by Jordan Merrill Hackworth
Dec 18, 1996
This is a story, hastily told, about a prayer. Every Tuesday night at the MTC, we have a devotional from 6:45 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Later at 8:15, we have a district meeting until 9:30. Tonight, the districts in our branch were combined, and the lesson was taught by President Dale Wright. President Wright is a professor of political consulting at BYU. He is personable, kind, and really magnifies his calling - offering thoughtful, well-prepared talks, fellowshipping the missionaries in the branch, smiling.
His topic tonight was prayer. As he spoke, delivering a powerful testimony of its power, sharing rich personal experiences of effectiveness, I began to think about prayer in my life. I'd never had any notable experiences about prayer. In fact, I had never had faith that God answers, or even hears, prayers. I thought back to all the hard, rough, and sick times I'd had already.
My mind thought ahead and multiplied these sorrows by 22. All confidence had fled. Indeed, we hear thrice daily that no one can serve a mission alone, and the Lord's help is the only way possible. The lonely depressing thoughts spilled over and spread their malice throughout my body. My head ached, my stomach felt as lead, my heart fell and my legs whined. I was alone, scared, and about to begin the most challenging thing of my life.
My mind recalled the hymn, "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" but could only recall the title. Like a child asking for candy, the question nagged incessantly. The depression grew like an unchecked infection as I contemplated my dire situation - I wanted to back out.
A scripture in John, where the Savior said, "I will not leave you comfortless," came to mind and I cynically pleaded with God, "Where is my comfort? Here I am serving thee, but I feel no peace." Those thoughts were stewing in my head as President Wright concluded his remark with this. "I love this calling. It's hard though, you become like my family, it's hard to say good-bye. It’s fun to see you grow. I remember when Elder Hackworth first came in he was sociable and fun. Now, well, he's a little shy." (Big laughter here because the opposite is true.) Then looking right at me he said, "It's great to know you, we'll see you again on Friday, and God bless you."
After the meeting I went up to shake his hand, and as I extended my hand to shake, he pulled me into his warm embrace, and he told me I would do great. This was no farewell meeting, 40 people were in the room and no one else was singled out, offered hugs, and encouragement.
This was a sure and strong answer to an earnest prayer, God sending comfort when he promised he would. Never before had I received such a strong answer, never before had I cried with happiness, and never again will I question my decision to be here.