Sunday, October 7, 2007

Missionary Experiences

George Albert Smith (far left), Southern States Mission 1892

In June 1830, Samuel Harrison Smith trudged down a country road in New York State on the first official missionary journey of the restored Church. He had been set apart by his brother, the Prophet Joseph Smith. The great missionary traveled 25 miles that first day without disposing of a single copy of the new and strange book which he carried on his back. Seeking lodging for the night, faint and hungry, he was turned away after briefly explaining his mission, with the words: "You liar, get out of my house. You shan't stay one minute with your books." Continuing his journey, discouraged and with heavy heart, he slept that first night under an apple tree. So began, in the most inauspicious way, the missionary work of this dispensation through the restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Ezra Taft Benson, "Missionary Work: A Major Responsibility," Ensign, [May 1974]: 105).

An abiding faith, a constant trust, a fervent desire have always characterized those who serve the Lord with all their hearts.

This description typified the early beginnings of missionary work following the restoration of the gospel. As early as April 1820, Phineas Young received a copy of the Book of Mormon from Samuel Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph, and a few months later traveled to upper Canada. At Kingston, he gave the first known testimony of the restored church beyond the borders of the United States. In 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Freeman Nickerson traveled to Mount Pleasant, upper Canada. There they taught, they baptized, they organized a branch of the Church. At one time, in June 1835, six of the Twelve Apostles held a conference in that land.

In April 1836, Elder Heber C. Kimball and others entered the home of Parley P. Pratt and, filled with the spirit of prophecy, placed their hands on the head of Brother Pratt and declared: “Thou shalt go to Upper Canada, even to the City of Toronto, . . . and there thou shalt find a people prepared for the fulness of the gospel, and they shall receive thee, and thou shalt organize the Church among them, . . . and many shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth and shall be filled with joy; and from the things growing out of this mission, shall the fulness of the gospel spread into England, and cause a great work to be done in that land.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 1985], p. 110.)

In July 1987, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the work in England was commemorated. We rejoice in the tremendous accomplishments of those early missionaries and those whom the Lord prepared to play such a part in the advancement of this latter-day work.

The call to serve has ever characterized the work of the Lord. It rarely comes at a convenient time. It brings humility, it provokes prayer, it inspires commitment, It brings humility, it provokes prayer, it inspires commitment. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, p. 13).

In the month of June, 1830, Samuel Harrison Smith was set apart by the Prophet to take a mission journey to the east. This may be termed the first missionary journey in the Church. Taking with him several copies of the Book of Mormon, he started on his way. The first day he travel twenty-five miles, and on the way attempted to sell copies of the book, but without success. When night came on he went to an inn, faint and hungry; approaching the proprietor he asked him if he did not want to buy a book which contained the history of the Indians.

"I do not know," the man replied, "how did you get hold of it."

"It was translated by my brother, from some plates of gold, that he found buried in the earth," was Samuel's reply.

"You liar!" said the landlord, "get out of my house, you shan't stay one minute with your books."

Samuel was discouraged, but continued on his journey. That night he slept under an apple tree. In the journey he called at the home of Rev. John P. Greene, a Methodist minister. Mr. Greene was just leaving on a preaching tour and like the others who had been approached, he was not interested in the book. However, he manifested a friendly spirit, and at the earnest solicitations of Samuel, consented to take a subscription paper and try to sell copies of the book. Thereupon Samuel left him a copy of the Book of Mormon with the understanding that he would call again in about two weeks. At the appointed time Samuel returned and was disappointed to learn that there had been no sale. On his way to the home of Mr. Greene, Samuel again passed the tavern.

On the door was a small-pox sign. Making inquiry he learned that the tavern keeper had died from the effects of the disease. He returned home after his labors were finished, feeling that his work had proved fruitless. More out of curiosity than desire, both Mr. Greene and his wife read the book and were deeply impressed. The copy Samuel left with John P. Greene was placed by the latter in the hands of members of the Young family, which was the first direct information to Brigham Young, and his brothers and some of their friends, including Heber C. Kimball, of the restoration of the gospel. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971, pp. 88-89).

I came into this Church in the spring of 1832. Previous to my being baptized, I took a mission to Canada at my own expense; and from the time I was baptized until the day of our sorrow and affliction, at the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, no summer passed over my head but what I was traveling and preaching, and the only thing I have ever received from the Church, during over twelve years, and the only means that ever were given me by the Prophet, now that I recollect, was in 1842, when Brother Joseph sent me the half of a small pig that the brethren had brought to him...and that fall Brother Heber C. Kimball was credited $2 in the Church books for one day's services, by Brother Willard Richards, who was then keeping these books. Brother Heber said, "Blot it out, for I do not want it."...I have traveled and preached, and, at the same time, sustained my family by my labor and economy. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1855-1886, 4:34).

Soon after our return to Kirtland, I was sent on another mission in company with Brother Samuel H. Smith, a younger brother of the Prophet, who was a man slow of speech and unlearned, yet a man of good faith and extreme integrity. We journeyed early in the spring of 1832, eastward together without “purse or scrip,” going from house to house, teaching and preaching in families, and also in the public congregations of the people. Wherever we were received and entertained, we left our blessing; and wherever we were rejected, we washed our feet in private against those who rejected us, and bore testimony of it unto our Father in heaven, and went our way rejoicing. (Orson Hyde, Millennial Star, 26 [3 December 1864]: 774-775).

The Prophet felt that the field of souls was white for harvest and that it was incumbent upon him to thrust in his sickle and gather the honest-in-heart. On the 5th day of October, 1833, he departed from Kirtland upon a missionary journey to Canada, in company with Sidney Rigdon and Freeman A. Nickerson. At various places on the road, they stopped and proclaimed the world of the Lord unto the inhabitants. In some villages they found God-fearing men and women who were praying for the light and were willing to obey when the simple gospel was presented before the eyes of their understanding. On the 12th day of October they arrived at Perrysburg, New York, where they halted for a little time. Here the Prophet received a revelation (See D&C 100) in which the Lord instructed him that Zion must be chastened for a season, although she would finally be redeemed. (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1907, p. 142).

On the 27th of March [1835] I arrived at Memphis, weary and hungry. I went to the best tavern in the place, kept by Mr. Josiah Jackson. I told him I was a stranger and had no money, and asked him if he would keep me overnight. He inquired what my business was, I told him I was a preacher of the gospel. He laughed and said that I did not look much like a preacher. I did not blame him, as most of the preachers he ever had been acquainted with rode on fine horses in fine carriages, dressed in broadcloth, had large salaries, and would likely see this whole world sink to perdition before they would wade through one hundred and seventy miles of mud to save the people.

The landlord wanted a little fun, so said he would keep me if I would preach. He wanted to see if I could preach, I must confess that by this time I became a little mischievous, and pleaded with him not to set me to preaching. He took my valise, and the landlady got me a good supper. I sat down in a large hall to eat. Before I got through, the room began to be filled by some of the rich and fashionable people of Memphis, dressed in their broadcloth and silk, while my appearance was such as you can imagine, after traveling through mud as I had done. When I had finished eating, the table was carried out of the room over the heads of the people. I was placed in the corner of the room, with a stand having a Bible, hymnbook, and candle on it, hemmed in by a dozen men, with the landlord in the center.

There were present some five hundred persons, who had come together, not to hear a gospel sermon, but to have some fun. I read a hymn, and asked them to sing. Not a soul would sing a word. I told them I had not the gift of singing; but with the help of the Lord, I would both pray and preach. I knelt down to pray, and the men around me dropped to their knees. I prayed to the Lord to give me his spirit and to show me the hearts of the people, I promised the Lord in my prayer, that I would deliver to that congregation whatever he would give to me. I arose and spoke one hour and a half, and it was one of the best sermons of my life. The lives of the congregation were opened to the vision of my mind, and I told them of their wicked deeds and the reward they would obtain. The men who surrounded me dropped their heads. Three minutes after I closed, I was the only person in the room.

Soon I was shown to a bed, in a room adjoining a large one in which were assembled many of the men whom I had been preaching to. I could hear their conversation. One man said he would like to know how that Mormon boy knew of their past lives. In a little while they got to disputing about some doctrinal point. One suggested calling me to decide the point. The landlord said, "No; we have had enough for once." In the morning, I had a good breakfast. The landlord said if I came that way again to stop at his house, and stay as long as I might choose. (Wilford Woodruff, as quoted in Matthias Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, Salt Lake City: Deseret News,, 1916, pp. 55-56).

In 1837, when the Church was struggling in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith called Heber C. Kimball to go to England to open the work there. Brother Kimball exclaimed in self-humiliation: "O Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work: how can I go to preach in the land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge, and piety...and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!" But then on reflection he added: "However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty: the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt the determination to go at all hazards, believing that he would support me by his almighty power, and endow me with every good qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration. (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978, p. 104).

I never before left a field of labor with as much satisfaction with the results of my work; I felt to render unto God the gratitude of my heart for giving me so many souls as seals to my ministry; and I note the remarkable fact that I had been led by the Spirit, only a little more than three months before, through a densely populated country for eighty miles, and chose no part of it for my field of labor until I was led by the Lord to the house of John Benbow at Fram's Hill, where I preached for the first time on the 5th of March, 1840; now, on the 22nd of June, I was going to the Manchester Conference to represent this fruitful field of my labors with 33 organized churches numbering 541 members. (Wilford Woodruff, in Preston Nibley, The Presidents’ of the Church, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, pp. 113-114).

I remember an incident related by Brother George A. Smith: He was on a mission, traveling without purse or script. He had been turned away from several houses and badly treated. He had always told those to whom he applied for entertainment that he was a Mormon, and after he had traveled some distance and the day was drawing to a close, he began to fear that he would obtain neither food nor shelter and perhaps be unable to accomplish his mission. In order to avoid this, he concluded to adopt another plan. Journeying a little farther, he came to a house and found the owner putting up a loom. Brother Smith went right to work and assisted him. After they had finished their task, he began to talk to the man about his stock and his farm, and so forth.

During the conversation, it began to rain, and Brother Smith, who all this time had not mentioned that he was Mormon, started to go, but the man insisted upon his staying to dinner, and would not permit him to leave his house that night. (Lorenzo Snow, Improvement Era, 3 [December 1899]: 127-128).

When Lorenzo Snow and his companions were sent by Brigham Young to Italy for the purposes of opening missionary work, they were initially overwhelmed with discouragement. As they struggled to find a prepared people, Lorenzo reported that “the spirit had revealed that the Lord had hidden up a people amid the Alpine Mountains” and that he would “commence something of importance in that part of this dark nation.”

Acting on this impression, the missionaries traveled to the Piedmont valley in northern Italy to teach the Waldenses—a stubborn but religious Protestant people. Like Ammon of old, the missionaries first attempted to prepare for teaching the people by winning their friendship and trust. This proved a difficult task, until 6 September 1850, when a series of events began that would open the hearts of the people to listen to the message of the foreigners.

On that day, the three-year-old son of the family with whom the missionaries were staying became critically ill. When Lorenzo and his companions saw little Joseph, the boy seemed beyond earthly help. Lorenzo described him: “His eye-balls turned upwards; his eyelids fell and closed; his face and ears were thin, and wore the pale, marble hue indicative of approaching dissolution. The cold perspiration of death covered his body, and … life was nearly exhausted.” His mother sobbed while the father hung his head and whispered “Il meurt! il meurt!” (He is dying! He is dying!)

Lorenzo recognized an opportunity both to heal the boy and to speed the faltering missionary work. That night he spent “some hours” imploring God for direction. The following day he and his companion fasted and retired to a nearby mountain, where they “called upon the Lord in solemn earnest prayer, to spare the life of the child.” Returning to the city about three o’clock, the elders administered to the boy. The father reported that improvement was almost immediate, and the following morning little Joseph Guy was entirely well.

Because of the tender mercies of God and the power of the priesthood, a little boy was saved. In addition, the hearts of many were softened, as doors were opened to the missionaries that had been firmly closed. An intense interest in the missionaries’ message replaced the hostility previously shown toward Lorenzo Snow and his companions. Many joined the Church, beginning the great work of conversion in Italy. (Francis M. Gibbons, Lorenzo Snow: Spiritual Giant, Prophet of God, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982, pp. 60–71).

A neighbor once told me that as a missionary in earlier days he and his companion were walking along a ridge in the mountains of the South. They saw people gathering in a clearing near a cabin some distance down the hillside. They had come for a funeral. A little boy had drowned, and his parents had sent for the preacher to "say words." The minister, who rode a circuit on horseback, would rarely visit these isolated families.

The little fellow was to be buried in a grave opened near the cabin. The elders stayed in the background as the minister stood before the grieving family and began his sermon.

If the parents had hoped for consolation from this man of the cloth, they were disappointed. He scolded them severely because the little boy had not been baptized. He told them bluntly that their little son was lost in endless torment and it was their fault.

After the grave was covered and the neighbors had gone, the elders approached the grieving parents. "We are servants of the Lord," they told the sobbing mother, "and we've come with a message for you."

As the grief-stricken parents listened, the elders unfolded the plan of redemption. They quoted from the Book of Mormon. "Little children need no repentance, neither baptism" (Moroni 8:11) and then bore testimony of the restoration of the gospel.
I have sympathy for that itinerant preacher, for he was doing the best he could with the light and knowledge he had. But there is more than he had to give. (Boyd K. Packer, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 18).

We demonstrate our love by how well we serve our God. Remember when the Prophet Joseph Smith went to John E. Page and said to him, “Brother Page, you have been called on a mission to Canada.”

Brother Page, struggling for an excuse, said, “Brother Joseph, I can’t go to Canada. I don’t have a coat to wear.”

The Prophet took off his own coat, handed it to John Page, and said, “Wear this, and the Lord will bless you.”

John Page went on his mission to Canada. In two years he walked something like five thousand miles and baptized six hundred converts. He was successful because he responded to an opportunity to serve his God. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, pp. 105-106).

When we arrived in Kirtland [in September 1833], if any man that ever did gather with the Saints was any poorer than I was—it was because he had nothing. . . . I had two children to take care of—that was all. I was a widower. ‘Brother Brigham, had you any shoes?’ No; not a shoe to my foot, except a pair of borrowed boots. I had no winter clothing, except a homemade coat that I had had three or four years. ‘Any pantaloons?’ No. ‘What did you do? Did you go without?’ No; I borrowed a pair to wear till I could get another pair. I had traveled and preached and given away every dollar of my property. I was worth a little property when I started to preach. . . . I had traveled and preached until I had nothing left to gather with; but Joseph said: ‘come up’; and I went up the best I could. (Brigham Young, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, [9 March 1867]: 2).

I came into this Church in the spring of 1832. Previous to my being baptized, I took a mission to Canada at my own expense; and from the time that I was baptized until the day of sorrow and affliction, at the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, no summer passed over my head but what I was traveling and preaching, and the only thing I ever received from the Church, during over twelve years, and the only means that were ever given me by the Prophet, that I now recollect, was in 1842, when brother Joseph sent me the half of a small pig that the brethren has brought to him. I did not ask him for it. . . .

I have traveled and preached, and at the same time sustained my family by my labor and economy. If I borrowed one hundred dollars, or fifty or if I had five dollars, it almost universally went into the hands of brother Joseph, to pay lawyers’ fees to liberate him from the power of his enemies, so far as it would go. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars that I had managed to get, to borrow and trade for, I have handed over to Joseph when I came home. That is the way I got help, and it was good for me; it learned [sic} me a great deal, though I had learned, before I heard of “Mormonism,” to take care of number one.

For me to travel and preach without scrip was never hard. . . . In company with several of the Twelve I was sent to England in 1839. We started from home without purse or scrip, and most of the Twelve were sick; and those who were not sick when they started were sick on the way to Ohio; brother Taylor was left to die by the road-side, by old father Coltrin, though he did not die. I was not able to walk to the river, not so far as across this block, no, not more than half as far; I had to be helped to the river, in not even an overcoat; I took a small quilt from the trundle bed, and that served for my overcoat, while I was traveling to the State of New York, when I had a coarse sattinet overcoat given to me. Thus we went to England, to a strange land to sojourn among strangers.

When we reached England we designed to start a paper, but we had not the first penny to do it with. I had enough to buy a hat and pay my passage to Preston, for from the time I left home. I had worn an old cap which my wife made out of old pantaloons; but the most of us were entirely destitute of means to buy even any necessary article.

We went to Preston, and held our Conference and decided that we would publish a paper; brother Parley P. Pratt craved the privilege of editing it, and we granted him the privilege. We also decided to print three thousand hymn books, though we had not the first cent to begin with, and were strangers in a strange land. We appointed brother Woodruff to Herefordshire, and I accompanied him on his journey to the place.

I wrote to brother Pratt for information about his plans, an he sent me his prospectus, which stated that when he had sufficient number of subscribers and money enough in hand to justify his publishing the paper, he would proceed with it. How long we might have waited for that I know not, but I wrote to him to publish two thousand papers, and I would foot the bill. I borrowed two hundred and fifty pounds of sister Jane Benbow, on hundred of brother Thomas Kington, and returned to Manchester, where we printed three thousand Hymn Books, and five thousand Book of Mormons, and issued two thousand Millennial Star monthly, and in the course of the summer printed and gave away rising of sixty thousand tracts. I also paid from five to ten dollars per week for my board, and hired a house for brother Willard Richards and his wife who came to Manchester, and sustained them; and gave sixty pounds to brother P.P. Pratt to bring his wife from New York. I also commenced the emigration in that year.

I was there one year and sixteen days, with my brethren the Twelve and during this that time I bought all my clothing, except one pair of pantaloons, which the sisters gave me in Liverpool soon after I arrived there and which I really needed. I told the brethren, in one of my discourses, that there was no need of their begging, for if they needed anything the sisters could understand that. The sisters took the hint, and the pantaloons were forthcoming.

I paid three hundred and eighty dollars to get the work started in London, and when I arrived home in Nauvoo, I owed no person one farthing. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saint Depot, 1855-1886, 31 August 1856, 4:34-35).

I have waded swamps and swum rivers, and have asked my bread from door to door; and have devoted nearly fifty years to this work. And why? Was there gold enough in California to have hired me to do it? No, verily; and what I have done and what my brethren have done, we have done because we were commanded of God. And this is the position we occupy today. We have preached and labored at home and abroad, and we intend to continue our labors, by the help of God, as long as we can have liberty to do it. (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1946, p. 133).

My whole life almost has been spent in this Church; and from the time I came into the Church I went on missions and have never ceased altogether from that day to this. I have always rejoiced in this, and do to-day. When I die and lay down my body, I do not want anybody to rise up and say that I have neglected my duty in trying to give him salvation as far as I could. I have always rejoiced in preaching the Gospel; I have rejoiced in administering the ordinances of life and salvation at home and abroad, because I have known that this was the work of God, and I know it is to-day. (Wilford Woodruff, Millennial Star, [14 May 1896]: 310).

We want the families of those who are on missions to be supplied with the necessities and comforts of life, and we do not want the Elders to beg from the poor for us, but the circumstances are different now. We went to preach without purse or scrip, and there were men who were ever ready to strip our families of what little they did possess; some of them are now dead. We went forth almost sick unto death to preach the Gospel, and when we called on the brethren in Kirtland they would not give us a cent, because we were sick and looked pale and they said it was the curse of God was upon us. They will have to reap the reward of that some day, while those who were kind to us will be rewarded of the Lord and be blessed with an exaltation in the kingdom of God if they continue faithful. It was designed once in Nauvoo to raise a subscription for us, but Joseph said, “You shall not have a cent of it; you must go and make your own way”; but now the time is come when the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, and that, too, more quickly than it has ever been before, and it is the word of the Lord that we shall sustain the ministry at home. . .

We traveled with the Prophet Joseph when we were poor and penniless many times, and when we were sick, and we wept like children; but we called upon our Father and to our God to strengthen us, and he did so by the power of his Spirit. Some men lay down and died on the way, and Brother Taylor almost died once or twice in ordeals through which he had to pass. (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saint Depot, 1855-1886, 6 April 1863, 10:168-169).

We expect every man to be on hand to go wherever he may be called, and then he may expect the blessing of the Lord to attend him in his labors. I have been thankful only once since I went to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) on my first mission, and that has been ever since.

Soon after I was sent there was a very bright, intelligent man called to go to the Islands, and it was one of the causes of his apostasy. “What,” said he, “send me, a linguist, a man well read, an educated man, and an Englishman at that, to preach to heathens?” He felt that he was not looked upon with that consideration and respect that his scholarly attainments commanded; he felt that he was slighted; and apostatized, and returned to his native land, where he wrote a book against us, and has since died. When Brother George Q. Cannon was called to go to the Islands, he had no such feelings. He learned the language, and translated the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. He performed a glorious mission, and is now one of the First Presidency of the Church. And singular as it may appear out of the number of Elders that have been on missions to the Sandwich Islands, I can count more Apostles, more Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, and leading men, than can be found in the same number that have gone to any other country. Why is this? Perhaps it is because they manifested their willingness to descend below all things. If a man in this Church would be exalted, let him humble himself; and he that would exalt himself, God will abase. (Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourse, 6 April 1884, 25:100).

I remember the story that Brother Charles A. Callis used to tell us. There was a missionary who went over to Ireland and had filled a mission of two or three years. They invited him to the stand to give his homecoming speech, and he said to them something like this: "Brothers and sisters, I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized."

Years later this man came back and went up to his home somewhere in Montana. Brother Callis, now a member of the Council of the Twelve, learned where he was living and went to visit him. He said, "Do you remember having served as a missionary over in Ireland? And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?"


"I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid whom you baptized on your mission." (Harold B. Lee, BYU Speeches of the Year, 9 November 1954, p. 1).

When President McKay was a young missionary in Scotland, he was homesick, discouraged, and low in spirit. As he walked down the street with his companion, he noticed an inscription chiseled in a stone lintel of an unfinished building which read, "Whate'er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part." From that moment, he began to act the part of a good missionary and became a great one. This was a learning experience that helped him in numerous important callings he received later in life. (See Cherished Experience from the Writings of President David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1955, p. 174).

Gaburo Kikuchi, the second convert [in Japan], for a number of years has separated himself from the Christian sect to which he belonged, because, he said, they did not teach the Bible, and he has been teaching the people the truths of the Bible in the parks in the city of Tokyo, having audiences of from five hundred to one thousand five hundred people. He seems to be a very sincere, determined man, and I have enjoyed my conversations with him. The day I baptized him, before attending to that ordinance, I told Brother Kelsch to try to discourage him from becoming a member of the Church and that I would do the same, because I told him I desired him to study more and to comprehend more before he was baptized. He came to the hotel before I was out of bed in the morning and insisted upon baptism. When I told him that he had better study more and get a better comprehension of the gospel, he said, ‘It is true. I believe it. I want to be baptized. And I can understand it better after I have been baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.’ I knew this was true; so I told him he would be persecuted and he quoted the scripture, ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.’ Brother Kelsch and I went on in this line, trying to discourage this man. I referred to the drivings of our people, to the killing of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, and to the fact that many men had to give up their lives for the truth; and I wanted him to be thoroughly converted. He said, "It is true; and if I die and am the first martyr in Japan, it would be the best thing that could happen to Japan.’ ‘That's enough,’ I said, I'll baptize you. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1902; also cited in Gospel Standards, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1943. p. 206).

In 1904 I went to England on a mission. President Heber J. Grant, who presided over the European missions at that time, sent me down to Norwich. When I got into Norwich, the president of the district sent me down to Cambridge. He said, "I want you to go with Elder Downs (he was a man forty-five years old and I was twenty-one). Elder Downs will leave for France the morning after you get there, because his mission is completed. There is not another Latter-day Saint within 120 miles of Cambridge, so you will be alone." He added, "You might be interested to know, Brother Brown, that the last Mormon Elder who was in Cambridge was driven out by a mob at the point of a gun and was told that the next Mormon Elder who stepped inside the city limits would be shot on sight. I thought you would be glad to know that." (Hugh B. Brown, "Reflections of a Missionary to Great Britain," Ensign, [September 1971]: 8).

I am pleased with your game spirit. You will make good, Spencer. You are small in stature—so was your sweet mother—but big natured and whole souled. You will make good, my boy. Your hard experiences will enable you to know just a little of what it costs to be a Latter-day Saint and something of what your father and grandfather waded through. Keep up a good courageous spirit, but don’t get to think it is too much for you to bear. It will come out well and you will have something to tell your posterity. (Andrew Kimball quoted in Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977, pp. 76-77).

Two years ago I was laboring with Elders Wells and Pratt in South America, opening a mission for the Church. I had during that period of time opportunity to reflect and to study. It is said that “distance lends enchantment to the view” and, I believe, sometimes clearer understanding. I was 11,000 miles away from the headquarters of the Church, far enough away to get a good view of things. I had passed out of the world I knew, into a new and different world. The language was different; the customs of the people, the heavens, and the earth—all appeared strange and different—so that I was as one who had left the earth and had many of the thoughts and reflections that I am sure I shall have when that time does come to me. I had the opportunity to read very much, not only in my study of the Spanish language, but indeed I read everything in English that I could obtain, including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the six volumes of our own Church history. While in contemplation of the Church’s progress, its present position and the future that awaits it, there came to me very distinctly some impressions concerning a period that would come full of danger to many, and feeling an anxious desire for the well-being of the membership of the Church, and indeed for my fellowmen, I promised the Lord that if he would give me the wisdom and the strength, I would lift up my voice in warning to the children of men concerning a peril that was threatening them. (Melvin J. Ballard, “Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, [March 1984]: 32).

The original recorded history of the three General Authority missionaries who visited Buenos Aires in 1925 was found there a few days before my arrival this last March 14. I read with great interest of the extreme difficulties that they encountered. The trip from Salt Lake City to Buenos Aires for Elders Melvin J. Ballard, Rey L. Pratt, and Rulon S. Wells was by land and sea, taking thirty-four days. In comparison, my recent trip covering the same distance took twenty-one hours.

There were only four members of the Church in South America in 1925; they greeted the missionaries upon their arrival. To conserve resources, the missionaries rented one hotel room to house all three of them. They moved several times until they finally located a low-cost apartment in which the three of them could live. Efforts to advertise the first public meetings in Buenos Aires newspapers were fruitless. The newspapers refused to print an ad. Elder Pratt prepared a handbill in Spanish. Elder Ballard, who spoke only English, distributed these handbills each day. Elder Pratt spent most of his time translating doctrine and hymns into Spanish. Elder Wells, who spoke German, became ill and returned to Church headquarters shortly after his arrival in Argentina.

My brothers and sisters, it is difficult to express my feelings as I read of the early beginnings of missionary work in South America. I am deeply touched to realize that for nearly eight months my grandfather walked the streets of Buenos Aires giving out two hundred to five hundred handbills every day but Sunday, inviting the people to learn the message of the Restoration.

The work among the native Argentines was very difficult. Only one was baptized during the first eight months. On 4 July 1926, Grandfather said:

"The work of the Lord will grow slowly for a time here just as an oak grows slowly from an acorn. It will not shoot up in a day as does the sunflower that grows quickly and then dies. But thousands will join the Church here. It will be divided into mire than one mission and will be one of the strongest in the Church. The work here is the smallest that it will ever be. The day will come when the Lamanites in this land will be given a chance. The South American Mission will be a power in the Church." (Vernon Sharp diary, in Melvin J. Ballard, p. 84).

Sixty years later, the Church in South America has thirty missions, with 5,140 full-time missionaries, of which approximately 60 percent are natives of South America. One hundred eighty-six stakes cover the land, with 2,148 wards and branches dotting the countryside. Approximately 776,000 members of the Church are an evidence of the fulfillment of the dedicatory prayer. (M. Russell Ballard, CR A'86, Ensign, [May 1986]: 13).

You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern states who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him. “Have you had a good mission?”

He said, “No.”

“How is that?”

“Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.”

Brother Callis said, “Haven’t you baptized anyone?”

He said, “I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.”

He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, “I decided to follow the boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. The next time I went up into that area I looked him up. He had put on shoes (he’d never worn shoes before), he’d put on a shirt (he’d never had a shirt before), he was the clerk of the little branch Sunday School.”

Brother Callis said, “I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had live and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. They had children of their own who went on missions.”

Brother Callis continued, “I’ve spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.

You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries.

Now, the Lord has said something about that. He said, “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:33-34). That’s what it takes; the heart and a willing mind. These are the words of the Lord. You are laying the foundation of a great work, and the power lies within you to accomplish it. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Belgium Brussels Missionary Meeting, 12 June 1996).

I remember another occasion when I was in Australia on a mission. I went up to visit the Jenolan Caves--very wonderful, spectacular caves. And as we walked through them, the guide said, "If some of you will get out and stand on that rock over there and sing a song, it will demonstrate the capacity of this cave."

Well, the Spirit said to me, "Go over there and sing 'O, My Father,' I hesitated, and the crowd walked on. I lost the opportunity. I never felt good about that. The only thing that ever made me feel the Lord had forgiven me was when I heard President McKay say, "I was inspired one time to do a certain thing when I was in the mission field, and I didn't do it." He said, "I have always been sorry since." He said, "Never fail to respond to the whisperings of the Spirit. Live so you can receive it, and then have the courage to do as it instructs."

As priesthood bearers, let us resolve, brethren, all of us, both young and old, to develop the courage to be true to ourselves and to our Maker in all things in our lives. (Marion G. Romney, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 74).

Several years ago while I was serving as a missionary, I came to the door of a woman who belonged to an apostate faction that fell away after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. For a considerable time we had a rather spirited discussion, although not unfriendly, in which she argued her case and stated that we, the Latter-day Saints, and not her faction, were the apostates from the truth.

As we talked on into the afternoon, there came an interesting turn to our conversation. It developed that this couple had had but one child, a little boy, who, when about seven years of age, was stricken with an incurable disease. When he became eight years old, the age of accountability, he was still sick, and at nine or shortly thereafter he passed away, still unable to be taken into the waters of baptism.
Now, they accepted the revelation of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith that at eight years of age, the age of accountability, children are to be baptized, except for which they should not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“Now.” she asked, “what do you think we ought to do for our child?”

I replied: “Oh, that is easy. Have him baptized for in the temple. That is what temples are for.”

“But,” she said, “we have no temples.”

“Then there came into my mind a scripture in which the Lord said:

Now the great and grand secret. . . and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood.. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living. (D&C 128:11.)

As I thought about her plight, I realized that the gates of hell had prevailed against her church because the keys and the power to reveal knowledge from heaven were not to be found in that church. (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, pp. 127-128).

[At the time I entered the mission field] it was the time of the worst economic depression in the history of the world. Unemployment in this area [Salt Lake City] was about 35 percent, and most of the unemployed were husbands and fathers. . . . Very few missionaries were going into the field at the time. We send out as many in a week now as then went during the entire year. I received my bachelor’s degree and planned on somehow attending graduate school. Then the bishop came with what seemed to me a shocking suggestion. He spoke of a mission. I was called to go to England which, at the time, was the most expensive mission in the world. The cost per month was the equivalent of what would be about $500 now.

We discovered that my mother, who had passed away, had established a small savings account to be available for this purpose. I had a savings account in a different place, but the bank in which I had mine had failed. There was then no government insurance program to cover its failure as there is now. My father, a man of great faith and love, supplied the necessary means, with all of the family cooperating at a sacrifice. As I look back upon it, I see all of it as a miracle. Somehow the money was there every month.

The work in the field was not easy. It was difficult and discouraging. But what a wonderful experience it was. In retrospect, I recognize that I was probably a selfish young man when I arrived in Britain. What a blessing it became to set aside my own selfish interests to the greater interests of the work of the Lord. I had the association of tremendous young men and women. They have become treasured friends whom I have known and loved for more than half a century. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Question of a Mission,” Ensign, [May 1986]: 40).

President Hinckley’s personality, manner, and native intelligence have always been uniquely his. To these inborn attributes, however, he has added spiritual capacities, and they are continuing to increase.

Both his parents and he understood the importance of education and a mission. After his graduation from the university, he faced a major decision in 1933, when he was called to go on a mission. At that time, most young men in the Church were not able to serve because of a global economic depression that deprived nearly everyone of available cash. Earlier, his wonderful mother, with foresight and faith, had established a small savings account for his mission. Though she died before his call, her fund sent him on his way.

Shortly after Elder Hinckley’s labors began in England, he became discouraged and wrote to his father. After reading that letter, his father wrote a reply, which closed with these wise words: “Forget yourself and go to work.” Thanks to noble parents and a crucial decision to remain, Elder Hinckley completed his mission with honor. Now he often states that the good things that have happened to him since have all hinged upon that decision to stay. On his mission, he developed good habits of study, work, communication, budgeting, time management, and more. There he learned that nothing is to hard for the Lord. (Russell M. Nelson, Perfection Pending and Other Favorite Discourses, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998, pp. 13-14).

The boat (SS Manhattan) on which I traveled to England docked at Plymouth the night of July 1, 1933. The three of us missionaries aboard took the boat train to London, arriving late at night. The next day I was assigned to go to Preston, Lancashire. After what seemed like a long, lonely train ride, I met my companion at the station, and he took me to our “digs,” a short distance from Vauxhall Chapel where the first LDS missionary sermon had been preached in 1837.

My companion then announced that we would go into town and hold a street meeting. I was terrified. We sang a hymn and offered prayer. Then he called on me to speak. A crowd gathered. They looked menacing to me. The world was then in the bottom of the Depression, and Lancashire had been particularly hard-hit. The people were poor. They wore wooden clogs on their feet. Their dress reflected the hard times in which they lived. They were difficult to understand; I was a westerner from the United States, and they spoke with a Lancashire dialect.

After five months in Lancashire, I was transferred to the European Mission office in London, where I worked as an assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, who presided over the missions of Europe. London was a great and interesting and challenging city. Each Sunday, weather permitting, the two of us in the European office would join missionaries from the British Mission office in holding street meetings in Hyde Park and other public areas. In addition to our office duties, we also tracted. We likewise taught in the branches, which were then small and weak.

Missionaries then in Britain were few. It was a time of severe economic difficulties across the world, and money was scarce. Reflectively few went on missions. At one time there were only sixty-five of us in all of the British Isles.
Those mission experiences provided a great undergirding for my life. There were many faithful and wonderful Latte-day Saints in Britain whom I came to know and love for the strength of their testimonies in the face of opposition, and for their great, unwavering loyalty to the cause to which they had given their allegiance. I came to know and respect the strong and sturdy people of Britain. I came to know the rich beauty of England—its hills and its meadowlands, its vast, teeming cities, its literature, its art, its science. I have since learned also to love Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. As a young man engaged in sacred work, I came to know, to a degree unrealized before, my Father in Heaven and my Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for that wonderful season of my life when I did the best I knew how to teach the gospel and build the kingdom. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Faith,” Ensign, [July 1987]: 9).

I, like Heber C. Kimball and his associates ninety-six years earlier, was sent to Preston [as a missionary].

That was my first assignment and my first field of labor. I became as familiar with the places they knew and the streets they walked a they had nearly a century earlier. My companion and I walked up and down the same road where they had seen that banner, “Truth Will Prevail.” . . .

I feel especially fortunate to have been sent to Preston as my initial assignment. Not only did I labor there, but I labored in the surrounding towns where those first missionaries taught the gospel. I was not as effective as were they. When they first arrived, there evidently was little or no prejudice against them. When I arrived, it seemed that everyone was prejudiced against us.

I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” Earlier that morning in one scripture class my companion and I had read these words of the Lord: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whomsoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being. With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service.

That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight, I had a rich and wonderful missionary experience, for which I shall ever be grateful, laboring in Preston where the work began and in other places where it had moved forward, including the great city of London, where I served the larger part of my mission. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, [July 1987]: 6-7).

I was called as a missionary to the British Isles. That represented a very serious financial sacrifice on the part of my father, but he made the sacrifice with willingness and love. That mission became a marvelous experience, one for which I shall be eternally grateful, and one which set some anchors and guideposts in my life. Among other things that I gained during that mission was a solid and enduring testimony of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon and of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Keep the Faith," Ensign, [September 1985]: 3).

He would almost certainly recall a defining experience from his missionary days. Young Elder Hinckley had dealt with poor health and intense opposition when he arrived in Preston. He wrote his father that he was wasting both time and money. A short letter came by return mail: “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” Says President Hinckley: “With my father’s letter in hand, I … got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service.
“That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift.” (M. Russell Ballard, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: An Anchor of Faith,” Ensign, [September 1994]: 6).

One of the sweetest experiences that a person can have is to know they have been magnified under the influence of the Spirit. I hope some day every one of you will have that experience. I shall never forget when I first experienced it as a humble missionary on my first mission. I had been in the field only four months when it occurred. It was during the time of great opposition to the Church in Great Britain in the early twenties. The newspapers, the magazines, even anti-Mormon moving pictures were all over Great Britain; the opposition was so great we had to discontinue all street meetings, and many areas couldn't even tract. It seems almost fantastic now because you can hardly get off the plane over there now but what they want to know the latest development in the Church. But in those days men of the caliber of Orson F. Whitney and David O. McKay couldn't even get one inch of space in the press to answer the lies that were printed against us.

But up in northern England where we were laboring, we had a group of people out at South Shields Branch who were very faithful and very devoted and very loyal, and they had invited my companion and me to come over and speak in their sacrament meeting. They said, "Many of our neighbors don't believe the lies that are being printed. If you will come, we will fill the little chapel."

And so we accepted the invitation and we started preparing and I started studying about the apostasy. It was a subject I liked, and I thought they needed it; and I worked and I studied, and I thought I could talk fifteen minutes on the subject.
We went over to the little chapel and it was filled. Everyone was happy. And after the opening exercises my companion spoke, and then I spoke with a freedom I had never enjoyed in all my life. And when I sat down and looked at my watch, I had talked twenty-five minutes, and I hadn't mentioned the apostasy, I hadn't even thought of the apostasy. I had talked about Joseph Smith, and I had borne witness that he was a prophet of God and I knew it. I told about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon as a new witness for Christ, and I had borne testimony. When I realized what had happened, I couldn't hold back the tears.

At the end of the meeting, many of the Saints came forward and expressed their gratitude that something had been said about Joseph Smith. They said, "Several of our neighbors have said, `We can accept everything about the Church except Joseph Smith.'" And then some of those same neighbors came up and said, "We are now ready. We are ready tonight. We have received the witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God."

Now do you think that was a young missionary speaking out of his own wisdom? He was nothing but an instrument in the hands of the Lord in saying what the Lord wanted said to His children whom He loved that they might receive the witness that this work is true. In this work we are never alone. This is the Lord's work. These are His children we are working with. This is His great program; and He will not permit us to fail. He loves these children we are working with; they are His children--His sons and daughters. He loves them even as we love our own, even with a deeper love; and He will not permit us to fail if we will do our part. God bless us that we might measure up that we might receive joy and happiness in our service in our Father's kingdom. (Ezra Taft Benson, San Diego California South Stake Conference, 6 December 1969).

In 1923, near the end of my mission, I was serving as president of the Newcastle Conference, headquartered in Sunderland, England. The opposition to the Church had been very intense through Britain. It took many forms, including anti-Mormon articles in newspapers and periodicals and even plays on the stage.

Because of this intense opposition, the mission president instructed the missionaries to discontinue street meetings. In some places, even tracting was discontinued. My companion, Elder Harris, and I had already announced a street meeting in Sunderland for the following Sunday, so we decided to hold it as scheduled and then discontinue all street meetings.

We began the meeting, and as it progressed the attendance increased greatly-- especially when the pubs closed and the rougher element came out onto the streets. The crowd became so large that it was impossible to make them all hear, so my companion and I stood back to back, him speaking to half the crowd and I speaking to the other half.

Then some of the rowdier men in the back began yelling, "Let's get the Mormons. Let's throw them in the river!" They tried to sway the crowd and knock us down, but we were so tall we put our elbows on their shoulders and defeated the attempt.

They eventually separated us, however, and pushed Elder Harris down one side of the railway station and me down the other. Then, when things seemed particularly threatening, an unusual thing happened. A man stood before me, looked me squarely in the face, and said, "Elder, I believe everything you've said tonight."
At this point, an English policeman stepped in and took me by the arm. He said, "Young man, you come with me. You're lucky to be alive in this mob." He led me for three or four blocks and then said, "Now go to your lodging and don't come out again tonight."

I went to our quarters, hoping to find Elder Harris, but he was not there. I waited, and when he did not come, I put on an old English cap and a jacket and proceeded to the place of the meeting. I hadn't gone for before I met the policeman who has rescued me. He said, "I thought I told you to stay in your lodge."

I replied, "I got concerned about my companion. Do you know where he is?"

He said, "Yes, he got a nasty blow on the side of the head, but he's all right. If you'll go back to the lodge, you should find him there now."

I returned to the lodge to find Elder Harris changing his clothes to go out to look for me. We threw our arms around each other and then knelt in prayer to thank our Father in Heaven for sparing us.

On another occasion, my companion and I were invited to travel to South Shields, on the northeast coast, to speak in sacrament meeting. The members there assured us they could fill the chapel. "Many of the people here do not believe the falsehoods printed about us," they had written. "If you'll come, we're sure that we'll have a great meeting." We accepted.

We fasted and prayed sincerely that we would say only those things that would touch the hearts of the investigators, then went to the sacrament meeting. My companion had planned to talk on the first principles of the gospel. I had prepared a talk on the apostasy.

The hall was filled, and there was a wonderful spirit in the meeting. My companion spoke first and gave an inspirational message. I followed and talked with a freedom I had never experienced before in my life. When I sat down, I realized that I had not mentioned the apostasy. I had talked on the Prophet Joseph Smith and borne my witness of his divine mission and of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. After the meeting ended, several non-members came forward and said, "Tonight we received a witness that your church is true. We are ready for baptism."

Experiences like those taught me the importance of following the counsel of my priesthood leaders, and the power of prayer. In many ways, my mission in England set the tenor for the rest of my life. (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, [July 1987]: 8-9).

There are now more than 60,000 full-time missionaries serving the Lord throughout the world. Many of this vast throng are listening in tonight and viewing this priesthood session of general conference. They pray and then they go, trusting in the Lord concerning where they are sent and trusting in their mission president as to where they serve within their missions. Among the many revelations concerning their sacred callings are two passages which are favorites of mine. Both are from the Doctrine and Covenants.

The first is from section 100. You will remember that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been absent from their families for some time, and they were concerned about them. The Lord revealed unto them this assurance, which is comforting to missionaries throughout the Church: “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends … , your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.”

The second is from the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Inspiring is the missionary service rendered by Walter Krause, who lives in Prenzlau, Germany. Brother Krause, whose dedication to the Lord is legendary, is now 92 years of age. As a patriarch, he has given more than a thousand patriarchal blessings to members living throughout many parts of Europe.

Homeless following World War II, like so many others at that time, Brother Krause and his family lived in a refugee camp in Cottbus and began to attend church there. He was immediately called to lead the Cottbus branch. Four months later, in November of 1945, the country still in ruins, district president Richard Ranglack came to Brother Krause and asked him what he would think about going on a mission. Brother Krause’s answer reflects his commitment to the Church. Said he: “I don’t have to think about it at all. If the Lord needs me, I’ll go.”

He set out on December 1, 1945, with 20 German marks in his pocket and a piece of dry bread. One of the branch members had given him a winter coat left over from a son who had fallen in the war. Another member, who was a shoemaker, gave him a pair of shoes. With these and with two shirts, two handkerchiefs, and two pairs of stockings, he left on his mission.

Once, in the middle of winter, he walked from Prenzlau to Kammin, a little village in Mecklenburg, where 46 attended the meetings which were held. He arrived long after dark that night after a six-hour march over roads, paths, and finally across plowed fields. Just before he reached the village, he came to a large, white, flat area which made for easy walking, and he soon arrived at a member’s home to stay the night.

The next morning the game warden knocked on the door of the member’s house, asking,

“Do you have a guest?”

“Yes,” came the reply.

The game warden continued, “Then come and take a look at his tracks.” The large, flat area on which Brother Krause had walked was actually a frozen lake, and some time earlier the warden had chopped a large hole in the middle of the lake for fishing. The wind had driven snow over the hole and covered it so that Brother Krause could not have seen his danger. His tracks went right next to the edge of the hole and straight to the house of the member, without his knowing anything about it. Weighed down by his backpack and his rubber boots, he would certainly have drowned had he gone one step further toward the hole he couldn’t see. He commented later that this event caused quite a stir in the village at the time.

Brother Krause’s entire life has been to pray and then to go. (Thomas S. Monson, “They Pray and They Go,” Liahona, [July 2002]: 57).

My mind goes back in memory to a general priesthood meeting held in 1956. At that time I was serving in the stake presidency of the Temple View Stake here in Salt Lake City. Percy K. Fetzer, John R. Burt, and I, the stake presidency, had come to the Tabernacle early, that hopefully we might find a place to sit. We were among the first to enter the Tabernacle and had almost two hours to wait before the meeting would begin.

President Fetzer related to President Burt and me an experience from his missionary days in Germany. He described how one rainy night he and his companion were to present a gospel message to a group assembled in a schoolhouse. A protester had broadcast falsehoods concerning the Church, and a number of people threatened violence against the two missionaries. At a critical moment, a woman who was a widow stepped between the elders and the angry group and said, “These young men are my guests and are coming to my home now. Please make way for us to leave.”

The crowd parted, and the missionaries walked through the rainy night with their benefactress, arriving at length at her modest home. She placed their wet coats over the kitchen chairs and invited the missionaries to sit at the table while she prepared food for them. After eating, the elders presented a message to the kind lady who had befriended them. A young son of the woman was invited to come to the table, but he refused, preferring his position of solitude and warmth directly behind the kitchen stove.

President Fetzer concluded the account with the comment, “While I don’t know if that woman ever joined the Church, I’ll forever be grateful to her for her kindness that rain-drenched night thirty-three years ago.”

The brethren sitting in front of us here in the Tabernacle had been speaking to one another also. After a while, we began listening to their conversation. One asked the friend sitting next to him, “Tell me how you came to be a member of the Church.”
The brother responded, “One rainy night in Germany, my mother brought to our house two drenched missionaries whom she had rescued from a mob. Mother fed the elders, and they presented to her a message concerning the work of the Lord. They invited me to join the discussion, but I was shy and fearful, so I remained secure in my seat behind the stove. Later, when I once more heard about the Church, I remembered the courage and faith, as well as the message, of those two humble missionaries, and this led to my conversion. I suppose I’ll never meet those two missionaries here in mortality, but I’ll be forever grateful to them. I know not where they were from. I think one was named Fetzer.”

At this point, President Burt and I looked at President Fetzer and noticed the great tears which coursed down his cheeks. Without saying a word to us, President Fetzer tapped on the shoulder of the man in front of us who had just related his conversion experience. To him he then said, “I’m Bruder Fetzer. I was one of the two missionaries whom you befriended that night. I’m grateful to meet the boy who sat behind the stove—the lad who listened and who learned.”

I do not remember the messages delivered during the priesthood meeting that night, but I shall never forget the faith-filled conversation which preceded the commencement of the meeting. (Thomas S. Monson, “Missionary Memories,” Ensign, [November 1987]: 41).

I was over in Seoul in Korea recently [1954], and one of the finest men we have over in that country is a man by the name of Dr. Ho Jik Kim. He is . . . an advisor to the Korean government. He is a leader of one of the educational institutions there, and around him he has gathered now thirty-four converts, many of them well-educated. We talked with him for some two hours, trying to lay a foundation that might establish itself into a beginning of missionary activities in the land of Korea. He told us about his conversion. “The thing that attracted me to the church,” he explained, “was when I was invited into the homes of two Latter-day Saint men who were on the faculty of Cornell University....The thing that I was most impressed by was the kind of home life they had. I never had been in homes where there was such a sweet relationship between husband and wife, and father and mother and children. I had seen them engage in family prayer. I was so impressed that I began to inquire about this religion of theirs. And one night after I had studied for a long time and had become convinced about the desirability of belonging to such a company, I knew first I must get a testimony. I went down on my knees and prayed nearly all night long and I received a testimony of the divinity of this work.” But remember it all started because of the excellent example of a family that lived the kind of home life that the gospel expects of true Latter-day Saints. (Harold B. Lee, “By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them,” Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year (12 October 1954), 5).

During the period 1959 to 1962, I had the privilege of presiding over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. There we had the wonderful opportunity of working with 450 of the finest young men and young women in all the world. From that particular experience, I should like to relate an account that came to Sister Monson that had far-reaching significance. One Friday she was the only person in a usually busy mission home. The telephone rang, and the person who was on the other end of the line spoke with a Dutch accent and asked, “Is this the headquarters of the Mormon Church?” Sister Monson assured him that it was as far as Toronto was concerned, and then she said, “May I help you?” The party on the line said, “Yes. We have come from our native Holland, where we’ve had an opportunity to learn something about the Mormons. We’d like to know more.” Sister Monson, being a good missionary, said, “We can help you.” Then the gentleman who had called said, “We have chicken pox in our home; and if you could wait until the children are better, we’d love to have the missionaries call.” Sister Monson said that she would arrange such, and that terminated the conversation.

Excitedly she told the two missionaries on our staff, “Here is a golden referral,” and the missionaries agreed. Then, as some missionaries do, they procrastinated calling upon the family. Days went into weeks, and the weeks became several. Sister Monson would say, “Are you going to call upon that Dutch family tonight, elders?” And they would respond, “Well, we’re too busy tonight, but we’re going to get around to it.” After a few more days Sister Monson would say, “What about my Dutch family? Are you going to call on them tonight?” Again the reply, “Well we’re too busy tonight, but we’re going to work it into our schedule.” Finally Sister Monson said, “If you aren’t going to call on the Dutch family tonight, my husband and I are going to call on them,” and they replied, “We’ll work it into our schedule tonight..” And thus they called on a lovely family. They taught them the gospel. Each person in the family became a member of the Church. The family was the Jacob de Jager family. Brother de Jager became the president of an elder’s quorum. His employer, the gigantic Phillips Company, then transferred him to Mexico, where he served the Church with distinction. Later he became the counselor to several mission presidents in Holland, then a Regional Representative of the Twelve, and then a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Today he is serving as the executive administrator of the work in Southeast Asia.

I ask, Was it an important decision that was made on the part of the missionaries to call on the de Jagers? Was it an important decision for Sister Monson to say, “Tonight is the night or else?” Was it an important decision for the de Jagers to telephone the mission headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and say, “Could we have the missionaries come to our home?” I bear testimony that these decisions had eternal consequences, not only for the de Jagers, but for many other people as well, for here is a man who can teach the gospel in English, in Dutch, in German, in Spanish, and in Indonesian, and now is learning to preach the gospel in Chinese. I ask, “What will be our faith?

Our conversation may not be as dramatic as Brother and Sister de Jager’s happened to be, but to each it will be equally as vital and equally as long-lasting and equally as far-reaching. That which we believe is a very important matter. Let us weigh our responsibility to search for the truth. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 129-130).

Another evidence of faith took place when I first visited the St. Thomas Branch of the mission, situated about 120 miles from Toronto. My wife and I had been invited to attend the branch sacrament meeting and to speak to the members there. As we drove along a fashionable street, we saw many church buildings and wondered which one was ours. None was. We located the address which had been provided and discovered it to be a decrepit lodge hall. Our branch met in the basement of the lodge hall and was comprised of perhaps twenty-five members, twelve of whom were in attendance. The same individuals conducted the meeting, blessed and passed the sacrament, offered the prayers, and sang the songs.

At the conclusion of the services, the branch president, Irving Wilson, asked if he could meet with me. At this meeting, he handed to me a copy of the Improvement Era, forerunner of today’s Ensign. Pointing to a picture of one of our new chapels in Australia, President Wilson declared, “This is the building we need here in St. Thomas.”

I smiled and responded, “When we have enough members here to justify and to pay for such a building, I am sure we will have one.” At that time, the local members were required to raise 30 percent of the cost of the site and the building, in addition to the payment of tithing and other offerings.

He countered, “Our children are growing to maturity. We need that building, and we need it now!”

I provided encouragement for them to grow in numbers by their personal efforts to fellowship and teach. The outcome is a classic example of faith, coupled with effort and crowned with testimony.

President Wilson requested six additional missionaries to be assigned to St. Thomas. When this was accomplished, he called the missionaries to a meeting in the back room of his small jewelry store, where they knelt in prayer. He then asked one elder to hand to him the yellow-page telephone directory, which was on a nearby table. President Wilson took the book in hand and observed, “If we are ever to have our dream building in St. Thomas, we will need a Latter-day Saint to design it. Since we do not have a member who is an architect, we will simply have to convert one.” With his finger moving down the column of listed architects, he paused at one name and said, “This is the one we will invite to my home to hear the message of the Restoration.”

President Wilson followed the same procedure with regard to plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen of every description. Nor did he neglect other professions, feeling a desire for a well-balanced branch. The individuals were invited to his home to meet the missionaries, the truth was taught, testimonies were borne and conversion resulted. Those newly baptized then repeated the procedure themselves, inviting others to listen, week after week and month after month.

The St. Thomas Branch experienced marvelous growth. Within two and one-half years, a site was obtained, a beautiful building was constructed, and an inspired dream became a living reality. That branch is now a thriving ward in a stake of Zion.
When I reflect on the town of St. Thomas, I dwell not on the ward’s hundreds of members and many dozens of families; rather, in memory I return to that sparse sacrament meeting in the lodge-hall basement and the Lord’s promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20.) (Thomas S. Monson, “Days Never to Be Forgotten,” Ensign, [November 1990]: 67).

The words of the Lord seemed so appropriate then. They are equally appropriate now: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15).

Some years ago, President Roy A. Welker of the German, Austrian Mission, one of the outstanding mission Presidents of the Church, needed to assign a missionary to labor in Salzburg, Austria, to solve a problem in the branch there. Eight new missionaries were soon to arrive in the mission. He prayed that one of them would have the proper visa and currency to labor in Austria. He continued to pray and waited two weeks for an answer. The night before the eight arrived, the Spirit of the Lord whispered to the president the name of the missionary who should be assigned to Salzburg. The one whose name he received was the one who had the proper credentials to go to Austria. I was that elder.

The president's patience not only helped solve a problem in the branch, but it also blessed me and our family in a way that I never could have foreseen. Shortly after I arrived in Salzburg, that part of the German-Austrian Mission was changed into the Swiss-Austrian Mission. Later, I was transferred to Zurich, Switzerland, where I met Brother Julius Billeter, a warm and friendly member who was a genealogist. He was acquainted with the genealogical records of my progenitors. He researched the names of 6,000 of my ancestors for whom temple work later was completed. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, CR A'87, Ensign, [May 1987]: 31-32).

Many years ago, when I was laboring in Sao Paulo, I contracted yellow jaundice, which in those days was known as "missionary disease." I was very ill, I was so sick that I was afraid I would die. A kind, good woman, not of our faith, nursed me back to health. I felt she literally saved my life. This woman never achieved any greatness by the standards of the world, but to me she was a great woman because of her selfless, Christ-like service, she rendered a great service to me, and I shall always look upon her as one of the most important people in my life. She was like a second mother to me. (James E. Faust, Sao Paulo Area Conference, 2 March 1975, p. 68).

I heard a lovely Japanese missionary girl down at Kamuela on the island of Hawaii a few years ago make what I think was a personal application of a gospel principle in her home. There were few missionaries in that day, as World War II was not yet ended.
We had in the audience eight-five United States Marines, all Latter-day Saints, who were being trained for an invasion of Japan, the ancestral homeland of these two missionary girls. Our sister missionary was called to speak before that kind of an audience. Tremblingly she stood at the pulpit, and this is what she said: "When my father came to me and told me that they wanted me to go on a mission, I said to him, 'No, Father, I can't go on a mission.'"

He pressed her as to why, and she said, "Oh, I just can't." He urged further and then she said, "I can't go because if I go out into the mission field I'll be expected to preach certain principles of the gospel, principles which my own father and my own family are not living."

The father asked, "What are we not doing that you'd have to preach?"

"Well," replied his daughter, "I'll be expected to teach the law of sacrifice. You're not even paying your tithing. I'll be asked to teach them about family prayers, and we never have family prayers. I'll be expected to teach the Word of Wisdom; we're using coffee and tea in our home. I'll be expected to teach the importance of giving service in the Church, and you are shunning that service. No, Father, I can't go out and be a hypocrite."

I think that father spent a sleepless night. "The next morning," our Japanese sister said, "Father came to me and said, 'You go my dear and your father will try to live as his daughter will preach.'" (Harold B. Lee, in Albert L. Zobell Jr., Keys to Wisdom, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1961, pp. 67-68).

The very core of that which we call Christianity is to be found in the record of the writer of the gospel of John in which he quoted the Master’s testimony of his own divine mission as the Savior of the world. These were his words:

“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.” (John 3:16.)

Thus has been stated the highest service that we can render here in mortal life, the willingness to sacrifice of our own self for the welfare of others. The place of sacrifice and service in this sanctifying process of life was explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation....

“It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life.” [Lectures on Faith (1985), 69.]

If we could apply to ourselves and to our own lives that principle by which we might lay hold upon that precious gift, we would be indeed wise. It was King Benjamin who taught his people in his closing address:

“… when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17.)...

Giving, then, is an expression of one’s love, and when one truly gives himself, it is an evidence of an abiding love in that individual who thus is willing to give. …
The Prophet Joseph Smith so loved the truth that had been revealed to him that he was willing to sacrifice everything he possessed in the world, not withholding his life, all to the end that he might bear that testimony and that it might be heard by the nations of the earth....

I was out visiting a stake some months ago and was asked to interview some young men as prospective missionaries. I had been told by the stake president that one of the young men had, after a long period of hospitalization, recovered from a severe shell shock that he had received while in military service. As I faced this young man for the interview, I asked him, “Why do you want to go on this mission?”

He sat thoughtfully for several moments, and then he replied, “When I went into the service, it was the first time I had ever been away from my home. I found conditions strange. I found temptation on every side and the invitation to sin. I needed strength to keep from sin, and I went before my Heavenly Father and prayed to him in faith to give me that strength to resist evil. God heard my prayer and gave me that strength. After the period of training was over and we neared the combat area, we heard the booming of the guns that foretold the message of death that was coming over constantly. I was afraid, and I was quaking all over. I prayed to God for courage, and he gave me courage, and there came over me a peace that I had never enjoyed before. … I was assigned to duty as an advance scout which meant I was ahead of the combat forces and sometimes was almost surrounded by the enemy. I knew that there was only one power in the earth that could save me, and I prayed to that power to protect me, to save my life, and God heard my prayer and returned me back to my company.”

Then he said to me: “Brother Lee, I have all those things to be grateful for. It is little enough that I can do to go out now as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, to teach mankind these blessed things that I have received as a child in my home.”
As I heard such an expression of faith from that young man, I contrasted it with those whom I had heard say that they thought by going into the mission field they would gain a training, they would see the world, they would gain valuable experience that would benefit them personally....

A selfish grasping for personal advantage does not come from the teachings of truth but comes rather from the teachings of him who is an enemy of truth....
That man who is ambitious for personal gain and personal advantage is never a happy man, for before him always are the receding horizons of life that will ever mock his attempts at acquisition and conquest. That man who serves unselfishly is the man who is the happy man. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1947, 47–50).

I did not serve a regular mission until we were called to preside in New England. When I was of missionary age, when I was your age, young men could not be called to the mission field. It was World War II and I spent four years in the military. But I did do missionary work; we did share the gospel. It was my privilege to baptize one of the first two Japanese to join the Church after the mission had been closed twenty-two years earlier. Brother Elliot Richards baptized Tatsue Sato. I baptized his wife, Chio. And the work in Japan was reopened. We baptized them in a swimming pool amid the rubble of a university that had been destroyed by bombs. (Boyd K. Packer, "Feed My Sheep," Ensign, [May 1984]: 41-43).

In one of the eastern cities, a man who had studied to become a Rabbi attended a social gathering one night where a man who conducted the same was an elder in our Church. He sparkled with enthusiasm. This Jewish man watched him through the evening; and, at the close of the party, he went up to him and asked, "What makes you so happy?" The man replied, "My religion." Then he said, "Will you teach it to me?" He is now a bishop in the Church. (LeGrand Richards, Instructor 98 [May 1953]: 157).

Those of us who have had missionary experience know how our hearts have been made to rejoice when we find people who really love the Lord and who want to serve him the way the Lord wants to be served, and they come to a knowledge of the truth. Sometimes we find people who have looked for years and years to find the truth. I had a letter from a man recently, a prominent attorney who had investigated many churches, and when he found "Mormonism," as it is known to him, he said he had found an answer to all of his seeking. And some years ago, in my missionary work, we brought an attorney into the Church. He was an intelligent man. We asked him to talk in one of our conferences, and he said something like this--we had asked him to tell what he had found in Mormonism that appealed to he. He said, "If you have hunted for something all your life until you decided it did not exist, and then you just happen to stumble on it, you do not need anybody to tell you that you have found it, do you?" He said, "That is what I found Mormonism and the thing about it that is most wonderful to me is the fact that the more I know about it the more wonderful it becomes." (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, October 1958, p. 111).

Some years ago I received the appointment to attend stake conference in Grand Junction, Colorado. As the plane circled the airport amidst heavy snow, the pilot’s voice announced that it appeared our landing would not be possible, and Grand Junction would of necessity be overflown. I knew that I had been assigned to this conference by a prophet, and prayed that the weather would permit a landing. Suddenly the pilot said, “There is an opening in the cover. We’ll attempt a landing.” That phrase is always a bit frightening to any air traveler.”

Our landing was accomplished safely, and the entire conference went without incident. I wondered why I in particular had been assigned there. Before I left Grand Junction, the stake president asked if I would meet with a distraught mother and father who were grieving over a son’s decision to leave his mission field after having just arrived there. When the conference throng had left, we knelt quietly in a private place—mother, father, stake president, and I. As I prayed in behalf of all, I could hear the muffled sobs of a sorrowing mother and disappointed father. When we arose, the father said, “Brother Monson, do you really think our Heavenly Father can alter our son’s announced decision to return home before completing his mission? Why is it that now, when I am trying so hard to do what is right, my prayers are not heard?” I responded, “Where is your son serving?” He replied, “In Dusseldorf, Germany.” I placed my arm around mother and father and said to them, “Your prayers have been heard and will be answered. With more than thirty-eight stake conferences being held this day attended by General Authorities. I was assigned to your stake. Of all the Brethren, I am the only one who has the assignment to meet with the missionaries in the Germany Dusseldorf Mission this very Thursday.”

Their petition had been honored by the Lord. I was able to meet with their son. He responded to their pleadings. He remained and completed a highly successful mission. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 27-28).

Sometimes cities and nations bear special labels of identity. Such was a cold and very old city in eastern Canada. The missionaries called it "Stony Kingston." There had been but one convert to the Church in six years, even though missionaries had been continuously assigned there during the entire interval. No one baptized in Kingston. Just ask any missionary who labored there. Time in Kingston was marked on the calendar like days in prison. A missionary transfer to another place--any place--would be uppermost in thoughts, even in dreams.

While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma, for my responsibility then as a mission president required that I pray and ponder about such things, my wife called to my attention an excerpt from the book, A Child's Story of the Prophet Brigham Young, by Deta Petersen Neeley. She read aloud that Brigham Young entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about thirty days and baptized forty-five souls. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, Press, 1959, p. 36). Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today.

Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated words: "Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized forty-five persons in thirty days." The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded to the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then the four carefully selected missionaries--two of them new, two of them experienced--were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both.

In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian Mission. The grey limestone buildings still stood, the city had not altered its appearance, the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt had yielded to the label of faith. (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'83, Ensign, [November 1983]: 19-20).

When I think of righteous individuals, the names of Gustav and Margarete Wacker come readily to mind. Let me describe them. I first met the Wackers when I was called to preside over the Canadian Mission in 1959. They had immigrated to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, from their native Germany.

Brother Wacker earned his living as a barber. His means were limited, but he and Sister Wacker always paid more than a tenth as tithing. As branch president, Brother Wacker started a missionary fund, and for months at a time he was the only contributor. When there were missionaries in the city, the Wackers fed and cared for them, and the missionaries never left the Wacker home without some tangible donation to their work and welfare.

Gustav and Margarete Wacker's home was a heaven. They were not blessed with children, but they mothered and fathered their many Church visitors. Men and women of learning and sophistication sought out these humble, unlettered servants of God and counted themselves fortunate if they could spend an hour in their presence. The Wackers' appearance was ordinary, their English halting and somewhat difficult to understand, their home unpretentious. They didn't own a car or a television, nor did they do any of the things to which the world usually pays attention. Yet the faithful beat a path to their door in order to partake of the spirit that was there.

In March of 1982, Brother and Sister Wacker were called to serve as full-time ordinance workers in the Washington D.C. Temple. On June 29, 1983, while Brother and Sister Wacker were still serving in this temple assignment, Brother Wacker, with his beloved wife at his side, peacefully passed from mortality to his eternal reward. Fitting are the words, "Who honors God, God honors" (See 1 Samuel 2:30). (Thomas S. Monson, “True to the Faith,” Conference Report, April 2006).

I could not hold back the tears when we were in the Philippines. It was my privilege to participate in the opening of missionary work in that land in 1961. At that time we did not have a building of any kind, and we had only one native member of the Church of whom we were aware. In 1984, only twenty-three years later, it was our privilege to dedicate a beautiful temple of the Lord in a choice area of the great metropolis of Manila. I looked into the faces of those thousands of enlightened and faithful Latter-day Saints on whom the Lord is pouring out His blessings in a marvelous and wonderful way. In less that a quarter of a century, from one native member we found in 1961, the Church has grown to well over a hundred thousand. There are my friends, the people I love, among whom I have taught the gospel. The opening of the temple represented the fullness of gospel opportunity for them, the longed--for fruition of their dreams. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR O'85, Ensign, [November 1985]: 54, 59).

I met a man in his late seventies down in Brisbane, Australia, who said that all his lifetime he had been searching for a church that could answer satisfactorily his question, “Are God and his Son, the Savior of the world, living with your church today?” And always the answer to his question was negative. “The scriptures are closed,” he had been told. “There is no prophets through whom the Lord speaks today. God does not reveal himself to man.”

He was convalescing from a painful accident when two young men—missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—called. In their opening testimony, they bore witness that the Lord has appeared with His Heavenly Father to Joseph Smith, and in answer to Joseph’s question as to which church they should join, he was told to join none of them, for they are all wrong, that “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith 2:19.)

Here was the answer he had been seeking, and the Spirit bore witness that this was in truth the true Church of Jesus Christ, with which the Father and the Son were living today. (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, p. 203).

In their journey to greatness, the Tongans have not neglected nor forgotten a great source of their strength—this abiding love and a genuine concern one for another.
Some time ago a baby boy was born to the Tonga Mission president and his wife, President and Mrs. John H. Groberg. Little John Enoch was their first son, the beloved brother of five sisters and the delight of the Tongan members. Doctors worked their skill, parents exercised their faith, but the baby did not improve.
Late one evening there came a knock at the door. From the Tongan visitor. President Groberg learned that on every island, in every home, and in every heart of every member of the Church, fervent prayer and faithful fasting became a united appeal to Almighty God that John Enoch Groberg would live. Visiting Tonga at the time, I witnessed this faith. I testify to the result. The cause of the illness was discovered; the deterioration was arrested. Today the baby is robust in strength. He is a living testimony of the power of prayer and the miracle of love.

During that same visit to Tonga, I accompanied President [John] Groberg to the royal palace, where we were granted an interview with the Royal Majesty King Tupou IV. Our welcome was cordial and most pleasant. At the conclusion of the interview, the prompting of the Holy Spirit guided President Groberg as he bore fervent testimony to the king concerning the truth of the everlasting gospel and the blessings that it provides the faithful. No more eloquent nor moving words have resounded in those royal chambers. No greater courage have I seen displayed.

To my mind came the apostle Paul's inspired defense before another king, even Agrippa. Here in Tonga was one called of God who was "not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." Here was uttered a testimony that "Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:19, 23). I could envision King Tupou saying with King Agrippa, "Almost thou persuadest me."

We exchanged greetings, departed the palace; but I did not, nor will I, forget that experience. What prompted such courage, such faith, such conviction in a young mission president? The answer: the miracle of love. John H. Groberg loves the Tongan people—all of them.

As a lad just twenty, called to the Tonga Mission, he was assigned to an outer island with a native missionary as his companion. After eight seasick days and sleepless nights on a storm-tossed sea, they reached their destination. Not one soul on the island spoke English. Here he acquired his gift of the language. Then came a devastating hurricane which struck the remote island with tropical intensity, destroying the food crop and contaminating the water supply. There was no means of communication with the outside world. The supply boat was not due for almost two months. After four weeks the scant store of food, mainly taro, a native vegetable, was severely rationed. Four additional weeks passed. All food was gone. No help arrived. Bodies became emaciated, hope dwindled, confidence waned, some died. In desperation, John Groberg waded into the swampland where insects covered his face and, with a sweep of his hand, entered his mouth—his only nourishment.

The end drew near. The island’s inhabitants sat in an idle stupor. One morning, nine weeks from the time of the hurricane, John Groberg felt a gentle hand upon his shoulder. He turned his head and gazed into the eyes of an elderly Tongan man. Slowly and with meticulous care, the old man unwrapped a precious prize, even his most treasured possession—a small can of berry jam. He spoke: “I am old; I think I may die. You are young; you may live. Accept my gift.”

What was the declaration of the Savior: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Then came that speck on the horizon and a shout of joy as the supply ship came into view. John H. Groberg was no longer a boy. His faith had been tried; his life had been spared; his love for the Tongan people forever assured. (Thomas S. Monson, Conference Report, October 1968, pp. 80-81).

A few years after my baptism, my family became refugees for a second time. The political regime in East Germany perceived my father as a dissident. His life was at risk, and we had to leave the country overnight, leaving behind everything we possessed. Again we had only the clothes we wore, some food for the trip, and family records as well as family pictures. By the time I was 11, we had been refugees twice within only seven years. But this time we had already received the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had made covenants with the Lord through baptism, and we came to a branch in Frankfurt, West Germany, with other members who had the same principles and precious values.

Into this branch, just a few years later, came a young widow with her two daughters. The missionaries had found this beautiful family, which included my future wife, Harriet.

When I saw Harriet for the first time, with her dark brown eyes, I thought, “These missionaries are really doing a great job!” Even as a teenager I liked Harriet quite a lot. My bold advances, however, showed only marginal success. I tried, for instance, to influence the seating at the sacrament table so I could pass the sacrament to her. This did not impress her very much. On my way to Church activities during the week, I usually rode my nice bicycle and often stopped at their home to ask if Harriet would want to have a ride to church on my bicycle. Harriet always declined. Sometimes, however, her mother was there and would say, “Harriet will walk, but I will gladly ride with you on your bike to church.” This wasn’t really what I was hoping for at the time, but I later realized it is an advantage to be on good terms with the mother of the girl of your dreams!

My mother and my mother-in-law both had the same strong faith that blessed them with the gifts of the Spirit. And they blessed not only my life, but the lives of generations to come. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Bright as the Sun,” New Era, [June 2006]: 2–6).

Choose Christ. Battles are not won in a day. Sometimes they are won only in a lifetime of service and activity.

I recall an officer of the seminary at Olympus High School in Salt Lake City—a young boy by the name of Edward Engh. He was handicapped and was confined to a wheelchair. When our daughter, who was a seminary officer, brought the officers to our home, Ed was present. We had a delightful time with the group that evening. Then this boy, in such a difficult situation, turned to me and said, “Brother Monson, you’re on the Church Missionary Committee, aren’t you?” I said I was. He said, “Brother Monson, all my life I’ve wanted to be a missionary. May I have that opportunity?” And as I looked at him, I saw no way, I comforted him in private and said, “Ed, you can be a missionary here at home, but I think it would be difficult for you to be a missionary anywhere else.” Then I said, “Have you thought of a stake mission? Would you consider that?”

He was called on a stake mission and gave a fine account of himself. But he wanted to be a full-time missionary; he wanted to serve as other young men did, to have a farewell, to get a new set of scriptures, to go to the Missionary Training Center, and then to arrive in a field of labor. Finally, after four long years, his day of glory came; and through the kindness of a particular mission president who knew him, and through the faith of a mother and a father who loved him, and through the courage of a boy who honored father and honored mother and who honored the Lord, Edward Engh received his missionary call to the Canada Vancouver Mission. I’d like to share with you a letter that his mission president wrote to me:

“Dear Elder Monson, I felt impressed to write you regarding the progress of this great elder. Elder Engh has already become a legend in the mission. He has established a standard of faith and dedication in the short time he has been here. He is serving in the mission office as the recorder. He passed off his discussions in record time, and he and his companion have already baptized and lead their district in teaching. The mission work seems to agree with him. He’s in good health. We’re watching him carefully as to rest and diet, but he has not required any extra attention. He has a great and loving companion. These two elders truly have a Christ-like love for one another, which was demonstrated when Elder Engh first arrived and expressed some concern for one of themes of the mission, ‘Lengthen Your Stride.’ Elder Engh said to his companion, ‘How can I lengthen my stride? I can’t even walk!” His companion responded, ‘That’s okay, Elder Engh, we’ll just have to get you some bigger wheels.’ (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, pp. 164-165).

The truth reemphasized in my missionary life is that the Lord communicates in a miraculous way his purposes to achieve. A new elder in Italy by the name of Gary D. Shaw, in following the promptings of the Spirit, discovered this reality. Elder Shaw had been in the mission field only two weeks when his senior companion became ill. The elders, as a consequence, had to remain in their apartment all day. Elder Shaw was moved by the Spirit and had a great desire to talk to someone about the gospel, so he picked up the phone book in which more than three mission names were listed. He chose three. There was no response to the first call. To the second, a woman answered and informed Elder Shaw that she wasn't at all interested, and to make matters words, declared that she couldn't understand his poor Italian and atrocious mode of speech. On the third try, a man answered. Elder Shaw introduced himself and received a warm response. The man said his name was Mabiglia and that he would gladly receive the elders. This he did. The appointment, mad so miraculously, turned into a spiritually uplifting and inspiring occasion. After the first lesson, Mr. Mabiglia said, "How wonderful! I've worked for two years in a bank located on the street where the missionaries have done street-board tracting. Again and again I have practically brushed them as I passed them on the street, but I was too shy to respond to them. Now, in this miraculous way, I have met you." At this point we should change the "Mister" to "Brother," for after receiving the lessons, the man contacted by telephone was baptized, and Brother Mabiglia is now serving in the presidency of the Naples Branch. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, CR O'75, Ensign, [November 1975]: 105-106).

In the world there are many things of value to discover and much more to live for and hope for; however, as you move forward, you should be careful not to get too close to the Devil’s Throat.

As a young man I served a mission to Brazil. It was a marvelous experience. I have returned many times since then in my Church assignments. One of the wonders of the world in that great country is Iguaçú Falls. In the flood season, the volume of water spilling over the brink is the largest in the world. Every few minutes, millions of gallons of water cascade into the chasm below. One part of the falls, where the deluge is the heaviest, is called the Devil’s Throat.

Large rocks are situated just before the water rushes down into the Devil’s Throat. Some of the braver Brazilians used to take passengers in canoes to stand on those rocks and look down into the Devil’s Throat. The water above the falls is usually calm and slow-moving, and the atmosphere tranquil. Except for the roar of the water below, there was no way to anticipate the danger that lay just a few feet beyond. A sudden, unexpected current could have taken a canoe into the rushing waters, over the cliff, and down into the Devil’s Throat. While standing on a rock, a loss of footing or vertigo would have the same effect.

Spiritually, a Devil’s Throat is concealed beneath the deceptively calm tranquillity of our lives and the world in which we live. Each of you has to have the strength and integrity not to get too close to the Devil’s Throat. Bravado in the face of certain death, physical or spiritual, is foolhardy. (James E. Faust, “We Believe in You,” New Era, [October 2006]: 2).

On a quiet morning last week I left my office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and walked over to the Sao Paulo Temple site. There was a soft morning mist beginning to clear away. As I walked up the gentle rise in the street onto the site, I noted with great interest and pleasure brush being cleared away and the new pegs recently driven into the ground. These pegs in the ground mark the dimensions of a new temple soon to be erected for the glory of God and the endless blessings of his children in South America. this temple will be different from any other building new standing in South America.

As I stood where the entrance of the temple will be, I recalled how thirty-six years ago my companions and I landed by ship in Santos after twenty-one days at sea and went by train to Sao Paulo. There were other missionaries on the same vessel going to Argentina and Uruguay, which were the two other relatively new missions on the continent.

In all of South America there was but a mere handful of members of the Church, mostly emigrants from Europe, many of whom were converted in Europe. As I stood last week on this site where this new, special, multi-million dollar building will stand; I recalled how difficult and unpromising the future of the Church appeared in South America Thirty-six years ago. In all of our mission we had only three baptisms in one year, despite the conscientious labors of over seventy missionaries. We did not have the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, or the Book of Mormon translated into Portuguese. We held our meetings in rooms that were small and unfit for the lofty messages we were trying to teach. We often had to sweep out these rooms before meeting to remove the empty bottles and trash from the revelry of the night before. It was always difficult and often discouraging.

In comparison, last year in South America there were over 8,000 convert baptisms. There are now twenty-two stakes and seventeen missions of the Church with over 152,000 members on that vast continent; and the work has only begun. Our great first generation of South American Regional Representatives and stake and mission Presidents are men of affairs, including bankers, businessmen, factory owners, and professional men. They are men of great ability and faith.

I marveled at how through the spirit of God this has all come about. Surely it is a fulfillment of what Jesus said to his early apostles: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 16:19). Having seen it all from close range, I cannot doubt that this is the work of God. (James E. Faust, CR O'75, Ensign, [November 1975]: 55-56).

During the final phases of World War II, I turned eighteen and was ordained an elder one week before I departed for active duty with the navy. A member of my ward bishopric was at the train station to bid me farewell. Just before train time, he placed two books in my hands. One was a popular satire in which I took interest. The other was entitled The Missionary Handbook. I laughed and commented, “I’m not going on a mission.” He answered, “Take it anyway—it may come in handy.”

It did. In basic training the quartermaster instructed us concerning how we might best pack our clothing in a large sea bag. He advised: “If you have some hard, rectangular object you can place in the bottom, your clothes will stay more firm.” I suddenly remembered just the right rectangular object: The Missionary Handbook. Thus it served for sixteen weeks.

The night preceding our Christmas leave our thoughts were, as always, on home. The quarters were quiet. Suddenly I became aware that my buddy in the adjoining bunk, a Mormon boy, Leland Merrill, was moaning in pain. I asked, “What’s the matter, Merrill?” He replied, “I’m sick. I’m really sick.” I advised him to go to the base dispensary, but he answered knowingly that such a course would prevent him from being home for Christmas.

The hours lengthened, his groan grew louder. Suddenly he whispered, “Monson, Monson, aren’t you an elder?” I acknowledged this to be so, whereupon he asked, “Give me a blessing.”

Suddenly I became very much aware that I had never given a blessing. I had never received such a blessing, I had never witnessed a blessing being given. My prayer to God was a plea for help. The answer came: “Look in the bottom of the sea bag.” Thus, at 2:00 a.m., I spilled the contents of the bag on the deck, took the book to the night light, and read how one blesses the sick. With about forty curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could stow my gear, Leland Merrill was sleeping like a child.

The next morning Merrill smilingly turned to me and said: “Monson, I’m glad you have the priesthood.” His gladness was only surpassed by my joy. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980, pp. 244-245).

Six months ago, while serving in Guatemala as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Randall Ellsworth survived the devastating earthquake which hurled a beam down on his back, paralyzed his legs, and severely damaged his kidneys.

After receiving emergency medical treatment, Randall was flown to a large hospital near his home in Rockville, Maryland. While confined there, a television newscaster conducted with Randall an interview which I witnessed through the miracle of television. The reporter asked, "Can you walk?" The answer, "Not yet, but I will." "So you think you will be able to complete your mission?" Came the reply, "Others think not, but I will."

With microphone in hand, the reporter continued: "I understand you have received a a special letter containing a get-well from none other than the president of the United States." "Yes," replied Randall, "I am very grateful to President Ford for his thoughtfulness; but I received another letter, not from the president of my country, but from the president of my church--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--even President Spencer W. Kimball. This I cherish. With him praying for me, and the prayers of my family, my friends, and my missionary companions, I will return to Guatemala. The Lord wanted me to preach the gospel there for two years, and that's what I intend to do."

I turned to my wife and commented, "He surely must not know the extent of his injuries. Our official medical reports would not permit us to expect such a return to Guatemala."

How grateful am I that the day of faith and the age of miracles are not past history but continue with us even now.

The newspapers and the television cameras directed their attention to more immediate news as the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months. The words of Rudyard Kipling described Randall Ellsworth's situation:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!
(Rudyard Kipling’s Verse, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1946, p. 327).

And God did not forget him who possessed an humble and a contrite heart, even Elder Randall Ellsworth. Little by little the feeling in his legs began to return. In his own words, Randall described the recovery: "The thing I did was always to keep busy, always pushing myself. In the hospital I asked to do therapy twice a day instead of just once. I wanted to walk again on my own."

When the Missionary Committee evaluated the amazing medical progress Randall Ellsworth had made, word was sent to him that his return to Guatemala was authorized. Said he, "At first I was so happy I didn't know what to do. Then I went into my bedroom and I started to cry. Then I dropped to my knees and thanked my Heavenly Father."

Two months ago Randall Ellsworth walked aboard the plane that carried him back to the mission to which he was called and back to the people whom he loved. behind he left a trail of skeptics, a host of doubters, but also hundreds amazed at the power of God, the miracle of faith, and the reward of determination. Ahead lay honest, God-fearing, and earnestly seeking sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. they shall hear His word. They shall learn His truth. They shall accept His ordinances. A modern-day Paul, who too overcame his "thorn in the flesh," has returned to teach them the truth, to lead them to life eternal.

Like Randall Ellsworth, may each of us know where he is going, be willing to make the continuous effort required to get there, avoid any detour, and be ready to pay the often very high price of faith and determination to win life's race. Then, as mortality ends, we shall hear the plaudit from our Eternal Judge, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:21). (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'76, Ensign, [November 1976]: 53).

Missionary service has ever called for courage. One who responded to this call was Randall Ellsworth. While serving in Guatemala as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Randall Ellsworth survived a devastating earthquake that hurled a beam down on his back, paralyzing his legs and severely damaged his kidneys. He was the only American injured in the quake, which claimed the lives of some eighteen thousand persons.

After receiving emergency medical treatment, he was flown to a large hospital near his home in Rockville, Maryland. While Randall was confined there, a newscaster conducted with him an interview that I witnessed through the miracle of television.

The reporter asked, "Can you walk?"

The answer: "Not yet, but I will."

"Do you think you will be able to complete your mission?"

Came the reply: "Others think not, but I will. With the President of my church praying for me, and through the prayers of my family, my friends, and my missionary companions, I will walk, and I will return again to Guatemala. The Lord wants me to preach the gospel there for two years, and that's what I intend to do."

There followed a lengthy period of therapy, punctuated by heroic yet silent courage. Little by little, feeling began to return to the almost lifeless limbs. More therapy, more courage, more prayer.

At last, Randall Ellsworth walked aboard the plane that carried him back to the mission to which he had been called--back to the people whom he loved. Behind he left a trail of skeptics and a host of doubters, but also hundreds amazed at the power of God, the miracle of faith, and the example of courage.

On his return to Guatemala, Randall Ellsworth supported himself with the help of two canes. His walk slow and deliberate. Then one day, as he stood before his mission president, Elder Ellsworth heard these almost unbelievable words spoken: "You have been the recipient of a miracle," said the mission president. "Your faith has been rewarded. If you have the necessary confidence, if you have abiding faith, if you have supreme courage, place those two canes on my desk and walk."

After a long pause, first one cane and then the other was placed on the desk, and a missionary walked. It was halting, it was painful--but he walked, never again to need the canes.

This spring I thought once more of the courage demonstrated by Randall Ellsworth. Years had passed since his ordeal. He was now a husband and a father. An engraved announcement arrived at my office. It read: "The President and Directors of Georgetown University announce commencement exercises of Georgetown University School of Medicine." Randall Ellsworth received his Doctor of Medicine degree. More effort, more study, more faith, more sacrifice, more courage had been required. The price was paid, the victory won.

My brethren, let us be active participants--not mere spectators--on the stage of priesthood power. May we muster courage at the crossroads, courage for the conflicts, courage to say no, courage to say yes, for courage counts. Of this truth I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'86, Ensign, [November 1986]: 41-42).

I’ve seen courage in the military. I’ve witnessed courage in the classrooms of learning and the factories of industry. Never have I observed its beauty more radiant than reflected from the service of a missionary. As a member of the Missionary Executive Committee of the Church, I often interview prospective missionaries who have physical impairments or other shortcomings. In considering the recommendation of one such candidate, the bishop of the ward had written: “Brother _______ is badly scarred due to an automobile accident. However, if courage will help, he’ll lead the lot.” I made an appointment to visit with the lad. My initial reaction upon meeting him was one of mixed surprise and pity. His face was badly scarred. He had been trapped in a burning automobile. Gone were his eyebrows, eyelashes, portions of his nose and face. “Son,” I responded, “if you were in the mission field, there would be those who would reject your message and may feel that they are rejecting you. This would be unbearable.”

“Brother Monson, “ he replied, “I have become accustomed to that challenge. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I so much want to serve the Lord and to preach the gospel. Please let me be called.” The courage of his spirit bore witness to me of his faith. He received a call. After two years of outstanding missionary activity, his president wrote, upon the occasion of his honorable release:

The bearer of this letter has served in this mission for two years. He has been one of the finest missionaries in our mission over the whole time that he has been here. He has been effective as a leader, as a proselyting missionary, as the liaison between the mission office and the several stakes in which he has served, and in all aspects his performance has been without flaw.

He has handled his personal problem, his severe scarring, in a way which has discouraged or affronted no one. It has been on a basis that “this is my problem; don’t worry about it.”

We love him dearly. We are grateful for his services; and if you have any more just like him, send them along. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980, pp. 145-146).

No prophet in this dispensation, since the Prophet Joseph Smith, has spoken on missionary work as much or as forcefully as has our beloved prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball. Oh, that he were strong enough in health to be here and to speak to us as he has on other occasions.

Each of us has a solemn obligation to, first, understand by the Spirit what President Kimball has said over the last decade about the mission of the Church; second, to catch his prophetic vision of missionary work; and third, to implement completely in our own lives the words of our living prophet pertaining to missionary work.
The most important counsel and direction on missionary work comes to us through the living prophet, for he is literally the mouthpiece of the Lord. So stated the Lord: “For [the prophet’s] word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth.” (D&C 21:5.)

In anticipation of my address to you today, I have read and reread every major address regarding missionary work given by President Kimball during more than a decade. As I have done so, tears have welled up in my eyes as I have again caught his marvelous vision of missionary work as given to him by direct revelation.
I testify to you by the Spirit that our prophet’s words stand as a living testimony of what the Lord would have us do today. I fear that unless we fully understand the words of President Kimball, catch his prophetic vision of missionary work, and implement his words, we will be held accountable before God. I also fear that we have not yet done what the Lord would have us do as directed by his holy prophet. (Ezra Taft Benson, “President Kimball’s Vision of Missionary Work,” Ensign, [July 1985]: 6).

Years ago, when I was running the Missionary Department, we permitted some missionaries to have cars in the United States if their families would furnish them. You never saw such a collection of cars. Well, a father came to see me one day and said he would like to take a car to his son in Los Angeles. He was riding a bicycle and his father was afraid he was going to get killed. So we agreed that he could have a car. He came in after he deliver it to tell me what happened. He drove the car from Salt Lake all the way to Los Angeles. He found where his son lived, knocked on the door, and his son came to the door and said, “Dad, it is good to see you. Are those the keys to the car? Let me have them. We have a baptism in thirty minutes. We need to get to the meetinghouse. There is a little restaurant around the corner. You go around and get something to eat and then you take a taxi to the meeting.” The missionary drove off in the car and the father said to himself, “He is still the same ingrate he always was.” The father decided he would go home.

After he had a little something to eat he felt a little better and decided he would go to the meeting. They were just completing a baptism and having a testimony meeting when he got to the chapel. A man stood up and said, “I am an old man but I have been born today. I am a graduate of three universities but I have learned things that I could never have learned in school. I am so grateful to that missionary right there who taught me the gospel that I do not know how to express my thanks.” Then a woman stood up and spoke along the same lines and pointed to the same missionary. This man said, “They were talking about my son and I was on the back row crying like a baby.” He said, very thoughtfully, “I left the chapel and threw away the cigarettes that I had in my pocket. I came home and threw the coffee pot in the garbage. I am still trying to live worthy of my boy.” I saw that man in the Salt Lake Temple a little over a year later. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Honduras Tegucigalpa Missionary Meeting, 22 January 1997).

Last month the Salt Lake City newspapers carried an obituary notice for Fred Sudbury. It indicated that he was survived by his wife Pearl, and a son, Craig; that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and that his marriage had been solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple. What the obituary notice could not adequately convey was the inspiring human drama which preceded Fred's passing.
Some years ago, Craig Sudbury and his mother came to my office prior to Craig's departure for the Australia Melbourne Mission. Fred Sudbury, Craig's father was noticeably absent. Twenty-five years earlier, Craig's mother had married Fred, who did not share her love for the Church and, indeed, was not a member.

Craig confided to me his deep and abiding love for his parents and his hope that somehow, in some way, his father would be touched by the Spirit and open his heart to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I prayed for the inspiration concerning how such a desire might be fulfilled. Such inspiration came, and I said to Craig, "Serve the Lord with all your heart. Be obedient to your sacred calling. Each week write a letter to your parents; and on occasion, write to Dad personally and let him know that you love him, and tell him why you're grateful to be his son." He thanked me and, with his mother, departed from the office.

I was not to see Craig's mother for over eighteen months. She came to the office and, in sentences punctuated by tears, said to me, "It has been almost two years since Craig departed for his mission. He has never failed in writing a letter to us each week. Recently, my husband, Fred, stood for the first time in a testimony meeting and said, 'All of you know that I am not a member of the Church, but something has happened to me since Craig left for his mission. His letters have touched my soul.

May I share one with you?

" 'Dear Dad,

" 'Today we taught a choice family about the plan of salvation and blessings of exaltation in the celestial kingdom. For me it just wouldn't be a celestial kingdom if you were not there. I'm grateful to be your son, Dad, and want you to know that I love you.

" 'Your missionary son,

" 'Craig.

" "After twenty-six years of marriage, I have made my decision to become of member of the Church, for I know the gospel message is the word of God. My son's mission has moved me to action. I have made arrangements for my wife and me to meet Craig when he completes his mission. I will be his final baptism as a full-time missionary of the Lord.' " He heard the message, he saw the light, he embraced the truth.

A young missionary with unwavering faith had participated with God in a modern-day miracle. His challenge to communicate with one whom he loved had been made more difficult by the barrier of the thousands of miles that lay between him and home. But the spirit of love spanned the vast expanse of the blue Pacific, and heart spoke to heart in divine dialogue.

No missionary stood so tall as did Craig Sudbury when, in far-off Australia, he helped his father into water waist-deep and, raising his right arm to the square, repeated those sacred words: "Fred Sudbury, having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (see D&C 20:73).

The prayer of a mother, the faith of a father, the service of a son brought forth the miracle of God.

"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:15).

God bless us, my brethren, with missionary memories of stalwart service in the cause of Christ, I pray in His holy name, amen. (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'87, Ensign, [November 1987]: 43-44).

In far-off Europe, beyond a curtain of iron and a wall called "Berlin," I visited, with a handful of members, a small cemetery. It was a dark night, and a cold rain had been falling throughout the entire day.

We had come to visit the grave of a missionary who many years before had died while in the service of the Lord. A hushed silence shrouded the scene as we gathered about the grave. With a flashlight illuminating the headstone, I read the inscription:

Joseph A. Ott
Born: 12 December 1870--Virgin, Utah
Died: 10 January 1896-- Dresden, Germany

Then the light revealed that this grave was unlike any other in the cemetery. The marble headstone had been polished, weeds such as those which covered other graves had been carefully removed, and in their place was an immaculately edged bit of lawn and some beautiful flowers that told of tender and loving care. I asked, "Who has made this grave so attractive?" My query was met by silence.

At last a twelve-year-old deacon acknowledged that he had wanted to render this unheralded kindness and, without prompting from parents or leaders, had done so. He said that he just wanted to do something for a missionary who gave his life while in the service of the Lord. I thanked him; and then I asked all there to safeguard his secret, that his gift might remain anonymous. (Thomas S. Monson, CR A'83, Ensign, [May 1983]: 56).

In Portugal, in the city of Funchal, on the Maderia Island, lived a lady named Asencao Frango who had been a nun for twenty years. As a matter of fact, she was a Mother Superior at a home for poor children and orphans. Toward the end of a four-year teaching assignment early in her life as a nun, doctors discovered a cancer in her throat. Her mother had died of this same disease. Although she knew that her deteriorating health might lead to certain death, she had a strong feeling that she had not finished her work on earth. She prayed with great faith for the restoration of her health and was healed, with no further problems or need for medical care.
When her church decided to close the children's home where she was assigned, she maintained it herself for years, using an inheritance she had received from her deceased parents, until the children living there were raised and on their own or were adopted.

Hearing of a new religion, she attended her first meeting of our church with a friend, out of curiosity. It was held on the dirt floor of a member's garage, but the spirit of the meeting impressed her. The elders began teaching her the discussions and challenged her to be baptized. She declined, saying that she already had been baptized. The elders persisted by inviting her to read the Book of Mormon. The elders told her, "If this book is the true word of God, then Joseph Smith is a true prophet and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. If so, you need to be baptized into God's true church."

She read the Book of Mormon and gained a strong testimony of its divinity. Later, she stopped the missionaries after a discussion of the Godhead and requested baptism. Just one year afterward, she stood on the doorstep of President Reuben P. Ficklin's mission home in Lisbon. She obtained her temple recommend and could hardly wait to enter the Swiss Temple to pledge sacred covenants with her Heavenly Father. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, CR O'86, Ensign, [November 1986]: 60).

I share another example of the value of learning the Articles of Faith. Forty-five years ago I worked with a man named Sharman Hummel in the printing business in Salt Lake City. I once gave him a ride home from work and asked him how he came to receive his testimony of the gospel.

He responded, "It's interesting, Tom, that you asked me that question, for this very week my wife, my children, and I are going to the Manti Temple, there to be sealed for all eternity."

He continued his account: "We lived in the East. I was journeying by bus to San Francisco to establish myself in a new printing company, and then I was going to send for my wife and children. All the way from New York City to Salt Lake City the bus trip was uneventful. But in Salt Lake City a young girl entered the bus—a Primary girl—who sat next to me. She was going to Reno, Nevada, there to have a visit with her aunt. As we journeyed westward, I noticed a billboard: 'Visit the Mormon Sunday School this week.'

"I said to the little girl, 'I guess there are a lot of Mormons in Utah, aren't there?'

"She replied, 'Yes, sir.'

"Then I said to her, 'Are you a Mormon?'

"Again her reply: 'Yes, sir.' "

Sharman Hummel then asked, "What do Mormons believe?" And that little girl recited the first article of faith; then she talked about it. Continuing, she gave him the second article of faith and talked about it. Then she gave him the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth and all of the Articles of Faith and talked about all of them. She knew them consecutively.

Sharman Hummel said, "When we got to Reno, and we let that little girl off into the arms of her aunt, I was profoundly impressed."

He said, "All the way to San Francisco I thought, 'What is it that prompts that little girl to know her doctrine so well?' When I arrived in San Francisco, the very first thing I did," said Sharman, "was to look through the yellow pages for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I called the mission president, and he sent two missionaries to where I was staying. I became a member of the Church, my wife became a member, all of our children became members, in part because a Primary girl knew her Articles of Faith."

I think of the words of the Apostle Paul: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).

Just three months ago, the Hummel family came to Salt Lake City for the wedding of their daughter Marianne. They stopped by the office; we had a wonderful visit. All 6 daughters came, along with 4 sons-in-law and 12 grandchildren. The entire family had remained active in the Church. Each of the daughters has been to the temple.

Countless are those who have been brought to a knowledge of the gospel by the members of this family—all because a young child had been taught the Articles of Faith and had the ability and the courage to proclaim the truth to one who was seeking the light of the gospel. (Thomas S. Monson, “Examples of Great Teachers,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Teaching and Learning, 10 February 2007).

I spoke the other day with one of the most enthusiastic converts I have ever met. We were in Chicago for a big meeting which brought together some 20,000 members of the Church in the great United Center, where the Chicago Bulls play basketball. Randy Chiostri, a new member of the Church, drove us about while we were there. All during those long rides in the Chicago traffic he was talking about missionary work, praising the Church as the most wonderful institution in the world, talking of the gospel and the plan of salvation as the greatest thing that had ever come into his life. Randy’s introduction to the Church came when he dated Nancy. He took her to dinner. On the first date she said she drank no liquor. She would not take wine. How curious, he thought. She said it was against her faith. Smoking was also against her faith. Her faith became the subject of their conversations.

He married her on the one-year anniversary of that first date. But he could not accept her religion. It took him almost eight years to overcome his doubts.
One pair of missionaries after another taught him. Finally, he was touched by the Spirit. He was baptized last March.

He visited the Hill Cumorah. He visited Nauvoo. He said: “I visited 17 temples. I visited them on the outside but not on the inside.” He went to every temple he could get to. He now looks forward to the day that he will visit them on the inside. That first inside visit, in Chicago, will be in April. He will receive his endowment, and then the next day he and Nancy will be sealed.

After his baptism, Randy was immediately put to work. He was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. After being a member for about nine months, he was ordained an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. He loves the Church. He is consumed with his love of the gospel. It has become the major interest of his life. He cannot stop talking about it. Each night and morning he gets on his knees and thanks the Lord for the wondrous thing that has come into his life.

I learned a few things from Randy as I listened to him. The first is the tremendous power of the example of a member of the Church. It was Nancy’s firm but quiet stance on that first date concerning no liquor and no wine which caught his attention. The missionaries worked on him through the years, but she was the key that unlocked his heart to a love for the Lord, and his mind to an understanding of the plan of salvation.

The second thing I learned is that you never give up when there is the slightest spark of interest. It took him nearly eight years to come into the Church. His mind was open, but there was a lurking fear over taking so bold a step. He was setting aside the traditions of his forebears and stepping into something new and strange and difficult to understand.

Third, he was put to work immediately following his baptism. His bishop saw that he had something challenging to do. Was he qualified to handle the assignment? The bishop gave that question very little attention. He saw an eager new convert, and he gave him a responsibility on which to grow.

The bishop saw that he had friends in the Church. The first, of course, was his wife, Nancy, and there were a few more able people who could answer his questions and listen patiently when he did not understand. He was not left friendless, to grope through the dark. He had those who were willing to take the time to talk with him.
Does he know all there is to know about the Church? No, of course not. He is constantly learning, and with that learning is a growing enthusiasm.

He is excited about what he has found. He is eager to receive the higher blessings of the temple. His testimony has become strong and secure within less than a year’s time. I believe he is a 100 percent convert, and his enthusiasm is contagious. We need more of this kind, and we need many more to work with them. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, [May 1999]: 104).

It was overcast and threatening rain—typical northwest England fare. But for President Gordon B. Hinckley, Sunday, June 12, 1994, was glorious. I observed his enthusiasm firsthand, having accompanied him to Preston, where he had served as a missionary sixty-one years earlier and where he had returned to preside at the ground breaking of the Preston England Temple.

His emotions were tender as he greeted Gertrude Corless, who had lived in Preston when he served his mission. When he learned that a brother with whom he had tracted was in the audience, he immediately picked his way through the crowd of more than ten thousand, searching faces as he walked. When he spotted Robert Pickles, now confined to a wheelchair, tears began to flow. And as he bent down to embrace him, and then stood holding his hand as they talked, it was obvious that years of separation hadn’t diminished the feelings for his old friend.

To spend any time at all with President Hinckley is to find that his emotions run deep and are easily tapped. If he were to write about himself, he would no doubt describe the people and places dear to him and the experiences that have moved him. There would be very little about what or how much he has done. (M. Russell Ballard, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: An Anchor of Faith,” Ensign, [September 1994]: 6).

While attending a sacrament meeting during the summer months, I was fortunate to hear messages from three students who were home from school for the summer. One of the talks especially interested me.

She had been working during the summer recess in a restaurant frequented by truck drivers. One driver who had a regular run stopped at the restaurant on the same day each week to eat. The regularity of the stop created an opportunity for short visits. He asked the young lady where she lived. She reported that she was home for the summer to earn money to return to school in the fall. His next question was, "Where do you attend school?" Her answer with pride: "BYU–Idaho." He wanted to know more about the school, which led to a gospel discussion. Her first approach was to teach him about the Word of Wisdom. She was successful. She convinced him to give up smoking.

Then her shift was changed, and she no longer had the opportunity to serve him, so she wrote him a note and enclosed a Church missionary tract about the plan of salvation. After several days she received a note from the driver. It simply stated, "You've created a monster." Thanks to this young woman he had found information which caused him to think about the changes he must make in his life. I do not know the full outcome of this little encounter between a waitress and a truck driver, but clearly his life was affected. (L. Tom Perry, “The Plan of Salvation,” Conference Report, October 2006).

I have permission to tell you the story of a young man who grew up in our community. He was not a member of the Church. He and his parents were active in another faith.
He recalls that when he was growing up, some of his LDS associates belittled him, made him feel out of place, and poked fun at him.

He came to literally hate this Church and its people. He saw no good in any of them.
Then his father lost his employment and had to move. In the new location, at the age of 17, he was able to enroll in college. There, for the first time in his life, he felt the warmth of friends, one of whom, named Richard, asked him to join a club of which he was president. He writes: "For the first time in my life someone wanted me around. I didn't know how to react, but thankfully I joined. . . . It was a feeling that I loved, the feeling of having a friend. I had prayed for one my whole life. And now after 17 years of waiting, God answered that prayer."

At the age of 19 he found himself as a tent partner with Richard during their summer employment. He noticed Richard reading a book every night. He asked what he was reading. He was told that he was reading the Book of Mormon. He adds: "I quickly changed the subject and went to bed. After all, that is the book that ruined my childhood. I tried forgetting about it, but a week went by and I couldn't sleep. Why was he reading it every night? I soon couldn't stand the unanswered questions in my head. So one night I asked him what was so important in that book. What was in it? He handed me the book. I quickly stated that I never wanted to touch the book. I just wanted to know what was in there. He started to read where he had stopped. He read about Jesus and about an appearance in the Americas. I was shocked. I didn't think that the Mormons believed in Jesus."

Richard asked him to sing in a stake conference choir with him. The day came and the conference started. "Elder Gary J. Coleman from the First Quorum of the Seventy was the guest speaker. I found out during the conference that he also [was a convert]. At the end Richard proceeded to pull me by the arm up to talk to him. I finally agreed, and as I was approaching him he turned and smiled at me. I introduced myself and said that I wasn't a member and that I had just come to sing in the choir. He smiled and said he was happy that I was there and stated that the music was great. I asked him how he knew the Church was true. He told me a short version of his testimony and asked if I had read the Book of Mormon. I said no. He promised me that the first time I read it, I would feel the Spirit."

On a subsequent occasion this young man and his friend were traveling. Richard handed him a Book of Mormon and asked that he read it aloud. He did so, and suddenly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit touched him.

Time passed and his faith increased. He agreed to be baptized. His parents opposed him, but he went forward and was baptized a member of this Church.

His testimony continues to strengthen. Only a few weeks ago he was married to a beautiful Latter-day Saint girl for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. Elder Gary J. Coleman performed his sealing.

That is the end of the story, but there are great statements in that story. One is the sorry manner in which his young Mormon associates treated him.
Next is the manner in which his newfound friend Richard treated him. It was totally opposite from his previous experience. It led to his conversion and baptism in the face of terrible odds.

This kind of miracle can happen and will happen when there is kindness, respect, and love. Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can't all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Conference Report, April 2006).

The children of God in all nations have His promise that He will manifest Himself to them. The Book of Mormon tells us:

"He manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith" (2 Nephi 26:13).

Note that these promised manifestations of the Lord are to "every nation, kindred, tongue, and people." Today we are seeing the fulfillment of that promise in every nation where our missionaries are permitted to labor, even among peoples we have not previously associated with Christianity.

For example, we know of many cases where the Lord has been manifesting Himself to men and women in the nation of Russia, so recently released from the long grip of godless communism. While reading critical or mocking articles about Mormons, two different Russian men felt a strong impression to search out our meeting places. Both met missionaries and joined the Church (See Gary Browning, Russia and the Restored Gospel (1997), 200–201, 220–21).

A medical doctor in a village in Nigeria had a dream in which he saw his good friend speaking to a congregation. Intrigued, he traveled to his friend’s village on a Sunday and was astonished to find exactly what he had seen in his dream—a congregation called a ward being taught by his friend, who was their bishop. Impressed with what he heard in repeated visits, he and his wife were taught and baptized. Two months later over 30 others in their village had also joined the Church, and their clinic had become the meeting place.

A man I met from northern India had never even heard the name of Jesus Christ until he saw it on a calendar in the shop of a shoemaker. The Spirit led him to conversion in a Protestant church. Later, during a visit to a distant college town, he saw an advertisement for an American group called "The BYU Young Ambassadors." During their performance, an inner voice told him to go into the lobby after the program and a man in a blue blazer would tell him what to do. In this way he obtained a Book of Mormon, read it, and was converted to the restored gospel. He has since served as a missionary and as a bishop.

A little girl in Thailand felt a memory of a loving Father in Heaven. As she grew older, she would often pray and counsel with Him in her heart. In her early 20s she met our missionaries. Their teachings confirmed the loving personal feelings for God she remembered from her childhood. She was baptized and served a full-time mission in Thailand.

Only 5 percent of the people in Cambodia are Christians. A family in that country was searching for the truth. While their 11-year-old son was riding his bicycle he saw some men in white shirts and ties showing someone a picture and asking who it was. He felt he should stop. As he watched, he was prompted to say, "That is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and He came to save man." Then he rode away. It took the missionaries a month to find him and his family. Today, the father is a counselor in the mission presidency.

Last June, a family of five visited the open house for a new chapel in Mongolia. As the father walked through the door a powerful force went through his body, a feeling of peace he had never experienced before. Tears flowed. He asked the missionaries what that amazing feeling was and how he could feel it again. Soon, the entire family was baptized (Examples from Nigeria, Thailand, Cambodia, and Mongolia as related by mission presidents who have served in those countries). These are only a few examples. There are thousands more. (Dallin H. Oaks, “All Men Everywhere.” Conference Report, April 2006).