This is a letter from my mom's cousin Ben's wife Lori... Ben lost his battle with cancer last year and was a close friend of Elder Andersen's.
One week ago yesterday morning the phone rang. The man identified himself as our good family friend Elder Wilford Andersen of the quorum of seventy. He visited with me, Liz, Kathy and Doug in Hospice a week before Ben passed. Ben was quite heavily sedated but at one point he moved or scraped his nose or something. Wilford went to his bedside leaning over Ben's face, took his hand and said, "Ben, it's Wilford. I sure love you." Ben signaled that he wanted up. He stood with assistance and held out his arms. Wilford came to that side of the bed and they embraced. Ben, would not sit down until Elder A did. Then unfolded a beautiful, precious exchange. The spirit distilled and there was a communication taking place mostly without words. We were spellbound. It was minutes after that beautiful visit that Ben uttered his "assignment".
Last week he called and asked how I was and then each of the children. He then said, "Lori, I have been given the assignment to speak in general conference and feel impressed to speak on Hope. I'm calling to ask permission to use an excerpt from a letter Liz wrote and posted on the care pages." He read it to me. I remembered it like yesterday. It was telling about the night Dr. Runfola came into the packed hospital room and announced that there was nothing more that could be done. Ben was sitting on the side of his bed. When the doctor was walking out of the room, Ben turned to those in the room and said, "Is there anyone in this room who has a problem with the plan of salvation?" Then he spent an hour or so telling us about the night he KNEW there was a God.
Elder Andersen will not be sharing our names, but the great and valiant testimony of our husband, father, brother, uncle, Pa, etc. will be declared across the airways for millions to be edified and moved. This is a general conference wherein every family member needs to attend, no matter activity or standing in the church. Each of us are a part of this tribute. Ben is on assignment, let us gather our families and feel what may be felt.
Lastly, Elder Andersen who is on a six year assignment to the Dominican Republic shared that he had been in Haiti. With great reverence he shared of witnessing these people there who come to church each week happy and smiling and yet, "they have nothing, absolutely nothing except faith in Christ.." He told me that he has come to understand that the way to have hope is to BUILD FAITH. As he spoke of those people, I could sense a kind of holy envy. He said, "I believe we will each come to know sometime in our lives that circumstance does not create happiness. Faith is the builder of hope."