Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Than One Road to Walmart

One of the perks of being a Senior Missionary is that we are allowed visitors.  Two of my sisters flew to Terre Haute for a few days to see what their little sister was up to.  One afternoon, I was feeling proud of the fact that I knew my way around town as I showed them the sites.  I was maneuvering out of the Vigo County Courthouse on the way to Fairbanks Park and made a right hand turn onto Cherry Street.  I saw two cars heading my direction and immediately I knew.  I had turned wrong onto a one-way street.  I jerked the steering wheel to the right and got back into a parking lot before any damage was done (except heart failure for my sisters).

Which way am I supposed to go?

Several thoughts emerged from this experience.  The first is that I can testify of the influence of the Holy Ghost in our everyday lives.  I truly believe it was the Spirit that instantaneously alerted me to the danger and the error I had made.  I was able to "repent" and navigate to safety.

Secondly, there are some roads in life that need to be traveled in the right direction, at the right time, and in the right vehicle.  Jesus taught, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  (John 14:6)  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the right way to happiness now and eternally.  We put ourselves in danger if we venture in the opposite direction.

At the open house for the Indianapolis Temple

A third thought, there are times in our lives when we encounter multiple, acceptable routes to a destination.  I could have chosen from several different options to get to Fairbanks Park: over to Ohio and south on 3rd Street; down to 1st Street and straight on; meander through several parking lots and there I am.  We could have even walked to the park.  Agency includes learning to choose between many good things as well as between right and wrong.

A few weeks into our mission, our field supervisor, Chuck Titus, reminded us that there is "more than one road to Walmart," implying that we have the freedom to choose whether we use a tight crop on our probate image or a large crop.  We can use a pointer or a weight to hold down curled paper edges.  We can limit our folder size to 103 images or expand to 947.  He didn't really care.  As long as we achieved the desired results, we could choose our "road to Walmart."

Mortality, with very few exceptions, is a one-way street.  Everyone is required to eventually leave this earth, yet, no one's journey through life is quite like another's.

One man's documents...whew, what a task.

Several weeks ago we found records...and more records...and even more records for a man named Levi G. Warren. In total we captured approximately 3,000 documents related to the guardianship of his children. We were able to learn a little about the Warren family and their personal road to Walmart.

The L. G. Warren Mausoleum in the Woodlawn Cemetery
Terre Haute, Indiana

Levi was born in New York in 1816. When he was just four years old, he and his family moved to Vigo County, Indiana. He was a bachelor until the age of 38 when he married Martha Ellen Clark in 1854. Levi had his hands in several ventures. He owned a dry goods business and engaged in pork packing. He was active in community affairs and was among the organizers of the City's first Hook and Ladder Company. He and Martha bought a large farm south of town which was called Warren Park and is now the site of the Honey Creek Mall. A director of the State Bank of Indiana, Warren was elected president of the Terre Haute branch and also the president of the First National Bank of Terre Haute.  In the 1860 United States Census, Mr. Warren's real estate holdings were valued at $58,000, with personal property valued at $79,000.  In today's dollars, he was a millionaire. Three daughters — Sallie, Jessie and Mary Alice — were born to the couple, but Martha died in 1863 at age 35, when the youngest daughter was a little over a year old. In 1865, Levi became suddenly ill and died at age 49. The children were all under 10 years old and were raised by an aunt and uncle. The oldest daughter, Sallie, married and prospered in the community. Jessie passed away in 1882 at the age of 22. Mary Alice lived 75 years but never married.

Final resting place for Levi, Martha,
Jessie and Mary Alice

Compare the road the Warrens traveled to that of Florence M. Doll, daughter of J. & V. Doll, who was 3 years old in 1866 when she died.  She is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery just a few feet away from the resting place of the Warren family.

"Though hard to you, this journey may appear..."

Our journey through life is unique to each of us.  Sometimes we get detoured, take a wrong turn, or get stalled.  We may reach that eternal destination quickly, or it may take us many decades to arrive.  We do not judge another's road, but teach, encourage, serve and love each other along our way.

The temple has given us a clearer vision of our ultimate destination.

"...You have a responsibility to remain firmly focused on your eternal destination. Yes, life's journey can have many ups and downs. Yes, there will be days when you will feel the going is tough. But as you stay on the right path, the reward at the end of life's journey is well worth the moments of adversity you experience along the way."
                                                                      Elder Ben Banks 
                                                                      General Conference April 2002

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