An Evening at the Luzern Opera

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Richard H. Cracroft

The office staff of the Switzerland Zürich Mission had taken the evening off to enjoy a performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. We were the guests of LDS baritone Brian Montgomery, who would be singing the role of Rigoletto.

Following the first act, the manager of the theater made his way to our little group chatting in the foyer. Looking at my name tag, he asked if I were the "Herr Präsident of the Mormon Church."

Bemused at my sudden elevation, I affirmed that I was indeed the "Herr Präsident of the Mormon Church's Swiss Mission."

He explained that Herr Montgomery had requested our services and then asked with some urgency that I accompany him, which I did, taking my assistants, Elders Steven McGhie and Scott Smith, with me. As we made our way backstage to the women's dressing room, he explained that Miss Marina Jajic, the soprano playing the role of Gilda, had become seriously ill and would be unable to continue her performance. He had been about to call the house physician but was prevented by "Herr Montgomery, of your faith," he explained, "who insists that the Präsident of the Mormon Church say a prayer over Miss Jajic and make her well—so, if you would be so kind . . ."

Suddenly apprehensive, we followed him into a corner of the dressing room where Miss Jajic—an attractive, heavily made-up, and deathly pale young woman—sat slumped in a corner chair looking like a Gilda who had already fallen victim to the assassin's dagger. I introduced ourselves to her and learned from her labored and whispered responses in broken German that she was from Yugoslavia, spoke little German but more English, believed in Jesus Christ, and, yes, she knew he could heal her. She slumped back against the chair, and Elder McGhie anointed her head with oil from a key-chain vial.

It was a scenario at once strange yet familiar. Here, in a woman's dressing room in a Swiss opera house, an American LDS mission president from Provo, together with two Mormon elders from Alpine, Utah, and Bettendorf, Iowa, were unexpectedly retracing the Lord's pattern of the laying on of hands to administer to the sick in behalf of a deathly ill Roman Catholic soprano from Yugoslavia who desperately needed to be made well on this important evening of her musical career.

We laid on hands, anointed, and then sealed the anointing according to the ancient pattern, which I had traced several hundred times before. I had come to know my gift and what I might expect. I brought to that moment a confidence in a long-established pattern of blessing the Saints.

As I began the sealing portion of the ordinance, I was unsettled by the distracting hubbub of the busy dressing room, for I feared that the Spirit would not come with the power I had been pleading for in the last few minutes. Suddenly someone turned off the hubbub switch, and I felt, moving through my hands and up my arms, a tingling faith flowing from this woman.

Simultaneously I felt the old, familiar "Go": the thrill up the spine, the electric flash across the forehead, the chill across my shoulder blades—signs I had known well and often. I knew my role; I stepped back and let the Spirit take command. From some recess in my soul the words welled up to give utterance and translation into English of those clear but ineffable impressions affirmed by the Holy Ghost in behalf of this lovely, talented, and deathly ill woman, who looked like one who ought to be on the way to the hospital and not into the rigors of act 2.

Then I heard myself say, "It is the will of God, Marina, that you be healed, at once! Be healed!" And then: "You will begin to regain strength immediately; you will experience an amazing recovery; and you will not only continue your performance this evening, but you will sing and act magnificently." Then, the words of healing pronounced, I suddenly saw on my internal video the implications of this evening; I saw that all that had happened, including our presence at that theater on that night, was also part of the Awake and Arise Pattern that, unbeknown to Marina, she was even now beginning to trace.

The mission president reasserted himself, and I editorialized: "As you reflect later on the miracle of this evening, you will understand that this blessing comes by way of the power of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, whose representatives we are. And you will desire to learn about Christ's purposes for you in mortality and will seek out his Church, which has been restored to earth for the purpose of blessing you and all mankind."

Experience shared by Richard H. Cracroft at a BYU Devotional June 29, 1993