“You Were My Anchor,” Ensign, July 1999, 59–60
Over 40 years ago, I was a student at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine when I was called to serve in the bishopric of a new ward in Davis, California. I had been in the bishopric for only a short time when we held a stake conference in Sacramento, California. At that time, there was no stake center large enough to hold the conference, so it was held in a rented conference center. Attendance at the general priesthood meeting on Saturday evening was tremendous, and the large conference room was nearly filled.
One of the speakers that evening was a young man I had never met before, but I think his name was Brother Hamilton. He had been less active for some time and just recently had made a commitment to become active again. He spoke of an experience that had made him want to return to the Church.
Excited with my new calling and the opportunity to serve in a bishopric, I felt a special interest in Brother Hamilton’s story and listened intently to what he said. His nervousness in speaking to such a large group was evident, and he stumbled at times, struggling to say what was in his heart. When I noticed him glancing repeatedly toward the area where I sat, I thought he must be directing some of his remarks to a friend or relative. I began to feel a special kinship with this young man speaking, and I prayed silently for him to be able to express himself as he desired.
Brother Hamilton’s nervousness lessened as he continued his talk, and he closed with a strong and moving testimony. I am sure everyone present was uplifted by his story and the sincerity of his presentation.
On Sunday when I entered the large conference room with my wife, I saw Brother Hamilton coming in with his wife. I went over to him and said, “Brother Hamilton, that was a wonderful talk you gave last night. I want to thank you for it.”
To my amazement, he didn’t answer me but turned to his wife and said excitedly, “That’s him! That’s him! That’s the man I told you about last night.” Then turning back to me he said, “I want to thank you. You were my anchor last night. I don’t think I would have made it through the talk without you.”
I have never seen Brother Hamilton since that day, yet the impact of this simple experience has been with me through the more than 40 intervening years. There were likely several bishoprics, home teachers, and other members who spent countless hours working with that young man to bring him back into activity. Realizing that I helped support him in his activity by listening intently and praying for him was very rewarding to me. Brother Hamilton showed me, in a very positive way, that we should actively listen to our brothers and sisters who stand before us and testify of the gospel. We may never know the impact our response might have.