A Family Gift


While working in the aircraft electronics shop at Ft. Lewis, Washington, I was in the habit of reading the classified ads in the Daily Bulletin. These ads often led to interesting bargains. Over the years they had provided us with the family car, a camping trailer, and various other items, both large and small. Little did I know that they would also provide us one of the greatest testimony-building experiences of our lives.

One day I came across an ad that said, “Guitar for sale. Contact Daniel Troxel.” Although I play the guitar, the ad itself was not what captured my attention. I already had a guitar. What did interest me was to see my surname (an uncommon one) in print. It was even spelled like mine. I decided that Daniel Troxel must be a relative, and so I made the first of what was to be many fruitless attempts to call and talk to him. He was on detail. He was in the field. He was on duty. He couldn’t be reached at that time. He was out. Would I please call back. It seemed that Daniel Troxel and I were not destined to meet. After several days of trying, I put the bulletin aside and forgot about Daniel Troxel.

Several weeks later I was surprised to see the same ad in the bulletin—“Guitar for sale. Contact Daniel Troxel.” With renewed enthusiasm I made another call and was again disappointed. But this time I was assured that if I would call later in the evening I would be sure to reach him as he was leaving the service and had to return to pick up his clothes. I carefully folded the bulletin and placed it in my pocket. When I arrived home that evening, I mentioned it to my wife for the first time. “Why don’t you call again now?” she said.

“All right,” I said. “Let’s try it one more time and see.” I called. There was a pause and a yell in the background for Troxel. He was there! I was elated. When he came to the phone, we talked of many things. I told him I was sure we were related. He agreed. He said it was lucky I called when I did because he had been discharged that very day and was leaving in the morning for his home in California. The only reason he was not leaving immediately was that a preacher was coming all the way from Alabama to speak and he just could not miss it. When I found that Daniel was interested in religion, I knew that I had to tell him about the true church.

“Daniel,” I said, “I have just got to talk to you. Can I meet you after your meeting?” I offered to pick him up, but he said he didn’t know how late his meeting would be. I let him know that I didn’t care how late his meeting was. I wanted to meet him and introduce him to my family. He must at least meet my lovely wife. He promised he would come to my house that evening no matter how late his meeting lasted. I gave him our address and explained carefully how to get there.

That evening the mealtime conversation was dominated by Daniel’s name. My wife became excited. Maybe we would convert Daniel. One thing was sure—Daniel Troxel would not leave our home without hearing our testimonies.

The evening slipped by—8:00, 9:00, 10:00. We began to become anxious, but at 10:30 the doorbell rang. My wife and I went to the door together. Sure enough, there was Daniel. He wore pinstriped bib overalls and radiated a simple country charm. He smiled broadly as we invited him in. We relaxed together around the fireplace, and the subject fell easily to religion as we discussed his meeting. He was greatly excited and talked enthusiastically of the preacher and the great religious revival he had just attended. There was a pause in our conversation, and I was moved to bear my testimony to him.

“Daniel,” I said, “you are here tonight because our Heavenly Father wanted you to be.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “I know that. If you hadn’t called exactly when you did we would never have met because today was my last day at the fort. I would already have been gone if it hadn’t been for the revival. Boy, you should have heard the speaker! He was really great!”

I agreed that he must have been, and then continued with my testimony. “Daniel, I want to tell you about the true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” As I spoke the Spirit seemed to fill the room.

Daniel’s expression changed. He looked surprised. “Are you a Mormon?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “My wife Barbara and I are both Mormons. As a matter of fact, our whole family is Mormon.”

Then it was our turn to be surprised. “I’m a Mormon too,” Daniel said. “I’m a deacon in the Church.”

We found as we talked that Daniel did not have a testimony of the Church. His mother often wrote to him about the Church, but he always answered that when he got home he would attend many churches. We talked into the wee hours. We bore our solemn testimonies in love and gratitude that he was with us. We knelt in prayer, and as we prayed, the Spirit brought tears to our eyes and deeper sincerity to my voice as we asked our Father’s Spirit to enlighten Daniel’s mind and turn his understanding to truth. We shook hands, and Daniel promised to pray and study.

A year passed, and then I received a letter from Daniel and his mother. Daniel wrote: “After I got home from the army, I went back to the Church. It’s the best thing I could have done. I am now an elder, and my testimony is growing strong. I’m grateful for my army experience and especially for that last day at Fort Lewis when we got together.”

His mother added: “Dan certainly thought highly of you, and you must have set him a good example, because he is now very active in the Church. He is an elder, and I expect them to send him on a mission soon.”

How wonderful it is! How much joy there is in sharing the gospel! If our joy can be this full in this life, how great shall it be in our Father’s kingdom? I am reminded of a scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 18, verses 15 and 16 [D&C 18:15–16]:

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Ronald Stucki