidente called me to let me know that my Grandpa had passed away (and some other bad news). He had me come into the office and gave me a blessing and told me to call my family. The compassion he had for me and my family was immense.
A couple weeks later we had our final Mission Conference with Presidente and Hermana Hadfield. They had served a beautiful mission with us. And we all love them dearly. As his final act of love for his missionaires, Presidente shined our shoes and gave us each a blessing and a hug. I will always look up to him and the memories I have of him and Hermana.
Living in the Midwest doesn’t really give me many opportunities to see people from the mission. However one day when I was at the Nauvoo Temple, I turned a corner, and what do you know but Presidente and Hermana were there. It was a delightful surprise. They called me by my name and gave me a huge abrazo. A year had passed since I had returned home, (and at least two since they had returned), and it was as if time had not changed anything. The love we shared in Chile is the same love we shared in 2003 and it is the same tomorrow (if not stronger). That was the first time I had run into anybody from the mission and since then I have only had the fortune of seeing one companion, Kathie (Slade) Longmore (in person-so if anyone else wants to come and get a tour of Nauvoo, let me know).