“Alice and I want to know if we drove to Cleveland, would you give us a priesthood blessing and ask the Lord if He would let us have at least one more child? We want our little Shelly to have a brother or sister to grow up with, and it would mean everything to us Elder Davis, if we could. We believe the Lord will listen to you, Elder Davis, that He lead you to us to get us into His church, and that through your priesthood, we can be blessed to have another child. How would you feel about doing that for us? Is that something you could ask the Lord to help us with?”
I have never in all my life been so awe struck and humbled. I was totally speechless and completely caught off guard. No one said a word for what seemed like minutes but it was a very long pause. Then Harry spoke up and said, “Elder Davis, are you still there? Are you ok?” I said, “Yes, Harry and Alice, I’m still here. I just need a minute or two to gather my thoughts. To be honest, you guys have really caught me off guard.” I then said, “You know something like this is very sacred and we have to prepare for this. We just can’t run out and do a blessing the same way as if someone is sick or needing help with a problem or issue. This requires a lot of prayer and fasting so I can know what the Lord wants to do and how He wants this to happen, so we need to set aside a special day for this.”
I then mentioned, “because of the work week you have Harry and our schedule as missionaries, we should probably plan this for a Saturday, a weekend, so you don’t miss any work and can get back in time for church. Thats a four hour plus drive for you guys. Do you think you’ll spend the night or just drive back the same day?” Alice mentioned that they would be getting a baby sitter for Shelly and would need to get back home before dinner.
I said, “How soon do you two want to do this and when?” Harry said, “Can we do it this weekend?” They had called me on a Sunday night I believe. I was again shocked a little. I asked, “This next weekend?” They answered, “Yes. Would that work?” I was thinking and hoping for a couple of weeks at least, to prepare for this but I blurted out, “Sure, let’s plan this for next Saturday then. What time? They said, “If we get up at 5:00 am and leave by 6:00 am there will be little to know traffic then, especially on a Saturday, so we should be at your place by 10:00 am. Then after the blessing maybe take you and your companion to lunch and then head home.” I said, “That sounds like a good plan to me, so let’s all start our fast Friday at 10:am. Will that work for everyone?” “Yes, that will be just fine Elder Davis.” Alice was on the other line. Her sweet little voice said, “Thank you so much for doing this for us Elder Davis. We love you so much. You have changed our lives in so many ways.” I had tears running down my face, just as I am now as I write this experience down on paper. My heart is pumping and I’m reliving this as though it just happened yesterday.
I said, “I need you both to know and understand that I have little to nothing to do with this blessing. This is all in the Lord’s hands and His doing. I of myself, I’m nothing, and without the Lord we can do nothing in this life. I will plead and go to the Lord as I never have for you to receive this blessing that you seek at His hand. I love you both dearly.” We said our goodbyes and we all hung up.
At that very moment I fell to my knees and cried and cried and cried, as I never had in my life to that point. I was only a 20 year old and I knew so little. Yes, I had had some remarkable missionary experiences and had used my priesthood a few times to give blessings to help and to heal people. One blessing was very critical for a man who was to lose both of his legs. But this was a totally different experience. They wanted a child. The Dennises had so much faith in me and my relationship with the Lord that I was awe struck. I questioned not the Lord, but myself; do I have that kind of faith? Can I know and find out the will of the Lord in this matter? How will I know what to do and say? I want them to have a child, but is that what the Lord wants? The blessing will only work if it’s the will of the Lord, but I also must have great faith to make sure the full powers of heaven can be called upon for this blessing.
This, and so many other thoughts flooded my mind, my heart, and soul. I remember praying for the longest time when I had gotten off the phone with the Dennises. When I finally rose to my feet, Elder Foster asked if I was ok, and if I needed any help or anything; what was going on? I told him about the Dennises phone call and why they had called and then mentioned to him that they were coming this Saturday to our apartment. He was also speechless. He said “I’m sure glad it’s you and not me that’s giving them that blessing.” Tracy then asked, “So what are you going to do?” I told him I was going to be praying like I never have in my life, like Enos in the Book of Mormon, so I can know the mind and will of the Lord in this matter. I would deeply and sincerely appreciate his prayers and fasting as well and, “as you will be with me and you will be the one to anoint them with the oil, if you don’t mind?” He said, “Sure, that’s the easy part. Just as long as I don’t have to say anything else.” Ha ha
Each day and night in our personal and companion prayers we poured out our hearts to the Lord for this blessing. It was a somber and humbling week for me, with little to no kidding or joking around. I was overcome with the seriousness of this request from the Dennises for this blessing. My mind seemed riveted on this 24/7. I was thinking about so many things and I didn’t want to pre think about anything I would say. I wanted this to be totally from the Lord because I knew without that, it would be just words or things that I wanted them to have or hear and that was not acceptable.
I got the impression one evening when we returned home from proselyting that I needed to read my Patriarchal Blessing. As I did, I was deeply touched and humbled. In one of the parts of my blessing the Lord said “I bless you with great faith, Brother Davis, for faith is the first principle of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” These words seemed to jump off the page at me in bold print. It brought such peace and comfort to my soul. I said to myself, “Yes, with the Lord, all things are possible and if this is His will, this will happen and He will tell me so.”
Well, the week seemed to fly by all too quickly and the next thing I knew it was Friday and the Dennises would be here the next day. I started my fast that morning and that evening the Dennises called to confirm and make sure everything was still good to go. I confirmed it was and that I was excited to see them both in the morning. I was up late, reading and praying as I usually was, but this night was very different and special as my feelings where tender and so very close to the Lord as I poured out my heart again to Him, expressing all that I felt. I felt a great peace come over me and was very confident that this would all go well and that I would be able to do this as the Lord would want me to.
The Dennises arrived just a few minutes early, as I knew they would. I had been up by 5:30, gotten dressed and finished my scripture reading with prayer. As I saw the Dennises pull up from my large upstairs bedroom window, I went down stairs to greet them. We all embraced with big, warm, heart felt hugs. My emotions ran high and I just could not hold back my tears. The love I had for them and what we were all gathered for was so humbling to me. I was feeling the love that the Lord had for them as new converts to the church and all, and they had just driven four hours to receive a blessing. What touched me even more was they both came dressed just like they were coming to church. Harry had on a full three-piece suit and Alice was wearing a Sunday best dress. They were ready and wanting to present themselves to the Lord for the blessing they desired with two of the Lord’s missionaries.
We all headed upstairs to our apartment and I introduced them to my missionary companion, Elder Foster. We all sat and visited as I got a lot more detail about all of their struggles to have another child. It was very heart touching to see and feel their emotions and how badly they wanted another child. I then mentioned to them what we were going to do next, that Elder Foster would anoint them with consecrated olive oil and I told them the significance of that and why we use this in giving certain blessings. Then I would seal that anointing upon their head and then give them a blessing as directed by the Spirit. I mentioned that we would start with Alice first. We were fortunate we had this big, over stuffed chair in our apartment that was a great reading chair and it worked out perfectly for this occasion.
I don’t remember all of the words I spoke to Alice, but even after 43 years having passed away I do remember a few special lines that stayed with me. I told her of the love the Lord had for her and that He was very pleased for the wonderful mother she was to her daughter, Shelly. Alice was an elementary school teacher at one time, so she spent a lot of quality time with Shelly, teaching her to read and write and many many other things. I also remember sharing with her what a loving and supporting wife she was to her husband, Harry, and that she would be blessed for being such a loving mother and wife. I then mentioned how pleased the Lord was with her for accepting her calling in the Relief Society, for serving so unselfishly in helping the other sisters in her ward and that the Lord would bless her with the righteous desires of her heart. I remember the sweet spirit we all felt in the room as we all exchanged warm hugs and wiped the tears from our eyes. I felt what I had said was what the Lord had given me to say. The words flowed easily and my mind was clear.
Now it was Harry Dennis’ turn. He sat down and gave us his full name and Elder Foster anointed him. As I placed my hands upon his head, I immediately felt the spirit of the Lord upon me and I remember telling him of the Lord’s great love for him, and for his faith and courage in joining His church, and that the Lord had blessed him with many talents and many gifts and as he shared these gifts and talents with others in his various callings, he would be blessed. Then, as clear as a blue sky, I told Harry that he needed to take his wife and their daughter and be sealed in The House of The Lord. That if he paid a full tithing, obeyed the Word of Wisdom and did those things that were needed to allow them to go to the Lord’s House, that the Lord would bless them with another child and that they would have a son.
It came out without a word of hesitancy, clear and unmistaken, not just that they would have a child but to specifically tell Harry, a son. I blessed him with heath and strength and the courage to live the gospel of Jesus Chris, and that by doing so, he and his family would be greatly blessed. The spirit was unlike anything I had ever experienced thus far in my life. I had to pause to gain my composure. It seemed at times like I was outside my body listening to what I was saying. I never had to pause for words, only to gain composure so I could speak the words given to me.
When I was done, the spirit and emotions in the room, I will never forget. We all paused for a moment, then grabbed lots of tissue, then we again gave long warm hugs to each other. Then Harry said to me, “Elder Davis, so you’re telling us that we are not only going to have another child, but I will even have a son?” I said, “That is correct.” He then asked, “How do you know that?” I said, “Because the Lord told me and the Holy Ghost confirmed that to me. I was not only told to bless you with a child but to announce that it would be a son given unto you. However, the impression was made very clear to me that this was based upon your obedience and faithfulness to go to the temple with your family and be sealed. If you do not obey that admonition, then you have no promise, as I understand this. I then asked Harry, “Have you ever felt anything like this in your life? Is not the spirit of the Lord here? Do you not feel the presence of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to your heart and soul that the words spoken are of God and not of man?” Harry said, “I have never felt anything like this in my life, as did Alice, and we believe you.”
I was able to bear them my testimony of the truthfulness of what was said and given to them and I did not doubt for ONE SECOND that what I had said was from the Lord. However, I must confess, I was blown away at what had happened and how it happened and that I had experienced nothing like this before in my entire life. This was such a deep and profound learning experience for me. It was so real and powerful that for many weeks thereafter I reflected on what I felt and how this was given to me.
I reflected on it often, and I did not know this at that time, nor could I have known, but just a couple of weeks after my mission, my bishop would come up to me at church, hand me a piece of paper and ask me if I would go to the hospital ‘right now’. There was a situation where a father and son have been hit at an intersection by another car doing 120 miles an hour, running from the police. They were t-boned, the father being killed instantly and his 17 year old son thrown over 100 feet from their van. That is another story for another time but the Lord is so kind and merciful in all His doings and I was somewhat prepared to handle this unbelievable experience because the Lord had prepared me.
The following week, after the Dennises’ blessing, I got a phone call. This time it was my Mission President and he told me that our mission was being divided/split and it was now going to be the Ohio Columbus Mission and the Ohio Cleveland Mission and that he and his family were called to set up the new mission. He wanted to know if I would accept the call to come and work with him again as his assistant to help set up this new mission. I was of course, overjoyed at this amazing opportunity and responded very enthusiastically, “President Brewer, it would be an honor to work with you in any capacity, on any project you needed, Sir. When do you need me there?” He said, “We are having a Zone Leader’s Meeting tomorrow to go over the new mission split and make the announcement official to Zone Leaders. I will be at your apartment in about an hour or two to pick you up. Can you be ready?” I said, “I’m packing the moment we hang up, Sir. I will see you in the morning.” I was also told not to tell anyone about the mission split. Just to tell the Zone Leaders they were coming to the mission office to see him about a transfer and he would announce the transfers and other pertinent information. To make a long story short, the new mission got organized the last four months of my mission, a few more people were baptized just a week before I went home and my mission, as most missionaries usually say, was without question, the best two years of my life.
A couple of months after getting home from my mission the Dennises called me,and told me about their experience in getting sealed as a family in the temple. Then, about three months later, I got a call from Harry and Alice and they said, “Elder Davis, we have some news for you. We wanted you to be the very first person to know.” Harry said, “Alice is pregnant.” I just burst out with a very enthusiastic, “YES, YES, YES! That is so wonderful to hear!” Then Alice said, “And we are having a son!” My joy and excitement went from pure joy to immediate tears, uncontrollable tears. I could not contain my emotions. Even though I never doubted, still, to have those words confirmed that the Lord had given me was a joy that I don’t have words for. It took me literally several minutes before I could say anything. When I finally could, I told them, “Thank you for letting me know and for letting me share this most sacred experience with you and your family.”
Moving forward, on February 2, 1994 I was asked to speak at Alice’s funeral. She had been tragically hit by a car that lost control on the road, due to poor road conditions, and she was killed. This would be the first time I would see Russell, who they called Rusty, their son, who was now 15 years old, and Shelly, his sister, who would have been about 20 years old. The funeral service was held at the Stake Center and it was the largest attended funeral service I have even seen. Then entire chapel and all the way back to the Cultural Hall was totally full. Over 500 people came. More than half were not members of our faith who attended. There were friends and customers from CopCo Paper where Harry Dennis worked and of course, extended family and all of Alice’s friends from the community and at church. It was a remarkable gathering.
As I stood to speak, I looked at Michelle ( Shelly ) and Russell ( Rusty ) who were sitting on the front row with their father and immediate family. I looked down at them and said, Rusty did your parents tell you the story of how you came into this world? He shook his head back and forth giving a ‘NO’ signal. I said, “Well, your’s is very unique and special, so I will tell you and your sister, how you came to be a member of this church and how you were born. If the rest of you would like to listen in, you’re very welcome to, but my words today on behalf of your dear mother will be to you, and the legacy she left you, and she would like you to know this, I think.”
I related to them the story I have just shared with you today. I had a few people in the audience that I had baptized who brought their friends and family and many missionaries came as well. The talk I gave that day was one of the most heart felt talks of my entire life and the Lord laid His spirit upon all those who had gathered to pay their respects to Alice. I was so joyful to hear a few weeks later, that a few people who had attended the funeral took the missionary discussions and were baptized.
From this and many more things that I have had the privilege of experiencing during my little journey here in mortality, I felt I needed to say something, to let my words join with the many others that have gone on before me, that I know of Jesus Christ personally. I know He lives and that He is the Way the Truth and the Light of the world. I know personally in a way that extends past the five human senses that God, our Father in Heaven lives, that He sent His son to save us and help us to return home to live with Him again, if we so choose to accept Jesus Christ as our savior and redeemer, that the Holy Ghost bears truth of this and the truth of all things. He makes known the will of The Father and The Son, which are one and the same in thought and deed. By this power are all things revealed and done. My book is to bear witness of that truth, to those who will but listen with their hearts, and feel of its truth and majesty and that it is Within Our Grasp to return home and live forever with Him again. Of this I bear witness of, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.