A few years ago I attended the funeral of a man who was firefighter by profession. Displayed at the church was the uniform he wore as well as the medals of honor he had earned. Squadrons of uniformed firefighters lined the sides of the church as the family filed into the pews. As part of the funeral services, the fire chief conducted a symbolic ceremony called “The Ringing of the Final Bell”. It was apparent that the world highly regarded this man and he was deserving of such honor and recognition. He was a good man and dedicated firefighter.
My father has never worn a uniform, either military or one of civil service. He has never earned medals of honor. Although successful, the world would not consider him to be a man of great significance, and I think the world would find it hard to celebrate the life he has lived. But I do not gauge my dad or his life by worldly standards.
My dad wore a white suit with a white tie and pinned to the coat of that white suit was a badge that read: Lester Skousen –Sealer. These words represent a power so great that it surpasses mortality and extends into the eternities.
He loved the temple and the work that is done within its walls. I remember a time when Jared and I and some of our children went to the temple to participate in sealing work. Upon seeing us, his face lit up and he walked out from behind the little desk in the sealing room to greet and hug each one of us. I can only describe the look on his face as one of just pure joy. He showed us off and introduced us to the other workers. As wonderful as it was for my dad to be with his family in the place he loved most, his understanding of the sacred work that we would engage in was more important and his countenance reflected that. Whenever he performed sealings his voice was reverent and unhurried, and his eyes were fixed upon the persons kneeling at the altar. I knew by the way my father conducted himself inside and outside of the temple, that he knew that “in the ordinances,…the power of godliness is manifest.”
The world would never celebrate that, but the heavens do! I have contemplated the hundreds and hundreds of people who have undoubtedly greeted my father since his passing, who have surely expressed their joy for finally having the sealing power manifest in their lives because of his service. He knew the magnitude of the importance of the work he did.
As was mentioned by my sister Kellee, my mom and dad embarked upon three Spanish speaking foreign missions together; missions that were focused on providing my father's beloved brown-skinned people the blessings of the temple. Just a side note………as a young girl, I loved to hear my dad speak Spanish. And because my dad could speak Spanish and was born in Mexico, I just assumed that he was a Mexican and that is what I told people and I was so proud of that.
During this past week, I have heard my mom express on four different times these words: “ I am so grateful that your dad and I served those three missions.” I don’t know exactly why that has been so impressed upon her right now; I am sure they were significant for many reasons very personal and sacred to her. I do know that these missions were defining times in the life of my dad. He loved these foreign lands and serving in their temples. The Latino people adored him. He spoke their language and understood their culture and customs. And most importantly, he gave them his heart. I want to say to my mom……….thank you. Thank you for doing hard things! I know it was difficult for you to learn the language and had feelings of isolation and frustration, but I can’t help but think that these missions were some of dad’s greatest times in his life. Thank you for having the courage and faith to leave your home, children and grandchildren. Most of all, I say thank you for the supportive role you were for dad so that he could shine and do that which he most loved to do.
I believe that the example my mom and dad have set for us four children, their 18 grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will result in literally hundreds, if not thousands, who will receive the blessings of the gospel. What a legacy!
This legacy has already impacted a granddaughter who is currently at the Mexico City MTC learning Spanish. The day after the passing of her grandfather I received an email where she writes specifically of what that legacy means to her: “I love that [grandpa] always made sure his family knew he loved them, the temple, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You know that those are the things most important to him, and I want to make sure that everyone always knows that family, the temple, and the Gospel are important to me. I know that Grandpa will be helping me, and I have already felt his love. I know that he is so happy with where I am, in a country he loves, learning to speak the language he loves, so I can teach others the gospel that he loves.”
How grateful I am to be born of goodly parents, to a father who loved his wife and children, who honored his priesthood and raised a family unto the Lord. I never want his influence of goodness and kindness to leave me. And I don’t think it has too. I believe that as we honor his legacy- especially as we serve missions and participate in temple work, we will feel his arms around us, guiding us, teaching us and loving us even to the extent as if he were here.
Because of the events that have transpired over the past ten days, I can stand before you and testify that even amidst the pain and sorrow that accompanies death, the Lords Plan is one of joy and of the peace.