“I Met a Prophet Once,” Ensign, June 1989, 68–69
“Would you accept Moses as a prophet of God if he lived today?” I asked.
“Why, yes,” answered my friend, “without any doubt!”
“What if he wore modern clothing and drove a car? What if he were a husband, a father, and a devoted citizen of the country in which he lived?”
“Moses would never have been like other men,” my friend replied. “He was Moses, the prophet—the man who communed with God!”
It did not occur to my friend that Moses had been much like the other men of his time. For my friend, it was inconceivable that a man who lived in modern times could be a mouthpiece for God—and could act and speak in his name.
“I met a prophet once,” I told my friend. “He was a highly respected businessman, a wonderful husband and father, a devoted American. Even though I was a child when I met him, I knew that he was a true prophet of God.”
The place was Hamburg, Germany—the year, 1937. President Heber J. Grant was touring the European missions. The branch of the Church to which my family belonged met in a rented hall in a soap factory, squeezed into a back alley of a thickly populated industrial district. Here, people from all the northern and western districts of Germany had assembled to see and hear the prophet speak.
A gifted poet in our branch had written a long poem for the occasion, and I had been chosen to greet President Grant and recite it. The night before the prophet’s visit, my mother came to my room to say good night. “Tomorrow you will shake hands with a prophet of God,” she said. “What a great privilege that is! I am sure it is because of your faith that you have been asked.”
I was glad it was dark in my room so my mother could not notice my despair. The minute she left my bedside, I prayed, begging my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins and help me be worthy to meet the prophet. My mother spent half the night at the sewing machine, finishing a lovely new dress for me to wear. Normally, this would have excited me tremendously, but not now. I felt that the prophet would be able to see into my heart, and that he would know of my sins and of how vain I was.
The next day seemed like a nightmare. Every time I looked at the clock, I panicked about how little time I had left to repent of all my misdeeds! I was very withdrawn, and my companions thought I was ill. I preferred their assumption to letting them know my secret.
Finally the hour arrived. Our meeting hall was beautifully decorated with gladiolas and tender greens. In the back, the choir sat on squeaky chairs beneath a picture of the Savior.
After President Grant was welcomed, I was to hand him a large bouquet of long-stemmed roses and then recite the poem with the aid of an interpreter.
The floor beneath me shook as I walked toward President Grant. With each breath, I had been praying. Now there was nothing I could do but go ahead.
When President Grant saw me, he rose from his chair. He seemed as tall as a mountain. His friendly eyes looked deeply into mine as he stretched forth his arms and pulled me toward him. My entire body went numb, and the bouquet dropped to the floor. President Grant bent down to retrieve the roses for me. Then he hugged me and stroked my head, waiting patiently until I was ready to begin.
Suddenly all my fear vanished, and I felt an indescribable happiness. I had always pictured my Father in Heaven as affectionate, calm, and unspeakably noble in gesture, and it was natural that his prophet would have all those qualities that were so dear to me. From then on, I knew that I would always be able to recognize a true prophet—by the love and concern he shows for our Heavenly Father’s children.