In 1993, while serving in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission Office, I met Sister Mary Hales. She and her husband Robert D. Hales, Presiding Bishop of the Church at the time, were visiting an eastern bloc country when Bishop Hales experienced heart trauma and flew to Scotland for medical intervention.
We weren’t told exactly what happened but gathered his condition was very serious. Each evening, after spending the day with her husband, Sister Hales came to the mission home for dinner and to rest.
Sister Mary Hales
Was entertaining eager missionaries restful? I doubt it. But, maybe she enjoyed the change of pace and we provided a little distraction from the seriousness of their situation. Maybe after a lifetime of Church service, she naturally served others and knew that we loved every moment with her. Or maybe a million different other reasons.
Regardless, I sat at her feet and soaked up her wise, witty, light, and interesting spirit. She talked with us and asked us about the state of missionary work for the day. She answered our curious questions about her life and experiences. To be honest, I didn’t know her name before then. But I’ve never forgotten her since.
I remember thinking that in spite of being tired and worried, she still took time to chat for an hour or so with us. She didn’t even look tired and worried as she spoke with us. But in brief moments between stories, I could see in her eyes that her thoughts returned to the hospital room where her husband struggled to heal.
They returned home to Salt Lake City for additional treatment. I fully expected at any moment to hear that Bishop Hales passed.
Bishop Hales becomes Elder Hales
I felt surprised and delighted when Bishop Hales became Elder Hales during General Conference in 1994. I sat in the Tabernacle during that conference. I carefully watched him, amazed at what seemed to be such comprehensive healing. I readily sustained him. And I fondly watched Sister Hales sit with the other wives of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.
To me, Elder Hales conveyed deep faith and compassion in his conference talks. Whenever he spoke of personal suffering and endurance, I remembered him in a hospital room thousands of miles away from home struggling to survive. I only had the smallest glimpse into his life, but I knew he understood pain, suffering, and trials. And I knew he had endured.
Speaking with Power
Over the past few years, his endurance continually amazed me during every General Conference when he spoke with labored, but deliberate, effort.
But even though his words were labored, he spoke with power. I felt electrified last April conference when he emphatically declared,
Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, we cannot be a “part-time disciple”! We cannot be a disciple on just one point of doctrine or another. The constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ…are all necessary to our standing strong in these last days…. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.
Elder Robert D. Hales proved himself a willing and worthy disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, knew the rewards outweighed the obstacles, and invited us to join him on that journey.
Mourn with those who mourn
I mourned with the rest of the Church at the announcement of Elder Hales’ passing. But I also thought of him standing tall, free from pain, before the throne of God.
His owns words, read by Elder Neil L. Andersen, confirmed that pondering.
When we choose to have faith, we are prepared to stand in the presence of God. After the Savior’s crucifixion, He appeared only to those who had been faithful in the testimony of Him while they lived in mortality. Those who rejected the testimonies of the prophets could not behold the Savior’s presence, nor look upon His face. Our faith prepares us to be in the presence of God.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.