In November 2010 I gave a talk in church that centered on implanting the gospel in our hearts. I used my mother's life as an example. After the talk, I wrote down much of what I said to send it to my son who was serving a mission. I'm taking from that letter to write this entry about my mother.
My mom was born into the Lutheran church in Sweden but raised in a non church going home. She learned about the bible stories in school. Religious studies is part of the curriculum in Sweden. Mom loved the stories and was fascinated by angels. It was her love of the Bible stories that prepared her to listen to the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She didn’t know it at the time but she was a golden investigator accepting everything the elders taught her. She knew it was a serious step to take so she went to talk the decision over with one of her school teachers (she was studying to be a teacher) and when the teacher informed her that if she joined the LDS church she wouldn’t be able to graduate since she would no longer be a member of the state church, she was devastated. It was then that she realized how much the gospel meant to her. She waited the year she had until graduation and then was baptized. When she was baptized she literally doubled the membership of the LDS church in her town. The only other member was a 60 year old woman. Mom was almost 21 when she was baptized.
Mom would wait until the Elders would come to visit their town and pay her tithing which is how my dad met her. He figured anyone that was so stalwart as to pay tithing even without priesthood leadership there to check up on her deserved to be married in the temple and she had no prospects there so he proposed to her. (mission rules were a little different back then). Dad tells the story quite clinically but it probably didn’t hurt that Mom was very beautiful and Dad looked like Clark Gable. So Mom left her home and family thinking she would never see them again and came to America. A true pioneer.
" And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
"And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end;therefore they were saved.
"And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
Alma 5: 12-14, 26"
My mom engraved the gospel in her heart and strived to live a consecrated life of labor. She spent her life in service, laboring in the home and for the gospel. She was Relief Society President three times among other callings, served three missions with my dad and then put herself on a family history mission full time. She labored to research as many Swedish names as possible since it was easier for her to read the information than anyone else. Dad spent years putting those names in the computer.
Mom never sat around idle at home. She was always working. Now as her diseased brain takes away her abilities both mentally and physically the one thing I think she still holds on to is that love of the gospel. When we moved her here to an assisted living facility, she thought she was still on a mission. She would gather the residents around the table for prayer meeting before going to work at the "temple". She would go with another resident around to visit all the other women in the buildings with cookies to do their visiting teaching. She still wants to serve and to work even if her brain perverts what those things are. Fiddling with her blanket is now what her brain calls work. If you ask her what she is doing with the blanket she might say something like she is ironing or fixing it. She has sent me over to see if someone needs help or tells Dad she needs to go see who is in need. Or sometimes she will spend time coloring and if you ask her what she is doing she will say she is getting ready for class. All these things are so ingrained in her being that it has been one of the last things to be taken from her. I have written about a Mother’s day before where I witnessed her reverence for the sacrament. You can read about that here.
The gospel must be as deeply engrained in each of us as it has been in my mother. It must be engraved on our hearts just like it is in my mother’s. Missionaries are headed out to share the gospel with others and give that gift that my mother has treasured her entire life. She has kept in contact with at least one of those elders that taught her the gospel. We must have that mighty change in our hearts too and strive to live that consecrated life.