Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Wife of My Youth

This past Wednesday was my wife and my 39th anniversary. We were married on July 9th, 1975 in the Washington D.C. Temple. We are the result of an arranged marriage. When I first met Sue I had six months left in my service as an LDS Missionary in the Alaska-British Columbia Mission. My companion and I were teaching two young children in the Rapin’s home and Susan was sister Rapin’s daughter. One day she made the comment that she wanted to go to Washington D.C to the temple there. I told her that my parents and I were planning on going there when I got home from my mission and if she wanted to go with us she was welcome. Not long after that I was transferred to Northern British Columbia and finished my mission there. Just before leaving the mission to go home, I received a letter from Susan (she had asked the mission president if she could write me and he said she could) asking if my family was still planning on going to the temple in Washington D.C. I wrote back (again with permission from the mission president) to tell her yes we were and she was welcome to come with us.

I left the mission field on Friday June 20, 1975 and flew back to Indiana. Early that next week Susan flew into Indianapolis and then my Mom, my Dad and Susan and I left for the 15 hour drive to Washington D.C. We spent a couple of days there at the temple and the temple workers kept calling us Brother & Sister Potter and we kept telling them we were not married. After those few days we went back home to Indiana and a couple of days later Susan and I went for a walk and ended up in a park where we were sitting on some swings talking. I asked Susan if she would like to go back to the Washington D.C. Temple and do what everyone there were saying. She asked if I was proposing and I said yes. She told me to get down on my knees and do it right, so I did. We then went home and told everyone were wanted to go back to Washington D.C and get married. They were in shock.

On Monday, July 7th Susan & I along with my Brother as our chaperone drove back to Washington D.C and made arrangements to be married on Wednesday, July 9th. On Tuesday, my mother, father and little sister joined us.

The next day on July 9, 1975, only 19 days after I left the mission field we were married in the Washington D.C. Temple. That was 39 years ago. But that is not all of the story. After we were married I found out Susan’s side of the story. Many of you probably don’t know who Paul Harvey is, but those as old as I am know who he is. He used to tell a short story about someone and at the end he would say: “and now you know the rest of the story”. Well here is the rest of the story.

Hal & Sue July 1975
After I was transferred from Duncan where Susan lived to Prince Rupert, B.C. Susan was trying to decide if she should go to Europe with her mother or go to the Washington D.C. Temple. While she was working as a nurse in Vancouver, B.C. she became close friends with the stake Patriarch and his wife. He was like a father to her since her father had died when she was 14. She went to him and asked if he would give her a father’s blessing. She explained the situation and she wanted to know what the Lord would have her do. Patriarch Dawe said he would love to give her a blessing, but before doing that he wanted to give her some advice. He told her she should not go to Washington D.C. because it looked as if she was chasing a missionary and good Canadian girls would never to that. But as he laid his hands on her head and gave her a blessing the Lord said she was to go to Washington D.C., get married in the temple and become a mother in Zion. Patriarch Dawe told her to ignore the advice he had given her and do what the Lord said. So she decided to go to Washington D.C.

After we were married we drove across Canada to meet her family in Saskatchewan and then more family in British Columbia. When we got to Vancouver, B.C. we stopped at the mission home and visited with the Mission President and his wife. It was now just over a month since I had left the mission field and here I was back with my wife. Susan was talking with the mission president’s wife and was saying she was not feeling well. Sister Preece said she was probably just pregnant and Susan said no way. Yes, way she was. So within a month she had gone to Washington D.C., gotten married in the temple and become a mother in Zion, just like the patriarch said would happen.

That is how the Lord managed to bring us together and 39 years, four children and nine grandchildren later we are still married and loving every day we have together. We are growing to love each other more and more as time goes on. It has not been easy and there have been many bumps, bruises and difficult time for us. Marriage is not easy but when we knelt across the alter in the temple and joined hands we made covenants with each other and the Lord that bound us together not just during this life but after death. Marriage takes work, patience, and forgiveness and both husband and wife need to be 100% committed to get through the trials that come, and they will come.

Elder David A. Bednar speaking on the divine nature of marriage said:

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles proclaim “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”   This keynote sentence of the proclamation teaches us much about the doctrinal significance of marriage and emphasizes the primacy of marriage and family in the Father’s plan. Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave. (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan”, Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, June 2006)
After explaining the purpose of marriage and the roles of the husband and wife in his talk, Elder Bednar then speaks on how marriage and family are being attacked today:

The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him. Lucifer’s attacks on the plan are intended to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to halt their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27), and he works to warp the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most. Satan does not have a body, he cannot marry, and he will not have a family. And he persistently strives to confuse the divinely appointed purposes of gender, marriage, and family. Throughout the world, we see growing evidence of the effectiveness of Satan’s efforts.
Hal & Sue 2009
The reason our marriage has lasted this long and will continue beyond this life is because it is founded on gospel principles, because we were sealed by priesthood keys and we each honor those covenants and work to keep all the commandments the best that we can. We also rely on the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ when repentances and forgiveness is needed. We know that it is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his grace that we are perfected and overcome the natural man and become born again as his sons and daughters.

My journey through this life has been an experience of the greatest joy and sorrow that every parent has but I am grateful that my wife has been by my side the entire way. The best way I can describe my feelings is through the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith as he described his wife Emma:

“With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. . . . Again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm, and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”3(History of the Church, 5:107.)
To my wife I express my love and devotion. I hope that the next 39 years will see us more in love and still best friends. Happy Anniversary to my wife who is still the wife of my youth.

Your thoughts and questions are always welcome.

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