A few years ago, right before Christmas, I had a stake conference assignment in California. On the flight back to Utah, I decided to take a short nap. My seat was C, near the aisle. Just before the cabin door closed, a beautiful lady in her mid-70s stood beside me and said, “May I have my seat?” I said, “Yes, ma’am.” That was the end of my nap. She loved to talk.
She said, “I don’t know why I should have to fly to a cold place like Utah at Christmastime to visit my grandchildren. I hate to leave sunny California.”
She went on to say, “Besides, there are strange and weird people in Utah. They call themselves ‘Mormons.’ My daughter married one of them.”
I said, “I am sorry, but before you go any further, I should tell you that I am one of them.”
Then she said, “I am sorry—I didn’t mean that.”
I said, “Oh, you really meant that, didn’t you?”
Our conversation went on until we were above Provo. We knew we would soon be landing in Salt Lake.
“Patti”—that’s her name—“you have been talking for most of the flight. I feel like I have known you from the pre-earth life. Before we land in Salt Lake City, I’d like to ask you a few questions if I may.”1
I asked her sincerely,2 “Patti, your deceased husband—do you know you can see him again?”
She said, “Oh, is that possible?”
“Do you know your deceased son, Matt, who died as a baby—you will see him also in the future?”
Her eyes became moist, and her voice was shaking. The Spirit of the Lord touched her. I sensed she had missed them so much.
Then I prayerfully asked her, “Patti, do you know you have a loving and kind Heavenly Father, who loves you so dearly?”
She said, “Do I?”
“Patti, do you know your Heavenly Father has a special plan for you and that your family can be forever?”
“Can we?” she replied.
“Have you ever heard the plan before?”
She said, “No.”
Very sincerely I asked her, “Would you like to know about it?”
“Yes, I would,” she responded.
The Spirit of the Lord touched her deeply. And the Lord promises us, “For mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.”3
He also said: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep. … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”4
Nephi desired to see father Lehi’s dream—the tree of life5—and he did. Then Nephi also saw the beautiful baby Jesus.6 And the angel asked, “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?”7
Nephi replied, “Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.”8
Before we came to this earth, our Heavenly Father gently and peacefully placed in our bosoms “the love of God.” In Heavenly Father’s eyes, you are a very special child. My friend Patti has the spark of divinity in her soul. When Patti heard the word of Heavenly Father, she was touched deeply and she responded to His voice.
We were total strangers, but the Lord placed one of His precious daughters quietly next to me. I was praying earnestly, that the Spirit of the Lord would touch her and speak to her.
How can you and I share the beautiful message of the Lord Jesus Christ?
First, cultivate an awareness; bring others to a knowledge. President Gordon B. Hinckley teaches us: “Let there be cultivated an awareness in every member’s heart of his [or her] own potential for bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. … Let him pray with great earnestness about it. Let each member pray.”9
President Hinckley quotes the testimony of Alma:
“O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee . …
“Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious; … give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, … unto thee.”10
In the LDS Bible Dictionary it states, “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”11
Second, a good example is our best tool. President Hinckley taught us, “The most effective tract we will carry will be the goodness of our own lives.”12 As we live the gospel, we will be like a lighthouse on a hilltop,13 “the light” and “the salt of the earth.”14
We can partake of “the love of God,” “the tree of life,” and drink from “the fountain of living waters”15 daily by communing with our Holy Father, immersing ourselves in the scriptures, and meditation. Then the Lord will bless us to be more sensitive to speak to those souls which He has prepared for us.
Third, act at a time when you feel the Spirit. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught us: “The key to success in bringing souls unto Christ is to act at a time when you feel the Spirit and you sense that your friend does also. … Through our faith, our trust in the Lord, and our good works, we can bring many souls unto the Lord.”16
As we seek and pray in faith,17 the Lord will guide us, and His elect will soon embrace18 “the glad tidings of great joy,”19 to partake of the eternal and “infinite atonement”20 of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The missionaries taught Patti. Three weeks later, while she was staying in Utah, Patti called me: “Brother Kikuchi, this is Patti. I am going to be baptized. Would you come to my baptism services?”
My wife and I went to her baptism. Many members were kindly fellowshipping her. Oh, I shall never forget her joyful countenance as she came out of the water!
I shall never forget her sweet tears at the sacred altar in the Salt Lake Temple a year later. I remember her peaceful and celestial glow when she was sealed to her deceased husband and son and living daughter who had become a member of the Church. She now knows her family is forever in the Lord. My friend Patti Louise Donaldson found the Lord Jesus Christ. Now she lives in Utah.
My dear friends who are within the sound of my voice, you are a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. You were once in His holy presence. I know that your Heavenly Father has a special plan for you and your family to return to live with Him. Let’s go home. Let us prepare to go home to our Heavenly Father’s place.
We want to share with you your Heavenly Father’s love. You will find the love of God, which is “the most joyous”21 to your soul.
My dear brothers and sisters, I testify to you that Heavenly Father sent His Only Begotten Son and that Jesus Christ died for you and me. He said:
“How sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; …
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”22
He loves you. He knows you. He lives. In 1820 Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus, came to the boy Joseph and established His kingdom so that we may be able to go home. By now, can you hear “the voice of the good shepherd”?23 Your Savior is calling you. Come, come and partake of His love. He invites you, “Ye shall call upon me while I am near,” then He promises, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.”24
I know that He lives. I know that President Hinckley is our prophet. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.