Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE

Last night we had four marvelous missionaries for dinner.  The Spirit filled our home as they happily enjoyed the delicious Vegetarian Chili that we served, (recipe below) and talked and talked.

One elder is within his first month of leaving home, the others more seasoned. We talked about their families and their years of missionary preparation in early-morning Seminary as high school students, which is now an online option.  We talked about their marvelous intense training for three weeks at the MTC in Provo. My husband shared that he had had only three days of training at a mission home in Salt Lake City before being sent out nearly fifty years ago, and how the earliest missionaries had no training at all!  We talked about how missionaries will now receive their calls by email and about their internet service on Facebook.  My, how that has changed!

We talked about the online programs that take a missionary’s email and turn it into a mini-website with all their messages, photos and a nifty countdown calendar in one place.  Amazing!  Before they left, I snapped a picture on my Smartphone and texted it to their moms, knowing as the mother of five returned missionaries of my own, how much missionary Moms yearn to be a “fly on the wall.” How incredible to take a color picture and be able to share it immediately!  As their mothers joyfully responded throughout the evening, I marveled at the technology that allows us to share as we do and move the work of the Lord forward. Truly, how much of the world and missionary service has changed since the early days of the Church yet how much has not.

As a follow-up to Scot Proctor’s recent inspiring article, “A Little Known Glimpse Into The Spirit World
here’s one of my favorite stories about the Spirit World for missionaries, for mothers, and for all of us who love the gospel and marvel at how the work goes forward, both in the early days of the Church and now.  No matter how the world progresses and technology advances, the first few months of a mission will ever be an adventure in courage, faith, and a testimony to answered prayers.

The following experience of William L. Hansen comes from the Book “Spirit World Manifestations: Accounts of Divine Aid in Genealogical and Temple Work” by Joseph Heinerman. It was first published in the Deseret News Church Section, May 27, 1933.)

“I had only passed my twentieth birthday a few months when I received a letter from “Box B,” signed by President John Taylor, asking me to report as soon as possible for a mission in Europe.
My father and brother, Nephi J. Hansen, arranged to buy all my earthly possessions, consisting of a good team of horses, harness and wagon and a new red two-wheel driving cart.

A few weeks after receiving this call, I was set apart by Apostle Abraham H. Cannon for the Swiss and German mission.  In company with my cousin, Angus J. Cannon and others, we were soon on our way to far-away Europe.

I think I shall never forget that parting at the railroad station of “Bahnoff” in Bern, when Lewis M. Cannon put my cousin and bosom companion, Angus J., on a train and sent him off to Germany and a short time after, putting me on another train going in the opposite direction to Geneva, on the Swiss border of France. ….

Elder Hansen stayed with a Brother Ripplinger, a young, unmarried Swiss convert.

I was fed and cared for as well as poor Brother Ripplinger could do under the circumstances.  My room was very small and close with no outside window.  My meals were also so different than I had ever been used to, and as we had been asked to leave what allowance money we did have at the mission office (as the missionaries were then traveling without purse or scrip) there was not much opportunity to make any further selections.

And so the days and weeks passed. Not being able to have an English conversation with anyone and this being my first experience away from home and loved ones, I began to be very, very homesick indeed.

Again and again I felt an irresistible feeling or longing to run away from it all and return home.  I could not sleep nor eat and poor Ripplinger began to be very much concerned about me.

One morning I felt an irresistible desire to take a long walk out in the country for the day.  While I was walking down a long lane in a very quiet farming district, I saw a beautiful grove of trees on a gentle slope away off to my left. An irresistible feeling prompted me to go there, and upon reaching the grove, I began to feel very happy.  I took off my hat and upon my bended knees began to pour out my heart to my Heavenly Father in most fervent prayer.  Realizing that no one could hear me, I wept aloud again and again with a really contrite heart and my whole soul was filled.

I arose to my feet, and as I did so, looking a little to my right, I saw my angel mother standing beside me.  An indescribable joy came over me and I cried aloud, “My mother!”  She answered in unmistakable tones, “My dear son, Willie.” As I was only 6 years old when my mother died, I could not remember her features very well, but as I looked upon that heavenly personage, I knew it was my own dear mother.

She was clothed in a long white robe, her dark wavy hair hung over her shoulders, her dark blue eyes were clear and expressive.  Her face was well rounded without the sign of a wrinkle and her whole countenance radiated a divine something that I shall never be able to describe.  My mother expressed also her joy at being permitted to visit me upon this occasion, that my true condition was known in heaven and she had been chosen to answer my prayers.

She then said, “The evil one has tried very hard to overpower you and to discourage you in honorably fulfilling your great mission, but he has been thwarted in his evil designs.”  Further, that I had been freed from this snare and was to be preserved to fulfill an honorable and successful mission.

My mother’s poise was so natural and so divinely graceful, her conversation so complete and consoling for this occasion, that it really seemed perfect and complete in every sense.  No mother could ever have understood her son better and no mother was ever able to administer more completely that joy and something so essential in my time of need as did my mother to me on this sacred meeting.

Thus, two or more hours were spent together, by far the most memorable of my whole life.  Mother also said she knew I was having a hard time with the German language and asked me to meet her at the grove again the next day at the same hour as she also wanted to be helpful to me in this.  She explained that I would not see her again just as I saw her that day, as this personal appearance and visitation was by a special and divine appointment. Then my mother disappeared exactly as she had come – almost unperceived.

The next appointment was sacredly kept, and after my humble prayer of gratitude, my mother began to communicate with me again.  This time I could not behold her person nor hear her voice just as I had done on the preceding day, but there seemed to be just as divine a presence and an unquestionably clear conversation under a much higher law than we could possibly enjoy in our communications with each other here.

We understood and exchanged thoughts more rapidly, clearly and satisfactorily than Is possible with human voices, for there was no worry about what to say and just how to say it to be properly and clearly understood.

Exactly all that took place on this occasion, I do not remember. But I do know that something did transpire whereby I was able from that time to easily understand, to read and even write this new language (German) and in a most surprising manner to myself and those with whom I came in contact.  This afternoon was almost as wonderful as the former visitation and I was again requested to come once more on the morrow for further instructions and divine assistance.

The following day was the same in every way as the second day. This time it was spent in recalling teachings I had received at home, in Sunday School, Primary and other places, pertaining to the principles, beauties and divinity of the Gospel I had come out to preach.

This was to be my last visit with my mother at this place. After many more loving things had been said to me, again renewing the exhortations and blessings I had received, she again expressed her tender motherly love for me and my welfare.  Then she left me alone to rejoice, to reflect and profit by the divine and wonderful experience.

I visited often this sacred place and always felt very happy in prayer and reading aloud the German books I had purchased, principally the Book of Mormon, which seemed to be as clear to me now in German, as it had in my own language.

I had suddenly become a new man with renewed ambitions and ability to speak, read, write and understand the German language, even to the amazement of Brother Ripplinger and almost everyone with whom I came in contact. I began to read the evening newspaper aloud to Brother Ripplinger and his fifteen tailors, much to their amusement and surprise for they told me I was reading it almost perfectly, although there was much I could not yet understand.

That Christmas, I was called to the mission office at Bern, Switzerland for the holidays.  They all seemed surprised and delighted at the unusual success I had had in acquiring the language.  I remember after speaking at one of the conference sessions which was held at this time, how the brethren bore testimony of the wonderful power of the Lord in helping his servants acquire a knowledge of the language, using me as new evidence.”

(“Spirit World Manifestations:  Accounts of Divine Aid in Genealogical and Temple Work” by Joseph Heinerman, pages. 185-189.)

How those missionaries must look down upon the work now and smile and laugh at how much has changed! Yet faith and prayer, not computers, are still the divine essentials of a successful mission.

One more thing that will never change is a missionary’s need for a fast, nourishing, filling meal.   We have served the following recipe countless times for missionaries who frequently ask for the recipe.  It’s so easy you can put it together in just a few minutes in the morning and let it cook in the crockpot all day for a wonderful meal for all.  It’s won more than one award at chili cook-offs for a very good reason!
And contrary to popular opinion, missionaries do not always need or want dessert! We often serve just fruit and no one sheds a tear. Though they will always be polite, they are often relieved not to have to turn down sugar and unneeded calories.

Sister Allen’s Missionary Five-Can Vegetarian Chili
(We usually double the ingredients as the leftovers – if there are any – are delicious, especially over baked potatoes!)

2 cans of Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of Tomato Sauce
1 can of Stewed Tomatoes
1 can of kernel corn, drained
1 Large chopped onion
1 Package Mild Chili Seasoning Mix.  (We usually start with a half package and add more if it needs a little more kick.)

Mix all ingredients but the corn in a crockpot. Cook on LO for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 4-5.  Add the can of corn at the very end.  Let everyone top their own bowls with more chopped onion, crackers, etc.

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine for 11 years,  providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999.  She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE