Missionary Moment: Prepared to Serve in Specific Way

Contributed By Ronald L. Culverwell, Church News contributor

  • 22 August 2014

While the Lord knows all things, sometimes we do not know beforehand how He prepares us to serve in a specific way and time.

Article Highlights

  • Brother Culverwell took shorthand during high school without knowing why; when he became the mission secretary he realized the Lord had been preparing him to serve.

While the Lord knows all things, sometimes we do not know beforehand how He prepares us to serve in a specific way and time. During high school, I decided to take Gregg shorthand and type classes. My senior year, I took advanced shorthand and type. I certified at 80 words per minute dictation and transcription.

In January 1956, I received a mission call to the Australian Mission, where Zelph Y. Erekson was mission president. There were no stakes or wards in the mission, only districts and branches, and all the district presidents reported to President Erekson, who was the priesthood leader for all members in the mission. I arrived in Sydney by ship in March. The missionaries were greeted by President and Sister Erekson, Elder Taylor, the mission secretary, and some others. When I was introduced to Elder Taylor, he said, “Oh, you’re the one who takes shorthand. You’ll end up mission secretary.” I didn’t think much of what he said, as I was anxious to start missionary work and teaching the restored gospel.

I served as a junior, then senior, companion, and later as a supervising elder. We were blessed with baptisms. Then, from my missionary journal: “2 Feb 1957, the pattern of transferring has not changed. Whenever the thought of being changed is never in mind, you get changed. This one least suspected of all. New missionaries arrived, and I expected my companion, Elder Cecil Clark, to be transferred. We went to the mission office and with Elder Taylor’s guidance and instruction was to become acquainted with all the business of being mission secretary to do that assignment when Elder Taylor was released to go home.”

This responsibility included keeping all original membership records and correlating copies to the various branches and all of President Erekson’s personal correspondence, which I took in shorthand and typed in letter form. It also included all reports to Church headquarters, including historical reports and reports to the First Presidency, on the condition of the mission and correspondence with the district presidents. Many of these were taken in shorthand and typed. It was a very busy but rewarding work. I loved the close association with President Erekson. I served as the mission secretary until I trained another missionary to take the responsibilities, which came near the end of my own missionary service. Several times, other missionaries asked if I didn’t want to go back into the field and teach investigators and seek for baptisms. I always answered, “I came on a mission to do what I was asked to do.” Now, 58 years later, I know the reason I took shorthand and type in high school.