Just one day before they would complete their training and ship out to their respective mission assignments, a group of elders and sisters from the Missionary Training Center in Preston, England, were visiting local Church history sites when they had three surprising visitors.
President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Quentin L. Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came across the group at the Downham Parish Church in Lancashire. All three Apostles served full-time missions in the British Isles as young men, and they are on special assignment to address members and missionaries in England this week.
After the senior leaders stumbled upon the group, President Ballard shared an impromptu message with the missionaries, Church News reports.
“Elders and sisters, we are proud of you,” he said. “You have the truth. Your message is true. Joseph is the Prophet that was called of God to restore the fullness of the everlasting gospel. ... And you have a message that every single person in this world should hear. … So be bold and be forthright and let the world know who you are and why you have come all this way.”
“It was such a surprising, beautiful experience for the missionaries, and for us, to meet in that special chapel,” MTC President Creg Ostler told Church News.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Sister Laura Conte of Brescia, Italy, noted. “It was really special.”
Church News writes that Elder Holland called the township of Downham “a little snapshot in time.” Early Church missionaries Heber C. Kimball and Joseph Fielding taught and baptized many converts in the area. Elder Cook is the great-great-grandson of Heber C. Kimball.
“Leaving this precious place was one of the most emotional experiences [Heber C. Kimball] ever had,” Elder Cook told Church News.
Read the full story on Church News.