Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Handling the Death of a Child Who Dies in the Mission Field

It is not easy sending a child in to the mission field knowing that he or she could be randomly killed. Initially many grieving parents show signs of courage and handle their loss with dignity and faithfulness. One such faith-promoting example was exhibited by the Jerome Kenneth Pollard family and shared by President Thomas S. Monson at November 2002 General Conference:

The unique qualities possessed by these men and women whom I have mentioned can be of invaluable assistance to us as we face the problems and the trials which lie ahead. May I illustrate by mentioning the experience of the Jerome Kenneth Pollard family of Oakland, California.

This past May, as Elder Taavili Joseph Samuel Pollard was traveling to the mission office on the last day of his mission in Zimbabwe, the mission car he was driving somehow spun out of control and hit a tree. A passerby was able to rescue Elder Pollard’s companion, but Elder Pollard, who was unconscious, was trapped in the car, which burst into flames. Elder Pollard perished. His mother had passed away eight years earlier; hence, his father was rearing the family alone. A brother was serving in the West Indies Mission.

When the news of Elder Pollard’s death reached his father, this humble man—who had already lost his wife—called the son serving in the West Indies Mission to let him know of his brother’s death. Over that long-distance telephone line, Brother Pollard and his son, no doubt grief stricken and heartsick, sang together “I Am a Child of God.” 18 Before concluding the call, the father offered a prayer to Heavenly Father, thanking Him for His blessings and seeking His divine comfort.

Brother Pollard later commented that he knew his family would be all right, for they have strong testimonies of the gospel and of the plan of salvation.
After some time has passed some parents may question the death of a child and want to preserve their memory in some way since there isn't a memorial like the Vietnam Wall. One group of parents started a yearly horse ride to raise awareness of those missionaries throughout the history of the church who have given their lives for the missionary cause. Up until a year ago they sponsored Parley P. Pratt Memorial Fireside, Ride and Monument which was supposed to be built in Alpine, Utah. I feel that the five or six hundred missionaries who lost their lives should be remembered even if their name and mission and date are the only indication of the sacrifice they made. I hope they are able to raise the money to complete this project.

I bet there are families that have issues that are unresolved. I wonder what they think positive and negative about the death of a missionary child or sibling.

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