Cody Bell, photographer
My mom gave me a box of old pictures. One of the surprises in this box was my grandfather’s journals. Many entries are short and succinct and include simple things like the price of gasoline, bananas, or fish.
Along with his journals, the greatest treat was the careful records of the talks Grandpa gave in church.
After investigating for years, Grandpa joined the Church. He faithfully served and was stalwart and filled with integrity. Before we had stakes in Norway, he served as a counselor in the Young Men presidency for all of Norway. He was serving as a counselor in the Stockholm Sweden Temple presidency when he passed away in 1986.
My grandparents started dating before Grandpa joined the Church. Grandma told him she was unavailable on Sundays and several evenings during the week. At first he considered dating somebody else since she was so busy. Eventually she explained, “I’m a member of a church you’ve never heard of.”
Grandpa immediately replied, “Oh do you mean The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” Grandma was dumbfounded—she thought he had been stalking her! But he had heard of the Church before.
At 19, Grandpa was asked to help with the census because of his penmanship. When he asked a woman for her religion she said, “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It was the longest denomination name he had ever heard. The name stuck with him. When Grandma told him that she belonged to a church he most likely didn’t know, he already had the name in his memory.
In his talks, Grandpa shared his thoughts and feelings and the struggles he faced investigating the Church. He had to humble himself to pray about joining the Church. He received an answer and acted on it.
It is amazing to share Grandpa’s firsthand accounts with my wife and children. They’ve never met him, but his words are reaching them 30 years after his death.