This article is a personal story, opinion, or testimony. Please see Category:Personal Testimonies for more information about writing and editing these articles.
I have experienced many miracles during my life, but one stands out as the most memorable time during my service as a Mormon missionary in France and Switzerland. Late in 1961, I was transferred from Perpignan to join a new missionary district being formed in Marseille. Called the “Motivators,” our job was to show the missionaries in the other two Marseille districts how to bring a larger number of people into the Church. Statistically, we were among the top baptizing missionaries. I was still a junior companion, as was one other elder. All the other Mormon missionaries of the new district were not only seniors, but had all been supervising elders (now called district leaders), gathered together for the express purpose of forming a kind of “super” district.
The program met with quite a bit of success. When we arrived in Marseille, there were 63 members. When we left again a few months later, there were 141. Baptisms continued in the area long after our departure and, by the time I left the mission field two years later, there were over 500 members there, with about 80% of them attending meetings. A chapel was then under construction.
Ours was not the only district to have success in Marseille. All three districts were doing better than ever before. We usually had baptismal services two to three nights a week and sometimes as many as four nights in a single week. Spirits were high and I can truly say that it was one of the most enjoyable times of my entire mission.
One morning, as my companion and I sat eating breakfast, I decided to tell him of a very realistic dream I had had during the night. I dreamt that I had been transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, and made a senior companion. It was an unlikely event, since I had been in the mission a shorter time than most when they were made seniors.
Elder Brown then told me of his very unusual dream. That same night, he had also dreamt that I had been transferred to Geneva and made a senior companion. But, in his dream, he was also transferred to Geneva and received a new junior companion, Elder Frank H. Brea, whom he had known in Dijon, where Elder Brown had been supervising elder. This was an even more unlikely event. It was not the practice of our mission president to transfer both missionaries simultaneously. One was always left behind to follow through on contacts with his new companion. Our last report had indicated that we had, I believe, some nineteen people committed to baptism for the period of the next month. It would certainly be folly, we thought, for the president to transfer both of us under such circumstances.
But before we left to go tracting that morning, two express (special delivery) letters arrived from mission headquarters, one for each of us. Mine informed me of my transfer to Geneva and my appointment as a senior companion. Elder Brown was also transferred to Geneva and assigned a new junior companion, Elder Frank H. Brea.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would have been quite upset by the transfer of the two of us simultaneously. There is no doubt in my mind that my stubborn and what I consider “logical” nature would have prompted me to telephone the mission president and tell him what a big mistake he was making. Had it not been that the Lord had warned me of the move in advance, by means of a prophetic dream confirmed by my companion’s similar prophetic dream, I would have attributed the mission president’s action to human folly. As it was, I could but acknowledge that it was the Lord’s will.
After a morning of tracting, we arrived at the lunch spot where our entire district frequently met to eat and to report on our progress and schedule baptismal interviews. It was like walking into a hornet’s nest. Contrary to all that we considered wise and logical, the entire district (with two exceptions) had received letters transferring them to Geneva. Some of the other missionaries were also ready to call the mission president and tell him what a big mistake he was making. It was only after hearing of our dreams that they, too, realized that the seemingly impossible situation was from the Lord.
I learned a great lesson that day. The Lord taught me that I should not judge the actions of his chosen leaders by human standards. We mortals are not always capable of knowing the reasons for the Lord’s actions. It is for this reason that he asks us to live by faith.
As a footnote, the reader will be interested to know that the missionaries who replaced us—being transferred en masse as a district from Geneva to Marseille—succeeded in bringing most of our good contacts into the Church. It was just the boost in morale that they needed after many months of relatively unsuccessful work elsewhere. So, while we did not get the official “credit” for these baptisms, we had the great pleasure of knowing that the seeds we had planted grew to maturity.