It was an unexpected love story for John and Julie Sennett.
Julie joined the Church in 1990 and she met John for the first time in 2004, soon after he was baptized.
It wasn’t until five years later they met again at a singles fireside. John asked for Julie’s phone number and they began dating.
“He started taking me to Australian bush dances and Colonial dances. He introduced me to all of these things and we had a really good time,” Julie said.
“John always said to me that he was looking for someone who loves God first. He loved the gospel and he honoured his priesthood.”
John and Julie are both from Adelaide, Australia and were married in 2009. They were later sealed in the Adelaide temple.
“Even if we had bad moments, we made sure to always pray and read scriptures together. We also made sure to attend the temple as often as we could. I just love that man so much.”
In 2015 they submitted their mission papers and were called to serve as preservation specialists for Family Search in Adelaide, at the State Records of South Australia Centre.
“We mostly worked with non-members and we became a family. Everyone loved John. He formed friendships with everyone.”
John also had a bicycle business and he serviced bikes for the missionaries Tuesday and Thursday nights and during the day on some Saturdays.
However, halfway through their 23-month mission, tragedy struck.
“John loved hiking,” Julie said.
“So, on preparation day, we went on a hike, due to the Records place being closed for a public holiday. We went to a small cliff front and began using a GPS to find out where we were, then we realized we were in the wrong spot.
“John decide to go in another direction and I began losing my footing because there was loose gravel. I had a prompting that it wasn't safe, and John said to me, ‘you go over there and make a picnic. I will meet you back there.’My husband was a hiker and he was quite confident. But I watched him for a while because I was concerned. When I felt it was okay, I headed towards the picnic area.
'I heard a shuffling sound and I heard him say something… he had lost his footing. I watched his body tumble to the bottom of a 50-metre cliff. When he hit his head he was killed outright, as reported by an inquest later.”
“For a couple of months, it was hard to get through life,” Julie said.
After constant prayer and reading Book of Mormon, Julie gained the courage to return to the mission field two months after John’s death. She finished the rest of their mission earlier this year in February.
“I just kept reading three pages of the Book of Mormon every day as part of a mission challenge we undertook, and I found strength in that,” she said.
“I felt like Heavenly Father was talking to me and Jesus was standing by me and they were getting me through this. I began to see a light. I thought about the people at the State Records of South Australia who knew us. I remembered the work we had started. I thought to myself, ‘I need to go back’.”
“The mission is something we planned to do together. I also became aware of the people we got close too; I was concerned with how they were. I wanted to go back to see them.”
Julie has already served two service missions, one for CES (The Church Educational System) and one serving in the Adelaide mission office. This was her first full time mission with her husband.
A mission is a road to the unknown, she said.
“The Lord is awaiting to bless you. When you turn your life over to him and serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, He will surely bless you.”
“Heavenly Father loves all of his children and wants to see them grow and become closer together as family and to work together to help one another. When you serve a mission, you become a different person.”
Julie loves going to the temple and undertook a self-reliance course soon after her mission. She now hopes to become a children’s writer.
“I have learnt more about myself through scripture study and prayer. Heavenly Father has blessed me with a new journey,” she said.
'I'm hoping I can serve other missions when the time is right.”
And Julie is very grateful for the love and support she has received since John’s accident.
“I’m deeply touched by all and especially those who continue to minister to me,” she said.