Latter-day Saint Voices

By


On Alert

While sitting in my police car watching for speeders one afternoon in June 1996, I heard on my radio a report of an argument between a convenience store clerk and some customers. Two junior officers were being sent to the store. I wasn’t seeing many speeders, so I decided to drive to the store to offer help. I felt impressed to drive along a seldom-used road.

Before long I heard on the radio that the first officer to arrive on the scene was Ben. I was concerned because he was a newly hired officer with little experience.

As I continued on the back road, I heard the dispatcher report that the customers at the store were drunk and becoming combative. I was somewhat relieved when I heard that the second officer, Rocky, who was a little more experienced, had arrived at the scene.

Then came a report that the customers, four of them, had just left in a blue compact car. Still driving toward the scene, I heard another police jurisdiction broadcast a description of the car and its occupants and request officers to look for it. Rocky’s voice came on the radio, giving the direction the car was last seen traveling.

Moments later, I saw the car speeding toward me. My heart sank when I heard someone advise that an officer had been assaulted. I guessed that Ben, the rookie officer who was first on the scene, had been attacked.

I quickly turned around and began to follow the car, which then pulled over and stopped as if waiting for me to pass. Believing that the people in the car had just assaulted a police officer, I followed different tactics than I might have otherwise, and all my senses were on alert. I turned on my emergency lights and stopped my car some distance behind the vehicle. After informing the dispatcher that I had the car stopped, I drew my gun and waited for backup. About a minute later Rocky arrived to assist me.

We began to call each person out of the car at gunpoint, one at a time. Rocky interviewed each person. In the meantime our sergeant arrived with an off-duty officer who, it turned out, had been assaulted only verbally by two of the men in the blue car. Ben was uninjured and was still at the store interviewing witnesses.

The four men were arrested. Inside their car was a semiautomatic assault rifle and several boxes of ammunition. Later we discovered that the rifle had been modified to function like a machine gun. We also learned that one of the men arrested was a gang member with a long history of violence, especially against the police.

After our police reports were finished, we conducted a debriefing, during which I recounted the events as I remembered them. I told the others I had heard that the people in the blue car had assaulted a police officer. The room grew quiet for a moment, and then the sergeant said that no one on any of the radio frequencies had said anything about a police officer being assaulted. I looked around the room, and all agreed that no one had said anything about an officer being assaulted. I told them I had definitely heard someone report it.

Ultimately I concluded that the Holy Ghost had spoken to me in such a way that I would listen at a critical time. Had I not heard that an officer had been assaulted, I might have been less cautious—and I might even have lost my life.

I am deeply grateful for the voice of inspiration that put me on alert that day.

Joel Fairfield is a member of the Stevensville First Ward, Stevensville Montana Stake.

The Lord’s Mathematics

My wife and I tearfully opened the letter containing our mission call. We had been planning for many years to serve a mission together. Now we were delighted to find we were called to the New Zealand Auckland Mission, where I had served 45 years earlier as a young missionary. Memories of those wonderful years flooded my mind.

One day during my first mission, my companion, Elder Gordon Gallup, and I walked along a rural road late in the day when there was little traffic. It seemed no one wanted to give a ride to two tired elders. We knelt and asked the Lord to help us get a ride.

Almost immediately a pickup truck stopped. The driver, Sam Potaka, lived close to Taihape, our destination. When we reached his village, Utiku, he invited us to stay for dinner at his house. We held a wonderful missionary discussion with his family, and in due time Sam’s wife, mother-in-law, two married daughters, one married son, and their families gained testimonies and joined the Church. Later two other sons were also converted. The conversion of this wonderful family was a highlight of my mission.

Forty-five years later, my wife and I wondered if any of those I had taught would still be alive. Would we be able to find them? Would they be active in the Church?

Soon after we arrived in New Zealand, we found more than 100 descendants of Sam Potaka, including children, grandchildren, and their families. Most had remained active in the Church. Many had become leaders in their stakes and wards and had sent their children and grandchildren on missions.

One of Sam Potaka’s daughters, Una Tsaclis, had become a family history expert. She had researched hundreds of ancestors, including her husband’s Greek progenitors. Because there are few members of the Church in Greece, her family history work was unique.

My wife and I were invited to go to the New Zealand temple with Una and other family members to perform sealings for their ancestors. It was an unforgettable temple experience. We realized that not only had many family members joined the Church because a good man listened to the Spirit and gave a ride to two missionaries, but now those family members and their children were performing temple ordinances for hundreds of Greek and Maori ancestors who had passed away without the opportunity of hearing the gospel. The Lord’s mathematics multiplies the opportunities to share and accept the gospel both in this life and after death.

Never before had Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 [D&C 64:33] meant so much: “Wherefore, 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.”

Richard J. Anderson is a member of the Florence Ward, Coos Bay Oregon Stake.

Help from Heaven

The patient was tall, good-looking, and dressed in white, and he looked into my eyes without uttering a word. I had come to pick up his prescription so I could go buy his medication.

Just then a nurse, also dressed in white, appeared and held out a piece of paper to me. It seemed to be a medical history.

“Is this his file number?” I asked.

She did not reply but merely turned the sheet over. There on the back was a number: 12.830.

This incident would not be remarkable in any way if it were not for the fact that this particular patient had died more than a year before, on 7 April 1990. He was my younger brother, Carlos Hugo, and I was only dreaming.

I awoke at 4:00 A.M. and immediately wrote down the number. That same day I got up early and told my daughter Ana about the dream. I showed her the number, and she said it looked like a date, not a number on a medical file. A light went on in my mind. This dream had to have something to do with the family history information I was looking for on my paternal grandmother. For 10 years I had tried to find my father’s birth certificate. With no success, I had turned my efforts toward locating information on his mother.

When I had the dream, I had intended to return to the historical archives in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, to see if researchers had found any information that might be useful to me. I had asked them to search the years between 1925 and 1932. But before going to the archives, I felt a strong prompting to visit the Godoy Cruz cemetery.

By 8:00 A.M. that same morning, I was asking Mr. Paz, an employee at the cemetery, if he would do me the favor of using that date to look through his records for any information on the death of my grandmother, Margarita Flores. As he leafed through the old worn books, I prayed silently and fervently.

Suddenly I heard him say, “Well, are you ever lucky! This is where your grandmother is buried.” He wrote out a document so stating, signed it, affixed a seal to it, and then kindly went with me to sector H, where I saw a small brass plate that read, “Margarita Flores. Died 12/8/1930”—the same date I had seen in my dream.

I was not yet born when my grandmother died. But more than 60 years after her death, I was able to find the place where she was buried.

I next went to the archives to see if they had found anything relating to my grandmother. “Negative,” said the man who waited on me. I handed him the certificate Mr. Paz had given me at the cemetery, and five minutes later I was holding a photocopy of my grandmother’s death certificate in my hands. Using this information, I was eventually able to locate my father’s birth certificate and the names of my great-grandparents.

In His infinite mercy, our loving Heavenly Father had made it possible for necessary information to be communicated to me. I immediately sent all the data I had obtained to the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple so that vicarious ordinances could be performed.

I know I have much more to do. But I also know that when our minds and hearts are willing and when we make the effort, we receive help from heaven. One day there will be a glorious resurrection, and with all my being I desire to find myself united with my loved ones.

Ceferina Dora Flores is a member of the Godoy Cruz Centro Ward, Godoy Cruz Argentina Stake.

No Trespassing

It was almost the end of the month, and I had visited every sister on my new visiting teaching list except one. I’d never met Joan (name has been changed). She did not attend church, and in the recent past, she had not wanted to have contact with the Church.

I had made many phone calls to her home throughout the month, but they were always greeted by her answering machine, no matter what time I called. I left several voice messages, introducing myself as her new visiting teacher, telling her I was looking forward to meeting her, and asking her to return my call. But Joan never called back.

With only a few days left in the month, I decided to drop by Joan’s home unannounced with a plate of muffins. But as I drove up and down the busy highway near her street, I realized that none of the numbers on the houses matched the address I had been given for her. I became increasingly frustrated, thinking, “Why am I doing this? She probably won’t even be home, and if I leave the muffins on her porch, some dog will most likely eat them.” Finally I checked my ward directory and discovered that Joan’s address on my visiting teaching list was incorrect. With the correct address, I found the home within minutes.

Armed with my muffins, I walked toward Joan’s house. I hesitated when I saw a big No Trespassing sign but cautiously continued toward her porch. I rang the doorbell two times. No answer. Thinking, “Well, at least I tried,” I left the muffins and my note near Joan’s front door.

That evening at dinner, I mentioned to my family my apparently wasted hour attempting to reach this faceless, voiceless, impossible-to-contact sister. During the meal the phone rang. Contrary to our mealtime practice, I answered it. The woman on the phone identified herself as Joan. Suddenly feeling as though I had been reunited with a friend, rather than the stranger she was, I whooped, “Joan! I’ve wanted to hear your voice for so long! I’m so excited you’ve called!”

Joan explained that she hadn’t returned my calls because of recent turmoil in her life. She continued, “Today I was at the courthouse, feeling defeated and humiliated as I stood in front of the judge and my estranged husband. When I drove home, I prayed, ‘God, I feel so worthless and unloved.’ Sobbing, I asked, ‘If You love me, please show me.’

“When I reached home, there before my eyes, as though a miracle from God, was a plate of muffins and a note saying, ‘I’m thinking of you. Love, your visiting teacher.’ It was as if God were saying to me that He loved me. I just wanted you to know that I know God used you to answer my prayer today.”

Since that day Joan has become my friend. We have read the scriptures and prayed together, and she has joined me at church. She has been a gift to me, teaching me never to give up when serving the Lord.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robert A. McKay

Linda Marx Terry is a member of the Sinclair View Ward, Bremerton Washington Stake.