Let me start by saying that the person featured in this story would be mortified if he knew I was writing this article.  He is, by nature, modest and humble.  But he has had a powerful influence on my life.  He served in the Area Presidency of the Caribbean Area when my husband was called as a Mission President in the Dominican Republic.  A couple years into our mission, he became the Area President.  It was a blessing from God to have him as our leader.  For the sake of this article, I will just refer to him as “our leader”.

One thing that every Mission President (Mission Leader) gets to look forward to is the opportunity to host several General Authorities during the time of their service.  They come to officiate at Stake Conferences within the mission, to hold Area Seminars, to direct Mission Tours, and sometimes just to meet.  This particular leader came several times during the three years we served in the Dominican Republic.  Every time he came, he left a great teaching.

He did some things differently than some of the other General Authorities we encountered during our service.  For one thing, he always called ahead to ask my husband to identify anyone in the mission who might be needing a blessing or encouragement.  When he was officiating at a Stake Conference in our mission, we didn’t just go to the Conference and then to a meeting with the Stake leaders afterwards.  Oh, no! After the meetings, we would then embark on a tour of meeting with every member in the stake that John had referred to him for a special blessing.  How did John get the names of those needing a special blessing?  He called all the Bishops to ask them.

For example, after one Stake Conference, and after all the necessary leadership meetings afterwards, we left with this leader and his wife and son, to go visit a man who was dying.  This leader, who had been a Mission Leader in our mission several years before we were, had worked with this man.  Now, the suffering man’s face was distorted with pain.  There was an oppressive feeling in the room. He was dying and he knew it.  He visibly brightened when this leader came into the room.

This leader reminisced with him about the meaningful work they had been able to do in earlier times.  The man’s  face  began to relax.  He smiled at the memories.  He mentioned some concerns that he had about leaving his family.  This leader assured him that God would be there for them.  Then he gave the suffering man a blessing of comfort.

It seemed as if the room, itself, became lighter.  The man’s eyes were full of peace and tears as it came time to leave.  I knew that I had just witnessed a sacred experience.

From there, we visited two other families, both of whom needed a special witness from God that He was aware of them and their trials.  Both received blessings.

To visit the next woman, we literally had to trudge halfway up a mountain.  Of course, we were still in our Sunday clothes.  This member of the Area Presidency and my husband were in suits and ties.  I was in heels.  It was oppressively hot and muggy.  I was already very hungry by this point and wondered what could be so important that we should have to labor up this mountain in the heat?  My heels were being destroyed by the rocky path as we were picking our way up.

We finally came to a run-down, rickety, hut.  It looked abandoned.  I must admit I was a little resentful that I had climbed all this way, in heels, to be met by an abandoned hut.  I was more than ready to turn back down the mountain, but this leader walked around trying the doors and calling out.  To my surprise, he was finally answered by a woman’s voice.  It was a weak and faltering voice.

We entered through a rickety door into a dark room.  A woman was lying on a bed, obviously too weak to get up to greet us.  She seemed so excited to see this kind man and his wife.  The sick woman’s husband seemed to materialize out of nowhere and explained to us that she had a bleeding problem.  She could not stop bleeding.  She had lost so much blood that she was barely able to even get into a sitting position, due to being extremely weak because of severe anemia.

Our leader asked her multiple questions.  (He was a surgeon before becoming a General Authority.) Then he promised her that medicine would soon arrive, and she would be okay.  He wrote the name of the medicine and gave it to the husband, who promised to pick it up the next morning as soon as the pharmacy opened. (Most medications don’t need prescriptions in the D.R.) We had a prayer and then left.

As we walked back down the mountain our leader explained to us that she had gone through menopause and had a deficiency of a certain hormone.  He assured us that as soon as it arrived tomorrow, she would immediately begin to heal.

I was amazed.  Seriously?  All this suffering, simply because she needed a hormone?  My first reaction was anger, that a woman would have to suffer so much simply because she was too poor to go to a doctor.  It was so outrageous!  At the same time, I was so grateful that we had climbed that mountain!  It never would have happened if our leader had not insisted that we reach out to the Bishops to find out if anyone needed a visit.

By now, it was beginning to get dark, and we still had to travel back to Santiago to the Mission Home.  The leader and his family would be spending the night with us.  As we were traveling back, far after the normal dinner hour, I was frantically working out in my head how I would fix dinner.  No one would want to wait for the hour I had planned on to prepare dinner.  I tried to remember if I had enough leftovers in the fridge from feeding the missionaries the day before?

As soon as we got to the house, I rushed into the kitchen to figure out what I might throw together to make a meal.  Fortunately, there were several things I could heat up.  Within about 15 minutes I had set the table and was serving up portions  of various heated up leftovers.  I called up the stairs to the bedroom where our leader and his wife were staying, to tell them dinner was ready.

The leader’s wife came into the kitchen and apologized that her husband would be late.  I was immediately concerned that perhaps he had worked too hard that afternoon and had overdone it in the heat.  “Is he okay”, I asked, concerned.

“Oh yes”, she explained.  As we had driven up to the mission home in the dark, he had seen a young man on the side of the road with a flat tire.  “He walked back to help him change his tire.”   I couldn’t believe it.  “In his suit and tie?”, I asked incredulously.  “Of course!”, she said with a sigh.

We all sat down and ate dinner.  He arrived about 30 minutes later, after walking up the hill (we lived at the top of a steep hill).  His hands were greasy and dirty, but he was smiling.  He apologized for being late for dinner and sat down to eat the now twice-reheated leftovers.

He taught me a handful of eternal truths that day without ever having said a word.

Not long after that we were asked to host a brunch for several Church officials who were coming to the Dominican Republic to assess the needs of women and children in the Church.  The delegation included a member from each of the General Relief Society Presidency, the Young Women’s Presidency and the Primary Presidency.

We had a delightful brunch with all the visitors and then they left with our Area Presidency to begin their meetings.  To my amazement, as I was cleaning up the dishes afterwards, my husband, John, came in with a puzzled look on his face to tell me that he’d been instructed to tell me that my Home Teacher was here to visit with me.  We didn’t have a Home Teacher.  I couldn’t imagine what was going on.

When I went into the living room, there was our leader.  He announced that he had come to do a Home Teaching visit.  “ What are you talking about?” I thought. Out loud I said, “You’re not my Home Teacher.  You’re my Area President!  And what are you doing here?  You’re supposed to be shepherding all the visiting Church dignitaries around for their meetings.”  He laughed and said, “Well, today I’m your home teacher.  Besides, all the dignitaries are in a meeting for the next two hours.  I thought you might need a little special visit today.  Do you have time to talk a bit?”

We went into my husband’s office.  He proceeded to ask me how I was handling the challenge of being a Mission President’s wife?  He said he was aware that I had headed up an international charity before the mission and wondered how I was handling the transition from being the person-in-charge to being an assistant to the person in charge?  Truthfully, it was something I was struggling with.

I asked him if he wanted my real feelings and he said he did.  I spent the next 45 minutes pouring out a very honest recounting of the challenges I felt I was facing.  He listened intently.  He was completely non-judgmental.  He didn’t rebuke me for any of the things that he could easily have considered a little irreverent.  He agreed with my frustrations and suggested a course of action to help remedy my grievances.  Then he offered me a blessing.  It was a beautiful blessing.  And then he left as quickly as he had come.

I’ll bet the people in the meetings didn’t even realize he’d been gone.  But I certainly realized I’d been visited by an angel who’d been listening to the Spirit and knew I could use a Home Teacher.

I could go on and on.  Through his quiet example, this leader taught me how to truly serve.  It involved a lot more than delivering an inspiring sermon!  His service was based on the needs of real people in real time.

My husband and I both feel very blessed to have been tutored by such a great example.  By sharing it with you, I hope it will also help you to catch of vision of what it means to walk in the Savior’s footsteps.  Most of all, I hope that I may have the wisdom and the humility to follow this example in my everyday life.