The excitement and anticipation were almost unbearable as I and 77 other American students boarded our flight to Frankfurt. We were on our way to spend a month in Nuremberg, West Germany. We would be attending a German high school (Gymnasium) and traveling within Germany. Most exciting of all was knowing that 78 German families, as nervous and excited as we were, anxiously awaited our arrival. I wished desperately that the New York to Frankfurt flight could be made in less than eight hours!
With my hand luggage held high to avoid any collisions, I made my way to the back of the plane, where I found my seat on the next to the last row. I quickly stowed my bags into the overhead compartment and plopped into my seat with a sigh. I found myself sitting next to a delightful lady from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who had moved from Germany 18 years previous. She was going to Munich to visit family. We conversed partly in German, partly in English, until our dinner was served.
As we ate, I asked her what Germans usually drink at mealtime.
“Beer or wine,” was her immediate response.
“Oh,” I said. “I don’t drink alcohol.”
“You’ll learn to, once you’re there,” she said with a chuckle.
“But, it’s against my religion,” I replied.
“Are you Mormon?”
“Yes, I am. Do you know any Mormons?” I queried, hoping to start a discussion.
“Well, some young men came to our house one time.”
“Missionaries?” I asked.
“They wore white shirts and dark suits.”
“Yes, missionaries,” I assured her.
“They were very kind,” she said.
“What do you know about them?”
“Well, they pay their own way, and they cannot have girl friends. Is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” I replied.
Soon she was asking questions, and I was thoroughly absorbed in answering them. Our dinner plates were taken away, the lights were dimmed, and a movie projected onto the screen. Neither of us seemed to mind that we were missing it, and we continued our conversation in earnest.
Very quickly, it seemed, we were discussing tithing, eternal marriage, ordinances for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, and other gospel principles. She did not question anything I told her. She simply nodded. When I had finished one subject, she asked a question about another.
Her questions inevitably led to the Book of Mormon. I found myself telling her about the Nephites and the Lamanites and explaining with pride about the important role Moroni played concerning the Book of Mormon. All this led into the Joseph Smith story. I felt so warm inside, knowing that I was sharing truth with her.
After an hour or more I had finished answering her questions, and she didn’t seem to have another one just then. I sat back for a moment and felt overwhelmed with what had just happened to me. I silently thanked my Father in Heaven for letting me be in that seat at that time and especially for helping me know what to say.
Not wanting to simply end things where they were, I offered a copy of the Book of Mormon, feeling sure she would accept. But she didn’t. She said simply “No, thank you.” It took a second for her reply to sink in, but when it did, I was crushed. However, she continued, “I have a very hard time reading English and would not be able to understand most of it.”
Excitedly, I reached into my bag and pulled out a blue book, which I handed to her. “Das Buch Mormon” it read. “Here it is in German,” I said, trying not to sound as triumphant as I felt. Obviously very surprised, she thanked me and leafed through it. “Oh, and here’s a special promise to readers,” I exclaimed, pointing out Moroni 10:3–5.
After a few minutes’ silence she said, “I’ll read a little bit of it and then give it back to you before the flight is over.”
“Oh, but it’s for you to keep,” I quickly stated. “I have my own.” Her eyes shining, she thanked me and began to read. Not long after that, she gave me her address so I could have the missionaries sent to her.
With a prayer of gratitude, I opened my journal and began to write down the experience I could hardly believe had happened. Before I realized it, the flight was over. As I said good-bye to my friend, she thanked me again.
When I returned from Germany, I sent her address to the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission. I haven’t heard if she has joined the Church, but I feel confident that someday she will.
A short time after my trip, as I was preparing a talk, I came across Doctrine and Covenants 100:4–8 [D&C 100:4–8]. Though it was originally directed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, I feel it was written for me too. It has helped me to realize the importance of being where we should be, doing what we should do, and listening to our Father in Heaven through the Holy Ghost.
“Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.
“Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
“For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
“But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
“And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.”
I can hardly wait to be in the next right place at the next right time, wherever and whenever Heavenly Father needs me.