Whilst serving as Stake President in the Preston England Stake, one of the members in Lancaster, Brother Roy Ward, contacted me to say that he had lost his patriarchal blessing. He had gone through the appropriate channels and was told that there was no record of his blessing in the archives of the Church. He was distressed about this and approached me as his Priesthood leader to know if there was any way he could ever retrieve it. I was sympathetic, after all, they are a wonderful inspirational document relied upon for guidance and comfort. However, I was at a loss as to how to help him.
About a fortnight prior to his request, an elderly sister from the Preston Ward, Alice Hughes, was having her house cleared because she was moving permanently over to family in the United States. Her husband’s collection of books and Church memorabilia, such as a set of plates commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Church in Great Britain, were taken over to the Preston Chapel and were laid out in the library at the Preston Ward for members to take if they wished.
I noticed with interest in a large-sized black leather triple combination, that Brother Hughes’s bookmark was placed at the start of section 88 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which was designated by the Prophet Joseph as the 'Olive leaf...plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us.' It struck me how appropriate it was that the bookmark would be placed at that point in a patriarch's scriptures.
Some time later, when the house clearance was complete, I was passed a large grey three ring binder that had been lying in a cupboard for many years. It contained 18 patriarchal blessings pronounced by her husband, Ronald, who was the first Preston England Stake Patriarch. Sadly, he had passed away before submitting them so they lay forgotten about in that cupboard for many years. I checked through them and lo and behold, not only Roy's blessings were among them, but his wife's was there as well! I scanned them and forwarded them to him. He called me to express what a joy this was! He thought they had been lost forever, but here it was to his utter amazement, joy and relief. After checking that no-one else's blessings currently in the stake were there, I submitted them to Church headquarters.
When I think about the timing of this, coinciding with Sister Hughes’ move, I came to the conclusion that the Lord had been aware of Roy's prayers and pleadings and intervened on his behalf for his blessing to be brought to light.
I found this experience to be one of those uplifting moments during my time as Stake President.