Stories: An English-Speaking Branch Begins
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|Date Book, Thursday, January 31, 1963: “First met Mr. and Mrs. Croom, Mrs. Hendrix.” (This is the first entry in my 1963 Date Book indicating the start of much missionary effort with the English-speaking people stationed at a local military base and living mostly in a circular housing compound built especially for them.)
Journal Entry following this Date Book entry: When we knocked on the Hendrix’s door, the man of the house opened the door with a bottle of beer and a burning cigarette in one hand. We introduced ourselves, and asked permission to go in and give them the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The man held open the screen door with his left arm and hand holding the beer and cigarette, and, reaching out his right hand in a shaking gesture and with a huge smile on his face, he said, “Hi, I’m Brother Hendrix, a Jack-Mormon from Nevada. Come on in!” He had a cold that day and was home from work trying to get over it. In the days and weeks to come, Sister Hendrix joined the Church, but not until she was absolutely positively sure that Brother Hendrix was ready to be an active member of The Church without reservation.
These families became the main-stays of the new Branch: Hendrixes, Hawses, and Stones. Others with whom we worked, but were not successful in convincing to attend: Borglies (Norwegian-English family who were very kind to us, and enjoyed having us come and teach, but didn't quite make it into The Church before I left), Crooms (had singing responsibilities at a small English-Speaking Protestant Church in the area), and Gillespies (Mrs. had a problem with the existance of God, having lost a youngster in death).
Letter Home, April 9, 1963: In as much as we have some English-speaking members and are working with these American and English families, I suggested to President Gundersen that we start work on an English-speaking branch. I figured it will not only strengthen the members and provide them with a full program, but it will also help out our investigators a lot. You know how you would be to have interest in something and then being doused with cold water by not being able to understand what is going on because it is in a foreign language. I’m not denying the gift of tongues or anything like that, but I know it will help, in more ways than one. The President seemed to be in agreement, so only time can tell now. More about that too, as it develops.
Letter Home, April 15 & 16, 1963: I talked with the President again last Thursday, and he placed the responsibility upon my shoulders to get an English-speaking branch started. We have been trying to find a place to meet, but haven’t gotten too far because of the Easter holidays.
Last week, we had some good meetings with that English family, Gillespie. Boy, I’m telling you, they are just as near “Mormons” without being members that I have ever seen. We have an appointment this evening again, and we are to present the third discussion along with the Word of Wisdom. Although they do use the things which are forbidden by the “Word,” it won’t be hard at all to get them to give up these habits. They are really wonderful people and, with the help of the Lord, they will be members of the Church soon. He (Mr. Gillespie) will make a good Priesthood leader for our English-speaking branch.
We finished up the discussions with Mr. Croom last week. On the sixth (Saturday, 13 April), he started asking about the Priesthood, so I told him about the Negroes not being able to hold the Priesthood. It took him rather hard, because he is convinced of the truthfulness of the message we bring and wanted to receive the Priesthood as soon as he became a member. It was truly humbling to have to tell him that, and, after I told him, you could just see the tears forming in his eyes. But, I know he will be a member someday, along with his lovely wife and three cute little daughters. I can just see him now singing in the Tabernacle Choir. He has such a beautiful baritone voice. He is a fine man and a shining example of his race.
Letter Home, April 29, 1963: We had appointments both Wed. & Thurs. evenings plus a lot to get done for this English-speaking Sunday School, so I had to go out anyway. Friday, I felt like cutting my head off to get relief from it. Saturday, I just had to go out in order to get things in order for yesterday, which was our first try with our Sunday School. It went over well, but not as well as it would have if I hadn’t been hindered by this cold. We had 12 people there.
The Gillespie family is looking good. She is, however, still very skeptical and disbelieving on the part of the belief in God. I am sure he is almost converted, if not already. But, there was a wrench thrown in the cogs, and yesterday he came by to ask that we not come by last night, because of some problem that had arisen within the family. He is leaving this week for flights to and from England, so it will be hard to talk to them for about a week or so.
We also talked with Mr. Croom (the Negro). Oh, but he is such a wonderful person! I feel within me and every talk with him explains to me that he is converted and is waiting in order to swing his wife, too. He is quite duty-bound to the American Protestant Church here to sing for them until he goes home, and I wouldn’t want him to go against his word to the Chaplin.
Date Book, Sunday, April 28, 1963 : “First English Branch ★”
Letter Home, May 1, 1963: I feel mighty humble and inadequate for this position (District Leader for Skarpsno; moved to Asker), but I know, with the Lord’s help, I will be able to manage. I surely hated to leave my last area, because of all the wonderful people we had. I still have charge of the English-speaking Sunday School, so it is going to be a lot of added responsibility.
Letter Home, May 13, 1963: We started a Primary out here in Asker. Last Thursday was our first meeting. Instead of having 10 - 12 children as we had expected, we had 24 youngsters to begin with. Only three are members of the Church. We really were overjoyed to see such response. Next Thursday will bring even more, is our expectation. Our English-speaking Sunday School is going really well, too. Lots of enthusiasm among the members and investigators.
Incidentally, that Negro fellow (Mr. Croom) is converted to The Church. All we have to do is get him to make up his mind about a baptismal date. He certainly is wonderful!
Letter Home, June 27, 1963: We received those Hymn Books a week or so ago, and they really help out in that English branch. Do thank everybody for their help and cooperation. By the way, I have turned the whole thing over to another Elder – the one who took my place in my old area. It is really going well.
Letter Home, July 29 & 30, 1963: I mentioned that Skarpsno had 5 baptisms last month. Three of these came as a result of that English-speaking Sunday School that we started. One of them was that Mrs. Hendrix, whom I told you about some 4 - 5 months ago. She, along with a nice young English family (the Stones, who came as a result of a referral from her and her husband who is a member), we baptized a week ago last Saturday. They are all certainly happy and will be a credit to The Church among their fellow men.
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