Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As promised...

The swimmer that he is, Gates dove right into his first full day of rehabilitation.  He spent the initial few hours working with the occupational therapist testing the sensory in his arms and hands.  As previously suspected he has use of those muscles; it will take time and patience to learn, again, how to control his movements.

After lunch, he did physical therapy, which included more time on the Tilt Table and working on strengthening his stamina.  Gratefully, he was more mobile, getting out of the room and through the halls.  Brian said they planned to take him to the cafeteria for dinner and even out the automatic doors, at ground level, for some “fresh air” and a view of the sun, setting over the lake.

Visitors are what fuel Gates when he’s feeling the emptiness of his circumstance; time with loved ones allows him an escape from his sheeted haven.

As promised, I will post Gates’ “farewell” talk.  Regarding Gates' oration, I made no efforts to adjust grammar or any attempts of clarification; just typed word-for-word, expression-for-expression what I heard.  From the moment he crept to the microphone to the time he backed away from the pulpit, these are Gates’ words.

*Garrett Millward performed a solo immediately before Gates stood.
March 27th, 2011
Thanks Garrett.

I love that song.  It just really, uh…  hits the spot.

Good morning everyone.  Um…   It’s crazy being up here, having seen all my friends leave and being in the same spot I am.  And I don’t think any of ‘em were as nervous as I look right now

But uh…  I’ve been called to the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission, Spanish speaking, but I feel that I’ll be picking up another language in the field and that’s Cajon, so don’t plan on understanding a word I’m saying when I get back.

I’ve been asked to speak on Alma Chapter 5 and after reading this I got a great understanding for the love God has for us. He sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to this earth and to be a Savior and to be a redeemer for us and uh… he blessed many people’s lives but he also took on more suffering than any of us could handle.

I know a lot of you are dads, and so I want you to imagine that you have only one son.  Would you send him into an environment where you knew he was going to suffer, be mocked by everyone openly and be killed?  But I think the most important thing he did was perform the atonement or the wiping away of all of our sins.  Um…  this needed to be done to fulfill God’s plan and I feel that it was really necessary so I’m really grateful for that.

God knew what he was sending his son to do and that was to lead by example and invite others to come unto Christ.  In John 3:16 it says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

But to have everlasting life you must commit and repeatedly turn unto the Lord and ask for forgiveness. 

Nobody’s perfect, it’s easy to wander off the path.  We all screw up sometimes.  We live in a world filled with a lot of crap.  It’s a war out there.  And it’s easy to wander off the path and something I thought of when I was writing this talk was a… you don’t really know you’ve wandered off the path till you find it again and you’ve seen where you been and sometimes you’ve been to some heavy, pretty heavy spots.

Um…  When I was up at APPLE Camp, it’s like this Aaronic Priesthood thing, and it was great.  Uh…  I played a lot of basketball, ditched a lot of class but uh… surprisingly it was really spiritual cause every night me and a couple of my close friends would go out and look at the stars and talk about, just whatever.   And… maybe we heard this somewhere but God is never that far from us.  We may drift away from him but he’s always there for us.   And so…  if it…  if you feel pretty weak and you feel that you need someone there, he’s always there, so just get down on your knees and just pray.  He’ll answer your prayers.

I’d like to read Alma 5 verse 34, it says:

“Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;” 

I feel that the following teachings frees us so that we can be happy.  Um…  it may be pretty cool at the time but I know you’re going to look back just be like, “I don’t know why I did that, it’s stupid.”

To guide us along God sent us prophets like President Monson and a 14-year-old kid, named Joseph Smith.  At the time his family was mostly Methodist and it was in the early 1800’s and he decided the Methodist church wasn’t really doing much for him.  So he went out on his own and did some research and he, uh.. when I was 14, he was wondering about the church, but when I was 14 I was pretty set on what girls I thought were cute and that’s about it.  Um… He searched the scriptures and in James 1:5 he read:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” 

I like that scripture because it’s specifically talking to you and you can easily relate it to your life, so I think that’s really cool.

Upbraideth not,” um…  in my dictionary, means won’t be punished or held accountable for not knowing something.  So at 14 he felt that he lacked wisdom and…  not many 14-year-old kids would do that, but he prayed about it and he went to a foresty spot by his house and asked God what church was the right one.  And I’d like to go into Joseph Smith History and read out of that:

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

I testify of the power that scripture holds.  And I know it’s true.  Joseph Smith restored the gospel to this earth and he was met by God, the Father and the Son.  I testify of the power of this gospel holds in my life.  I testify that God loves us and he would do anything for us; He even made it possible for us to return to him, in the end.

I’m excited to go share what I know to be true to everyone I meet for the next two years.  And if that’s alright I’d like to close with a scripture in Alma 5:62:

“I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.” 

I’d like to leave this message with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Those reading, not of the LDS Faith:

A “Farewell Talk” is a traditional discourse given by a departing missionary, generally the Sunday before he (or she) enters the Missionary Training Center on the following Wednesday.

A “Mission” is a two-year voluntary commitment (18 months for Sister Missionaries) from a young man or woman when they are 19-years-old (males) and 21-years-old (females) respectively.  Missionaries do NOT elect where they will serve but rather volunteer to serve and receive a “Call” from Church Headquarters as to where.

“Alma” refers to a book in The Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Click the link to receive a FREE copy of:  The Book of Mormon).

“APPLE Camp” was a camp where young men spent time learning of the gospel, how to prepare for missionary service and to be upstanding men in all aspects of their lives.

“President Monson” is the current President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints

“Joseph Smith” was the first President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints and Translator of the Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

If you would like to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, you may click on the following links: or


  1. wow, i feel the spirit just reading that talk. unfortunately i wasnt able to be there the day he gave it so im grateful that i got to read it. gates, you have always been an example to me. you have always wanted to do whats right and you have always set an example for those around you. i admire your strength and i know that you will keep pushing forward and surpassing all expectations! i keep praying for you everyday, and i look forward to coming and visiting you again :) love you.

  2. Not knowing Gates personally, it's hard to really say for sure....but reading his talk here, I pick up so much personality just from his words.
    He's real (LOVE that he said "crap" in his talk. Awesome!). And he's strong! Two great qualities in a young man.
    GO GATES!!!
    and Gates, remember your own words...."he’s always there for us. And so… if… if you feel pretty weak and you feel that you need someone there, he’s always there....."

  3. Gates, you did such a great job on your Farewell talk. I was happy to read it again. I did remember alot of it but it was great to have a refresher. Im so proud you got some sunlight & fresh air, that is great medicine in it's self. Its sounds like you did a great job in therapy. Keep up the great work. I might be down on Friday with my sister Christie. We have some sadness on my husbands,Scott sides, so if his mom is doing ok I will be there too see you & your Family. I love you & keep up the good work, as you know we are praying, pulling & cheering you on!

  4. Gates, I'm so happy for your improvements and your strength! I'm not sure if you read all these comments but we are praying for you.I hope you know you have an army of support on earth and heaven behind you. I remember having the such a great time cheering you on while we were on swim team, I just want to say, I am still cheering! Wooo!

  5. Gates – Each day as I read this beautiful blog (thank you Rich, you are amazing) I have had so many enlightening moments that I feel I should share. As I was returning home from my mission, in Nov of 1991 I remember so vividly meeting you for the first time. We were walking down the corridor of the airport and there was your mom (with balloons) and dad pushing a little 4 month old baby in a stroller. After I embraced your mom and dad, (my brother) they introduced me to my new nephew Gates. Immediately my heart was overflowing with joy and love for you. I remember fighting back the tears that were welling up in my eyes upon seeing you for the first time. Truly my heart was full of love. You were so cute...a little man. And I also remember when I received a call one tuesday night and my parents told me of your accident. My heart literally ached for you. As I have reflected on these two moments, it has reminded me of how much our Heavenly Father and Savior love us. I know that my feelings and love for you and all of my family is so deep and real. To quote Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.”

    Thank you for strengthening my testimony of my Heavenly Father and Savior, thank you for your example, thank you for being you!
    I love your forever. Susie

  6. Dear Gates,

    We have read the Blog every day and have wanted to comment but have been waiting for the right words to come. Seeing the pictures of you swimming brought them...

    We want you to know the Jowers Family is cheering for you louder now than we ever did at any swim meet! You are going to be in a long race Gates, but you're going to get this one. It's not going to be about how fast you go, but how you get there. We know you can dig deep and pull it out -- we have seen you do that! And we want you to know we will always be BIG Gates Hunsaker fans.

    Not a day goes by when we don't pray for you...and we have faith those prayers will be answered. You hang in there! GO GATES GO!

    Much love, Kristen, Kirk, Kaitie, Luke, Jackson, Lucy & Emma Jowers

  7. Gates.... I was looking through some old pictures and found the ones I took of you at the swim practice a while ago....I remember watching you swim and marveled at how precise you moved and how your body cut through the water...I know how it feels to have life change on a dime, I know how it is to wake up one morning and look around and wonder what happened....but I also know that the words you chose in your talk are true, I know the spirit that sits inside that body of yours is stronger, more able and more beautiful then any of us realize. You inspire me to keep on fighting...we are in this till the finish line and so many times when I am feeling overwhelmed I think of you....and hope that I have a tenth of the courage that you have. I loved looking at those pictures and remembering how I marveled at you that day...and how I marvel at you now. Know you are loved beyond measure....

    Lisa Curless