In the spring of 1966, Elder Eric Herde was assigned to labor in Macomb, Ill., where he met Bruce Ericksen, a student at Western Illinois University. Bruce accepted the challenge to pray about the truthfulness of the gospel, received a strong testimony and was baptized. Soon afterward, Elder Herde returned home to Provo, Utah, and he and Bruce Ericksen lost contact with each other.
Thirty-five years later, in the fall of 2001, Brother Ericksen, now living in Texas, was going through some old belongings and found hidden in the bottom of a long-forgotten trunk the photo and home address of Elder Herde. He felt an impression to write a letter of thanks to this missionary who had been so influential in his conversion to the gospel. At first he put it off. Then, as he was teaching a lesson in his high priests quorum entitled "Following the Promptings of the Holy Ghost," he remembered the impression he'd received and decided to follow it. On Oct. 30, 2001, he wrote the following:
"Dear Eric (or Eric's parents), I just wanted to drop a note of thanks for [your] successful missionary efforts back in the Spring of 1966. I've thought of you numerous times over the last 35 years and I'm eternally grateful for your efforts in my behalf. . . . You were there for my baptism in Nauvoo on June 4, 1966. A year later I also began a memorable and successful mission for the Lord's church in Denmark. Within a year of returning from this mission I was sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I [transferred from] Western Illinois University after my mission and graduated from BYU. . . . Now my wife and I have 4 children. The oldest two are married in the temple with families of their own (3 grandchildren). Our baby is attending Ricks College. Debbie and I are celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary. This is what the gospel is all about. . . . This is just a note of some of the fruits of your labors."
Unbeknownst to Brother Ericksen, Eric Herde had died of cancer just two years earlier at the age of 55. Miraculously, the letter arrived at the home of his parents, Karl and Myrna Herde of Provo, Utah, on Nov. 3, 2001 what would have been their son's 57th birthday. The Herdes read the letter with tears of joy, comforted by this thoughtful reminder of their son's faithful missionary service. Not long afterward, Brother Ericksen flew to Utah for a surprise visit with the Herdes.
Elizabeth Monson Thomas, Oak Hills 7th Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake