Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bring a Torch!


Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella
(Do click on the above blue link for a wonderful dancing processional of this English carol!)
"Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella!   
            Bring a torch, to Bethlehem run!              
Tell the village of Christ in a manger,
Cradled in love and bathed in glory.

Ah! Ah!  Beautiful is His mother!
Ah! Ah!  Beautiful is her Son!
Ah! Ah! Beautiful holy family!
Ah! Ah! Beautiful here begun! 
Come away, good folk of the village!
Come away from your slumber and see
All is bright as a sapphire gleaming
Under the herald star of heaven!
Run, run, follow it to the stable!
Run, run, follow it fearlessly!
Run, run, follow him with the shepherds!
Run, run, follow Him faithfully!"

Dear family and dear friends,

The year 2015 has offered light to our lives.

It began on the heels of a priceless 18 months living in the shadows of everlasting hills, a mountain of the Lord perched overlooking the capital of Honduras.

Midway through our temple assignment we received an invitation to come to the colinas of Coban, Guatemala 
 which we accepted, and after fanning the flame of visiting children, grandchildren one by one as they loved us quickly, fiercely, and soundly; 

who shared us with 

                                      and parents;                                                                                                   
   then swept us South, suitcases in tow
to try our hand once more at Spanish, but now use it to manage plumbing, door locks, mattresses, copy machines, and A flat chimes. 

Our assignment includes greeting new and saluting departing young people
 in a mission that includes approximately 150 missionaries, who walk sometimes cemented streets from Salamá
and the villages surrounding Baja and Alta Verapaz, 
the lower valley
and upper highlands of "Verapaz"
            translated  "Edge [of] peace," 
 then to Polochic, a mountainous region
(thanks Elder Wilson, for posting these pictures) 
hosting a population that speaks a Mayan dialect of Q'eqchi'; and finally the most northern department, Petén , a region higher in tourists, boasting the Mayan ruins of Tikal.
I had to borrow this picture from a tourist website--
Mostly, we have stayed in the "places of peace," Alta and Baja Verapaz.   Monday thru Friday, Elder Starkey helps manage the goings on of the mission office.  

As one of two senior couples, six hours apart, along with our mission president and his wife, 

 our lives are brushed by the light of youth -- young men and women, many who have spent their childhood saving pennies to fill a lifetime goal of dedicating a tenth of their life in service.  We hear stories from young people who learned later and joined something they felt strongly enough about to leave their homes and live in cement quarters, 

some without lights or electricity, eager to lead and lift surrounding neighbors to feel a taste of the sweetness of eternal families
           On the vein of families, 

during our autumn 2014 visit to one of our children, we got news of a welcome addition. 
  And just before her arrival, notice came of another.  
Hush!  Hush!  Beautiful is the mother!  
                                Hush!  Hush!  Beautiful is the child! 
So, between leadership councils, 
                                           district or zone meetings,
ebbs and flows of incoming and outgoing youth, highlights and warmth to the insides come in grandchildren melodies of "Eeentsie Weentsie Spider"
 (yes, this is our picture on an inspection of a nearby  sisters' apartment!  Want to volunteer for pest removal?)
 "You are my Sunshine,"
 and "Happy Birthday" over the internet.
Other melodies have come in drilling and filing wind chimes 

 to accompany students performances of a newly learned talent.  The church publishes a keyboarding course, and students ranging from six to sixty are tickled to learn, "My fingers can sing!"
Julian and Marcelo in front (the Cobán 2 sisters' angels)

We are learning the blessings of penning the whisperings that come in the night.  Hearing living prophets counsel us, when good things happen and good ideas come, write them down -- rejoice, share, and if there is something for us to do -- to do it! 
Some of the things that we are blessed to do, are to inventory and inspect apartments, assuring safety, sanitation, and augmenting  Spanish speaking with learning a second (and third) language.  With Elder Starkey acting as secretary to a president who holds a standing contest with his young missionary assistants to measure who can accumulate the most road dirt on their front and back windshield in the potholes and gullies fraught with landslides that can isolate the remotest of the regions,

it is not uncommon to wonder where in the world is our mission president?  From past physics, in pondering between a particle and a wave, we are deciding that their mud covered glass might better fit the wave category -- not consistently at any one predictable place.
But the characteristic can be contagious.  The Starkey roads are not as winding, nor as pockmarked, but at least one of us is learning the advantage of a strong right foot with a slow moving obstacle directly ahead and a free left lane.  Occasionally, in our comings and goings, we find ourselves on unfamiliar turf in the dark, and hear a familiar injunction "Sister Starkey, PRAY!"  (A quote our office elders found entertaining and amusing, but is useful -- regularly and often.)
(Did we tell you we love our office elders?!)

With singing fingers, hands working to lift others that hang down, we have also been encouraged to "put both feet forward."   Grateful to join the good folk of the village, hastening, "the Christ Child to see," looking to find Him in the eyes of new friends here 
and loved ones not as near, praying for the season of remembering to touch our minds and insides, to hush our hearts and help us feel and see something beautiful upon the mountain, 
things that publish peace. 
Blessings in your hastening to find treasure that lasts,
   With Love, Elder and Hermana Starkey

Now--the rest of the song:
"Bow before him, ye mothers and children!
Bow before him, ye shepherds and kings!
Hay of gold is the crown of His coming,

Swaddling clothes, His robes of glory.

Hush, hush, Joseph beholds the baby!

Hush, hush,  Angels begin to sing!
Peace, peace, cattle are softly lowing!
Peace, peace, heaven is caroling!
Ah, ah, Mary is sweetly sleeping!
Ah, ah, wise men their treasures bring!

Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella!
Bring a torch, the journey is long!

Bring a drum and a timbrel for dancing!

Bring a drum and a lyre for song!
Bring a kettle for cooking and feasting!

Bring a kettle to feed the great throng!
Bring your voices, ye children of promise!
Bring your voices, come hurry and run!

Tell the world that Jesus, our Savior,
Quickly will come again in glory.
Ah, ah, beautiful is the Christ child!
Ah, ah, beautiful is God's Son!
Ah, ah, beautiful day of Christmas!
Ah, ah, beautiful day to come!
Hasten onward, good folk of the manger!
Hasten onward, to ev'rywhere run!
Lift the flame of Jeannette, Isabella!
Lift the flame by those maidens begun!
Share the light of His love with the lowly!
Share the light of salvation to come!
Sing His tidings to all of the nations!
Sing His tidings in every tongue!
Wake the world now sleeping in darkness!
Here, Jeannette!  Isabel!  Bring a torch! 
[Bethelehem:  House of Bread]
*Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella
Music:  French carol
Text: David Warner
Arrangement:  Mack Wilberg
The name for this lovely French carol is drived from a fourteenth century ritournelle.  Two centuries later, the melody was paired with a story of two French milk maids who stumble upon the bay Jesus sleeping in his Bethlehem manger.  While the tale might be fanciful, it reminds us that the angels announced Christ's birth to simple humble folk who tended animals, not to the political and religious leaders of the day.  This new arrangement by Mack Wilberg and ne text by David Warner was premièred as the processional at the 2006 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert.  (Lyrics in "Spirit of the Season with Sissel. Thank you to Pamela Davies, for finding it!)


  1. FYI, "Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella" is a traditional French carol, "Un flambeau, Jeanette Isabelle". Sorry, couldn't let that slide.


  3. Love the letter, love the fancy feet and fingers, love the people. Thank you Laurene and Val for your service!!