Pioneers in our families: The converting power of the Spirit

When Lance Eggenberger left his hometown to search for a job on the west coast, he was about to find a testimony of the gospel strong enough to inspire a generation of Latter-day Saints

Some Latter-day Saints have pioneer ancestors going back almost 200 years. Other Church members are themselves the pioneers in their families. In the weeks surrounding Pioneer Day July 24 — the annual celebration of the first wagon company entering the Salt Lake Valley — Church News staff members share stories of pioneers in their families, some from the 1800s and some from the 1900s. This is the 12th in the series.

When my grandpa, Lance Eggenberger, left his hometown of Long Beach, California, on a job search in August of 1975, he knew two things: he would join the Catholic Church once he settled down, and he “really hated the Mormon Church.”

A man with brown hair smiles as he poses for a picture.
Lance Eggenberger, from Long Beach, California, as a young man. | Provided by Lance Eggenberger

Lance stopped for a break during his trip at Lake Tahoe, and he met a beautiful woman named Carol Walhquist, who was on vacation with her two children, Scott and Christy. Both Lance and Carol had been divorced for several years, and as they talked, Lance discovered that Carol was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Carol invited Lance to meet her family where they were staying, and later that night, they shared their first kiss under the stars at Lake Tahoe. They spent the next day together as well, where Carol taught Lance about the Church and invited him to visit her in her home in Salt Lake City.

Lance visited Carol the next week. He was touched by a video at the Temple Square Visitors’ Center depicting a man who was searching for the true meaning of life. He came out of the film with tear-stained cheeks, saying, “That’s me. That man is me.”

He called Carol every day for the next three months and visited her on every weekend. Full-time missionaries taught Lance the gospel in California, helping him to understand the scriptures in a way he hadn’t been able to.

A black and white photo of a man and a woman smiling and posing for a picture.
Lance and Carol Eggenberger were married on Dec. 9, 1975, and sealed in the Los Angeles Temple on Oct. 12, 1976. | Provided by Lance Eggenberger

Lance was baptized in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sept. 17, 1975. He and Carol were married on Dec. 9, 1975, and after moving to California, they were sealed in the Los Angeles California Temple on Oct. 12. 1976.

Reflecting on his experiences nearly 50 years later, Lance expressed his gratitude for the promptings of the Spirit.

“I felt like I had gotten on a train, and I didn’t know where it was going,” he said through tears. “But I knew I had to be there. I knew I had to hold on. And I did.”

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Pioneers in our families: Showing resilience during trials
Pioneers in our families: We are all pioneers in these latter days
Pioneers in our families: Responding with faith and grit when discipleship is hard
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