Thursday, February 4, 2010

Incredible Woman #24 - Kristie Harker. Thursday's Question

KARA: "I’ve always been impressed with the fact that you write to the missionaries from our church each month – actually, grateful is probably a better word. My missionary son really benefited from that. Tell us about what you do. Why do you do it? How do you think it affects the missionaries? Has it been a blessing to you?"

KRISTIE: "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as a “Mormon.” You have probably seen our missionaries in suits or white shirts and ties somewhere. They are generally nineteen year old men (or 21 year old girls) who have tried to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ during their lives, who voluntarily leave their homes to teach about the Savior Jesus Christ. They do this at their own expense—girls for 1 ½ years, boys for 2 years — and leave all their family, friends, and recreation behind. My own husband spent two years in Oregon as a missionary at that age. When I started writing our “family letter”, Phil asked me if I would send them to all the missionaries in our congregation. I replied “They don’t even know who we are!” He countered, “It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there is a piece of mail in that mailbox for them…they need it!” So, trying to be supportive, I have mailed monthly letters all over the world, (sometimes to as many as 29) since 1982.

One considerate boy who is currently a missionary in Japan wrote me a thank you letter, telling me that mine is the only letter he receives for months on end. Most family members communicate through email once a week. Now that I have stopped writing my “family letter”, I have promised the missionaries that I will continue to write them until my own missionary son, Cory, returns from Brazil in 2011. I send them local sports updates, community information, and try to include uplifting thoughts to encourage them or provoke thought, and jokes to give them a laugh."

KARA: "What inspires you?"

KRISTIE: "My parents deserve to be in the “Parent Hall of Fame” or to be featured as role models on “Dr. Laura.” We live just across the street from them and love it! That says a lot. They never interfere, and only give advice when asked. Being good in-laws may be as simple as that. But, let me mention one thing about each of them which would verify their nomination as inspirations.

As the only child of a highly organized and energetic woman, my mother was not taught any homemaking skills such as cooking or cleaning. It was just easier for her mother to “do it right.” So, as a young bride, the first meal she fed her farm-boy husband was a can of Franco American Spaghetti. She was so humiliated by her deficiency that she determined to teach her girls all the skills she could as they grew up. So, she started a 4-H club for us and the neighborhood girls. For 11 years she faithfully held meetings, directed our community service, taught us how to do the dreaded demonstrations at local fairs, and we learned the standard of excellence as we sewed, baked, and canned over and over again until the perfect specimen for the State Fair had been produced. Under her guidance, all four of my sisters became competent to be a wife and mother in their homes, to sew and mend, to cook and clean, and to serve. She was brilliant in her direction, record keeping, and insight. All four of us sisters won national honors, and some were scholarship recipients. My career choice to be a Home Economics teacher was a direct result of her dedicated efforts. From my mother, I learned excellence. I learned that I could do things I was afraid of doing and succeed. I learned how to sell myself. And the background I gained has been so very useful and valuable my entire life.

I mentioned the children’s book currently underway for my father. I would like to include one paragraph from it:

“Gene grew up in a little town called Pleasant Grove in Utah. That town had just the right name for a boy like Gene, because he must have been the most pleasant boy ever born there. He was nice. And fun! Gene got along with everyone, even his five brothers and his parents. There is a word that includes all those things about a person. It is “congenial.” That word sounds a lot like Gene’s name. Yes, he was born in a town and given a name that fit him well.”

I can’t imagine a more pleasant man living than my father. I should know—I grew up in his home. His example inspires me to treat people well. A car dealer by profession, it has been necessary to deal with a host of problems and angry customers. (Normally nice people sometimes lose sight of who they are when their cars are involved…) Upset people were welcomed into Dad’s office, listened to carefully, and then he’d say, “Let’s see what we can do to make it right.” The angry customer usually left with a friendly wave for his new friend, Gene. In my father’s words, he “never accomplished anything in anger.” His uncritical attitude and delightful personality have made him a favorite among people from all walks of life, but especially in mine. I have often asked myself, “How would my father handle this?” BTW, at 90 years old, he still goes to work daily, and still golfs!

Above all, I am inspired by Jesus Christ, and have often been led by his Spirit. I
choose freely to be his disciple. Through testing his teachings in my laboratory of life, I have found that living by them produces satisfied individuals, happy families, and peaceful communities. Those principles always lead to the good of the whole, whether it be the person or a society. It is my daily goal to be more like him."

Tomorrow is the last day for Kristie's interview. Join us as we talk about her secret passion and her beauty and health secrets.


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