that was the most poignant lesson he ever taught me. my first zone leader and, later, district leader as I opened a new area in the Florida Tampa Mission, Jeff Snelson, passed away yesterday. I felt shaken and emotional as I considered his passing to the other side, and reflected on the moments I spent around him that impacted my life, serving together as representatives of Jesus Christ.
he was bold and assured in everything he did, and 100% focused on his purpose as a missionary. his dry humor was an extra splash of personality that added to the powerhouse that was Elder Snelson.
before his mission, he battled brain cancer, and fought tooth and nail to be allowed to go out and serve a mission, once he was in remission. he started out English-speaking, which he was when I came out as a brand new greenie, and he served as my zone leader, having just been released as Assistant to the President, and later was switched to be a Spanish-speaking missionary. I didn’t see him for several months after my first couple of transfers, but when I was called to train a new missionary while simultaneously opening a brand new area for sisters in Fort Myers, he was my district leader. for those who don’t know much about mission jargon, the mission is broken down into districts and zones and missionaries are called to leadership positions within these smaller groups in order to run the whole mission organization more effectively.
he did the usual district leader training once a week. there were several memorable moments during these trainings. but the most touching instance in which I heard him teach, for me, personally, was hearing him bear his testimony about the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. this came just before he was to be sent home early due to the return of the brain cancer. my eyes are tearing up as I write this, remembering the Spirit that I felt that day. he shared his favorite scripture, 2 Nephi 1:15, and how he knew that he was encircled about in the arms of the love of the Savior.
I felt suddenly reminded of just how much the Savior loves me, as I was struggling through the most difficult 6 weeks of my mission, and felt grateful for his worthiness and desire to be an instrument for the Lord to speak to me, and I’m sure many others, that day.
Ex-Elder Snelson’s passing yesterday reminded me, again, about priorities, blessings, and just how much the Savior loves me. as I’ve been going through what has been one of the most difficult years of my life (seriously, 2010 hates me) I needed that reminder that he’s there, lifting me up and allowing me to become what he needs me to be. I know I am “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”
he’s the tall, red-headed one in the back, standing next to me.
I know you’re serving as valiantly on the other side as you did in this life, Jeff Snelson.
thank you for touching my life.