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Families from around the world come together to honor missionaries who passed away

Posted at 10:13 AM, Oct 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-06 12:13:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Families from across the world came together Friday night in Salt Lake City to honor LDS missionaries who died while serving, by attending a special art show.

Somewhere around 50 portraits were lined up, each telling a unique story of the missionaries’ lives before they were suddenly called home.

"Portray each individual missionary as who they are as a person," said Becky Stott, whose cousin Benjamin Ellsworth was featured in the display.

Elder Ellsworth passed away in Argentina in 2005.

"I see individuals who loved the Lord enough to go and serve, and to put their life on hold," Stott said. "But doing that, they lost theirs as well."

Josh Burton died in Guatemala in 2013. In his portrait, you see Elder Burton looking upward joyfully.

"Somebody who was full of life," his mother Heather Burton said. "His personal motto was to live life to the fullest."

Heather came down from Alberta, Canada to attend the program and show her son's portrait.

For her, this was a chance to share his story.

"We know that people will bring their broken hearts, and how much they miss their people," she said, tearfully. "But to have an opportunity to shed some light on some stories that ended suddenly and to celebrate those stories is just a real privilege."

She said she also got to share a kinship with the other families, and gratitude.

For these families, the focus isn't on how these missionaries lost their lives-- it's about what they devoted their lives to.

Artist JR Johansen creates each portrait in his spare time for free and said to-date, he's drawn 61 missionaries.