'A blessing all my life'

When Marie Lundstrom Gustavson was 14 and learning about the gospel during the late 1920s in Jonkoping, Sweden, she thought Mormon missionaries were like the heroes she read about in the Book of Mormon.

Today, now 75 and a member of the Salt Lake Cottonwood 13th Ward, she said one missionary stood out - Elder Henry E. Erickson.As a young girl, she first came in contact with the Church in the winter of 1928 when she met a missionary who was buying milk at a store. She attended a local Sunday School soon after, and upon returning home she told her grandmother, Elna Delsin, about the meeting. Her grandmother wanted to know what Church it was. Marie answered, "They are called the Mormons."

Thus began a year-long study of the gospel and Church attendance. Finally, in October 1929, Elder Erickson and his companion went to their home to formally teach them. Elder Erickson was new in the mission field and "didn't speak one word of Swedish." The grandmother told the elders to speak English, as she knew the language. She could see the new missionary was nervous. "She got really attached to him," Sister Gustavson recalled.

She and her grandmother were baptized Dec. 14, 1929. Sister Gustavson said her mother, Marta Lundstrom, was reluctant, but joined the Church soon after.

Time passed. Elder Erickson completed his mission and left Sweden. The young girl matured and married Roland Gustavson in October 1942. He was later baptized, and they immigrated to the United States in November 1948. They settled in Salt Lake City, and were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in April 1949.

Sister Gustavson recalled that many Swedish immigrants used to attend missionary reunions held during general conference time. It was during one such reunion in the 1950s that she heard Elder Erickson was living near Rexburg, Idaho. In the middle of raising her family, she put the information in the back of her mind. Finally, in May 1990 - 63 years after her baptism - she got in contact with Elder Erickson, and they arranged a meeting at his home.

That same month Brother and Sister Gustavson drove to Rexburg and met with Elder Erickson and his wife, Deveda, who has since passed away. "It was wonderful to see him again," Sister Gustavson related. She thanked him for baptizing her, and told him, " `The gospel has been a blessing all my life." - Julie A. Dockstader

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

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