Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tribute from a friend

Our friends Bryan and Chris Skelton are serving as Mission President (and wife) in Singapore. They are both life-long and eternal friends. Here is a message that was shared by Chris. Again, have the kleenex at the ready. It is very touching.

(Part of a talk given at the Singapore Zone Training Meeting)

A few weeks ago we received a phone call from one of our children who told us that a good friend in our Ward back home, John Sims, was so ill with cancer he had been admitted to a hospice and wasn’t expected to live much longer.

We were saddened greatly by the news that we would never see him again this side of the veil, and so I decided to phone his wife, Val, just to let her know that they were in our thoughts and our prayers. As the phone rang, the thought crossed my mind that I was grateful it would be Val I would be speaking to because I wouldn’t know what on earth to say to John. Val answered and we talked for a few minutes.

Then she said something I was totally unprepared for, "Actually, John’s here. He’s just come home for a few hours because he wants to spend as much time at home, whilst he can. He’d love to talk to you." I felt instant panic. What do you say to a dying man except words that sound completely hollow?

John came on the phone and whilst I’m still racking my brain, he said, "Is that you, Chris? I’ve got a great joke for you." John has always told some terrible jokes and I wondered if a spell in hospital had improved them, but it hadn’t – they were just as bad as ever. He said, "I’ve got some new hospital jokes." Then he proceeded to tell me several more jokes and we were both laughing together. This was far from the conversation I had expected and feared.

After a while, John became serious and broached the subject of his health. "I’m going to die, you know, but I’m not in the least bit worried. I know where I’m going and I have no fears whatsoever." Well, I knew he meant that. John Sims would not be worried about dying for two reasons:

Firstly, he had a testimony of the gospel that was a mile high and knew that death was simply a passing on to greater things.
Secondly, when John finally met His Maker, he could look Him straight in the eye and honestly say that he had done his best to keep the commandments and the covenants he had made.

Eventually, the phone call came to an end. I had phoned Val just to try and uplift her a little by letting her know we care. Instead, I was taught by a dying man about courage, strength of testimony and spiritual preparedness (with a few corny jokes thrown in for good measure).

In our opinion, John was still too young to die, but if I’ve learned one thing from visiting a number of cemeteries, it is that death does not have much to do with old age. We can be taken at any time. How crucial it is that we are ready and remain ready.

I hope we can all follow this example and when our great call comes, find ourselves like John Sims – constantly faithful and enduring in righteousness to the very end!

Thank you Chris. We love you!

Heading for the kleenex :)

"We love and miss you Dad"

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