Today we spent the better part of the day watching President Hinckley's funeral service on The Chief's laptop. It was held in the conference center in Salt Lake City. The conference center was full and the program was also broadcast over the church satellite system to wards and stakes all over the world, not to mention the Internet streaming available. It's overwhelming to think of the millions who tuned in to bid farewell to our beloved prophet. He was so loved. The service was so beautiful. The choir sang hymns throughout the program that were actually written by President Hinckley. I was surprised at some of them. I had no idea he was the author of the text in many of those hymns. I loved the tribute from his daughter and I cried and cried during the documentary of President Hinckley that aired as the procession drove from the conference center to the cemetery. I think what set me off the most was whenever they would show President Hinckley with his wife. I bet they had a lovely reunion. I loved that everyone who talked about him brought up his great sense of humor and then gave us examples of that humor. Funny stories are the best. At the graveside service they had a bagpipe soloist perform a haunting medley of Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, and Praise to the Man, as he walked toward and then away from the interment site - the music fading out slowly to the background as though carrying the soul away with it on the melody. President Hinckley loved England so much (it's where he served his mission) that he arranged for a box of English soil to be placed beneath his casket so that his body could rest on American and English soil until the resurrection.
I marvel at how little I knew about church development during President Hinckley's service. It was said that 1/3 of the church's current membership was baptized during his service as prophet of the church. And it's hard for me to fathom that at the beginning of his calling in 1995, there were only 47 functioning temples. Now, at his death just 13 years later, there are 124 operating temples with 6 under construction and 6 announced. That's phenomenal. Also in the documentary, his children talked about how little fear he had of the media. He did something that no other church president had done before him by interacting freely and willingly with the media. He was scrutinized by some for his agreement to appear on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace, but he spoke with quiet conviction and was so graceful and loving that soon other TV icons like Larry King were inviting him to be interviewed on their shows.
Well kiddos, there's so much more I could say about President Hinckley. If you didn't get a chance to watch the funeral services or at the very least, the documentary, I highly recommend it. You can watch them here (pick the top one, 11am) or listen to them here. Enjoy. I sure did.