January 22, 2017
I participated in both a sacred, and difficult experience today. Sometimes in the midst of great sorrow and remorse, one still sees the comforting hand of the Lord.
Elder Ochoa is from El Salvador. His country battles an increasing murder rate. Elder Ochoa has served faithfully for twenty-two and one half months. He is scheduled to return to his country the end of February.
Keith received a text this morning from Elder Ochoa’s Stake President. His step father, but the only father he has ever known, was murdered last night when someone decided to take their anger out on the taxi his father was driving. Three taxis drivers lost their life to random shootings. It was simply murder.
We called Elder Ochoa’s zone leaders and had them arrange to meet us at the chapel at 1 PM. Elder Ochoa and his companion were to come to the meeting also. Elder Ochoa came prepared. He sensed that something was wrong but he just didn’t know who it was. He had a dream several weeks previous to this that his father passed away, and his hope was that dream was just a nightmare.
As Keith shared the news, the Elder cried on his shoulder. We all three hugged and expressed love. And then he called his bereaved mother.
As we listened to the phone call and watched the Elder through our own tears, he expressed his love for the family. Soon, although he was still crying, he gained composure and started to counsel his mother. He talked of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for families. He talked of the fine man that had blessed them all. And he bore complete faith that the family would be able to handle and grow through this new trial.
Where did that kind of strength come from? How did he suddenly become all grown up, and ready to handle what was hitting him? Keith and I sat there with sorrow, and a rich feeling of love for this wonderful Elder. As the zone leaders, Keith and Elder Ochoa’s companion gathered around him to give him a blessing, there was little doubt of the love that all felt, including our Heavenly Father.
Will the Elder fly home early or will he choose to stay and finish? He would go home with honor either way and we would support either decision. He is taking that decision to the Lord and will tell us of his wishes once he receives Heavenly Father’s answer.