“I Met a Prophet Once”
“Would you accept Moses as a prophet of God if he lived today?” I asked.
“Why, yes,” answered my friend, “without any doubt!”
“What if he wore modern clothing and drove a car? What if he were a husband, a father, and a devoted citizen of the country in which he lived?”
“Moses would never have been like other men,” my friend replied. “He was Moses, the prophet—the man who communed with God!”
It did not occur to my friend that Moses had been much like the other men of his time. For my friend, it was inconceivable that a man who lived in modern times could be a mouthpiece for God—and could act and speak in his name.
“I met a prophet once,” I told my friend. “He was a highly respected businessman, a wonderful husband and father, a devoted American. Even though I was a child when I met him, I knew that he was a true prophet of God.”
The place was Hamburg, Germany—the year, 1937. President Heber J. Grant was touring the European missions. The branch of the Church to which my family belonged met in a rented hall in a soap factory, squeezed into a back alley of a thickly populated industrial district. Here, people from all the northern and western districts of Germany had assembled to see and hear the prophet speak.
A gifted poet in our branch had written a long poem for the occasion, and I had been chosen to greet President Grant and recite it. The night before the prophet’s visit, my mother came to my room to say good night. “Tomorrow you will shake hands with a prophet of God,” she said. “What a great privilege that is! I am sure it is because of your faith that you have been asked.”
I was glad it was dark in my room so my mother could not notice my despair. The minute she left my bedside, I prayed, begging my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins and help me be worthy to meet the prophet. My mother spent half the night at the sewing machine, finishing a lovely new dress for me to wear. Normally, this would have excited me tremendously, but not now. I felt that the prophet would be able to see into my heart, and that he would know of my sins and of how vain I was.
The next day seemed like a nightmare. Every time I looked at the clock, I panicked about how little time I had left to repent of all my misdeeds! I was very withdrawn, and my companions thought I was ill. I preferred their assumption to letting them know my secret.
Finally the hour arrived. Our meeting hall was beautifully decorated with gladiolas and tender greens. In the back, the choir sat on squeaky chairs beneath a picture of the Savior.
After President Grant was welcomed, I was to hand him a large bouquet of long-stemmed roses and then recite the poem with the aid of an interpreter.
The floor beneath me shook as I walked toward President Grant. With each breath, I had been praying. Now there was nothing I could do but go ahead.
When President Grant saw me, he rose from his chair. He seemed as tall as a mountain. His friendly eyes looked deeply into mine as he stretched forth his arms and pulled me toward him. My entire body went numb, and the bouquet dropped to the floor. President Grant bent down to retrieve the roses for me. Then he hugged me and stroked my head, waiting patiently until I was ready to begin.
Suddenly all my fear vanished, and I felt an indescribable happiness. I had always pictured my Father in Heaven as affectionate, calm, and unspeakably noble in gesture, and it was natural that his prophet would have all those qualities that were so dear to me. From then on, I knew that I would always be able to recognize a true prophet—by the love and concern he shows for our Heavenly Father’s children.
The Camera and the Conscience
My friend Bob had to do a lot of persuading in order to get another Marine to loan him his new camera to take to a servicemen’s conference in Japan. But Bob assured him that he would take good care of it, and the Marine consented.
We were stationed in Vietnam at the height of the war. For months the Latter-day Saints in our battalion had looked forward to this conference, and Bob wanted to take the camera along.
Our departure from Vietnam was hectic, with lots of red tape and much confusion. Two of the men in our small group could travel only if space was available, and we were all grateful for the two extra seats on the huge jet bound for Japan. The Spirit was mindful of us! At last we were on our way.
For three days we attended meetings, talent shows, dances, and other social activities at the conference, held at beautiful Mount Fuji. After months of exposure to the ugliness of war, we enjoyed the kindness of the members and appreciated the spiritual uplift of hearing a General Authority speak. Battle-hardened men shed tears in some of the meetings because of the great joy they felt in the fellowship of other Saints.
As we neared the end of one of our last meetings, Bob quietly excused himself to return to the hotel and get the camera, which he had left in the room we had shared.
When he returned, we could tell by his expression that something was very wrong. He said that he couldn’t find the camera. I reassured him that it had to be in our room and told him to look again.
He was even more visibly upset when he returned the second time. He knew where he had left the camera in the room, and he knew that it was gone. Locks to hotel room doors were not common then, and both of us realized the possibility of someone entering our room and taking the camera. We knew what a burden it would be to try to replace it on his corporal’s pay, especially with a wife and two small children to provide for. Our elation of the three previous days was gone, and our good feelings were replaced with regret and misgivings.
Bob said that he would pray about the matter and ask the kindly hotel manager if he had noticed anyone carrying that particular kind of camera.
The meeting was over when Bob returned again, this time smiling, with the camera in his hand. He related what the hotel manager, in his halting English, had told him he had seen: an American had come downstairs into the lobby carrying the camera. He had then sat down and looked at it for a long time, as if he were contemplating something or wrestling with himself. Suddenly he had stood up, placed the camera where the manager could retrieve it, and departed.
Since the only Americans in the hotel at the time were those attending the conference, the manager assumed the man was one of our group.
The servicemen’s conference had uplifted all who had attended it—including, quite possibly, a young man who, though tempted to steal a camera, had ultimately obeyed his conscience.
Seeing Grandma through Her Book
While I was in college, my Grandma Greer fell down a flight of stairs onto bare concrete, injuring herself so severely that her heart stopped three times while emergency medical crews fought successfully to save her. She also broke her jaw, hip, and ribs. But worst of all, she lost nearly all of her vision. Adding to this burden, her husband suddenly died of a heart attack a few weeks later.
Why had she survived her accident only to face this? she wondered. She missed my grandpa and longed to be reunited with him. Fortunately, she had a good home teacher who helped her to feel secure.
As time went on, Grandma began to feel that perhaps she had survived her fall for an important reason, and she determined to find out what it was. She began to realize that once a person is gone, there isn’t much left on earth to remember him or her by. Many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren—including me—hadn’t known her and Grandpa well. And she wanted them to know their heritage. Though she and grandpa had published a history of their childhoods and courtship, Grandma decided that she needed to record their fifty years of marriage and service in the Church as well.
With this new goal, Grandma became excited about life again. Her only problem was how to do it. She was nearly blind, and she didn’t know how to type.
With help from friends and relatives, she managed to get the beginning chapters written. But perhaps because of her blindness and failing memory, she lost the chapters before they could be copied. It now seemed that all her efforts had been wasted. Time was slipping away, and it looked as if Grandma’s history would not be completed after all.
About this time, Grandma phoned me and asked for help with her history. I had never had a very close relationship with my grandparents, and the last thing I wanted to do was to help with this project. Besides, I didn’t have the means to help her.
About this time, I graduated from college. To my surprise, I found a job near where my grandmother lived. Though I still didn’t really want to help write her history, I felt a family obligation to give her some of my time.
While visiting her, I evaluated what needed to be done to complete the book. She had a box full of photos, tapes, letters, newspaper clippings, and certificates. To organize this would take months!
But I figured that the Lord was listening to her prayers. The first week at my new job, I hurt my back and had to remain inactive for some time. I decided to spend my recuperation time helping Grandma with her history.
I was embarrassed by how grateful she was for my help because I still wasn’t very enthusiastic about the project.
I soon found that the fastest way to compile the material was to tape-record Grandma telling her story. Though the history was soon progressing well, my injured back wasn’t, and after a while I was almost out of money. I concluded to return home; the history would have to wait.
About this time, my grandmother’s home teacher, John Minor, told me about a night when my grandmother had almost died. She had been very sick and had phoned him—not to ask him for a blessing, but to ask him to pray for her, which he did.
That night John dreamed that he saw my grandfather, who told him he was going to “call for Grandma.” John pleaded, “You can’t. She hasn’t finished her book yet!” The next day, John checked on Grandma. She was all right.
As John told me of his dream, I felt the Spirit soften my heart. I sensed the urgency of finishing my grandmother’s book. It would not be easy, but I determined to stay as long as I could with her—as long as my meager funds lasted.
Concern for Grandma’s book spread to other family members. They pitched in, giving me room and board while I wrote. In a pocket of some clothing my family sent from home, I found fifty dollars that I had forgotten about. The Lord was blessing us.
As I continued to write, I began to understand my grandparents. I learned about the persecution they had endured when they joined the Church. Soon after their marriage, they found out that they could not have children until Grandma underwent an operation to allow them that blessing. I felt the Spirit of Elijah turn my heart to my fathers, and I appreciated my grandparents more than ever before.
After a few months of steady work, I completed the rough draft and sent the first chapters to Grandma. She loved them!
A few weeks later, Grandma died.
I have since finished her biography and the family has published it. I believe that through her life-history, other descendants can come to understand and love Grandma and Grandpa Greer with a clarity that otherwise would not have been possible.