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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mongolia: Stories from John Groberg

Anytime, Anywhere by John H. Groberg is an inspiring book that I received as a Christmas gift from a kind woman in my ward. Among his many stories of experiences around the world as a General Authority are several stories from Mongolia. Since the Appleton, Wisconsin area has been blessed by a couple of faithful missionaries who came from Mongolia, I was especially intrigued by some of Elder Groberg's experiences about bringing missionary work to the wonderful land.

In 1994, when Elder Groberg was assigned to the Area Presidency over Asia, the new mission in Mongolia faced a serious crisis. An official in Mongolia decided that there would be no more visas issued to Mormon missionaries. Elder Groberg was asked to rush to that land and try to solve the problem. When the news came, his daughter was visiting with him and his wife in Hong Kong, having just completed a mission in Slovenija. He brought her and his wife with him to Mongolia before his daughter returned to the States. He found the official in Mongolia to be unwilling to bend. Efforts were made to reach other officials to find some other solution, but nothing could be done. Finally, he asked the small branch there to join him in fasting and prayer to find a solution. After fasting, he met with the branch and asked if anyone knew of any other contacts they could work with to get help. No one had any ideas, but after a while one man mentioned that he had heard of a high-ranking official who had been friendly to the Church, and who now assigned to Europe and was back in Mongolia briefly because his son was in the hospital. With no other leads, Elder Groberg arranged to meet this official.

The official was serving as an ambassador in Europe. He was kind, but explained that he had little influence over domestic matters. He also said that his son was better than expected, so he was about to return to Europe again and was anxious to get back to work there, where he faced a difficult challenge now that a new country had been added to his responsibilities - the nation of Slovenija. He knew little about that land and its people, but had to attend a meeting in the capital, Ljubljana, in a few days and needed time to prepare.

Slovenija? Well, Elder Groberg was able to explain that his daughter, who was with them in Mongolia, has spent 18 months in Ljubljana, Slovenija and would be happy to help answer his questions. He was soon meeting with Jennie Groberg and was impressed with her knowledge. He hadn't known that women served missions and asked many questions about the missionaries. After the very positive meeting, he noted that he did have one friend in the government who might help.

That lead was the critical connection that gradually led to more meetings, negotiations, and eventually a happy resolution of the crisis, with more visas being issued to missionaries. The Church was able to grow and become several thousand strong in that land - strong enough to send diligent, faithful missionaries to distant corners of the earth like Appleton, Wisconsin.

So many things came together to answer the prayers of the Saints in Mongolia. How strange that Elder Groberg's daughter had been called to the same land that the Mongolian ambassador needed to work with, and that she was available in Mongolia at the right moment. How opportune that a member had heard about the official being back in the country and could recommend him as the last resort for Elder Groberg to consider. How wonderful that the thin threads of coincidence could come together to weave a solution to crisis the Church faced in Mongolia.

One valuable lesson for me is to not give up when there appears to be a dead end, but continue faithfully doing all possible to obtain the Lord's help and find a solution. The Lord can reach down and give us the tiny miracles that eventually help us find our way through, if we do all we can in faith and seek the guidance of the Spirit.

5 comments:

Bookslinger said...

When a series of things like that happens for the good, I like to say "At some point it stops being coincidence, ya know?"

melissaclee said...

Thank you for sharing this. My husband served his mission in Mongolia 2001-2003 and I always love learning about the church in Mongolia.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story and the spiritual experance. Never give up.

damien said...

thanks for that post never give up prayer , fasting and a bit of hard work can work wonders...

BrianV said...

I love hearing about mongolia, one of the missionaries that taught my family was from mongolia.... Elder Chinzorig.... we miss him dearly and haven't been able to contact him since he went home a few years ago..