The priesthood is God’s power on earth. Growing up, I received priesthood blessings from my dad at the beginning of every school year. Many families in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow this practice, and my family was no exception.
As I grew older, I went to him more often for blessings of comfort when stress was high, blessings of healing when I was sick and blessings to give me courage and confidence.
He gave me a blessing on Jan. 6, 2016, the day I left for the Missionary Training Center.
Near the beginning of my mission in Minnesota, my trainer and I received blessings from a member, Brother Brown, in our ward. As he opened the blessing, Brother Brown said he knew I wished it had been my father to give the blessing, but reassured me that it was given by the same divine power.
I mentioned this experience to my dad in a letter, and in reply, he wrote with concern about the need for the blessing and that he wished he could have been there for me.
“I guess there aren’t a whole lot of father’s blessings left in your life,” he said. “I’m thinking you’ll have a husband guy to take care of you not long after you get home. I’ll miss being your go-to guy.”
I remember his words making me emotional, thinking how silly that was. I wanted to say to him, “Daddy, even if I’m married within months of being home, you will always be my go-to priesthood man, and I will always need father’s blessings.”
Later that year, on Oct. 9, 2016, about eight months into my mission, my mission president unexpectedly visited my trainee and me during companionship study. He informed me that my father had passed away the night before from a sudden and deadly heart attack.
That early morning on Jan. 6 was the last time I’d ever receive a father’s blessing.
Grieving the loss of a parent as a full-time missionary was something I never thought I’d experience. One of the most difficult things to accept was that I would never have another father’s blessing when I started school, got sick, became anxious, became scared or anything else. He wouldn’t be there to serve as my witness at my sealing to my future eternal companion.
The future was the hardest thing to swallow, but God has continually shown me His grace.
Since then, I have received priesthood blessings from many worthy priesthood holders. I had two wonderful mission presidents who willingly laid their hands on my head when asked, and elders I served with who would drop everything to serve anyone and everyone, never excluding the sister missionaries.
Upon returning home from my mission, I had a brother, grandfather and elders quorum leaders willingly step up, serving God by serving me.
After a few failed attempts at dating, I met Benton, who has been another amazing example of what a worthy priesthood holder should be. We were sealed in the Gilbert Arizona Temple this past June, and my older brother served as our second witness in our father’s place.
I will always miss my dad and his inspiration through the spirit to always say exactly what I needed in priesthood blessings. However, I now know that my God and Heavenly Father will always provide for me.