God delights in heart-felt prayers always
It was late summer of 1994 and Jim Anderson sat in his hot tub and looked at the stars above his Gig Harbor, Washington, home. The crusty 62-year-old retired businessman counted his blessings, including Sharon, his wife and loving companion of 27 years. But he felt something was missing in his life.
“God,” he said out loud, “It’s time for me to get my life in order.”
That was the way Jim prayed, in his straightforward, retired Marine Corps way. “I want to learn more about the Mormons,” he said.
When he was in his early 20’s, Jim had been impressed by the man his mother had married, an Idaho potato farmer and a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Jim visited the farm they had talked, and Jim was impressed with the way John lived his religion. Still, life beckoned and Jim was off to serve his country in the Marine Corps.
So now in the hot tub Jim looked heavenward and continued, “But I don’t want to learn from those young boys, God, I want to learn from someone my own age.”
A couple days later, using the phone book, Jim reached an LDS member in nearby Tacoma and explained to her how he had talked to God in the hot tub, and how he wanted to learn about the Church but not from those young boys but from someone his own age. She listened and encouraged him to contact the Washington Tacoma Mission, that someone there would help him.
The next day Jim called the mission office, headquarters for some 170 missionaries that serve in southwestern Washington, and spoke with the receptionist, Sister Gay Kaiser. He explained the hot tub prayer and how he had told God he felt it was time to learn about the Church, but not from those boys but from someone his own age.
Sister Kaiser said he might want to talk to her husband, Elder Kaiser, and made an appointment for the following day.
Gay and Beryl Kaiser were empty-nesters who had accepted a Church call to a service mission in the Washington Tacoma Mission, leaving grandkids and their home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to serve the Lord by helping the young missionaries with their fleet of cars and staffing the office.
When Jim arrived early at the mission office the next day, Elder Kaiser was tied up, but Jim was greeted by two young Sister missionaries. Soon he was telling them how he had sat in the hot tub and said, “God, I want to learn about the Mormon Church,” and how that brought him to the office that day, but no thanks, he didn’t want to learn from the young sisters, but “from someone my own age.”
Soon Elder Kaiser came and the two men found an office and chatted. Jim told Elder Kaiser his story, about telling God how he wanted to get his life in order, and how he had admired the Idaho Mormon potato farmer and now wanted to learn about the church, but from someone his own age. Elder Kaiser asked, “Well how old are you Jim?”
Soon they were both pulling out their driver’s licenses to prove that, sure enough, they had both been born on the very same day, 62 years earlier.
“I must be careful what I pray for,” said Jim, “for God has answered my prayer.”
Then Elder and Sister Kaiser did something the young missionaries, bless their hearts, rarely have time to do. They visited with the Andersons week after week for long, patient, two-hour discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ and they shared dinners at each others’ homes. They became dear friends over a period of months.
Jim gained a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church and was baptized in December of 1994. I became his home teacher and he told me of his prayer and his conversion. His life was in order and he was square with God when, the following May, a heart attack took him home.
Then Sharon, who had been reluctant to be baptized up until then, asked the Kaiser’s to teach her more, and she too was baptized by Elder Kaiser before the couple finished their mission and returned to Iowa.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere, and I think it may be that God is good, and He knows his children and delights to answer their heartfelt prayers. –Alf Gunn