A Missionary Inquires

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Paul H. Dunn

Nephi tells us to inquire of the Lord. Let me just share a quick experience in this connection. I have just come from the mission field and so this is fresh on my mind.

I have got a little Elder out in New England that by all physical standards should not have come on a mission. He is 80% deaf in one ear and 70% deaf in the other. He has a terrible speech impediment because he has never heard his own voice clearly. But ever since he was at his mother's knee he has desired to go on a mission. You know, you get lots of missionaries that come out for the right reason — to do the right thing for the right reason. Then, occasionally you get one or two that come to do a good thing for the wrong reason. Hopefully, we can give even them the vision and help them catch the spirit.

But this little elder came to do the Lord's work — the right thing for the right reason — and nothing was to stay his hand. Well, he has been out about a year now. About two months ago, on one of our preparation days — and although try as we do to give them counsel not to get over-involved in physical activities — they were out playing some touch football with the other missionaries of the district. We have a 270 pound elder that was in the same district. He went up to block a pass and this little semi-deaf elder was underneath him. As the 270 pound elder came down, he crashed upon his head, causing instant deafness in the elder.

His companion called me that night. He said, "President Dunn, we have a problem. Elder So and so can't hear. He has lost his hearing in a little accident today on the ball field." So I suggested they bring him to Cambridge where we have the Massachusetts General Hospital and all the services of the Harvard Medical School. We put him in touch with two of the finest ear specialists, I guess, known to the world. After an extensive examination, the report came back: "He will not regain his hearing."

So, I brought the elder to my office and we were trying to decide now what was best for him. Do you send him home? What do you do? He could barely hear me, so we were writing notes to each other. And as I was sharing with him some of my feelings, he wrote me a note. I'll never forget it. "You believe in God, don't you, President Dunn?" And I wrote back, "Yes, elder, you know I do." Then he gave in a little note, almost verbatim, the counsel of Nephi, "Would you inquire of the Lord, because I came to serve a mission?" I wrote back, "Certainly."

So, we knelt down together after I closed the door and locked it. I put my arm around his shoulder. He couldn't hear the prayer too well, I guess, except through the Spirit. I asked my Heavenly Father to give me the strength and the courage and the know how to touch the life of this young man. I felt impressed in the prayer to give him a special blessing of health. So, we rose together and I seated him in a chair and still he could hardly hear me. I placed my hands upon his head and called upon my Heavenly Father by the authority and power of the priesthood, which I hold, and in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. I paused momentarily and then as forcefully as I have ever felt an impulse from Heaven, I promised him that he would hear again and so commanded it. It wasn't immediate. We stood together and embraced each other, tears were in both our eyes. He wrote on a little note, "Send me back to my area, I'll be all right. The Lord has spoken to my soul."

I sent him back to New Hampshire and the next morning the telephone rang — "Dear President Dunn, just thought you would like to know, I got my hearing back last night."

"Have ye inquired of the Lord?" is what Nephi counseled us. Today, as I have indicated, there are some in this conference that are disturbed, who have great concern, whether it be for life generally, marriage, the military or schooling. Whatever the dilemma, could I counsel you, my young brothers and sisters, to take it to the Lord.