Paying a Debt


One night in 1970 fifteen-year-old Dan Ecklund rang the doorbell of the mission home in Zurich, Switzerland. When President M. Elmer Christensen opened the door, Dan said he wanted to talk with someone who could tell him about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dan and his family had been living in the Congo in Africa and were on their way back to the United States. For eighteen years his father and mother had been serving as Protestant missionaries in the Congo, where all seven of their children had been born. They had not been happy when Dan became interested in another church while on a vacation in South Africa and asked their permission to be baptized. However, Dan was so convinced that the new Church was true that finally his parents consented and Dan was baptized.

Since the mission president in Zurich had supervision over any members in the Congo, Dan had written to ask President Christensen to send him some books to study. He had persuaded his father to stop in Zurich on their way to the United States so he could ask President Christensen to explain some things he did not understand.

While the rest of the Ecklund family talked with Sister Christensen, Dan went into President Christensen’s office, where they sat down and quietly discussed some of his questions.

Before Dan stood up to leave, he opened his wallet and took out a five-dollar bill in American money. He said that since he had become a member of the Church, he had earned forty-five dollars. This meant he owed four dollars and fifty cents tithing. The boy wanted to make a fifty-cent donation with the rest of the money.

President Christensen explained about fast offerings, and Dan quickly agreed that this was a good place for his fifty cents to go. So the mission president wrote out a receipt and handed it to the boy, who read it thoughtfully and then placed it in his wallet.

With shining eyes, he left the mission office and joined the rest of his family. Dan felt that at last he was truly a member of the Church he had learned to love.