Max's missionary farewell, and a heritage of sacrificial service
(We drove up yesterday afternoon for the family gathering and today's farewell, and drove back this afternoon).
It's noteworthy that my uncle (Max's great uncle), Robert Nicholls (my mom's brother) served in Alaska on his mission around the time I was born (1956). While he was serving, his father (my grandfather and namesake, Barnard Johnson Nicholls) died of cancer. Uncle Bob didn't come home for his father's funeral (knowing "Bapa" had cancer, they had agreed in advance that he would stay and serve). A heritage of sacrifice and service. ("Bapa" served his mission in Samoa -- the major reason for our upcoming trip).
Max spoke for 30 minutes, talking about his personal conversion experience and testimony gained from his participation in a testimony meeting in his Book of Mormon class at BYU-Idaho. His teacher began the class playing a recording of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Max was impressed to get up and bear his testimony, and did so. The expression of his testimony had special power for him, and strengthened his own conviction that the Gospel is true, God lives, Jesus is our Savior, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.
Unknown to Max, his home teacher had been asked to sing in today's sacrament meeting several months ago and picked "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" to sing -- turned out to be just before Max's talk. The home teacher, a fine looking young man, sang so tenderly, so guilelessly, so purely -- conveying the Spirit. His accompanist played a note and he began without accompaniment, quietly at first, completely comfortable in his own skin. Then she joined in. As the scripture says, out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
Max has grown up. He will join two cousins (Jeremy and Richie, two sons of my older sister, Emily) in missionary service, as well as Cindy's parents who are also serving.
Speaking of a heritage of sacrifice, Jed and I dropped off Cindy's folks at the airport early on a Saturday for their flight to Houston, Texas where they are now serving. They've both had health problems -- specifically "Elder Big D" has had back problems (2 fusions and a laminectomy), and "Sister Grandmum" had a skiing accident, resulting surgery, and now one leg is an inch or so shorter than the other. We watched them literally limp off onto their mission, two years of selfless sacrifice and service. Recently, "Sister Grandmum" had a fall and hurt her shoulder and just underwent major reconstructive surgery (she hadn't just torn her rotator cuff -- it was completely detached). But they have decided to continue on in their service, working rehab into their busy schedule.