Written by Elder Voss, Dec. 3, 2010.
Someone Who Changed My Life—Kelly Mann
At the age of about 12, I began to get to know this man. Our friendship started to grow as he became my Sunday School teacher, and then invited me one week on a fishing trip. From that one experience, I began to love fishing and during the summer we would have fishing trips almost every weekend. Throughout my high school years we became very close friends and shared a lot of great experiences.
He had had a pretty rough life up till the point where he joined the church, and had many health problems as a result of car accidents and a stroke. Some people might have felt broken and depressed after the kind of experiences he went through, but he was not. His love and testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and this gospel, was a light that shone through in everything that he was. The strength and inspiration that I received from him buoyed me up through the struggle that I had, and kept me on the right track when I might otherwise have gone in other directions.
When I was 17, we went on an all night fishing trip to a favorite pond that we knew. It was a great night. We caught fish, and I remember us both being very happy and tired as we drove home.
The next morning in church, I received a phone call from his wife saying that during the night he had passed away. I struggled. I had never experienced the death of someone who was that close to me, and at the time I literally felt like a huge piece of my life, of who I was, had been ripped away. For a very long time, I felt utterly lost whenever I allowed myself to think about all the experiences we had together and the friendship we had built.
Over time I began praying to Heavenly Father, asking to understand the reason or purpose behind him being taken back. From those continued prayers, my study of the plan of salvation, and a series of experiences in the temple, I received a very strong impression that he had fulfilled the purpose that Heavenly Father had assigned him here and that he had another mission on the other side to fulfill.
From these experiences the great thing that I have carried is gratitude. Gratitude for the incredible example and influence that he was in my life, and for the sure knowledge of the plan of salvation and Heavenly Father’s love and purpose for us, that I was able to gain from him.
The gospel is true!