About 4 years ago now they combined a couple of the wards in our stake and took the ward that I had lived in and combined it with the ward that Lee lived in and that was a bit of a fun time. Our first Sunday as a new combined ward I came in and one of the first people I met was Brother Lee, and with his dry wit and humor it took me a little bit to realize that he was joking with me. Because when you first meet him you don’t realize that he’s a funny guy. It took me a few times of talking with him and getting to know him to realize that most of what he said was humorous and a joke in one way or another and I liked that about Lee. I agree whole heartedly with a lot of the things that have been said.
When I was first called as Bishop a few years ago one of the things we liked to do was go out and visit with people. We’ve got a lot of people in our ward, so it took a while to get to the Soderborgs, but I think it was about a year ago now that we came and had a good conversation in the living room with Lee and Karen, and that’s when I first heard the elephant story. I agree whole heartedly, he sits in the back of the class and if a yes or no question is asked, he will give a yes or no answer and that’s about as far as it goes.
I am grateful for the time that I had to have a few conversations with Lee. He’s been ill a little bit lately and I had the opportunity to go and visit with him in the hospital a few times. After one stint in the hospital he was in the nursing home for a bit of a time as well, and we as the bishopric went and met with him there. (I don’t know if Karen ever knew that, but we did go and visit with him while he was in the care center.) No matter how much he was hurting, or if he was hurting, he didn’t show it. He was concerned about others, he asked about the state of others, and he wanted to take the attention off of himself and put it on other people. And that’s the way that Lee was.
I know that one of Lee’s callings, at least that we left him in, was as a Ward Missionary and I got the impression that he loved that calling, and loved going out and visiting people when he was able to do that. That was expressed in what I heard from everybody is that he loved sharing the Gospel with others. He knew the Gospel. One of the things I said the Karen the other day when I met with the family is that they were sealed in the temple, they were sealed as a family, and that sealing lasts beyond this life, it lasts into eternity; and they know that, and I share that with you; they’re golden.
Scriptures have been shared from Alma and Amulek and those that talked about the state of the soul between death and the resurrection and that’s where Lee’s at right now; he’s in paradise where he can relax and be free from the cares and tribulations he went through in life, and he can be there to help his family to go through the things they’re going through.
I believe that one day he’ll, as well as all of us, will be resurrected. Whatever pains he went through in this life he will no longer have them. he no longer has them. The scripture says that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; even a hair of the head shall not be lost;” I don’t know if they allow beards in heaven? But if they do, I’ll assume he has that too.
I had the opportunity last night during the viewing the be out in the foyer and I saw the video of all the pictures and I think I saw one or two without a beard, but all the rest had a beard, that’ll be his trademark.
I’ll just share my testimony with you that I’m grateful for our Savior, I’m grateful for the Atonement, I’m grateful for the knowledge I have that He was resurrected. I testify that we all, including Lee, will one day be resurrected as a free gift from our Father in Heaven, that we will be together again and that we’ll be with friends and with neighbors and that we will have that opportunity to joke around with Lee again. I testify that families are forever. I testify that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have the opportunity, even with the mistakes we make in our life, we have the opportunity to repent and to clean our lives and to live forever with our families and with our Heavenly Father, hopefully all together in the Celestial Kingdom. I testify to that; I testify of our Savior; I testify that it is through Him that we have all of these gifts and these opportunities to be together forever.
I leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.