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A Spiritual Mission Experience Delayed by 50 years


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1 hour ago, Craig Speechly said:

I served my mission in Sydney, Australia from February 1973-February 1975. My mission President was Earl C. Tingey, who went on to become one of the 7 presidents of the 70.  A great man whom I love and honor but that is a story for another day.  I kept the rules, worked hard and did my best to be a good missionary.  It's been 50 years since my mission but recently my mission came full circle.

During my mission I "placed" more copies of the Book of Mormon than most missionaries. Generally my companion and I would go through an entire case of books per week. About 48. We would collect $ .50 for each book, to cover printing costs.  (Back then the church would charge the missionaries for the books they placed, we merely passed that cost on the the recipient).   I was good at placing books and must have placed 1,000's of copies of the Book of Mormon while on my mission and as was the custom back then, I placed a business card in each book with my name and address.

Jump ahead 50 years:

During this past summer I received a I/M through my Facebook messenger.  It was from an Australian member wanting to know if I was the Craig Speechly who had served a mission in Sydney, Australia in 1974.  I replied that yes I was in fact that person.  He replied that one of the members of his ward had recently bore his testimony of having received a copy of the Book of Mormon from a young missionary on the streets of Dee Why, Australia and how that chance encounter had changed his life.  He mentioned how I had challenged him to read the book and promised that if he did he would receive a witness of its truth. Turns out this individual ended up reading the book and had a profound experience and ended up joining the church.  He has been an active member of the church now for 50 years but never knew what had happened to that mystery missionary who had given him the book.

Turns out that I am headed to Australia in a few weeks and will be meeting with this individual. He wants to meet in the exact original place that I handed him the copy of the Book of Mormon on Pitwater Road between Pacific Parade and Oak Street in Dee Why, NSW, Australia.  I remember the location well as we held many a street meeting there.  I'm looking forward to meeting him and hearing the rest of the story.

You never know how a chance encounter might change the course of another humans beings trajectory through life.

 

Thought I'd share my story.

That's beautiful, Craig. I immediately went to Google Maps to look up 'Dee Why'. ; ) I love those kinds of stories. My rule is that if you have ever shared a moment in time with me then we are bonded. I recently went to my first mission reunion (Sao Paulo South - Brazil 1985-87). I was overwhelmed by seeing the faces from so long ago. I suspect you too will be overwhelmed with this upcoming encounter. Please do share with us how it went. : )

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8 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

I served my mission in Sydney, Australia from February 1973-February 1975. My mission President was Earl C. Tingey, who went on to become one of the 7 presidents of the 70.  A great man whom I love and honor but that is a story for another day.  I kept the rules, worked hard and did my best to be a good missionary.  It's been 50 years since my mission but recently my mission came full circle.

During my mission I "placed" more copies of the Book of Mormon than most missionaries. Generally my companion and I would go through an entire case of books per week. About 48. We would collect $ .50 for each book, to cover printing costs.  (Back then the church would charge the missionaries for the books they placed, we merely passed that cost on the the recipient).   I was good at placing books and must have placed 1,000's of copies of the Book of Mormon while on my mission and as was the custom back then, I placed a business card in each book with my name and address.

Jump ahead 50 years:

During this past summer I received a I/M through my Facebook messenger.  It was from an Australian member wanting to know if I was the Craig Speechly who had served a mission in Sydney, Australia in 1974.  I replied that yes I was in fact that person.  He replied that one of the members of his ward had recently bore his testimony of having received a copy of the Book of Mormon from a young missionary on the streets of Dee Why, Australia and how that chance encounter had changed his life.  He mentioned how I had challenged him to read the book and promised that if he did he would receive a witness of its truth. Turns out this individual ended up reading the book and had a profound experience and ended up joining the church.  He has been an active member of the church now for 50 years but never knew what had happened to that mystery missionary who had given him the book.

Turns out that I am headed to Australia in a few weeks and will be meeting with this individual. He wants to meet in the exact original place that I handed him the copy of the Book of Mormon on Pitwater Road between Pacific Parade and Oak Street in Dee Why, NSW, Australia.  I remember the location well as we held many a street meeting there.  I'm looking forward to meeting him and hearing the rest of the story.

You never know how a chance encounter might change the course of another humans beings trajectory through life.

 

Thought I'd share my story.

A remarkable story indeed. 
 

I’m thinking the Church News may be interested in publishing it. You might consider contacting them at churchnews@deseretnews.com

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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51 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

flipping pop bottle caps in a way that they sailed like Frisbees

I once flipped a cap towards a bus that was passing by. It flew into an open bus window. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Nothing came of it ,    thank heavens!

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5 minutes ago, blackstrap said:

I once flipped a cap towards a bus that was passing by. It flew into an open bus window. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Nothing came of it ,    thank heavens!

Nothing came of it..... yet.   Do you have a Facebook page?  You never know whose life you may have touched (literally).

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23 minutes ago, blackstrap said:

I once flipped a cap towards a bus that was passing by. It flew into an open bus window. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Nothing came of it ,    thank heavens!

In Central America?

Yeah, I’ve done many dumb things that I hope nothing came of them. Praying for mercy over justice. 😬

Edited by Bernard Gui
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6 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Were you in that bus?

😂

Your comment reminds me of a Steven Wright joke….

He was riding a ski lift when a man got on beside him. They struck up a conversation as they ascended the mountain. The man said, “I just got out of prison.” “Why were you in prison?” “I pushed a perfect stranger off a ski lift.” “I remember you!”

Edited by Bernard Gui
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12 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

A remarkable story indeed. 
 

I’m thinking the Church News may be interested in publishing it. You might consider contacting them at churchnews@deseretnews.com

 

Thanks Scott, I thought about that but felt uncomfortable doing so. I even thought twice about sharing the story here.  Since I don't post anonymously I don't want this to be about me. I was just the missionary in the right place at the right time, nothing special about me.   I'll give it some thought and run it past David, the young man I gave the book to 50 years ago and see what he thinks when I meet with him in a few weeks. 

Thanks

Edited by Craig Speechly
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I love stories like this…

in fact, I experienced something like this, except is was me who received the Book of Mormon, and the person who gave it to me and changed my life 43 years ago, I was recently able to find that couple Facebook. In addition to this, the missionary who confirmed my wife and I as member of the Church, also turned out to be my son’s English Professor at Weber State. Then when my son had his first child, this faithful Elder stood in the circle to bless my granddaughter. Before this, he also attended my son and daughter-in-law going through the Bountiful Temple, and being sealed. 
 

I was certainly happy about my son, and all the wonderful things going one in his life. But I  thrilled that this faithful Elder who meant so much to us, was able to see his efforts come full circle. Also his wife, also served her mission (in (what was then) West Germany. They met one another for the first time when my wife and I had all four missionaries in our Apartment for Thanksgiving Dinner. 
 

Indeed, God is good!!! 

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13 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

... Yeah, I’ve done many dumb things that I hope nothing came of them. Praying for mercy over justice. 😬

If we all got the justice we deserve, 99.9% of us would, and J. Golden Kimball would put it exactly this way, go straight to Hell! :diablo: 

 

(Hey, I may be bound directly for Hell, but I intend to have as much fun as I possibly can before I finally get there! :D :rofl::D

https://www.gotohellmi.com/store/p28/Welcome_to_Hell_Sign.html

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4 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

Thanks Scott, I thought about that but felt uncomfortable doing so. I even thought twice about sharing the story here.  Since I don't post anonymously I don't want this to be about me. I was just the missionary in the right place at the right time, nothing special about me.   I'll give it some thought and run it past David, the young man I gave the book to 50 years ago and see what he thinks when I meet with him in a few weeks. 

Thanks

If he likes the idea, both of you should provide your stories as that would be quite interesting to have both sides of the experience. 

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Craig, that’s a very inspiring story. I agree with Calm and hope you will seriously consider sharing this to a wider audience.

I know a couple of missionaries that didn’t see a lot of success in the mission field even though they were great missionaries. I think your story can serve as a reminder and encouragement to many LDS and returned missionaries that you never know what fruit your efforts might bear, even 50 years later.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

Thanks Scott, I thought about that but felt uncomfortable doing so. I even thought twice about sharing the story here.  Since I don't post anonymously I don't want this to be about me. I was just the missionary in the right place at the right time, nothing special about me.   I'll give it some thought and run it past David, the young man I gave the book to 50 years ago and see what he thinks when I meet with him in a few weeks. 

Thanks

I can tell you that if you shared the story through the Church News, you couldn’t do it anonymously. And I’m pretty sure they would want to be able to cover the story of your meeting as it happens, as opposed to your recounting it to them later. Which means running it past David in advance. 

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I was blessed to serve a mission in Northern Mexico: far enough away to be in a foreign country, but close enough that return visits weren't all that difficult.  I made such a return visit on the 1-year anniversary of my return home, and discovered the endings of a few "mission stories" that I might not otherwise have known.  When I transcribed my mission journal a few years later, I was able to include some of those post scripts. 

And if I saw that much snowballing after just 1 year, I can't imagine how much more snowballing has gone on in the 20+ years since I last set foot in that part of Mexico.  I can't even begin to imagine the size of the snowball waiting for you in Australia. 

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6 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I can tell you that if you shared the story through the Church News, you couldn’t do it anonymously. And I’m pretty sure they would want to be able to cover the story of your meeting as it happens, as opposed to your recounting it to them later. Which means running it past David in advance. 

They’d go to Australia?  I wasn’t suggesting doing anything anonymously, I was only mentioning that I don’t post anonymously here nor am I seeking any attention 

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Ugh on the covering it while it happens. Later for sure, but it feels voyeuristic or narcissistic  to have someone there if I was meeting someone like that where intimacy would be gone and emotions would be inhibited by thinking others were watching, I would be thinking about how I looked to others or if my friend was nervous and not liking it rather than just focusing on connecting with the two of us . .  I really dislike this part of our culture that gives little privacy and turns everything into what amounts to reality TV, even for worthy causes.

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, Craig Speechly said:

They’d go to Australia?  I wasn’t suggesting doing anything anonymously, I was only mentioning that I don’t post anonymously here nor am I seeking any attention 

There are a number of ways for a publication to cover a story remotely without sending a staffer out of state or overseas to do it. When I was at the Church News, we regularly worked with a loose network of correspondents; local Church directors of public affairs; free-lance interviewers, writers and photographers, based throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. And that was even before we had the Internet, e-mail, text messaging, video calls and other such technology. 

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50 minutes ago, Calm said:

Ugh on the covering it while it happens. Later for sure, but it feels voyeuristic or narcissistic  to have someone there if I was meeting someone like that where intimacy would be gone and emotions would be inhibited by thinking others were watching, I would be thinking about how I looked to others or if my friend was nervous and not liking it rather than just focusing on connecting with the two of us . .  I really dislike this part of our culture that gives little privacy and turns everything into what amounts to reality TV, even for worthy causes.

I think I may have inadvertently given you the wrong impression. I didn’t have in mind having somebody on scene, ambush style, at the moment of their first meeting. 
 

My approach in covering a story like this would be to arrange an interview with the two men, together or separately. I would want to have a photo of them at the location where the Book of Mormon placement occurred, since it is identifiable by both of them and it figures so prominently in their reunion. I might engage a Church member who was a competent photographer to arrange to meet them on scene at a mutually agreeable time and obtain the photo. 

Alternatively, I might ask each man to write down his own recollections and perspectives, from which I would extract quotes that could be woven into a story for publication. 

I don’t see anything voyeuristic or inappropriate in an approach such as the above. 

When I said “as it happens,” I meant within a few days of the event, as opposed to waiting for weeks, months or years, which I know from experience some tend to do but would rob the story of much of its immediacy and newsworthiness. 

Of course, I don’t speak for the Church News folks, nor do I even have any interaction with them these days. That chapter in my life is closed. 

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27 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I think I may have inadvertently given you the wrong impression. I didn’t have in mind having somebody on scene, ambush style, at the moment of their first meeting. 
 

My approach in covering a story like this would be to arrange an interview with the two men, together or separately. I would want to have a photo of them at the location where the Book of Mormon placement occurred, since it is identifiable by both of them and it figures so prominently in their reunion. I might engage a Church member who was a competent photographer to arrange to meet them on scene at a mutually agreeable time and obtain the photo. 

Alternatively, I might ask each man to write down his own recollections and perspectives, from which I would extract quotes that could be woven into a story for publication. 

I don’t see anything voyeuristic or inappropriate in an approach such as the above. 

When I said “as it happens,” I meant within a few days of the event, as opposed to waiting for weeks, months or years, which I know from experience some tend to do but would rob the story of much of its immediacy and newsworthiness. 

Of course, I don’t speak for the Church News folks, nor do I even have any interaction with them these days. That chapter in my life is closed. 

I don’t have any issue for it being after not that long after the fact, it is the ‘be there for the grand reveal’ approach, ‘see all the emotions, happiness and heartache as it happens’ in what used to be private moments that I can’t stand.  What you describe sounds like a reasonable way of doing things to me.  Soon enough for memories to be bright, but not intrusive, enough context to allow people to imagine how it happened if they want.

It really sounded odd to think of the ChurchNews doing it that way, lol.  I was thinking how sad they gave into the pressure of push to be first on the scene, etc.

Edited by Calm
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