Alone in a Foreign Country
A few years ago my husband and I were returning home to Italy from the Frankfurt Germany Temple. With us in the car were another couple and a young man about to leave on a full-time mission. We had spent a wonderful week attending the temple, but as we journeyed home, my heart was agitated and I could not figure out why.
While we were still in Germany, I noted that Angelo, my husband, took a wrong turn. But trying not to worry the other passengers, I didn’t say anything. Suddenly a huge truck coming from the opposite direction ran into us. The force of the blow sent our car spinning out of control. Angelo was powerless; all we could do was pray.
Our car finally stopped when it smashed against a tree. All the windows broke out, and glass was everywhere. Even my eyeglasses were broken into pieces. I soon learned that six other cars were involved and some of the victims were in serious condition.
The paramedics arrived right away and took my husband, the couple traveling with us, and some of the other victims to the hospital. The young, soon-to-be missionary and I were left at the accident scene. I felt confused and lost since I was in a foreign country without my husband and without any information about what was happening. And so I continued to turn my heart to Heavenly Father in prayer. His answer came almost immediately.
A man approached me. He was German, but he spoke to me in English. Even though I don’t speak either English or German, I was able to understand when he offered to take us to the hospital. Since he was on a bicycle, he said he would return home to get his car.
We were alone again. But in a few minutes another man approached. He spoke Italian! I was so happy that I hugged him and started to cry. He also wanted to help us, but he too had to get his car.
Both men soon returned. They loaded our suitcases in their cars and took us to the hospital. The second man left, but the first stayed with me the entire day, helping me find my husband, buy new glasses, and locate a hotel room for the night. Above all, he gave me encouragement and moral support.
When he came back the next day, I couldn’t help but think of the parable of the good Samaritan. This man, although he didn’t know my husband or me, helped us through a very difficult time.
That day I located and contacted some local Church members. Almost immediately the mission president and the bishop arrived. They were strangers to us, but in their faces I saw the pure love of Jesus Christ. While my husband and our traveling companions recovered, the Church members helped us. Each time they came to visit, they brought their love.
The most important blessing we received during this time of adversity was the reminder of the great love God has for His children. Now I know from experience that if we trust in Him, He will never leave us alone but will be at our side through everyday people.
The Home Teachers Who Wouldn’t Quit
A year after my wife, Anthea, and I joined the Church in 1965, we were sealed with our two small daughters in the London England Temple.
At that time the Church in Britain had only one stake. Because there was a great need for priesthood leadership, I was soon called to serve as a branch president in a town 15 miles away from my home branch. I welcomed the challenge this new calling brought and eventually served in the district presidency and then in the bishopric when our branch became a ward.
As our family grew in the gospel, the sales management position I held became more and more demanding, often requiring me to be away from home two or three nights a week. The pressures of my life, combined with newfound friends not of our faith, caused me to start to have doubts regarding some aspects of Church doctrine.
I had received a good education and enjoyed deep discussions with these new intellectual friends. They tried to use the scriptures to prove that the Church was not following some basic concepts laid down as commandments since the time of Adam. I should have borne testimony to the truth of the restored gospel and turned away. Instead, I began to listen to them, and my little doubts about doctrine started to grow. Soon I stopped paying tithing and going to the temple. When I stopped attending church, my wife protested, as did our daughters when we ceased holding family home evening.
As this was happening, two people from the Church never gave up on me. Our home teachers invited me to church every Sunday, sometimes by a visit and other times by a phone call. They visited our home at least once and sometimes twice each month. They even knew when we needed something. I especially remember the time I ordered a garden shed that was delivered unassembled during my absence. Upon returning home, I found our home teachers had already assembled the shed.
I particularly admired our senior home teacher, Des Gorman, an Irish Canadian. He was a genuine person who truly cared for people. To me he represented the Church, so I felt that the Church must be a good organization, even if I wasn’t attending.
Eventually we were blessed with a baby boy. Our home teachers reminded me that it is a priesthood practice to name and bless a baby at fast and testimony meeting. I did not want to participate, though I finally agreed to allow our baby to be blessed by others.
Brother Gorman stood in my place and was the mouthpiece for a beautiful blessing on our son, Ronan. As I listened, I received a powerful witness from the Spirit. I had been proud. I had made some big mistakes. I had nearly lost my testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. I still had my family, but I had almost lost the sweet peace the gospel brings. Many tears flowed as my wife, Brother Gorman, and the bishopric hugged me as I felt the sorrow that leads to repentance.
From that time on, I have been active in the Church, with our home teachers continuing to support me. Our baby boy is now a returned missionary, married in the temple, and raising a family of his own. I feel his life is a tribute to the man who gave him a name and a blessing.
I shall ever be grateful to two dedicated home teachers who took their assignment seriously. Although Brother Gorman has been deceased for some years, I know I won’t forget him for his patient consistence in inviting me back. He never gave up. Today I continue to seek to emulate his quiet and loving persistence in my own home teaching and Church callings.