Yesterday the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints passed away.  LDS people believe that the prophet of the church recieves modern day revelation for the church just as Peter did for the Church of Jesus Christ after Jesus was crucified. 

I believe President Hinckley was a prophet and want to share my thoughts and experiences with President Hinckley.

My first experience was when he visited my home town in 1989.  I went to the regional meeting with my Grandpa and Grandma Anderson.  The meeting was packed and I heard him speak.  I was young–about 12 years old, but afterwards I was able to go up and look into his warm eyes that had a twinkle in them and shake his hand.  Looking back it is amazing that he took time to shake everyone’s hand.  There were a few thousand people in the auditorium.  He would mention in his conference talks how much he wanted to get out amoungst the people and shake their hands.  He would say how his hands would hurt sometimes but he was determined to meet everyone.  I’m grateful to have been a recipient.  This is the only direct contact I ever had with him.

The next significant influence he had on my life was when I saw him on 60 minutes in 1995.  I had just graduated from high school and had started my first semester in college.  For many years it seems to me like Mormons had hid and sort of shyed away from getting out in the public and sharing their beliefs and becoming a part of society.  As I watched President Hinckley speak that day I not only felt the Holy Spirit testify to me that he was indeed a prophet, but I felt a great desire to share this message.  A few short months later I had the opportunity to do so as I went on a mission to Germany.

One of the unique things about my mission was that President Hinckley’s grandson was in my mission.  I remember the day he came into our district (group of missionaries) at the MTC (Missionary Training Center where the missionaries study scriptures and learn the language for 2 months before going to the country). 

The first day we all gathered around Elder Hinckley and bombarded him with questions on if President Hinckley had ever seen Jesus or how he speaks to God and many other questions.  Elder Hinckley took it very well and said “he’s just like a regular grandpa…you know, likes to fish and tells jokes.  He’s a good guy.”  The only thing his Grandfather ever said was that receiving revelation was like how Elijah describes it in the Bible in 1 Kings 19: 11-12.  The Lord usually communicates through a “still small voice.” This was a bit anti-climatic for us missionaries, but it made sense!

As it came time for us to depart to Germany, Elder Hinckley was assigned to be my travel companion.  As we were waiting at the airport, Elder Hinckley’s father (Gordon B Hinckley’s son), came and said that President Hinckley wanted to see him before he left and that his companion (which was me) could go and visit in his office as well, but if he wanted to stay with his family he could.  I was torn because my family had traveled many hours to come and see me off, yet I wanted to meet the prophet as well.  I decided to stay with my family and so Elder Hinckley went without me.  When Elder Hinckley returned, I asked him what his grandpa had said.  It was very characteristic of what we usually hear President Hinckley saying with his sense of humor.  When President Hinckley asked why I didn’t come and heard I had decided to stay with my family he said something to the effect of “Well, that’s a good choice.  I can’t blame him for not wanting to see an old man like me!”  I’m sure he had the same twinkle in his eye as he always did when he was joking. 

Although I didn’t have any direct experiences after this encounter, I was inspired many, many times.  When he gave the talk “This Thing wasn’t Done in a Corner” on my mission about how the Church of Jesus Christ is coming forth out of obscurity, I wanted to share the gospel with everyone with a passion I’d never had before that lasted throughout my mission. 

When he announced that he had a goal of having 100 temples by the year 2000 I wasn’t sure how he would double the amount of temples in 3 years, but he did it.  I was inspired.  His books, Standing for Something and Way to Be were inspirational and helped me in college.  When I saw the way he interacted with his wife of 67 years as they would speak together I thought to myself: “that is how I want to treat my wife.”  When he appeared on 60 minutes and Larry King Live and I heard him, I was inspired and motivated as well.

I will always be grateful for the leadership and inspiration that President Gordon B Hinckley gave me.  Although I had limited personal contact with him, he was a part of who I am today because I have tried to live the words he imparted as a prophet of God.  I thank God for a prophet like Gordon B Hinckley to guide me. 

If you are interested in hearing directly from the prophet, here are some links:

For a testimony from the prophet click here. 

For a photographic memorial of the Prophet click here.

God be with you til we meet again.