When Paul McNabb was a missionary in Japan, he met Elder Gordon B. Hinckley at a missionary conference. He remembers the kindness of Elder Hinckley, who was then an apostle:
I met Gordon B. Hinckley once when I was a missionary in Japan in the mid 1970s. After speaking to the missionaries at a special conference, he offered to call our parents when he returned home to America to wish them Merry Christmas and to pass on brief messages. (In those days missionaries never called their families or friends during their entire missions.) I went up afterwards to talk to him and told him that my parents weren’t LDS and didn’t really like the Church. I gave him my parents’ names and phone number and some money to cover the expenses. He was very kind to me.
A few weeks later a letter arrived from Elder Hinckley in which he said he had had a nice talk with my parents and that they were doing fine. He returned my money in the envelope and told me to use it for my mission. From this trip alone this busy apostle had made many hundreds of personal phone calls to people just to be kind and helpful, and who knows how many personal letters he wrote. My parents wrote me to say they had had a nice call from an “Elder Hinckley” who talked with them about meeting me in Japan.
My experience with the prophets and apostles is that they are among the sweetest, kindest, humblest, and most hardworking people on earth.
Gordon B. Hinckley was a great and good man, tireless in his testimony of Christ and faithful in his work for the Gospel. He was certainly a man who knew Christ, and it radiated from him almost as a real light.
Source: An Experience with Gordon B. Hinckley by Paul McNabb
I too met President Hinckley as a young missionary. he was just an old guy coming out of the restroom of an empty Stake Center in Fresno,(1969). I thought I was alone, my companion was asleep somewhere when I heard the door back down the hall behind me.
I was studying the Book of Mormon, we were there to meet with the Bishops of the 3 wards we covered, but this morning they were changing out the Presidency and this old guy,I can still hear him walking towards me in the hallway, had a unique way of walking…he was drying off his hans with his handkerchief and looked up and saw me and said “Oh good morning , Elder….stuck out hand for me to shake and as we did, he said “I’m Brother Hinckley from Salt Lake, and I told him my adding that I was from Corinne, Utah…..He asked me if I knew three or 4 people that he knew in Corinne, and I said yep, worked for one of those guys for 2 years, milking cows….We continued talking about a little bit of everything, never did ask me where my companion was.
He told me about changing the Stake Presidency, but not the rest of the story about why he was there….but it was to keep a Guatamalan guy from committing suicide…a Guatamalan guy with a married to a white gal and had two beautiful daughters six to eight years old….he had apparently overstayed his Visa and the US government was deporting him and he didn’t want his family to go to Central America because of a the danger and poverty there.
Brother Hinckley kept looking at his watch and told me he had an appointment with a young man at 6:30 am, and it was getting close….and finally after some more small talk he said “well my young man should be here right about …..NOW…I looked out in the parking lot and no cars were pulling in…I was just somewhat concerned….I don’t know why….then Brother Hinckley said “here he is right now”….I couldn’t see anyone except a hispanic old looking guy about a hundred yards away in the grape vineyard across the road from the Stake Center.
I think I said something like “him”?….Brother Hinckley said “that’s my man”….
He just stood over there looking towards the Stake Center when I heard Brother Hinckley say softly “c’mon you’re here”. The guy started to walk towards us, we could see him, but because the sun was just coming up, he couldn’t see us inside the foyer. He got to within a hundred feet on the glass front doors and stopped again, looking like he was wondering what the heck was he doing here….Again Brother Hinckley said ” C’mon you’re almost here”, and it was like he could hear him, but I was touching shoulders with Brother Hinckley, and I could just barely hear him talking….they fellow started to walk towards us again and when he got to within 15 feet out both Brother Hinckley opened our doors at just about the same time.
Brother Hinckley reached out to shake his hand and told him to come in, he was here to help him with his problem….as Brother Hinckley kept hold of his hand , as he was “dragged” into the Church, the then younger looking (maybe 27 or 28 year old young man looked at me and asked me…”how does he know I have a problem?..to which I had no answer….I think I told him I just work here!”
Brother Hinckley continued to “drag” this reluctant chap into the Relief Society room right there close, and closed the door….I went back to my reading……a few minutes later the door opened and Brother Hinckley, called me by name and said ” Elder Kirk, handing me his rental car keys and a slip of paper with this guy’s address on it….find your companion and take my car and go to Fresno State married housing and retrieve this man’s wife and daughters for me, please
I found my companion sleeping on the stage, told him to come on, were have to take a ride…..We did as we were told and his wife and daughters were waiting on the sidewalk, there must have been a phone in the RS room….His wife was extremely concerned and wondering why her husband was at an LDS church,he’s doesn’t belong to that church…we are Catholic, all I could tell her was Ma’am …I don’t know, apparently you have some kind of problem that an old guy there from Utah is going to try to resolve for you……I asked if they had a problem that would make him seek help…and she said ” yes, we have a big problem…”.
I escorted them to the RS room, and the Center was starting to fill up with members coming back , that were there before We got there at 5:30….but I knocked on the door and Brother Hinckley opened it and shook the little girls hands and invited them in and then the Mrs.
She was relieved to see her husband was safe and smiling, probably for the first time in weeks, and sat down next to him….At this point Brother Hinckley turned to me and said “Thank You, Elder Kirk” and I handed him his keys back, he told me I didn’t know how much help I had been to him and this family……and he was right , within a few hours in our other Stake, where we had one ward and some investigators meeting us for church for their first time, all of this was forgotten, my companion never knew anything about what had transpired that morning…and we went back to being just missionaries….I had no idea Brother Hinckley was an Apostle of the Lord….I had only joined the Church a couple of years earlier so though I was on a Mission, I didn’t know too much, except that it was True….It would be two or three weeks before we had a dinner appointment with the Bishop and his family who presided over Fresno State….and when we were finished up, Bishop Mach said, I hear you guys had a pretty interesting experience with President Hinckley a couple of weeks ago……I said , oh yeah…whatever happened over that situation?…….he Bishop said no one has told you?….I said nope, we’ve been working in our other area……and he said sit down, I have one wonderful story to tell you….and the backstory to all this was pretty miraculous, and I forgot about most of it within a few minutes until it came to me while watching Conference two years later and this old guy named Brother Hinckley stepped up the the podiem and I immediatly recognized him and called my wife to come see this , for I had told her about it, but didn’t really “get it”…..I can’t go on now , but there is more to the story, I began remembering what Bishop Mach told me was the whole story….and I got to be part of it!
I enjoyed Pauls story about President Hinckley and would like to add a short version of my own. It was in the Fall of 1969, Fresno,California where I was a missionary.
I knew they were changing the Stake Presidency out, but every Sunday morning at 5:30 my companion and I would meet with the bishopric of 2 of our wards to discuss our progress and anything else that we needed from the ward.
When we arrived at the Stake Center, the men were all leaving, as we had a ward in Clovis, we sometimes didn’t get all the info from these two wards that we should and we had been working with a family of seven there and had been spending a lot of time with this family since they committed to Baptism a week or so earlier, trying to keep the adversary from doing what he does best.
Upon learning that everyone would be back around 8a.m., and having been invited to come home with several of the bretheren to have breakfast at their homes and declining, my companion, a “greenie” named Elder Harris, went to find a place to sleep and I started to read my Book of Mormon, 3rd Nephi, in the foyer which was slowly beginning to get lightened by the morning sun.
As I was walking around reading I heard the toilet back up the hallway flush,just figured it was Elder Harris….kept reading…..heard the door open, then heard footsteps coming my way…..but they didn’t sound like familiar footsteps, they kind of slapped the floor …..in a moment a voice definitly not my companions, said Elder, how are you…I turned around and saw this older gentleman drying his hands with his handkerchief….them he stretched out his arm to shake my hand and introduced himself as Brother Hinckley from Salt Lake City….I responded saying , something like “good morning, I’m Elder Kirk from Corinne, Utah”….
For the next 45 minutes we talked about Corinne and all the folks he knew there and I knew every one of them…even worked for one of his friends for a couple of years during high school, milking cows…
He told me he was there to preside over the Stake Presidency change, and he also had a meeting with a young man about a problem he was having at 6:30….
As 6:30 approached and the sun rose up over the grape vineyard that was the Church Farm there,(they had carved out a 5 acre or so piece to build the building), he was keeping a close eye on his watch…..and looking out the front doors towards the road about 200 feet out in front of us, I noticed his shoulder and mine were touching…..I was a good foot taller than this man, but I didn’t know who he was….
He quietly said “there he is now”…I had been waiting for a car to pull in, but no car….and started looking for someone, out there…All I could see besides an empty parking lot was about a hundred yards out, in the deep vineyard sand was a hispanic looking man who looked like he was a farmer looking after his grapes.
It was quiet for a few seconds and I said that guy way out there…Bro. Hinckley said “that’s him….I don’t know exactly what I was thinking, but Bro. Hinckley from Salt Lake said something like “come on, you’re in the right place”….and this gentleman began walking towards us as if he heard what my new friend had said…and every time he would stop, looking bewildered, Bro. Hinckley would “talk” to him again…..and he would start moving towards us again….
As soon as he neared the door we were leaning on, we both opened them simultaneously and Bro. Hinckley said “come in young man I’m Brother Hinckley and this is Elder Kirk and we are going to help you with your problem.
Brother Hinckley reached out to shake his hand and while shaking began to “drag ” him into the foyer and as he went past me hae asked me ” how does he know I have a problem?” to which I replied….I have no idea….He took our guest into the Relief Society room and closed the door and I began reading again…
a couple of minutes later the door opened and Bro. Hinckley handed me a slip of paper and his rental car keys and asked if I would find my companion and go to Fresno State, the married housing area and retrieve this man’s wife and daughters…..I did and when we got there I could see them out front on the sidewalk waiting…..concerned she asked if her husband was alright and I assured her he was, my companion just sat there, had no idea what was happening ,and I knew just barely a little more….she wanted to know why he was at an LDS church, because he/they were Catholics….I couldn’t answer her to her satisfaction, just that it would be all explained to her in a few minutes….
I knocked on the door, Bro. Hinckley opened it and took them in, calling her Sister something, I forget their name, and bent over to shake the hands these two beautiful girls and they ran over to their Dad……Bro. Hinckley took his keys back, shook my companions hand and then mine and said “thank you Elder Kirk, you have been a great help this morning.
He closed the door and I noticed they men in the ward were starting to come back, but it was also time for us to go to our other ward in Clovis, which was in another stake…to be with our family and that was the end of that….
Two weeks later we had a D.A. with the Bishop’s family, Bishop Mach…he was a professor at Fresno State…and his wife was the best cook….We talked while the meal was being prepared by his daughter and her Mom while the Bishop and the two of us discussed the giant hole in the backyard….their 17 year old son decided they needed a swimming pool and had dug this by hand because there was no room to get a backhoe in there….it was about ready to be cemented all up…..and I suddenly remembered the incident that I watched unfold before my eyes and I asked the Bishop what that was all about….and he said “you haven’t heard?” I told him we had been busy elsewhere and he had to sit down to bring me up to speed on this situation…..
Apparently this man was from Guatamala and he was married to a white gal he met at Fresno, but had overstayed his Visa, and still had a few months to go before graduation, but he was being deported. After exhausting every avenue he could think of, decided the best thing he could do was take his own life so that his wife would have his life insurance and stay here, because he knew she would not let him go home to Central America without her and the girls….a very dangerous place at the time , even more so now, I suppose.
He borrowed a handgun from someone and at around 2 am in the morning while everyone was asleep, he was going to commit suicide….He was going to go outside someplace and was crying , praying for help, but none seemed to be coming so as he prepared to go out, he once again asked for help and this time he fell asleep on the kitchen table, gun in hand.
Moments later he was awakened and was in the presence of a big man in a robe who told him to follow him, he got up and before leaving the room looked back to see where he left the gun, and saw himself asleep at the table…He was alarmed at this, but just stared following this man who he thought looked familiar and very “nice”…next thing he realized was he was following the guy through the vineyard, in that ankle deep sand, his friend would turn around every little while and encourage him to keep following him, though he was very confused. When they came to a haul road , they one where he appeared to me and Brother Hinckley at 6:30, the man in the robe told him,”when you awaken , come here” and pointing towards the Stake Center said “there will be a man who will help you “…..The next thing he knew he was waking up at the table and knew he had to get to that place…so hiding the gun he left this time with his body..and the rest is what I have already written…
I don’t know anymore about this gentleman whether he joined the Church or not, something tells me he did, and that everything turned out alright for this family, but I do know that his Visa problem was fixed….I would like to know who he was, like to talk to him about our experience with Brother Hinckley….two years later while watching April Conference with my wife in Corinne, Utah, whoever was conducting said and now we will hear for Gordon B. Hinckley, of the Quoram of the Twelve Apostles and as he approached the podium, I couldn’t believe my eyes….I had told my wife about this experience but had no idea I was in the presence of an Apostle…..and I can still hear his shoes slapping the floor as he came down the hall towards me..
There have been times when my testimony has weakened during that time about 50 years ago, and all I would have to do is remember that short hour or so that I was allowed to watch this miracle happen and I was able to regather myself and find my way back….so I feel like that experience was as much for me as it was this man from Guatamala.
What an amazing, testimony-building story. Thanks for sharing this.