Missionary moments: Half century of hoping

In the late 1930s, my then-fiancee, Alethea F. Harvey, and I were employed in the office of a Chicago-based publishing company. Also working in this company was a man named Karl H. Clarke, who was a Canadian by birth. Karl was an outstanding and exceptional man, not in physical stature or strength, but rather in refinement, in dignity and love of mankind. He loved drama and music, plus other cultural refinement activities. He dressed well, kept himself clean in both body and mind, did not use alcoholic beverages or tobacco, and he partook of healthy, wholesome foods in his daily diet.

We were impressed with Karl's living habits, and he with ours; our habits brought us together in a strong friendship. We thought, "Here is a man who should have the added blessings of the gospel in his life." Karl played the piano well, possessed a fine tenor voice and loved to sing. He attended Church social activities with us and performed piano and vocal solos in sacrament meetings.Time passed; I served a mission from 1941-43, and Alethea and I were married soon after. I then served in the military during World War II. After the war, our friendship with Karl was renewed but with greater dimensions. He would always celebrate the special holidays with us and enjoyed our children who knew him as "Uncle Karl." He felt honored when we named our third son Karl.

In 1951, we moved from Illinois to California, so in the past 40 years, our personal contacts with Karl have been few, but the mutual love has not dimmed. We saw Karl again in the mid 1980s while we were serving a mission in Birmingham, Ala. Karl had been in the area visiting relatives.

Finally, in October 1989, I had a strong impression to call Karl, who had moved back to his place of birth in Nova Scotia. Upon hearing my voice, he exclaimed, "What a coincidence! In about five minutes, two missionary elders will be here, as I am taking them out to dinner."

After 50 years of loving, setting a good example, friendshipping, hoping and praying, the blessings came. On Christmas Eve 1989, Karl called us to spread the great news of his baptism that afternoon. On April 3, 1991, Karl celebrated his 91st birthday, and on April 24, we enjoyed the privilege of accompanying him through the Salt Lake Temple. Today, he is a member of the Kentville Ward, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake. - Ray Shellbetter, Etna Ward, Medford Oregon Stake

(Another in a series of "Missionary Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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