After having been baptized in San Leandro, California, at age 20, and after two semesters at Brigham Young University, I was sitting on a transatlantic flight in the spring of 1977 bound for Copenhagen. I was going home for the summer to earn money for the next semesters at BYU. So I thought!
During the long flight I made the attempt to sleep, so I would be rested to meet my family – now as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rest would not come. I kept hearing the voice of the prophet, President Kimball at the time, saying: “Every worthy young man should fill a mission.”.
“I am too old”, I kept convincing myself, “…I will be 22 by the time I can go, three years older than most Elders going on missions.” I kept hearing President Kimball, almost as if he sat right next to me. He kept me awake and I could not ignore him.
Finally, for fear of not getting any sleep at all, I said to Heavenly Father: “OK then, if you will inspire someone to ask me to go on a mission – then I will go.” That did it, I fell asleep and slept until the plane landed, no longer thinking of what I had promised the Lord or President Kimball.
Only four days after arriving in Northern Denmark, I found myself attending church in the Aalborg Branch. I did not know anyone there. Immediately following the sacrament meeting, the branch president, Johannes Vestbø, came straight to me and said: “I do not know you, but dressed in a white shirt and a suit you look like a member of the Church. Are you a member?” This I could confirm, and he continued: “Can I invite you to my office, so I can get to know you better?” Our meeting must have lasted only ten to fifteen minutes. Even after the first few minutes he said: “This is very strange, although I do not know you, I have the strongest feeling that the Lord is telling me to ask you if you will go on a mission. Will you do that?”
The spirit increased and tears started flowing for both of us as I remembered and shared my promise to the Lord only four days earlier. I knew what I had to do – follow the voice of the living prophet. Soon after, my mission papers were submitted, and instead of returning to BYU, the money earned that summer went to my mission, serving in the England London Mission, from November that same year.
As we begin this new year and set our personal goals for the 2019 Area Plan, with the top one being “Follow the Prophet”, I know from personal experience, that this will bring the greatest blessings in life. Following the living prophet in all he counsels us to do, “will strengthen (our) faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
The living prophet is the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth. “A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior.” As stated in 3 Nephi 20:24, “…all the prophets …have testified of (Christ).” The Prophet will speak eternal truths to us and will give us sound counsel. “Every time I have listened to the counsel of prophets, (and) felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety.” The prophet will encourage us to follow the commandments, which lead to happiness, peace, and eternal life.
For four decades now, I have chosen to Follow the Living Prophets. Innumerable blessings have come to not just me but my whole family from making that decision of following the prophet in 1977. I challenge us all to set personal goals and make commitments to follow the prophet, whereby we can obtain immeasurable blessings, both in this life, and the life to come.