During my years in the military, it was sometimes a challenge to find a Latter-day Saint chapel. With little notice, I could find myself in a new city or even a new country.
One Sunday I found myself in Amsterdam, Holland. At 8:30 a.m. our colonel unexpectedly announced that we had the day off. Already in uniform, I convinced a friend to drop me off at church. In his rental car, we had the following conversation:
Friend: “So where is your church?”
Me: “I don’t know because I’ve never been to this city before. But if you can get us to the city center by quarter to nine, we can find it.”
Friend: “Why? What happens at quarter to nine?”
Me: “That’s when we’ll see the Mormon missionaries heading to the chapel.”
Friend: “I thought you said you’ve never been here before?”
Me: “I haven’t.”
Friend: “So how do you know there’s a chapel here?”
Me: “There’s a chapel here all right and Mormon missionaries.”
Friend: “OK, here we are in the city center. It’s quarter to nine, and I don’t see any missionaries.”
Me: “There they are.”
Friend: “Where? You mean those small figures way up there crossing the street? We can’t even see who they are from here.”
When we caught up to the missionaries, I jumped out of the car and had an animated conversation with them, shaking hands, cracking jokes, laughing, and smiling.
Me: “Thanks for dropping me off.”
Friend: “I thought you said you didn’t know those guys?”
Me: “I don’t. We just met.”
Friend: “People don’t talk like that unless they already know each other.”
Me: “I’ll explain later.”
Friend: “I’m not sure I can find this place again, and you haven’t told me what time to pick you up.”
Me: “The meetings will last three hours. Then a family will invite me to dinner. After we eat and talk a while, they’ll drive me back to headquarters.”
Friend: “You don’t know that someone is going to invite you to dinner and drive you back.”
I reassured him that I would be well taken care of and thanked him again.
The meetings were inspiring. I accepted the first of three invitations to dinner. During dinner we had an enlightening conversation about the growth of the Church in Holland.
I have been blessed to find Church members many times during my life. Sometimes we have met in royal palaces and sometimes in humble huts. Sometimes we have met in abandoned, dusty barracks. Sometimes we have met in hospital chapels. Sometimes we have met in large tents or outside under the open sky.
Wherever we have met, I am always glad I made the effort to find the Church. For as the Lord has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).