Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Being a Trendsetter or Ideal for Sister Missionaries

Today I was reflecting on my experience with Ezra Taft Benson twenty years ago. It is hard to imagine that so many years have gone by. It is the life of my daughter Flora who was named by him and his wife Flora Amussen Benson. I think that Sister Benson and he would be proud of their influence on her life as she recently completed her degree in English and is going on a mission to Taiwan Taipei Mission. She is following in the footsteps of Sister Benson who served a mission herself before her marriage. Flora Amussen Benson has been an ideal for my all my daughters especially the first three who will have served missions. My wife and I both returned missionaries point to her as an example of a righteous woman who was a trendsetter.

I remember clearly how Flora was named by a prophet of God. I told him I was having a problem naming my daughter. My wife had named the first two herself and this time I said I would name the child. My wife told me to go ahead. I suggested names like Camile and Flora to her but she said she didn't like them. I looked through the BYU student directory considering all the names. I knew I needed a name with power since the baby was born with the cord wrapped around her neck twice. I literally had to give her a priesthood blessing to call her back to life since it took nearly five minutes for her to breath after birth. My wife was very weak after the birth.

I was called up to President Benson's apartment to do some editing on his Teachings book for which I was the major editor. From August 1987 until January 1988 he had given a few more talks that he wanted quotes added to his teachings book. Dennis Wardle and I were summoned to his apartment to get his decision on what should be added. We arrived at 4:20a.m. As was his and Sister Benson's routine they were in their study. He in his yellow recliner with his socked feet and she on the love seat with her afghan wrapped around her. I sat in my customary chair at his desk. Dennis sat in the chair next to the desk.

After their reading was over. They turned to us and asked me to say a prayer. I gave a short prayer thanking the Lord for the prophet and his wife. Then he asked me about the birth of my newest daughter. Dennis Wardle told him my wife wasn't happy because I didn't have a name for my new daughter. With a twinkle in his eye he smiled and placed his two hands on the top of his head and said, "I know what you should call her. Her name is Flora."

Then he turned to his wife and smiled and said, "Flora tell him what your name means." She told me the name means goddess of springtime. He then said "The name has special meaning and power. She will be just like Sister Benson if you name her Flora and if you name her Flora she will have special power and will one day be favored among women of the church."

Being my typical self I said, "I already suggested the name Flora. My wife hated the name." Not to be deterred he said "Tell your wife I said her name is Flora." I went home and told my wife that Ezra Taft Benson said her name is Flora. I thought what could she say but my wife is a unique person. We compromised and named her Flora Aimee. Aimee means beloved in French. My wife who had served a mission in Quebec called her Aimee for the first eight years of her life while I called her Flora.

When she was eight years old she came home from school and told her mother and siblings and all her friends that her name was no longer Aimee but Flora. Ever since she has been called Flora. I hope that Flora will be as conscientious and dedicated as a missionary as her namesake.

Sister Benson made ETB wait for her after his own mission. It made her even more desirable to him to sacrifice. It reminds me something St. Exupery said in the Little Prince: "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." My own daughter had a few young men come out of the woodwork when she decided to go on a mission. I am glad she didn't let it affect her call.

Recently I examined the lives of the twelve apostles and their family members' missionary service. In that group I can only recall one other member of the Twelve whose wife served a mission and that is Richard Scott's wife Jeanene Watkins who is now deceased. The thing that impressed me about her is that her father was a U.S. senator. I think it takes a strong family to allow their daughters to serve. I find that among educated LDS men that the thought of a daughter serving a mission has a great deal of appeal. Most father's realized that missionary service for daughters is superior to even study abroad programs. When a sister missionary serves she develops common experiences with her future husband and learns the gospel. I find sister missionaries to be leaders among their peers. They come back at an age that reduces the divorce rate. I can only think of positive reasons for young women to go once the call is issued. Any young man who can't wait has a problem in my opinion.

No comments: