Monday, April 29, 2013

A Letter To Our Grandchildren

Kirsten is a daughter of Heavenly Father - a member of His spiritual family.
She was created by our Heavenly Father and lived with Him, and us, as a spiritual being.
Heavenly Father is a glorified being of spirit and flesh and bone.
He wanted Kirsten to have a glorified body of flesh and bone also.
So he created the Earth for her, and us, where she could receive a physical body and experience a life of agency, or choice, away from our spiritual family.  A place where she, and us, could not remember the spiritual life - a place of testing.
Grandma and I prepared a physical body for Kirsten and after her spirit entered the physical body, she was born to this world thirty years ago.  I became her Earthly Father, and Grandma became her Earthly Mother.
Kirsten has two fathers, and so do we all - a Heavenly Father and an Earthly Father.
Kirsten, and all of us, came to Earth to learn obedience and faith.  That means to do what Heavenly Father wants us to do, without seeing Him or remembering our Spiritual Life, and believing in Him without physical proof that He exists.
After we have experienced this earthly life for a period of time, different lengths of time for each of us, Heavenly Father asks us to come back to Him.  So our spirits leave our physical bodies and we return to the spiritual existence.
That’s what Kirsten did last week.  We say she died, or passed away, but she is really alive in the Spirit World with other family members who have also gone to the Spirit World.  She was greeted by her grandparents.
Kirsten will be there to greet all of us in the family when we leave our bodies and return to Heavenly Father.
Jesus did something similar.  He died on the cross and three days later His spirit returned to His body and he resurrected.
Because he had the power to do that, he has given Kirsten, and all of us, the gift of the resurrection.  Some day we will all receive our glorified eternal bodies and will live forever.
Kirsten is alive and loves us.  We can’t see her or communicate with her now, but we will all be with her again.
One of the most wonderful gifts of Heavenly Father is the gift of making choices, either good choices or bad choices.
Sometimes we make wrong choices, but most of the time we make right choices.
Some wrong choices, like drugs, are more dangerous than others because they can take away our gift of choice and thereby control the way we think and act.
When Kirsten was a teenager she made a dangerous choice which caused many heartaches throughout the rest of her life and even her death.
Finally her Heavenly Father called her home where she can get special help and rest from her illness.
We are sad that we can’t see her and be with her but we are happy for her.   She is in a peaceful place.
How do you know what I said is true?
Because Heavenly Father has told us in the Scriptures.
Alma 40:11,12,22,23  “Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. 12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. 22 Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets. 23 The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.”

My remarks at the Memorial Service, April 26, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kirsten Suzanne Larsen 1983 - 2013

Kirsten And Mom
 We are temporarily in Portland and have just left a memorial service honoring the life of our youngest daughter Kirsten.  She passed away on Wednesday the seventeenth of April.  The Lord made it possible for us to have a short leave of absence from our mission in the Philippines to be home with the family.

Through the blessing of Skype, we were able to spend many hours with our family, holding vigil in the hospital, before leaving Manila.  Kirsten’s sisters and Bo, were at her bedside continuously for two days and two nights, though she never regained consciousness after the accident.

Our time at the hospital was very helpful for us.  We were able to spend some time with Kirsten before her passing, and with our family and with the doctors and the nurses who cared for her.  After determining that there was nothing else to be done, the life support equipment was removed and we were all present at her bedside as she passed away.
Kirsten And Dad

As we were leaving the room, the hospital staff, in unison, complimented us on our family’s closeness and loving nature.  We were also appreciative of the doctor’s and nurse’s professionalism and loving treatment of us all.

We are grateful for the condolences we have received from our friends around the World.  The love for our family and for Kirsten has touched our souls.  The memorial service today was organized by Kirsten’s friends.  There may have been two hundred who gathered at the park for food, music and personal testimonials.  Most everyone there stood and voiced why they loved Kirsten (Kiki to them), and why she loved them.

The facebook airwaves are filled with loving comments from friends and family.  Here is a sampling:
Kirsten And Kae

“As many of you know, my baby sister Kiki Larsen passed away this week, and even though I think to myself that no one could possibly be hurting as much as I hurt right now, I know that isn’t true.  I’ve never known anyone else loved by more people than she was.  Kirsten was magnetic - if she was in the room, we all tripped over each other to be near her.  There is no adjective that correctly describes the person she was.  She was fabulously irreverent and the funniest person I’ve ever known.  What hurts my heart the most is the thought of my children not remembering every bit of her - her laugh, her humor, her mannerisms, her wit, her creative mind, her completely awesome fashion sense, her sweet love.  The World is being robbed of her presence.  She has left a hole in our family that will never be filled.  I wish more than anything that she had more time.  It’s unthinkable that I can’t hug her anymore.  My heart aches for her, so much!”  Kae
Kirsten And Angela

“My darling baby sister,
I will miss the way my heart would skip a beat when you showed up to a family function - we were so overjoyed to spend time with you.  I will miss your glorious dimpled smile.  I will miss that husky voice and contagious laugh that could only belong to you.  I will miss the sweet smoky smell of you.  I will miss your fabulous curls, your layers of style, your head to toe draping of jewelry (bones, keys and all).  I will miss your honesty - in all its wonderful mix of truth and humor.  I will miss the way I knew you loved and appreciated me even though we lived in different worlds.  I will miss your perfect hugs - all nestled into that mane with your arms and soul wrapped tightly around me.  You are PERFECT.  You are MISSED.  You are LOVED!!!!”  Angela

Kirsten And Kitta
 “I don’t know what you are “supposed” to say right now.  One minute I am telling stories and laughing, and the next minute I am sobbing so hard I can’t move.  I laid in a hospital bed with my sister all night on Wednesday, and in the morning held my moms hand as my baby sister took her last breath.  I am broken!  Though it was only for a few days, there was safety in the hospital . . . but now, being in the “normal” world . . .I don’t know how to be.  People are living lives - eating, loving, shopping, and dancing.  I wish it would all PAUSE until I feel like I can function again.  I MIIIIISSSSSSS Kiki so much!  I long to hold her again.  Everywhere I went with her I wanted to show her off.  I wanted EVERYONE to see that I was related to someone soooo fantastic.  Somehow it made me feel important and awesome to be loved by her.  Everyone always says nice things about  those who have passed on, but SERIOUSLY, if you didn’t know her, your life was missing something life-changing.  There is nothing else like her out there.  I miss you girl!!!!! So much!!!!!” Kitta
Kirsten And Tova

There is much love in this family and at a time like this, grief is intensified.  We appreciate the message of love we are receiving.  We want to shout out our thanks!

We’ll close for now.

Kirsten And Lis
Kirsten And Karen
Bo - The Overseer
Karen Says "This Says It All"
Kitta's Behind The Lense
A Sampling Of The Family
Out On The Gutter
Kirsten, Karen And Tova
Kirsten, Karen And Tova Again
The Baby
Kirsten And Karen
You Are Missed
Some Called Her Kiki
A Face To Love
A Dimpled Smile
So There!
That's Me!
Let's Have Fun!
April 15, 2013
We love you all.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting Out In The Summer Sun

Shadow Of The Cross On The Mountainous Landscape Of Baatan
Monument To Honor Baatan POWs
We had two events this week that were note worthy.  The ninth of April was a Day of Commemoration for the Baatan Death March during the Second World War.  The other event was the fulfillment of Norma’s planning for a day trip to the Hacienda Escudero yesterday.

For us, the ninth of April was a busy day at the Temple.  The Filipino Saints are very faithful in attendance at the Temple when they have a day off work for a holiday.

As far as the Baatan Death March, it was one of the most tragic events of the war.  Thousands of American and Filipino POWs died under the torturing of the Japanese and Korean soldiers.  “The eighty-mile march was characterized by wide-range physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon prisoners and civilians alike.  It was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.  These POWs had surrendered.  They were beaten, and they were starved as they marched.  Some of those who fell were beheaded by Japanese officers.  The Japanese culture at that time reflected the view that any warrior who surrendered had no honor; thus he was not to be treated like a human being.  Thus they were not committing crimes against human beings.  The Japanese soldiers at that time felt they were dealing with sub-humans and animals.” Wikipedia   When we traveled to Subic Bay in March, we drove along much of the road on which the POWs marched.  We also visited the large cross, which was built to pay tribute to those who died on the march.

Hacienda Escudero
The Temple was closed yesterday so the missionaries took a short trip to the Hacienda Escudero.  “A self-contained working coconut plantation, it was founded in the 1880s by Don Placido Escudero and his wife.  Originally planted in sugar cane, the crop was converted to coconut in the early 1900s.  A pioneering agro-industrialist, he built the country’s first working hydroelectric plant to supply his coconut factory and Villa Escudero, built in 1929.  Their children opened the estate to the public in 1981.  It has become a prime tourist destination for locals and foreign visitors.  It is a showcase for the Philippines’ cultural heritage, offering a glimpse of its history, cuisine, dress, customs and natural beauty.”
Water Buffalo Cart Ride To The Lunch
We arrived at about ten o’clock in the morning.  We wandered through the beautifully landscaped plantation.  We visited the museum, which housed many Catholic floats and memorabilia.  Many of the floats were several hundred years old and are still used in parades on religious holidays such as last week’s Easter parade.  They are extremely priceless relics of precious metals.  They also exhibited a few large gold and silver alters.

There is a large stream running through the plantation.  It was dammed off in 1929 to create the hydroelectric plant.  This has created a nice lake for boating above the dam, and a nice waterfall over the dam.  We were fed a buffet in an outdoor dining space in the middle of the stream below the falls.  Having our feet in the water did cool us down a bit; however, the day was hot enough that swimming would be the only way to really cool down.  None of the missionaries went swimming.  The lunch was a novel experience.
Lunch Buffet Below The Falls

The entertainment in the afternoon was a demonstration of dance and costumes from various regions of the country to the music of drums and a folk-string ensemble.  It was very entertaining. 

Norma did the research and planning for the trip and provided a very successful activity for everyone.

We’ll close for now.

We love you,

Eating While Cooling Our Feet
How About Lunch On The Riv
A Little After Lunch Dip
An After Lunch Hike
An Afternoon Nap
Hard Work On The Plantation
Eternal Blossoms
See The Small Bananas On The
Drummers Ready?
Tribal Movements
Different Tribal Movements
From Mindanao
Exit Mindanao Prince
Young Drums
Another Regional Dance
More Music And Dances
A Walk Through The Gardens
Still Hungry
Good Bye Escudero
Multiple Km. Markers On Baatan Road
Mom and Dad
Elder and Sister