I was honored and not bothered in the least by this unusual practice. I never attempted to correct the members, relying on the fact that Heavenly Father does not insist on being referred to by a priesthood title. My sole desire was to live up to the affectionate family title the people had chosen for me — to love them like a good grandfather would love his own bloodline grandchildren. Sister Enslen was my perfect example as she "grand-smothered" every member and missionary in the branch.
There were 57 attending sacrament meeting — a fast and testimony meeting — that Sunday morning. The countenances of those present had that radiating glow that new converts and progressing investigators come to acquire as they faithfully read and pray about the restored gospel.
I handed my first counselor, a native Cambodian named Loy Bunseak, a handwritten announcement to read to those in attendance.
The note read: “At approximately 11:10 p.m. Cambodian time last night, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced at the opening session of general conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, that Elder Henry B. Eyring had been called to serve as second counselor in the First Presidency and that Elder Quentin L. Cook had been called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This action was unanimously sustained by the 21,000 members in attendance at the Conference Center and by millions of others who were watching or listening by way of internet, cable TV, BYU television, satellite dish, radio and other forms of media throughout the world.”
As Brother Loy(Cambodians use their surname first) reverently translated my handwritten note for the congregation, the Holy Ghost fell over me like a warm blanket on a cold night. I was blessed with the same powerful confirmation that I had experienced in the solitude of our temporary home-away-from-home nine hours earlier when Sister Enslen and I had raised our hands in sustaining support for President Eyring and Elder Cook.
As I listened to Brother Loy’s announcement to our Cambodian members, I was touched and fortified by the Spirit. The close attention that the members gave to the announcement was inspiring to me. Despite their limited church experience, I could clearly discern in their faces a strong allegiance to the prophet and a single set of church leaders, and the sense of worldwide unity that such allegiance brings to our members.
I told the congregation in my testimony that the gospel train keeps moving forward, traveling steadily down the track toward its decreed destiny, gaining passengers as it progressed. Every seat on the gospel train is a good seat, and Sister Enslen and I were grateful and honored to have a seat in the Cambodian compartment.
John Enslen is a small-town courtroom lawyer in Alabama who writes about Mormon history. He has been a history consultant for artist T. C. Christensen and authored the book "The Bible and The Book of Mormon — Connecting Links." Email: jeenslen@gmail
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