Faith, forgiveness urged at funeral services for Mormon missionaries killed in Texas accident

Published: Monday, Nov. 14 2011 1:00 p.m. MST

Scott Strong leans against the hearse holding the casket of his twin brother, Elder Trevor Strong, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Elder Trevor Strong was one of the LDS missionaries who was killed in Texas.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

KEARNS — Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told some 600 mourners gathered at the Kearns Utah Stake Center Monday that Elder Trevor R. Strong "has been transferred — he is still a missionary."

Elder Strong was one of two LDS missionaries killed in a traffic accident last Tuesday in Donna, Texas. Funeral services for Elder Derek Jason Walker were held later in the day Monday in Fairfield, Idaho.

Elder Nelson said that Elder Strong "was dutifully and completely on his errand from the Lord. He was a missionary in the loftiest sense of the word."

For Elder Strong, missionary work continues on the other side of the veil, Elder Nelson said. Still, the Lord understands the pain of those mourning the loss of Elder Strong. "Our tears testify of our love for this wonderful, exemplary elder," Elder Nelson said. "Your Redeemer knows exactly how you feel."

Although Elder Strong was killed a week after he was originally scheduled to return home from his mission, Elder Nelson urged the Strong family to "not torture yourself with 'what if' questions."

"To get through this," he said, "we need to couple forgiveness with faith … be faithful … live our religion … and one day you will see Trevor as he is: a brother, a saint, and a son of the living God."

Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy read a letter from the First Presidency of the church to the Strong family, which indicated that "our hearts go out to you in sympathy and love ... Our missionaries are so loved by the entire church that the loss of one affects us all deeply."

The funeral service also featured a chorus of 60 returned missionaries from the Texas McAllen Mission singing "Called to Serve," and remarks from all six of Elder Strong's brothers and sisters.

"People have very kindly and compassionately expressed their love and sympathy to us about our loss," said Davis J. Strong, Elder Strong's eldest brother. "I have to assume they mean 'delay.' Because of our Heavenly Father's plan, we haven't lost anything. It will be just a little while longer before we see Trevor again. But we know where he is, and what he is doing."

Kiersti K. Kinyon, his eldest sister, said her brother "wasn't fearless, but if he had a fear he would conquer it." Elder brother Jeffrey V. Strong said that Trevor hadn't really decided what he was going to do with his life. "But he found something that he was passionate about on his mission: serving the Lord," Jeffrey said. "And now he gets to do what he loves for the rest of eternity.Elder Strong's twin brother, Scott, who just returned from his mission to the Arizona Tucson Mission last week, spoke about how the family went together to the LDS temple late last week. "I felt his spirit with us there," Scott said, "just as I feel it with us now."

Elder Strong's father, Gordon, told of reading a note from one of the sister missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission. She has spoken with Trevor during a mission conference just hours before the accident that claimed his life. She said she tried to get him to tell her when he was going home, but he kept dodging the question. Finally he said to her: "I want to be a missionary forever."

Gordon then shared with the congregation the last words Elder Strong recorded in his missionary journal: "Boy, do I love being a missionary!"

At about the same time as Elder Strong's funeral was ending, services for Elder Walker were just getting under way in the Camas High School gym in Walker's home town of Fairfield, Idaho.

Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy read a letter from the First Presidency thanking the Walkers for their son's service and expressing their love and support. Elder Cardon also expressed appreciation for the outpouring of love that he had seen since meeting the Walkers.

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