CultureGrams Worldwide Saints

Part 8: Faith Brings President Kimball to Area Conference Gathering

Read previous parts at:,2626,New%20Zealand,00.html

The following account of an incident related to President Spencer W.
Kimball's 1976 area conference visit to New Zealand is included in this
series because of the insight it offers on the faith of the saints in New
Zealand. This account, written by Elder M. Russell Ballard, comes from the
compiled essay book titled "Faith" (Deseret Book Company, 1983). Elder
Ballard's account draws upon the first-hand account of Elder Russell M.
Nelson, who at the time of these events was President Kimball's personal
physician. ("Faith" is included in Deseret Book's electronic reference
library, "GospeLink 2001." A purchase link to "GospeLink 2001" is included
at the end of this message.)


   It is March 1976, and the Saints of this South Pacific island are
   anxiously preparing for their first area conference and the arrival of
   President Spencer W. Kimball. President Kimball had just concluded a
   rigorous schedule of conference sessions in Samoa. Between sessions he
   had selflessly exposed himself to all manner of sickness as he gave
   blessings to numerous people who sought his aid. Then, shortly
   afterward, he himself was stricken with a serious illness, similar to
   the type he had rebuked in several administrations. Both he and Sister
   Kimball had temperatures of 104 degrees. They were coughing, violently
   nauseated, and most miserable.

   Russell M. Nelson, the prophet's attending physician, recalled that
   President Kimball was "gray and ashen" as he and D. Arthur Haycock,
   President Kimball's secretary, assisted him onto the airplane for the
   flight to New Zealand. One official scolded Dr. Nelson for allowing
   President Kimball to get on the plane, saying "Anyone can see that
   he's too sick to get on an airplane and fly to New Zealand. You should
   leave him here in Pago Pago, where he can go to the hospital and get
   the aid that he needs." Nevertheless President and Sister Kimball were
   settled on the plane with blankets while their fevers raged between
   102 and 104 degrees.

   In New Zealand President and Sister Kimball were rushed to the home of
   the temple president, and they immediately went to bed. President
   Kimball asked President N. Eldon Tanner to handle the planned
   reception with the Maori queen, since he himself was too ill to go.
   Moreover, he said, "Sister Kimball and I will not make it to the
   cultural activities planned for this evening because of our illness.
   The doctor thinks we should not attend. Therefore, will you please
   excuse us and begin the meeting on time. Express our regrets to the
   congregation. We will try to conserve our strength in order to make it
   to the general sessions of the area conference tomorrow morning."
   President Tanner agreed and left.

   Dr. Nelson remained with President and Sister Kimball while his wife,
   Dantzel, went with the other Brethren and their wives to the stadium
   at the Church College of New Zealand for the cultural program. All was
   quiet at the temple president's home while the prophet and his wife
   slept. Brother Nelson recalls what happened then:

   I was reading in President Kimball's room when he awakened with a start.

   He said, "Brother Nelson, what time was that program to begin this

   I said, "At seven o'clock, President Kimball."

   He said, "What time is it now?"

   I replied, "It's almost seven." Noting that he was soaked in
   perspiration, I thought his fever may have broken, which indeed it
   had. His temperature was now 98.6 degrees.

   He said, "Tell Sister Kimball we're going!"

   Several thoughts flashed through my mind in that instant, culminating
   in a decision that it would be inadvisable for me to say anything
   about it being medically inadvisable for him to go. So I quickly went
   in and said to Sister Kimball, "We're going." They each hurriedly
   prepared and went to the car that had been made available.

   So President and Sister Kimball, Brother Haycock, and I drove the
   short distance from the temple president's home to the Church College
   stadium, where the activities were being held. As the car entered the
   stadium, there was a very loud shout that erupted spontaneously. It
   was so sudden and so deafening that I wondered if it might have been a
   clap of thunder. The car was driven around the track to the place
   where President and Sister Kimball could be ushered to their seats;
   Brother Haycock and I took our seats beside our companions as well. I
   asked Dantzel what was the cause of that enormous shout. I got the
   story from her point of view.

   She said that President Tanner had called the meeting to order at 7:00
   P.M. and had explained that President and Sister Kimball were unable
   to attend because of illness. They were to proceed without them in
   order that their strength might be preserved to join with the Saints
   the following day. Then one of the young New Zealanders was called
   upon to pray. With a faith typical to these Saints in the islands,
   this young New Zealander gave what my wife described as a rather
   lengthy prayer. During the course of his prayer, he supplicated the
   Lord thusly: "We are three thousand New Zealand youth. We are
   assembled here, having prepared for six months to sing and to dance
   for thy prophet. Wilt thou heal him and deliver him here." Then, as
   the "Amen" was pronounced, the car entered carrying President and
   Sister Kimball. They were immediately identified by the assembled
   throng of thousands, who all spontaneously issued that shout for joy
   on having their prayer answered so directly." (Nelson quotations from:
   "From Heart to Heart: An Autobiography," by Russell M. Nelson)
   (From "Faith," Deseret Book Company, 1983)

NEXT WEEK: Part 9: New Zealand Temple Pageant

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"Faith," (Deseret Book Company, 1983) from which the account in this
message comes, is included in Deseret Book's electronic reference library,
"GospeLink 2001." You can buy "GospeLink 2001" online at

GEMS is grateful to R. Lanier Britsch for his support of this series.
Brother Britsch's book "Unto the Islands of the Sea, A History of the
Latter-day Saints in the Pacific" (Deseret Book, 1986) is available on
"GospeLink 2001." Purchase link given above.

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