“God Be with You …” Liahona, Apr. 1997, 17
When Thor and Solvor Torgersen of Hosle, Norway, traveled to the United States on a business assignment in November 1993, they planned to take a short vacation before returning home. Although they were not members of the Church, one of the three places they planned to visit was Salt Lake City to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
After their visits to the other two places, their vacation time was almost over. “But something kept telling me that we needed to go to Salt Lake City before we went home,” says Solvor.
Acting on the misunderstanding that the Tabernacle Choir rehearsed on Friday nights, the Torgersens flew to Salt Lake City on a Friday evening—their last night in the United States. As soon as they reached Salt Lake City, Thor recalls, “We quickly rented a car and drove to Temple Square. We hurried to the Tabernacle, but there was no one there.” The door was locked!
“It was late,” Thor says, “but we started knocking—actually, we started banging on the door. For some reason, we felt we had to get inside.”
Fortunately, someone was inside the Tabernacle and heard the persistent banging. A Temple Square missionary, Elder Wilmer Taylor, kindly invited the Torgersens in and showed them around the very quiet Tabernacle. He also informed them that the Choir rehearses on Thursdays, not Fridays.
“We can’t wait until next Thursday!” Solvor pleaded. “Our plane leaves for Norway tomorrow, and we have come all this way just to hear the Choir!”
Not knowing how to solve this problem, Elder Taylor suggested that the Torgersens return the next morning, and he would rearrange his schedule to take them on a tour of Temple Square.
So that crisp fall morning, Solvor and Thor heard for the first time about the temple, the pioneers, Moroni, and the Book of Mormon.
At the conclusion of the tour, they visited the Tabernacle again and heard more about the historic building. Just as they were about to leave, a Choir recording began to play. “It was as though I had been hit on the shoulders at that very moment,” Solvor recalls. “I sat down and started crying. I couldn’t stop. Thor tried to attribute my strange behavior to being overcome by beautiful music, but I didn’t tell him what really happened, because I couldn’t speak. Elder Taylor simply said, ‘That was the Spirit.’
“I didn’t know the song the Choir was singing, but two thoughts kept crossing my mind—” Solvor continues, “first, I felt a deep desire to know what the members of this church had, and second, I felt a great longing to become a member of this church.”
As Solvor and Thor left the Tabernacle, they barely had time to catch their 11:00 A.M. flight. But as they were hurrying to leave, Elder Taylor asked, “Would you like missionaries to come to your home?”
Solvor and Thor’s answer was an immediate “yes.” They left their address with the missionaries and walked away from an experience they could not yet understand.
They returned home full of questions and started to read some of the literature given them in Salt Lake City—a Book of Mormon, some missionary pamphlets, and a copy of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Eager to know more, they called the Church in Oslo. On 10 January 1994, two elders knocked at their door.
On that first visit, Elders Landon Wright and Kurt Elison answered many of Solvor and Thor’s questions. Many visits followed. Thor and Solvor listened, and their hearts were touched as they learned gospel truths. They had some concern when they learned about the First Vision. “I wondered about Joseph Smith,” Solvor said. “At first I thought it was a strange story, but then I realized it wasn’t strange at all.
“I remembered a long night 35 years earlier—just before I gave birth to my first child. During a sacred experience that night, I was told that my baby would stay with me for only a short while—that he would soon be taken back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. I was devastated and prayed that it would not be true. But in the morning my child was born with severe medical problems, and the doctors confirmed what I had been told. I will never forget the despair I felt.”
After reliving that experience, Solvor thought again about the account of the First Vision and realized that what the elders had told them was true—that Joseph Smith had seen the Father and the Son and that they had spoken to him. “I believe now that my conversion actually began 35 years before we found the Church,” she says, “and that my child, lost to me so long ago, had been waiting for this moment.”
Before Easter, Solvor had made her decision to be baptized. When Thor was still reluctant to make a commitment, the elders asked him, “Can you give us one good reason for not being baptized with Solvor?”
“Solvor and I talked until 1:00 A.M. about my decision,” Thor remembers. “I felt I needed to be alone for a while, so I went out in the middle of the night and worked on my car. I worked—and I prayed. I prayed that it would become clear to me that this was the right way to go. After two long hours, I received the confirmation that I needed. I knew there was not one good reason that I should not be baptized with Solvor.”
Thor and Solvor were baptized on 17 April 1994. One year later, they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. Robert, the child lost to them 36 years before, was also sealed to them on that day. “I will never forget that moment,” says Solvor. “Robert was there in spirit—everyone in the room felt his presence.”
Solvor smiles as she recalls her feelings after her first visit to Salt Lake City. “When I walked on the grounds at Temple Square that cold November, I felt I was a whole new person. I came to Temple Square as a tourist, but I left as a Mormon. Elder Taylor said it was the Spirit that touched me that morning in the Tabernacle, and Thor said it was the music. They were both right! God knew what kind of instrument he should use to instruct me—it was the Choir!”
Solvor and Thor can now identify the music they first heard the Choir singing—“God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, number 152). Since that time, they have added many Tabernacle Choir recordings to their music library and have even heard the Choir in a live performance. But of all the glorious music in the Choir’s repertoire, none will ever touch their lives so profoundly as did that first sweet hymn of faith: “Till we meet at Jesus’ feet, … God be with you till we meet again.”