Saturday, October 5, 2013

Touching Story

Here is a really wonderful story to add to the Conference addresses. Please remember, God loves each of us, even though we are far away. The gospel is true world-wide!

Our and Heavenly Fathers Adrift Children
Missionary Moment: A Miraculous Missionary Transfer
By Mark Albright (Member of The LDS Church )

Dear Brother Albright,
As the mission president of the Fresno California Mission, my wife and I enjoyed many special experiences. We have been home now for almost two years. I wanted to share with your readers a wonderful miracle that we witnessed in California involving missionary transfers. This special experience clearly illustrates that the Lord is in charge of these wonderful  missionaries, including when and where they are assigned to labor.
Elder Peter Taufu* was from Tonga. He had been raised in the church in Tonga and his missionary assignment to the Fresno Mission was his first time in America. As I looked at the large transfer board in my office, showing each missionary's photo and other pertinent information to start planning for our next transfer, I prayed for the necessary inspiration to know where to place the over 180 missionaries under my stewardship. I worried and prayed about each transfer assignment. Like mission presidents everywhere, I carefully contemplated where each missionary should work, who their companion should be, the ward they would be working in, their health, their leadership assignments, whether they could be on a bike or in a car, etc.
The countless factors that are considered before each transfer, when multiplied by the almost 200 missionaries and their individual needs and talents, can sometimes be overwhelming. But I also realized that the most important factor to consider during the lengthy transfer planning process (which occurs every 6 weeks) is the whisperings of the Spirit. God knows where each missionary is needed more than the mission president. I eventually felt impressed to assign Elder Taufu to labor in the City of Patterson, California, a town of about 20,000 residents in Central California. Located about an hour south of Stockton along Route 5, it is known as the Apricot Capitol of the World.
Unbeknownst to me, Elder Taufu's sister, Leloni, some ten years earlier in Tonga, had fallen in love with a young Catholic man, married him, and moved to America. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that many Tongan families at the time did not have a computer or cell phone, the family eventually lost contact with their daughter, and had no idea where in America she was living.
Leloni was now pregnant and expecting a child in several weeks. The married couple's discussion turned to religion. They started to argue about which Christian religion their new child should attend--the Mormon Church or the Catholic Church. The husband then made a rather startling promise. He said to his wife: "If your brother knocks on my door, then I'll join the Mormon Church, and we'll raise our baby to be LDS!" Smugly confident that the argument was now finally over, he quickly dropped the issue. A day or two later, Elder Peter Taufu and his companion, Elder Adams, were knocking on doors in the City of Patterson. The door opened and there stood Elder Taufu’s older sister Leloni, who he had not seen in almost ten years. She looked at him carefully for a moment. She recognized something familiar in his face. She had seen this person somewhere before! She then quickly glanced down at his name tag to confirm what she already suspected--this handsome young missionary was her younger brother! Joy filled her countenance and she immediately rushed out to give her little brother a big bear hug!
Elder Adams didn't know what to do and just watched this joyful reunion, not knowing whether to run or laugh. The two missionaries were quickly invited inside and told of the promise Leloni's husband had made earlier in the week about joining the LDS Church.
Arrangements were soon made to teach her husband the restored gospel, and the discussions were taught and accepted. True to his word, as soon as he felt the Spirit confirm the truthfulness of the
gospel message, Leloni's husband was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.
This miraculous and happy story does not end there. His conversion was heartfelt and sincere. He did not convert solely due to his earlier promise about their unborn baby. After a year of faithful church attendance, this wonderful couple, together with their new baby, was sealed together as an eternal family in the Oakland, California Temple. I called the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City to obtain permission for Elder Peter Taufu to attend the Oakland Temple ceremony (the temple was located outside of our mission boundaries) and witness this special and sacred family event.
This special conversion was made possible by the Lord inspiring and directing the calling of Peter first to America, then to the Fresno, California Mission, and then to the City of Patterson. The missionaries were then inspired as to which neighborhood to visit. Such is the importance of serving a full-time mission and following the Spirit in all that we do and say. As we are taught in Alma 16:16, The Lord did pour out his Spirit to prepare the minds of the children of men, to prepare their hearts to receive the Word which should be taught among them that they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving. It was abundantly evident to our entire mission that the Lord has poured out his spirit on this sweet family and softened their hearts to prepare them to hear the gospel.
The statistical possibilities of this divine rendezvous occurring in Patterson are amazing. As I roughly calculated the numbers, even assuming the family knew their daughter was living somewhere in America, the odds were still well over 1 in 300,000,000 that Peter would be assigned from Tonga to  the very town and street where his missing sister was living. It was also a tender mercy that the elders knocked on Leloni’s door when she was at home, and immediately following her husbands promise about joining the LDS church if Peter knocked on their door! This true experience has, as Elder Gerald Lund calls it, God's divine signature written upon it, for this mission call and transfer were both clearly orchestrated in heaven, not by man. We shared this story with each arriving group of new missionaries, asdivine evidence that God knows each missionary and that their assignments were divinely inspired by a Prophet of God.

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