In preparing to attend the funeral of my father-in-law, Floyd Larson of Sandy, Utah, I have reflected upon the life of that great man and the lives of his family. This was a man who took his religion seriously, a devout Latter-day Saint who sacrificed much to serve God and follow the teachings of his religion, a man thoroughly infused with what some call “Mormonism.” He was a returned missionary, served in many callings including service as a bishop and later a Stake Patriarch, and served an additional mission to Nepal with his wife a couple years ago before his battle with cancer. He was a steady Temple attender, a student of the scriptures, a dedicated Priesthood holder, and a disciple of the Lord.
What did all this do for him and his family? The result of his lifelong pursuit of Latter-day Saint religion was not a frightening fanatic that threatened the welfare of society and damaged his family – in fact, it was the polar opposite of how some critics characterize us. Floyd Larson was a noble, gentle, loving man, selfless and kind, a true servant and follower of Jesus Christ. His example of love, patience, humility, and service has blessed my life and the life of my family in numerous ways. He and his equally noble and amazing wife, Doreen Larson, raised a large family of well-adjusted, successful, interesting, proactive, kind, and decent people – people that I am just happy to be around, people that I want my children to associate with. His approach to life was always founded on the Gospel. One of the greatest fruits of that approach was his first daughter, Kendra, who became my wife – and the most amazing and wonderful person ever in my life. The effect of a heavy dose of “Mormonism” in the life of Floyd Larson has been a legacy of joy and true success, an influence that lives on and inspires me and my entire family to be better people. I love what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does for people that take this precious religion seriously.
Floyd was not a deluded, unintelligent man duped by a religion for fools. He was a critical thinker. He was an intelligent electrical engineer with a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. He understood human limitations and intellectual fallacies. He worked hard to expand his mind throughout his life, studying and learning much. And he understood that there is a Supreme Being more intelligent than we all, a Being whom we worship as God the Father, Whose son Jesus Christ stands at His right hand and directs His Church through revelation to man. He knew that all of us mortals are imperfect, but that the true Leader of our Church can be fully trusted. He knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and valued His acceptance more than any perishable thing.
I marvel at how many lives Brother Larson touched in his humble, quiet way. At the viewing last night, hundreds of people lined up to pay their respects. Many of them offered additional stories or insights into his life. For example, I met his former secretary who told me how he always managed to stay calm when others were getting heated over drastic deadlines and other problems. She was thankful for the peace and the politeness he brought in a stressful environment. And then there are so many stories from those who served with him in the Church or from those in his family. It will be a wonderful funeral.
If you’ve never been to an LDS funeral, you should go. They tend to be uplifting and filled with hope.
Yesterday, while walking back from Church (so strange to be in a heavily LDS area where one can just walk to Church!), a sweet Mormon widow approached us with an armful of banana bread she had baked. And the day before she had just brought some of the best wheat bread ever, baked in her own oven. As we chatted with her for a few moments, I was deeply touched by what I saw in her life. Her goodness shined from her face. She reminded me of so many other older LDS women I know: a sweet, loving person filled with hope and the desire to serve others. I was being blessed not just by a good baker, but by another disciple of Jesus Christ. Mormon widows are another great place where one can often see the true fruits of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. These wonderfully kind people belie the caricatures of LDS faith that I often see from some rather nasty critics. By their fruits ye shall know them.
The fruits that I see among those who are serious, faithful Latter-day Saints, including people like my late father-in-law and my precious mother-on-law, make me rejoice that God has restored the fullness of the Gospel in these latter days. How grateful I am for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.