Uncle Llew

14 November 2016

Thanks for the pictures and stories. Man, such sweet troublemakers! Yeah, Marian and I totally have a matching droopy eyelid. Like aunty like niece I guess! It’s cuter on her, obviously. ūüėČ

This week was so great in Makawao. I totally love all of my friends here!


The roughness I have found, however, is that the more people I know and love, the more people I know and love who die.

Last week we went for our weekly visit to Uncle Llew, the visit when he gave me the sweats. It was a happy visit, but I also was pretty bothered with myself for not being able to hold back the tears. Llew is frail and has health problems, but he’s a total go-getter. They discovered a few weeks back, a massive blood clot in his stomach. I’m paraphrasing, and super incorrectly at that, but basically it was a scary thing. And the doctor didn’t book him for surgery until weeks into the future. Long story short, when we came last week he struggled to speak he was so short of breath, and he lacked the strength to stand while speaking to us. I was more upset still that I couldn’t put on a happy and hopeful face for him. Sister Karitea said, “It’s okay, he knows it is because you love him.”

We went back¬†two days later¬†to check up because they still haven’t been able to retrieve his church records and he doesn’t have regular home teachers assigned. I am so grateful we did because he was so much happier and full of strength it spoke great comfort to my heart. He gave us fish to cook. We have yet to get around to it, but you can bet we will. His surgery was supposed to be¬†Thursday¬†but it got bumped to¬†Friday¬†so we set up a time for visiting him in the hospital¬†on Saturday.

Dinner at the Eyre’s was a little late so by the time we reached Maui Memorial, visiting hours were over, but there was a kind security guard who pulled some strings to help us out. My heart dropped when he said that there was no one admitted under his name. We drove back home from town hoping that they’d moved his surgery again and he forgot to tell us, and in my silence I hated myself for worrying that this wasn’t the case. We pulled up to his home to check in and the lights were on. Good thing. I was preparing to scold him for not updating us, you know. But inside was his landlord, Tony, who was doing favors for the family in the mainland by calling those who needed calling.

Uncle Llew passed¬†Saturday¬†morning while in recovery from cardiac arrest. At first we totally held it together, I was pretty impressed with Sister Karitea and myself. But then we asked Tony how he was and all hope for me was gone when he started to cry, too. Still, I am so grateful for the chance that we had to pray with him. I know that each of us needed it, and I’m grateful that the security guard didn’t tell us all that he knew (I know he withheld, I saw it in his face as he talked on the phone) because if he had, we never would have gone by Llew’s home to check. Tony told us that he took his Book of Mormon with him to the hospital.

My greatest sadness was caused by uncertainty from not being able to recover his membership records. And I have been praying very much about this, because I really love him a lot. I know God does too, and that he is merciful, and even though it is probably silly, there is still a nagging bit of my mind that wonders how strict His orderliness is in matters such as these. I have faith that the Holy Spirit of Promise keeps the records written regardless. It’s the most sensical thing, after all, but I wanted a second assurance.

Last night I wondered while I was praying what Llew was doing right then, tricky since I don’t know what young Llew looks like. But then my imagination came through loud and clear, I choose to know it was the Spirit who showed to me Llew being a grand missionary testifying to those who are being hesitant to accept or reaccept the Gospel because of the shallow mistakes of mortal people and the imperfections specifically of members of the church. Llew certainly was a victim, but he knows even more now than he did before, of the good hearts of so many of us, especially his friend James, whom we have yet to meet, and he’s telling those hopeful stories now. I am grateful that he knows even more clearly at this moment how thankful I am to have known him.

I know I have lost other family and friends before, and in each phase of life it is trying, but truly, this, of all losses in my life thus far, has felt the closest to my heart. I think because this mission has profoundly opened my eyes and heart to know how to actually love people on a more spiritually mature level. Cliché but true, the more we love, the more sadness we expose ourselves, too, but as the young widower, Brooke, whom we met only a week or two ago, helped me to put words to it, if you can twist your brain just a little bit, even the worst of times can be inexplicably beautiful and enlivening.

Perspective is the greatest prerequisite to experiencing a fullness of joy. This is how God is.

Many more experiences still. I’m trying to get back into journaling more, although I don’t know who will ever be brave enough to jump into the “large plates” I’ve already written. I wish I’d understood more fully how to make small plates in the beginning and middle months of the mission… Struggles.

Love you much,

Sister Carlsen


Llew with Sister Modolon and me before the last transfer

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