A couple of weeks ago, Sara and I arrived late at the Saturday evening session of stake conference, and so we had a comfortable seat on a couch in the foyer. In exchange for comfort, we gave up the ability to see the speakers.
The concluding speaker caught my attention when he mentioned working as a missionary in the France-Switzerland mission. Why did this catch my attention?
I was called to serve in the French East Mission by President Joseph Fielding Smith* but shortly into my mission the name of the mission was changed to "La Mission Franco-Suisse" in French, which, translated, is the "France-Switzerland Mission." This new name only lasted a few months, because at that time the church** standardized the names of all missions based on the city in which the mission home is located. Our mission became known then as the Switzerland Geneva Mission. So, I ended up serving in three different missions, at least as far as the name goes.
So, the speaker, who worked in the France-Switzerland mission, must have been called to his mission during those few months when that was indeed the name of the mission. So, it was probably someone that I knew!
I spent some time that evening thinking about who it might be. Which led me into the "flashback" mode, which finally resulted in this post.
As a missionary, I spent quite a few months in the mission home, working as the mission recorder. Basically keeping track of who was who in church membership within the mission. I also helped the mission printer out quite a bit and really enjoyed that as well. I also did various miscellaneous things, including driving the children of the mission president (Elder Charles Didier) to their music lessons.
One day, Elder Sam Clark, who was a zone leader needed a companion to drive to some city not too far away, and I went with him. Part of the driving was after dark and we got to singing hymns and other songs. After awhile we began harmonizing. It was a lot of fun. And, that's about all that I remember from that trip.
Back to the present, where we got to the Sunday session a bit early, so that I could get a seat near the front. Sure enough, the visiting authority was Elder Samuel W. Clark of the Seventy. The same man with whom I had spent a few pleasant hours harmonizing, nearly forty years ago.
I shook his hand after the session, but don't think he remembered me, because he said that I hadn't changed a bit (and those who have known me for forty years know that I have***). It is a little disconcerting to have someone your same age become an authority. I remember when it happened with my doctor. And then there are the dentists, police, and bosses who are often (much) younger than me.
Anyway, it was good to see Elder Clark again after all these years. Unlike myself, he has changed very little in appearance (in particular, he still has hair).
*I recall being a bit disappointed to have just missed (by a week or so) getting President David O. McKay's signature on my mission call. But, that was my own fault, for delaying nearly a year.
**At that time it was okay to speak of the church as "the church." Now, the church requires that at the first mention of its name, the name be given in full, as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." In the spirit of the "first shall be last, and the last shall be first, I shall use the name in full here, at (as) the last mention.
***For reference, here are pictures of me taken just over 40 years ago, and about two years ago: