Friday, September 23, 2011

LDS Senior Missionary Ann Baker Jones Passes Away After Being Severely Burned In House Fire In Texas

Unfortunately, I must now add a new name to my partial list of LDS missionaries who died while on their missions. Ann Baker Jones, 69, of Taylorsville, Utah, a senior missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the Texas San Antonio Mission, died on Friday September 23rd, 2011 after suffering severe burns in a Thursday night fire caused by a gas leak in a kitchen stove. The most complete story has been published by the Deseret News; additional stories were published by KTVX Channel 4 and KSTU Channel 13 and KSL Channel 5. Each source contribute unique information to the overall story.

Ann Jones and her husband Steven K. Jones had been serving in Texas since February 2011. They were living in a double-wide mobile home on a remote ranch owned by church members in Texas. Late on Thursday night, they were preparing for bed when a gas leak in the kitchen stove triggered a flash fire. Sister Jones suffered severe burns and was flown to the Brooks Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, but despite their best efforts, she passed away on Friday with her husband by her side. KSL news video embedded below:

Flash fire kills LDS sister missionary in Texas |

The president of the Taylorsville Utah North Stake, John Jewkes, says both Elder and Sister Jones have family in Utah, including at least three children which are believed to all be heading to San Antonio at this time. Jewkes also paid tribute to Sister Jones, saying "Ann Jones was deeply loved by all who knew her. She was a wonderful wife and mother and a faithful Latter-day Saint. She was excited to serve the Lord in any way she could. Given the circumstances, it's clear she has been called by Him to a greater work."

The last sentence above triggered a rather snarky comment to the Deseret News story about how "god started a fire to call her home". This is incredibly ignorant and insensitive. God does not "start fires" or cause "traffic accidents" to call people home. What President Jewkes undoubtedly meant was that after Sister Jones arrived at the hospital, the Lord may have decided at that point that there was no need for her to suffer through an extended and painful rehabilitation from burns, that she had accomplished all she needed to do in the flesh, and that she could now better continue her service in the spirit world. This, of course, is purely speculative. But to imply that God starts fires to call people home is ridiculous.

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter released a statement regard Jones' death, saying in part, "We extend our love and sympathy to Elder Jones, his family, friends and ward members. We pray that the Spirit of the Lord will bring them peace, comfort and healing."

In November 2004, Ensign published an article by Elder Russell M. Nelsen entitled "Senior Missionaries and the Gospel", which provides some insight as to why older couples aspire to serve missions, and relates some of their experiences. The LDS Church continues to recruit senior couples to serve missions. These senior couples tend to focus on service missions rather than proselyting missions, although some seniors will focus on reaching out to inactive members. Through their life experience, senior missionaries can also sometimes unofficially help mission presidents deal with high-spirited younger missionaries and keep them focused.

No comments: