I just finished posting over on my Book of Mormon Inspection blog (Mosiah 8) in which I referred to my feelings about the hymn "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" and the time President Hinckley visited Guatemala. As I wrote that post and thought about those experiences I've had, my heart was full and the Spirit bore testimony to me again of the truthfulness of our living prophets.
My earliest interaction with a prophet was with Bruce R. McConkie when he visited our town to organize a new stake. I remember reaching out to shake his hand, along with all the other people trying to do the same thing. It was exhilerating to shake the hand of a prophet of God. Why did I want to shake the hand of a prophet? Because as a young child, I was taught that prophets are men of God meaning they speak with God and they know His will concerning us. I am grateful to my parents for instilling within me a solid understanding of the valuable mission or the living prophets.
Years later as a young freshman at BYU preparing to depart on a mission to Guatemala, I was watching General Conference in the lobby of one of the dorms (DT). For a long time, President Benson was sick and subsequently did not speak in General Conference. He passed away May 30, 1994. In the October 1994 conference, we were able to listen to the Prophet speak again. I don't really remember the topic, but what has always stood out in my mind was how wonderful it was to have the prophet speak to us. President Hunter's service as President was short and he passed away March 3, 1995.
President Hinckley became president of the Church and Elder Eyring was called to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. A few months later in the summer of 1995, Elder Eyring spoke to us missionaries in the MTC. I was sitting to the left of the podium about 5 or 6 rows back. Elder Eyring delivered a powerful sermon at the end of which he bore his testimony. As he bore his testimony, he voice became very emotional. I noticed his wife, at this point, lowered her head, overcome with emtion as well. The Spirit was strong and at that point I knew that Elder Eyring was a true witness of the Living Christ. I have never forgotton that day nor will I ever forget it. The Spirit touched my spirit in such a way that I will never forget those feelings I felt.
Towards the end of serving a mission, President Hinckley visited Central America. He went to Guatemala in December 1996. It was a historical occasion. The members in the area in which I was serving were very excited. We worked hard with the local leadership to arrange for buses to transport the members to Guatemala City to listen to the prophet.
The day before he spoke to the members, President Hinckley spoke to the missionaries. The day was gorgeous ... big billowy clouds with rays of sunlight shining. We met in a stake center and the building was filled to capacity. President Hinckley spoke of John O'donnal and his efforts in establishing the Church in Guatemala. It was inspiring to sit at the prophet's feet and learn from him. Elder Nelson also spoke to the missionaries.
The next day we attended the meeting where all the members of Guatemala had a chance to listen to a prophet's voice. It was a happy and sad moment seeing President Hinckley wave his white handkerchief as he exited the stadium.
As a student at BYU, I had a many opportunites to listen to the Apostles and Prophets. But the stories I've related have always been special to me and have defined my testimony with regards to the living prophets.
I know that President Hinckley is truly called of God and he is a prophet today. My life has been blessed by following the counsels of the prophets. If the whole world would listen to the prophet and obey his counsels, there would be more love, peace and spirituality in our societies and less hate.
I truly am thankful for a prophet!