Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LDS Missionary Joshua Allen Burton Passes Away From Complications After Traffic-Related Mishap In Guatemala

Another name has now been added to my partial list of LDS missionaries who have given their lives while in service to the Lord. Elder Joshua Allen Burton passed away on Monday July 22nd, 2013 due to post-surgical complications stemming from a traffic-related mishap in Guatemala. Media stories published by the Deseret News and KSL Channel 5 and the Lethbridge Evening News. There are some slight differences between the first two stories; since KSL cites a statement posted by the stake, I consider their account more authoritative.

Summary: Elder Barton and three other missionaries were performing a service activity in the Coban Guatemala Stake when they were struck by a truck that rolled down an embankment early on Saturday July 20th. While the other three missionaries sustained only minor injuries, Elder Barton suffered a broken back, a broken shoulder, and a concussion, and was hospitalized. After undergoing surgery Saturday night, Elder Barton reported that sensation was returning to his legs, but then abruptly passed away on Monday night after suffering a series of heart attacks. Heather Burton posted more details on this Facebook page. A post on the Facebook page identifies one of the other four missionaries as Elder Ryan Hatch.

The 23-year-old Elder Burton, who hails from Cardston, Alberta, Canada, had been serving in the mission field for 21 months and was expected to return home in November. He was also a dedicated pianist and composer.

Tributes are pouring in; some examples:

Ryan Hatch 3 hours ago Facebook:
Hi on my other post to you I failed to mention that our son Ryan was one of the 4 missionaries in the rollover accident. He has given us a quite detailed account of the accident in three portions because of the pain in writing the story.

Julia-Matt Nelson 2 hours ago Facebook:
I don't know you, but I served in Coban 11 years ago. When I was there it was just an area, now it's a mission. I never knew a more heavenly place than Alta Verapaz where your son served, and I've never met a more heavenly people than the Kekchi. I can guarantee you that there are thousands upon thousands of them praying for you and your family now. My heart goes out to you and your's. I feel for the loss of a fellow Guatemalan brother.

Shayne Tolman 3 hours ago Facebook:
This is impossible. Not Josh. I wish I had some profound nugget of wisdom or words of comfort. I don't. All I can say is that some time nearing two years ago, there was a knock on my door. When I opened it, our home was flooded with the sunshine of life that flowed so freely from Josh. It was the same thing I always felt and I'm sure all that know him felt as he passed by ALWAYS making eye contact with a nod and a smile touching us in ways only Josh could. I don't remember what he said at the door, but I'll never forget what I felt as I stood in the presence of this young man who's smile should have made the Guinness Book of World Records for the category of 'genuine'. He handed me a CD of his music. Of course I bought it. I love the individuality and spontaneity of his music, but mostly I was paying for something I felt and I should have payed much more for what he gave in a moment in such an honest, enthusiastic way. That will stay with me. I think his post of May 27th says it all in way that captures what I'm trying to say, "I love life." You couldn't help but know that in his presence. My heart goes out to all of you - I am so very sad, but grateful to have known him - I didn't know him as some of you do, but he always made me feel like I did. What a gift. I will treasure it.

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