Friday, February 23, 2007

Brother Waite

I was walking down a hall at the U institute and saw Brother Peterson. He's a teacher there, and he's the father of one of my companions. So we have a bit of a connection, and we often talk about stuff, and I saw him and he motioned me over and asked if I'd heard Brother Waite passed away. I blinked and then my eyes widened. The news kinda of hit me, it came outta nowhere like that dang raptor in Jurrasic Park. Sideways. Brother Waite. Gone? I was shocked. The cancer got him. He was a great man, and I thought I'd share why, as my own little way of honoring his life as I knew it, back in the day in Longview Washington.

The first time I met him, was when I'd been transfered from Battleground. I'd seen him before. He's unmistakable. You can't miss him. He dyes his hair jet black, obviously to cover the fact that he'd been going grey for years. But on that transfer day, it was the first time I'd gottent to ride in the famous OPM (Oregon Portland Mission) taxi. That was Brother Waite's car. You can see it from the picture below, the license plate reflected the glare of the flash, but he literally put OPM TAXI on his license plate. It reflected who he was, and how he lived his life.

He was a different breed. A man whose wife had died years ago, with his kids all grown up and out on their own, he needed to find something to direct his full attention. It just so happened that his attention was directed completely on the missionaries serviving in his area. His life was thier mission. And when I came into the area, my mission was his. Inside the OPM TAXI was at least a hundred Elder tags, anywhere they could be placed, of Elders who had served in the area over the years. Mine's there somewhere among them.

My immediate perception of the man was a bit dubious. He's a very peculiar sort. His demeanor was very open, by the time you'd rode in his car a couple times, you'd have known his life story, his career (he sold Forever Young products which he claimed to have healed multiple Elders with), where all his kids are, their names, and where he lived. He had me fill out a little info page in his massive binder, which was filled to the brim with missionaries contact information. Ya see, what he did was drive us everywhere we needed to go. When we needed to be to an appointment to teach, and couldn't find anyone to help, Brother Waite would be there without fail. He often helped Elders get to places far out of his area. Bishops would often tell him ease up, but nothing could stop the man from helping what he termed his "sons".

He'd made trips to Utah periodically and Elder's would give him things to bring home to thier famlies. When I got home back in 2001, during those trips, he'd come and stop at my house and see how I was doing. He constantly bought "his sons" lunch and I can't imagine the amount of money he'd spent on us, from driving to food, to who knows, but the amount of service he racked up to those who had given up two years to serve was remarkable. He outpaced us. And all knew him, even if they didn't serve in his area.

He was a man who knew the very meaning of service and love. His countless drives to bring Elders to places they needed to be, to people they needed to speak with, goes down as possibly something that is immeasurable now, but beyond, who knows just how far those small acts went for so many who heard the truth. Those deeds are counted and measured though, and he'll be honored immeasurably, in a way that he fully deserves.

So this goes out to Brother Waite personally, your pain is gone now, I'm glad. Your absence will leave a massive hole that will remind hundreds and I hope thousands of what just one man can do. I respect you more than many, and I look forward to seeing you again. Thank you for showing me the very meaning of Matthew 16:25.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

Brother Waite, me and the OPM TAXI

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