On Sept. 5, 1951, two young missionaries, Elders Paul Smith and Bernt Lundgren serving in Oslo, Norway, were sent on a two-month assignment to visit members in Northern Norway, including Hammerfest, the northernmost city in the world, where a small branch was established.
Elder Smith was a young missionary from a long line of Church members in Salt Lake City, while Elder Lundgren was an immigrant from Sweden who had been in Utah previously for only a couple of years.Hammerfest Branch met in the home of Sister Margit Rostvik, whose missionary work and fellowshipping in her town were legendary. Sister Rostvik had befriended a young man, Ole Leopold Magnussen, and had taught him the gospel. She just needed priesthood members to arrive to baptize the young man. Thus, the arrival of the missionaries was a big event.
Elders Smith and Lundgren spent the next two days teaching Ole and on Sept. 8, dressed in white, the elders and Ole, along with other members of the branch, gathered by a small lake just north of the city. Elder Lundgren carried the slight young man on his back through the marshy area to the water's edge so his white clothes would not get dirty. Elder Smith then baptized Ole Magnussen into the Church. Elder Lundgren confirmed him a member of the Church and conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood.
The next day, the two young elders returned to Oslo.
Nearly a half century later, on Sept. 7, 1998, Elder Lundgren, now president of the Norway Oslo Mission and his wife, Violet, along with Elder Roy and Sister Mary Lou Samuelsen, who work with the now Alta-Hammerfest Branch, traveled to visit Hammerfest to see members. Among these members was the president's convert, Ole Magnussen.
It is now 47 years since Brother Magnussen was baptized. Sister Rostvik is dead, but her sister, Anny Wennberg, has taken her role as the town's missionary and fellowshipper.
The reunion was a tender one. Pres. Lundgren and Brother Magnussen immediately recognized each other. They talked together for a time, remembering that special day in 1951. Together, they walked out behind Brother Magnussen's apartment, which is located right next to the baptismal lake with memories still fresh and precious after all these years.