Two apostles speak at funerals for Mormon missionaries who died in Romania

After expressing sympathies from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke at the funeral for Elder McKay Choy Burrows in American Fork, Utah, on Monday, Feb. 9. That same day, Elder Quentin L. Cook, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, represented the Brethren at the funeral for Elder Jace Edwards Davis in Logandale, Nev. The missionaries were serving in the Romania Bucharest Mission at the time of their deaths on Jan. 29. The elders died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in their apartment.

Elder McKay Burrows
Elder McKay Burrows Photo: Photo courtesy of the Burrows family
Elder Jace Edwards Davis
Elder Jace Edwards Davis

"The eulogies expressed at these services, and the feelings we harbor in our hearts, confirm the fact that Elder Burrows and Elder Davis are among the choice spirits of this generation," Elder Nelson said. "Scripture declares that they 'were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God' " (Doctrine and Covenants 138:55).

Elder Nelson attended and spoke at the funeral for Elder Burrows held in the Alpine Tabernacle. In his remarks, he shared his sympathy and love as he reflected on the importance of having a gospel perspective.

"At times like this, we are prone to ask questions," he said. "We wonder, 'Should these choice young men have been sent to a safer place?' But there is no place on earth that is free from risk. ... My advice for each of us is not to torture ourselves with 'what if' questions. They bring neither clarity nor comfort. Substitute your 'what if' questions with 'because of' declarations."

Reminding the congregation of eternal laws of the gospel, he spoke of the resurrection from temporal death, and the blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through these eternal laws, individuals can qualify for eternal life and families are able to be together forever.

"As mortals we think of his death as premature," Elder Nelson said of Elder Burrows' passing. "But from McKay's heavenly perspective, death is not premature. It is not premature for one who is prepared to meet God. Death is only premature for one not prepared to meet God. Our existence in this period of mortality allows us to get a body, to develop faith and to prove ourselves. McKay has done that. ... While here we weep for the loss of this dear young man, on the other side of the veil, there are tears of joy."

Elder Nelson spoke of the great work of which Elder Burrows will be a part as a missionary teaching the gospel to those already in the spirit world. Although his mission will continue, Elder Nelson said it is often those who are left behind who will experience a trial of their faith.

"We enter our personal Garden of Gethsemane," he said. "This very purpose of Gethsemane — a submissive willingness to be 'swallowed up in the will of the Father' — will transform us to become spiritually stronger Saints.

"We also know that this time of mortality is not a destination in itself. It is but a journey toward our ultimate destiny, which is to return to our Heavenly Father."

Elder Cook attended the funeral for Elder Davis held in the Logandale Nevada Stake Center.

In his remarks, Elder Cook offered his sympathy and love, and that of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.

He emphasized the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

"We will all be resurrected from the dead and our spirits reunited with our bodies," Elder Cook said. "Because of personal worthiness and Jace's sealing to his family, they can be united eternally in the presence of God. Elder Davis' precious family will be together with him, and he will not be denied any blessings as a result of his early death."

Elder Cook pointed out that "the reward for righteousness in this life is peace (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23) even during hard times, the peace that passeth understanding."

Missionary deaths throughout the Church are rare, Elder Cook told the Church News, and should not be a deterrent for others to serve. He spoke of the great work and importance of missionary service.

Although Elder Davis is no longer living a mortal life, Elder Cook spoke of the "transfer" Elder Davis had experienced, and that his mission will continue as he serves "in the great world of the spirits of the dead ... preaching the gospel of repentance and redemption" (Doctrine and Covenants 138:57).

Elder Cook also spoke of the strength and unity of the Moapa Valley community despite other deaths and hardships experienced during the past year.

"I had a wonderful feeling about the people in this beautiful valley," he said. "I felt that the community was going to wrap their arms around each other and go forward in strength."

At the funeral, Elder Davis' grandfather, S. Mahlon Edwards, delivered a moving and spiritual eulogy. A missionary who served in Romania with Elder Davis, Kevin Morgan, read a testimony in both English and Romanian, written by Elder Davis for his family at Christmastime to be translated upon his return from the mission field.

Friends and family of Elder Davis said he loved his mission, and he loved the people of Romania.

Both funerals concluded with a blessing for the families and friends of the missionaries, and a letter from the First Presidency.

"Missionaries are so dear to the entire Church that the loss of one is felt deeply by all who know of it," the letter read. "And so we extend to you not only our sympathy, but that of all those who support the missionary cause throughout the world."

[email protected]

Sorry, no more articles available