gregg karren

Dear President Albright,

I would like to share some of the events that caused me to submit my mission application papers.

At this point in my life, religious things were pretty far from my mind. My whole focus was on having fun. I would occasionally attend church on Sundays, but as far as strengthening my relationship with God, that was about the extent of it. I was doing some things contrary to what I’d been taught, and I certainly wasn’t reading my scriptures and praying regularly. As for serving a mission, I didn’t know if that was for me. A mission certainly wasn’t part of my current plans.

I was living in Alberta, Canada.  I was about to turn 19 years old.  On December 31, 2007, late in the afternoon, I was on my way to visit a friend in the next town over. We were going to hang out for a while before going to a New Year’s Eve Party that evening.

As is common for that time of year in Alberta, it had just started snowing so my dad warned me that I might not want to be out on the roads in the storm. It could be dangerous, he said. But, as most teenagers do, I thought I knew better and got in my truck alone and drove off for some fun that night.

By the time I got onto the almost deserted highway, the snow was coming down extremely hard and after a few minutes, I realized that I was driving in white-out conditions. I could no longer see the lines on the roads, I couldn’t see any cars; I couldn’t see anything at all. The entry countryside was blanketed in white. For fear of getting rear-ended, I didn’t stop or pull over, but I tried to use the rumble strips on the side of the road to determine where I was driving. If I felt a vibration then I would correct my direction to try and stay on the snow packed road during the blizzard.  I grew very nervous. I focused my attention on the road and tightly gripped the steering wheel.  Suddenly in the quiet of my cab, I heard a voice clearly say to me, “Put on your seat belt! You are going to be in an accident.”

Although I was the only person in my truck, I knew what I’d heard and I knew it must have been God or an angel speaking to me to warn me of impending danger. I was still driving and quite scared, but I felt humbled. How could God still care enough about me enough to warn me of this danger?

For the first time in years, I began to offer a prayer. I prayed out loud and said, “God, please keep me safe through whatever is about to happen in this accident. If I survive this accident I am about to have, I will go on a mission.”  Then I added, “And I’m going to be the BEST missionary I can be! I won’t sleep in late for even one minute. I’ll wear myself out for you in the mission field.”  By the time I finished my brief prayer, about 30 seconds had gone by since I’d first heard the warning. I clicked my seat belt on and immediately saw two bright headlights directly in front of me. I instinctively swerved.  The attached photo shows my truck after the accident.


The next thing I remember is laying in the snow in a meadow next to the highway. I looked at my truck and noticed it was crushed and in pieces. Then I saw the truck that I’d hit, also smashed up pretty badly.  I remember the ambulance coming and the EMTs picking me up on a stretcher. They first tried to find me in the cab and then started to look for a body in the snow. They did not think anyone could have survived the impact. No one knows how my body, seat belted in the cab, ended up in the meadow. 

I don’t remember anything else until I woke up some hours later in a hospital bed. I looked up and saw my bishop standing in my hospital room.  He told me that my truck was completely totaled and that I probably should have been dead. It was a miracle that I had survived the collision.  I moved my arms and legs and happily realized that everything still worked! Then I responded, “Well Bishop, it looks like I’m going on a mission!” He smiled, and handed me a copy of the Book of Mormon that was opened to Alma chapter 36.

I read for the first time these words:

12. But I was racked with aeternalbtorment, for my soul was charrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was atormented with the bpains of hell; yea, I saw that I had crebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

When I read those verses I felt a lot of guilt. I realized that I had not been living my life the way that I should have been. I thought maybe a mission was now out of the question. But I read on:

And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold…

As my tears hit the pages I was reading from, I knew that because of Jesus Christ, I could change my life! I immediately started to attend church every Sunday. I gave up the activities that were only bringing me down spiritually. I began reading my scriptures, praying daily and giving service to others. Slowly, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost changed my heart. I went on a mission and it was the most rewarding thing that I have ever done. I can’t express in words how much I loved my mission.

Just writing about it now brings tears to my eyes. My mission is sacred to me.

The hardest day of my life was the day when we stood for the last time to sing the last verse of Onward Christian Soldiers and I realized that it was my turn to walk out of the chapel, drive to the airport, and fly home from the mission field. My legs almost gave out as I walked out of the chapel.  I couldn’t stop crying.

The thought of leaving the mission field and no longer being a full-time missionary devastated me. At the airport I remember feeling God saying to me, “Great job!”  It was the greatest feeling in the world. I knew that even though I hadn’t been perfect, God was grateful for my service and contribution. I will be eternally grateful that my life was preserved in the accident in Canada so I could help others on a mission.

Much Love,

Gregg Karren