Former Missionary Sees How Gospel Affected Generations
Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer
- Robert Hathaway was blessed to baptize five generations of a single family.
“I’m very blessed to see so many people in my family join the Church. Not many people get to see so far back.” —Robert Hathaway
Oftentimes, after missionaries leave their missions, they will have no idea how far their work of sharing the gospel has gone. Some, however, have the opportunity to see how far the light of the gospel can strengthen multiple generations that have joined the Church. Robert Hathaway of the St. Anthony 2nd Ward, St. Anthony Idaho Stake, has witnessed the multigenerational effect of the gospel in one family’s lives.
In the spring of 1968, Elders Hathaway and Garner were serving in the Northern States Mission in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. They received a referral from Robert Dennis Deitz to go see his grandmother, Mabel Lovette Williamson. They taught her the gospel and she joined the Church. Grandma Lovette referred the missionaries to her youngest daughter, Lavern Faughn. As the missionaries taught Lavern, her two nieces, Kay and Marie Deitz, Robert Deitz’s sisters, also listened in; they invited the missionaries to their home to teach the whole family, of which the mother, Virginia, her children—Robert, Marie, Kay, and Trudy—and her younger sister, Lavern Faughn, and a another young lady were baptized in July 1968. Virginia’s youngest son, Walter, was baptized one month later. Virginia’s husband, Walter Deitz, was baptized in August 1970. All were baptized in the Black River in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Mabel’s two other daughters, Gayle Perren and Nadine Stillman, also joined the Church.
After his mission, Brother Hathaway asked Marie to marry him. They had 11 children, all of whom he baptized. “I’m very blessed to see so many people in my family join the Church,” Brother Hathaway said. “Not many people get to see so far back.”
The family has remained active in the Church. Virginia and three of her sisters served missions; one sister is a full-time missionary now. At last count, the family has had 18 members who have served missions, not including the returned missionaries Brother Hathaway’s daughters have married.
On March 7, Brother Hathaway baptized his granddaughter, the fifth generation of the Lovette family to join the Church, as well as the fifth generation baptized by Brother Hathaway.
“I’m just glad I’m a member of the Church,” Brother Hathaway said. When reflecting on his mission, he said, “I was a missionary. I delivered the message. I took the gospel out and taught it to our brothers and sisters.”
While many would attribute such success to a hardworking missionary, Brother Hathaway quickly gives the credit to the Holy Ghost in converting the Lovette family. “The Spirit teaches people,” he said. “[Serving a mission] is just something we’re supposed to do.”