Last year (2009) Mark Butler told a story in his Sacrament talk.
He told about a man who went on a mission to the Gulf States around 40 years ago but had no baptisms. Towards the end of his mission he started teaching on young man. It looks promising and this man thinks that maybe he’ll get his first baptism before the end of his mission. The young man does gain a testimony but doesn’t get baptized because of family issues. Brother West goes home from his mission somewhat depressed that the young man did not get baptized. It bothers him for 40 years.
One Sunday a few years ago, Brother West was asked to substitute teach in the 16 year old Sunday School class in his Idaho ward. During his lesson he tells the story about the young man on his mission who didn’t get baptized. He had never told this story before.
It just so happens there is a young man in the class, visiting from Texas. While telling his this story Brother West tries to remember the name of the boy that got away…Gerald something…Gereald Kok….
Dusty Butler, the visitor, pops up…Gerald Kokenes???!!!
Brother West says yes. As it did turn out Gerald Kokenes did join the church along with his girlfriend and wife to be. They have spent their lives together raising their family in the Gospel and rendering church service. Brother Kokenes was Dusty Butler’s Bishop.
What are the odds that Brother West would relate this story on this day and with Dusty Butler visiting the ward, while substitute teaching this class?
The Lord is mindful of us all. Brother West found out his mission did do a lot of good. And the boy that got away – really didn’t.
Here is the other part of the story. Dusty was one of my kids – as scoutmaster and then Young Men’s Pres. He moved in to Bishop Kokenes ward. As a teenager he started to flounder some. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to go on a mission. During this time his father lost his job and they considered moving back to Idaho after many years in Texas. Dusty went ahead to spend a few weeks in Idaho. While there he had this experience. It was as much a defining moment for Dusty as it was for Brother West. Afterward this experience transpired, Dusty’s father (Mark) found a job in the DFW area and Dusty came home and prepared for and served a worthy mission.
I don’t believe in coincidence. Our Heavenly Father knows us all. He know who we are. He knows what we need. He answered many prayers from many people through this one experience.