Hey everybody! How are you guys? Hope all is well :)
Ok, where do I start? To be honest a lot has happened this week, but it seems like such a blur because of how fast time goes in the mission. However, one thing sticks out. I'm not sure how many of you know already or not, but this past Friday, my beautiful Grandma, Judy, passed away. She was one of the most selfless people I've ever known and loved, and she has kept me laughing and smiling all the way until her final breaths. For those of you that had the privilege of knowing her, you already know she has a very unique, but priceless sense of humor. Her jokes were so original, I loved every single one of them. Though she had a solid 55+ years on me, she could often joke with me like we were of the same age. She spent countless hours of her life dedicated to helping raise me along with my parents, and for this I had a very special and close relationship with her. She was and is my grandma, but she played a much higher role than that in my life. I can't even begin to count how many times she secretly slid some cash into my shirt pocket, or spontaneously drove to my house to pick me up and treat me to some sort of amazing meal, or when she would give me a random gift on a random day of something out of the blue, simply because she thought I'd like it. And most importantly, the pure love she showed me and my family in ways indescribable. The years before my mission, I'd venture to say that she was at my house more than she was at her own most days. Whether it be for a visit, or to help the family accomplish several of our many "to-do's" for the day. She always served, loved, laughed, and made others laugh. I could go on and on for days about her; she's an amazing woman, really.
Amongst the sadness that accompanies the death of a more-than-loved one, there's a silver lining. Some of you, or maybe many of you may be wondering how there is such a silver lining, or what it is. Well, I can tell you right now with 3 words--Plan of Happiness.
Many of you that read this may be religious, or at least believe in God. Some of you may not. I'm here to tell you today that the ONLY reason I'm writing today is because there is a God. It's because He exists that I'm having fun, and laughing and smiling today, rather than laying in my bed depressed at the death of my beloved Grandma. It's because He exists that I know I will see my Grandma again.
The Plan of Happiness, or the Plan of Salvation, is a simple but beautiful plan that our loving Father in Heaven has given all of us. It was "prepared...from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on His name." [Alma 22:13] It answers many questions of the soul, such as "where did I come from?", "What the purpose of my life on earth?", or in this case, "where will I go after this life?" As a missionary, I could talk for hours on each point, but I'll save us both some time and share a quick story to address just one of the questions...
Where do we go after this life? Well I could give the very detailed explanation, but I don't have the time, so here's the reader's digest version--
I was sitting in a chair at the beginning of a lesson we were having with our buddy that wants to know more about our church and our beliefs. We were teaching the plan of salvation, and were about 5 minutes or so into the lesson. As I pulled out my iPad to open up to a scripture, I saw a couple notifications pop up. A message from my sister and a message from my dad. I tried to ignore them and get on with the lesson, but I couldn't help but notice the subject line of my dad's message, "Urgent Message." So I read the first couple lines, and quickly understood that he was informing me of my grandma's passing. I immediately put away my iPad and used all of my strength to resist from breaking down in the middle of a lesson. About 3 minutes later, I couldn't really hold it in much longer and I quickly left the room and walked into the bathroom for time alone. My "companion/colleague" was beyond confused, and ran out as well to see what was happening. I did my best to tell him of the news between my tears. He looked right at me and told me he had went through the same thing but with his grandpa on the third day of his mission. He then told me some other things, and then before he returned to the lesson, he recommended that I pray. So he left and returned to the lesson with our friend and another member of our church ward. Meanwhile, I went in a bathroom stall, and in my head said one of the most meaningful yet brief prayers I have ever offered in my life. Amongst the few things I asked for, I asked for help to keep myself together, finish the lesson well, and be able to carry on with my missionary work the rest of the day. As soon as I finished, I was done crying and had no more desire to cry. I quickly cleaned up and returned to the lesson. Time goes on, we teach the lesson, and then get to the home stretch--the afterlife. Anziano Ponce then asked me if I could explain what happens after death. After explaining the first few events that occur, I then arrived at the point of the "Kingdoms of Glory."
For those of you who aren't familiar with this, it's quite simply Heaven. However, as it explains in the Bible [1 Corinthians 15:41; 2 Corinthians 12:2], the Heavens are divided into three distinct grades, or kingdoms of glory. Telestial, Terrestrial, and finally the highest, the Celestial Kingdom.
After having explained the first 2 as very well being kingdoms of glory, a.k.a exponentially better than conditions here on earth, I then began to explain the highest and most glorious kingdom--that of the Celestial. Simply put, all you must do to get there is be baptized of water by someone who holds the Priesthood authority of God [John 3:5], follow the commandments God has given us (for our own good), and repent of all your wrongdoings. By following these simple but necessary guidelines God has given us, we may inherit not just eternal life, but eternal life in the presence of God Himself, as well as our families that have followed these same guidelines. After having explained this to our friend [unnamed], i couldn't help but remember the news I had received via email only 20 minutes or so beforehand. And I immediately realized, now clearer than ever, that this very plan was meant for me. It's meant for every single one of us. I didn't have to grieve over the loss of my grandma, because 1. She is in fact in a better place, much happier, and 2. I willsee her again. I then began to express to [unnamed] that this plan has, and still does bring me joy, peace, and happiness, because of the sure knowledge and understanding it gives me that my grandma, who has died 8 months into my mission, and I will surely see each other and be united once more in the Celestial Kingdom. I could hardly do it without tears of happiness pouring out. Our friend we were teaching could notice this and kept expressing the remorse he had for me and my situation, but I quickly stopped him and reminded him of the good news I had just shared with him. I repeated myself by saying there really is no need to grieve or mourn, because these 70 or so years of life are nothing but preparation for the eternal life to come.
This experience that I had on Friday was like none other I've ever experienced. Anticipating the death of my grandma made me sick, and knowing it was near, I was sure it would wreck me beyond repair. But, from this experience, I learned that God is there, and he does hear our prayers. I learned that this plan He created for us is very real, and that it alone can help us to maintain an eternal perspective, and overcome and brush off many of our minor and common trials and worries we face in this earthly life. I learned that God has His timing, and works only on His timing. He knew I would be teaching that exact lesson at that exact moment, and He knew that it was the best point I could have possibly been at in my life when receiving such tragic news. He knows I'm a missionary and I have to help other people, and have the energy to walk and teach all day and endure rejection after rejection. And He definitely knows that in order to do that successfully and happily, this burden of grief over the death of my grandma cannot be felt. I truly experienced the Lord lightening my burdens SO much, as to the point that "[I] could no longer feel them upon my shoulders...so that [I] may stand as a witness to Him. [Mosiah 24:13-14]" God is real, there is no denying it. He loves us and watches over us, and will help us through every single problem we face. I'm so grateful for Him, and for the sacrifice made by His Son, Jesus Christ. Because it is through Him and only Him, that we can return to the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven with our families, forever. Jesus Christ is our advocate, and will be begging and pleading for every single one of us at the last day. Take it, use it. Accept His help, and live for eternity, happier than one could possibly imagine. I love my mission and all the blessings it's brought me thus far, specifically the knowledge and growth it has given me.
I love you all, and hope you have the best week of your life. Until next week. ❤️
-Anziano Carter Blaise
|My beautiful Grandma a couple weeks ago :)|
|Rome, Italy Temple|
Picture of when we taught a mini Spanish Course to a cool guy we met. I love Spanish haha #3rdLanguage?