My Home Teacher’s Blessing

By Deris Jan Stokes

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    In August 1976, at the age of twenty-six and coming from a non-member family, I received a blessing from my home teacher which in a few short months was to be staggeringly fulfilled. At that time, although my faith was strong, I was, nevertheless, carrying a burden. I had recently experienced profound trials of a personal nature. Also, I deeply longed for an eternal and righteous companion. I wanted a husband who could share both my spiritual and academic interests, but I believed that I would not find such a man in Tasmania, since there are few members of the Church here.

    So I made plans to visit the USA at the end of the year. These plans and my personal crisis I discussed fully with my home teacher, Brother J. E. Prebble. We decided that together we would fast, and then he would give me a blessing. In that blessing he told me that I would journey to the USA later that year and that within three months of leaving I would meet my eternal companion, that he would need me to enable him to perform his function correctly as a priesthood holder, that not everything would happen quite as I had expected it to—though it would happen in the Lord’s way and in the Lord’s time, and that while I was away I would visit the temple and receive my endowments.

    We were both astonished at the specific details, but utterly sure by the witness of the Spirit that God was giving me this understanding of my future.

    In early December when I left, many of my friends, including my wonderful home teacher, Brother Prebble, came to the airport to see me off. He took me aside and told me he had a dream in which he had seen “him”—a kind of short, blue-eyed, fellow with ginger-colored hair. I boarded that plane with both anticipation and trepidation.

    During my first weeks in the United States, I celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday by receiving my endowments, a beautiful and sustaining experience. But my three months were disappearing. By the end of January, there was still no sign of “him.” Because of a domestic crisis and health problems, I had to return to Tasmania in mid-February. I was overjoyed at returning home (I had been fearfully homesick) but bitterly disappointed for other reasons. I came very close to doubting God and my own worthiness.

    When I arrived home I sought help from Heavenly Father about future plans. Because of a recent substantial hearing loss I could no longer teach. I decided to enroll in the law school. Classes began in early March.

    My first day at the law school I was examining a class listing with one of the secretaries when a rather brash, scruffy, bearded fellow approached us and told me brusquely just which class I was meant to be in—his. Before following him to class, I whispered to the secretary, “Who on earth is that?” “It’s Mr. Stokes, one of the lecturers she replied. As I was sitting in that first class, an incredible thought occurred to me. This man was small, blue-eyed, with ginger-colored hair and our academic interests had at least brought us into the same room, if not quite together! I said, “Surely this can’t be him. He’s not even a member, and he seems far too set in his ways; besides, I told myself, academic types don’t readily join the Church.”

    Michael Stokes asked me out approximately a week later. I made some excuse. The next time he didn’t ask. He told me I was joining him for lunch, and I found myself accepting! I soon learned just what an extraordinary person he was—unfailingly kind and compassionate, exceptionally gifted, a former Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University in England with impressive degrees in law from Oxford University, and a first-rate sportsman. But still, he wasn’t a member.

    Two months later, after receiving confirmation from the Spirit, we were married. Another two months elapsed, and he joined the Church. Later we were sealed in the New Zealand Temple for time and all eternity. We have been blessed with two beautiful daughters. When I checked, I realized that we had met two months, three weeks, and six days from the time I had left for the United States. I know that most marriages between members and non-members do not generally result in the non-member joining the Church. But some do—and I suppose the only sure guide is to follow the Spirit. In my case, that surely was the answer. Heavenly Father does fulfill his promises—but in his time and in his way.