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Elder Zwick counsels leaders 'to let the Spirit guide them'

Emphasis given to the power of Holy Ghost in conversion

By R. Scott Lloyd

Church News staff writer

Published: Friday, Jan. 27 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Photos by R. Scott Lloyd

PROVO, UTAH — When the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ visited the Nephites and instructed them, the 12 disciples whom the Lord had chosen knelt and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus for "that which they most desired" (see 3 Nephi 19:9).

Elder W. Craig Zwick finds it striking that of all the things they could have prayed for on that occasion, "they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them."

Elder Zwick of the Seventy was a speaker Jan. 11 at the Provo Missionary Training Center for the three-day Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors' Center Directors.

Another presentation from the seminar is reported on page 6. Other proceedings from the seminar have been covered in the Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 editions of the Church News. Elder Zwick spoke to the 21 departing couples at the seminar on "the power of the Spirit in conversion."

He told of being in Guatemala not long ago and observing how the people of the city of San Cristobal greeted one another in their native Mayan language at a Church gathering. It translates to "How is your heart?"

"It's an invitation to say how you really feel," he remarked. "Is the Spirit part of what you're about to experience here?"

He counseled the new leaders to let the Spirit guide them in asking good questions of the missionaries who will be in their charge.

He told of being a mission president in Santiago, Chile, and interviewing a new missionary who spent much of his life on a fishing vessel. His grandmother had met LDS missionaries and wanted him to listen to them so they both could embrace the gospel. The young man was apprehensive and wouldn't look at President Zwick. At one point in the interview, he pulled a loaded revolver from his pocket and asked if he could carry it with him for the assurance it would give that he would not have problems with companions.

President Zwick persuaded him to give him the revolver and sent him on his way with his new missionary companion.

"I watched him progress and grow," he said. "He became a great leader in the mission."

At the final interview he told the missionary, "You are amazing. You have really progressed and grown." The missionary looked President Zwick in the eye and said, "President, you've grown a lot, too."

"How far he had come!" Elder Zwick said. "How far he had developed, all because the Spirit distilled upon him and brought to a level of trust, confidence and understanding."

Elder Zwick asked, "How do we qualify to teach with the Spirit?"

He called upon his wife, Sister Janet Zwick, who told of their experience when he was a newly called mission president. She was already feeling overwhelmed when President Zwick received a call from one of the missionaries who reported that he and his companion, while teaching seminary, had been assaulted by terrorists who had set the building on fire. He wondered what they should do.

"I felt like getting on the next plane," Sister Zwick said. "I remember saying to my family, 'I cannot do this.' I will always remember what our 9-year-old son, Spencer, said to me. He said, 'Mom, don't worry. Heavenly Father will help you do it.' "

Sister Zwick said she knew she would need greater spiritual power, so she began to study the scriptures more diligently and pray more fervently. As she recognized and listened to the voice of the Spirit, she gained confidence and felt peace in her heart. "I knew what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to do it," she said. "The Holy Ghost spoke to my heart and told me the things I needed to help me in my assignment and calling as a full-time missionary."

Elder Zwick posed the question, "What is the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion?"

He then told of their adult son, Scott, who is developmentally disabled. He was on a train in Thailand with Spencer, who had served as a missionary there.

They were headed to Bangkok. Spencer overheard a conversation in English by a couple on the train. Not having engaged the couple himself, he pointed them out to Scott and said they were ready to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon from him.

According to Spencer's account, Scott approached them and said, "I can't read, but my family has read me this book. It is very special to me, and I have a copy for you if you would be willing to take it and read it."

They did read the book before moving back to their home in Queens, N.Y., where they joined the Church. In a letter to Spencer, they told him their conversion had everything to do with the voice of the Spirit they heard on the train that day "when someone who couldn't even read or write said, 'There's something special in this book for you.' "

Email: rscott@desnews.com

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