The Lord’s Mathematics
February 2004

“The Lord’s Mathematics,” Ensign, Feb. 2004, 67–68

The Lord’s Mathematics

My wife and I tearfully opened the letter containing our mission call. We had been planning for many years to serve a mission together. Now we were delighted to find we were called to the New Zealand Auckland Mission, where I had served 45 years earlier as a young missionary. Memories of those wonderful years flooded my mind.

One day during my first mission, my companion, Elder Gordon Gallup, and I walked along a rural road late in the day when there was little traffic. It seemed no one wanted to give a ride to two tired elders. We knelt and asked the Lord to help us get a ride.

Almost immediately a pickup truck stopped. The driver, Sam Potaka, lived close to Taihape, our destination. When we reached his village, Utiku, he invited us to stay for dinner at his house. We held a wonderful missionary discussion with his family, and in due time Sam’s wife, mother-in-law, two married daughters, one married son, and their families gained testimonies and joined the Church. Later two other sons were also converted. The conversion of this wonderful family was a highlight of my mission.

Forty-five years later, my wife and I wondered if any of those I had taught would still be alive. Would we be able to find them? Would they be active in the Church?

Soon after we arrived in New Zealand, we found more than 100 descendants of Sam Potaka, including children, grandchildren, and their families. Most had remained active in the Church. Many had become leaders in their stakes and wards and had sent their children and grandchildren on missions.

One of Sam Potaka’s daughters, Una Tsaclis, had become a family history expert. She had researched hundreds of ancestors, including her husband’s Greek progenitors. Because there are few members of the Church in Greece, her family history work was unique.

My wife and I were invited to go to the New Zealand temple with Una and other family members to perform sealings for their ancestors. It was an unforgettable temple experience. We realized that not only had many family members joined the Church because a good man listened to the Spirit and gave a ride to two missionaries, but now those family members and their children were performing temple ordinances for hundreds of Greek and Maori ancestors who had passed away without the opportunity of hearing the gospel. The Lord’s mathematics multiplies the opportunities to share and accept the gospel both in this life and after death.

Never before had Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 meant so much: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

  • Richard J. Anderson is a member of the Florence Ward, Coos Bay Oregon Stake.