In August of 2004 I first became acquainted with food storage. I had heard much about food storage in my life, but really had no idea what it was really about. To be honest, I still am a little vague on some of the details. However, a year in the city where I lived can really teach a person a lot. The town is right smack in the middle of good farmland. As a result, produce is cheap and plentiful, so people find ways to store it.
My parent’s must have canned when I was growing up because I have many memories of eating home-canned goods, but surprisingly ZERO memories of the canning process. I must have been very good at making myself scarce when work was threatened. In my new ward everyone was talking about getting ready to can. The peach and tomato crops were upon us and we had access to free fruit. So I had some figuring out to do.
At the time I was serving in the Relief Society Presidency (an organization for women in our church) I was also 7 months pregnant with my second son, which is a fairly irrelevant detail. The president at the time was Janell. Janell was the second of three Presidents that I was to work with in three short years. She had also recently moved to our city and was like a breath of fresh air. Janell was a mother of 7 grown children, made her own bread, had a testimony of wheat, and –most importantly–she was a Master Canner. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a Master Canner, but apparently through the local university system, you could take classes and become a Master at many things-gardening, canning, etc.
So we enlisted Janell to come over and teach a few of us rookies a thing or two. Many, many hours later she had imparted enough wisdom that we were all able to go home and finish canning our fruits and vegetables. I will never forget at the end of that late night, standing in my dining room, Janell telling us that she had a doctor’s appointment the following day since she was having trouble with her vision and remembering things. Two days later we found out that Janell had a brain tumor.
Of course this experience taught me many things. One of them was that I truly was not cut out to be a RS president in my age and pregnant state of mind. I learned that I was blessed to be surrounded by amazing women. The other members of our Presidency and I worked as a team as Janell continued to serve as President while ill. Janell was a source of inspiration and peace during this time. We visited and loved each other. We laughed and cried and got some work done. Janell eventually went into remission, a miracle to be sure. She enjoyed her family, friends and life in general until the cancer resurfaced last year. During the whole experience, Janell was a testifier. She testified of Christ, of the love of our heavenly father, of tender mercies, of miracles, of eternal families and of Wheat!
Janell passed away yesterday, confident in her knowledge of the plan of salvation, ready to be reunited with her family.
I am grateful for Janell. I often think of her and all that she taught me. Especially every summer when I pull out my mason jars and look over the canning notes about tomatoes from Janell, Master Teacher.
*Phoebe wrote this beautiful tribute on January 10th, 2009 after learning of her friend’s passing.
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