Our Unexpected Missionary Harvest
When I was 12 years of age, my father heard about the Church from one of his fellow airline pilots. Though somewhat intrigued, he did not pursue the matter at the time. A few months later we moved from California to Buffalo, New York, and we decided to take a drive one afternoon to see some of the surrounding countryside. My father recalled that Joseph Smith had once lived somewhere in the vicinity of Palmyra, and we drove in that direction. We found the Hill Cumorah and stopped at the visitors’ center, where we were impressed with the displays.
Two days later missionaries knocked on our door, and my mother gladly let them in. We began taking the missionary discussions, but the elders were transferred shortly after we began. Although in later years we could not recall their names, we were grateful to those first elders who knocked on our door. We never dreamed our paths would cross again—in a most unexpected way.
New elders began visiting, and with their help we studied the gospel and decided to be baptized. Over the next few years, not only our entire family but also many extended family members and friends joined the Church.
Four years later our family returned to California. In high school I met the young man I would one day marry, and he too joined the Church. We were sealed in the Oakland Temple, and we raised six children. Our eldest son, Elliott, was called on a mission to France. When he returned, he attended Brigham Young University. There he met and fell in love with a young woman named Ginger Riggs, from Pasadena, California. Elliott and Ginger became engaged, and since Pasadena was only about 50 miles from our home, we decided to go to dinner with her parents.
Over dinner we discovered that Ginger’s father, Brent, had served a mission in upstate New York in 1964—the same year we had visited the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center. We told him of our conversion at about that time, and Brent went home and looked up some of the missionary letters he had written home to his family. He was thrilled to find one in which our family was prominently mentioned. It seems that one day he and his companion had passed our street and been impressed to stop and tract our block one more time, even though they had tracted our entire neighborhood thoroughly just weeks before. It was Brent Riggs who had felt prompted to knock on our door that day, and now his daughter, Ginger, was about to marry Elliott—the son of a young woman Brent Riggs had first introduced the gospel to 33 years earlier.
The blessings of a righteous missionary indeed flowed into the life of his future daughter—and back again into our family as well.
This story was published in the LDS Ensign Magazine in 1999.