This article was originally published in LDS Living by Jensen Parrish. Below is an excerpt.
On August 24, 2013, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came to visit our mission. All the missionaries gathered in a church building, anxious to meet him. He spoke with such power, and I remember the Spirit testifying to me that he was indeed an apostle of the Lord and that anything he said would be of God.
I remember he gave each of us a promise. He said, “As you serve your missions with all your heart, mind, and strength, your families will be protected.” I made a promise to myself right then that regardless of how tired or tested I ever felt, I was going to serve the Lord the best that I could.
Time passed, and I faced many trials. During a particularly difficult period, I asked one of my zone leaders for a blessing. In the blessing, he told me that I didn’t need to worry about home. My family was safe and would remain safe because of my decision to serve. Again, I felt that reassurance that the Lord would keep His promise.
But on February 23, 2014, just three days after my year mark of leaving for the MTC, my life was changed forever.
It was 10:30 on a Sunday night, and I had just finished saying my prayers before bed when there was a knock on the door. After a puzzled pause, my companion and I answered the door. There stood the last two people we would have expected: our mission president and his dear wife, each wearing a grim expression.
I was so shocked that I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t believe it. I had just talked with them that Christmas. I had just emailed my mom last week. But, as much as I tried to deny it, I knew in my heart they were right. My companion and I packed an overnight bag and stayed at the mission home that night.
My mission president offered to give me a blessing. I felt that I was in dire need of one, and he gave me a very powerful blessing. Though I cannot remember all the words that he spoke, I do remember the peaceful feeling that comforted me.
However, that night as I lay in bed, I could not sleep. The disaster hadn’t fully hit me yet.
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