'No lasting sorrow'

Early one morning last summer, a home teacher in Missouri awakened to the news that an emergency was unfolding at the home of a family he had visited for many years. He arrived in time to see paramedics carrying to an ambulance the body of a much-loved little girl, Julie, who had died in her sleep. She was only 11.

Life on earth had been hard for Julie. Added to primary challenges of Down syndrome/autism were complications of multiple ailments, including congenital heart disease. Those who loved her had sensed they would have precious little time in this life to spend with her.Julie's adopted sister Lori, 9, also has Down syndrome. As the ambulance bearing Julie's body drove away, Lori, standing on her home's front porch, smiled, waved and called out, "Bye-bye, Julie!"

Speaking at Julie's funeral, the home teacher said: "As I was discussing the sad events of the day with my family, my son asked me how Lori had taken the news of Julie's death. I told him that Lori was fine, that she was expecting to see Julie again, and didn't really understand what was going on and what had happened to Julie. My son replied that maybe Lori understood better than any of the rest of us did."

The home teacher said he had spoken at a number of funerals - for the old and the young, for those who passed away after long lives and for those who died when it seemed they had their entire lives before them. He said: "In all of my funeral sermons, there has been one simple message, three words: `Life is eternal.' Your life, my life, Julie's life, is eternal. In the absence of this message, there can be no happiness at a time like this. In the presence of this message, there can be no lasting sorrow. In a universe where life is eternal, Lori is absolutely correct in her understanding that she will see Julie again."

The reality of the resurrection makes it possible for Lori and all of us to have the assurance that we will see our loved ones again. Such understanding is heightened at Easter when, rather than observing the anniversary of the Savior's death on the cross, we celebrate the reality of His resurrection from the tomb. With gratitude, we acknowledge that in Gethsemane's garden and on Calvary's hill He bought the gift of eternal life for us, if we are willing to receive it.

Especially at Easter, we praise His perfect life, review His teachings, read ancient and modern scriptures pertaining to His gospel, and try to emulate His divine ministry. We bear testimony not only that He once lived, but that He lives still, and because He does, so shall we.

This year, we have added reason to rejoice, for we observe not only the Easter season and the infinite blessings it represents, but we are privileged also, through a general conference of the Church, to partake of the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How fitting it is that this conference should occur on the weekend of Easter. As the hearts of millions of people throughout the Christian world turn in adoration to the Savior, we are invited to incline our ears to messages from His ordained servants, the apostles and prophets He has called to serve in our own day.

In general conferences, we are touched by wonderful testimonies regarding the life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Our own testimonies are fortified as we say "Amen" to each prayer offered in the name of Jesus Christ and every conference message delivered for the purpose of helping build His kingdom. As we receive the messages of these inspired leaders - either in person or through electronic technology, or read texts of the addresses when they are published - we can thank our Heavenly Father for the mission of Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have at Easter and conference time to be reminded of the marvelous atonement He so gloriously brought about.

Paul taught: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:20-22.)

Sad though it is, all people die - even precious little girls like Julie. But, as Church leaders remind us at this Easter season, there will come that happy day when all will be resurrected.

At this glorious Easter season, let us add our voices to Lori's expression of a calm assurance that we will see our loved ones again because of the love our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have for us.

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