I Discovered the Reality of the Priesthood
June 1973

“I Discovered the Reality of the Priesthood,” New Era, June 1973, 16

Special Issue:
Missionary Work

I Discovered the Reality of the Priesthood

The air was biting cold and damp. The pungent odor of smoke from coal fires stung our nostrils as we breathed. The fog and the darkness of the evening made it difficult to see. It was a typical winter night in England.

I was a new missionary of two months. My companion and I were hurriedly riding our bicycles to a nearby town to meet the lady missionaries. On the telephone the sisters seemed anxious and concerned. A member in their area needed help.

Arriving as quickly as we could after the phone call, we accompanied the sisters to the member’s home. We knocked at the door and a woman answered, inviting us into a very small room with a fireplace at one end. In the dim light I could see the woman’s face. She had puffy cheeks and sad, tired, reddened eyes. Her eyelashes were wet and matted. More tears streaked her face as she gestured toward a small crib near the fireplace. Sobbing, the mother said, “My baby is sick. She can’t breathe and the doctor says she will die.” Bronchitis and pneumonia kill many babies during the harsh British winters.

The mother asked us to administer to the tiny, three-week-old baby. Tenderly she lifted the baby from its crib and held it gently and protectively in her arms. Tears fell from her eyes onto the clean linen in which the baby was wrapped. There was hardly enough room on the tiny head for my two comparatively large hands. As I placed my hands on her soft little head, I could feel the delicate tufts of hair.

It was the first time in my life that I had administered to a sick person. Somehow I managed the correct words. “Sonja Holbert, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood …” At that moment I could feel a surge of power within me. It was something unique and unusual. I knew without a doubt that I was acting as an instrument in the hands of Almighty God himself to heal that little baby.

This experience merged into others as the time went by until the memory of it was dimmed. Almost two years later near the end of my mission, I was assigned to work in the town where the mother and the little girl lived. As we tracted down a street, one of our contacts told us that a member of our church lived around the corner. We found the house and knocked at the door. English row houses look much the same, and I was not immediately aware that this was the same house I had visited nearly two years before. The woman invited us in. As we entered the same small room, a pair of bright, blue eyes stared up at me. I sat down in a chair, and a beautiful little girl climbed into my lap. As I patted the blond ringlets on her head, a flood of memories returned to me—the dreary night, the tearful mother, the infant gasping for every breath, and the unmistakable power of the priesthood. “Thank you, Father,” I murmured silently, “for the privilege of using that power to help this little girl.”

I was strengthened by this experience. I knew then the reality of what it meant to say, “I know that the priesthood has been restored in this day, and I bear testimony that God lives and loves us. I know great blessings can come to pass through righteous exercise of his priesthood.”

Photo by Paul Proctor