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Widespread influence

This is a story about a mission president, his wife, two of their grandchildren — and a host of others.

It spans two oceans, two continents and more than two decades.

The story, while certainly not unique is, nonetheless, unusual. Most important, it is a story of faith that solidifies the idea that the influence of the gospel, and the people who practice and teach Christ's principles, know no earthly bounds.

In the early 1980s, a man and his wife, lifelong residents of the Salt Lake Valley, were called to the Philippines, where he presided over a mission. As expected, they enjoyed their service and loved the people. But because health issues necessitated their reassignment to another mission, the couple served less than a year in that Asian island nation.

Like most missionaries, they left not knowing who they'd really influenced.

Fast forward to 2004.

The mission president's granddaughter, reared mostly — and feeling very much at home — in Southern California, moved with her husband and children to the Dallas area of Texas.

Why Dallas? Because that's where the best job was offered. Previous ties to the area: zero.

Shortly after arriving and attending the new ward, the granddaughter, not surprisingly, was asked to become a visiting teacher. In talking with one of the sisters she visited, the granddaughter learned that the sister was originally from — you guessed it — the Philippines.

The next question was obvious.

"Did you know my grandparents?"

"Oh yes. What wonderful people."

And you can imagine where the conversation went from there.

Fast forward again — this time to 2005.

The granddaughter's brother (yes, that would be the mission president's grandson) and the grandson's wife were traveling in Europe. Finding themselves near Oslo, Norway, on a particular Sunday, they attended Church services in a small LDS branch.

Why Norway? Because it was there. And they wanted to see it. Previous ties to the area: zero.

After sacrament meeting, the young man struck up a conversation with a local member. He soon learned that the local member was originally from — you guessed it— the Philippines.

The next question was obvious.

"Did you know my grandparents?"

"Oh yes. What wonderful people."

And you can imagine where the conversation went from there.

Two grandchildren. Two Filipino Latter-day Saints. Two far-flung areas of the world.

To be sure, these meetings could be easily attributed to coincidence. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. It really doesn't matter. Because, to be certain, the meetings illustrate that the Lord's gospel is spreading across the globe, and that it is us, His children — often just one person at a time — who carry the gospel torch.

While carrying that torch, we often have no idea of how far that light will spread.

But it will spread.

Now the rest of the story.

The mission president wasn't always active in the Church. Though baptized, he spent his youth mostly unacquainted with spiritual things.

But he met and married a wonderful young woman who had long before decided that she would spend her life, and rear her family, in full fellowship of the Lord's kingdom on earth. And she lovingly helped this young man to embrace the same commitment.

Over the next 50-plus years they, combined, served in their family, Primary, Young Women, Relief Society, Sunday School, family history work, bishopric, stake presidency — and beyond.

Of eight children, this man was the only one to choose full activity in the Church.

The result: Four children, 10 grandchildren, eight (and soon to be 10) great-grandchildren — and untold others who, at least in part because of this couple's influence, are fully participating in the kingdom.

That, we hope you will agree, is a very good story.

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