QUESTION and Story 9th Day Christmas Past

Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Christmas Past 2012 | 0 comments

Question 9th Day Christmas Past: How did Ezra Taft Benson and his family react to some news they received just before Christmas?

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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1945:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

President George Albert Smith called a special meeting of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve in their office. The Twelve were seated around the table with the First Presidency at the head at a cross table.

After the prayer President Smith referred to the fact that announcement had been made that Brothers Widtsoe and McKay would go to Europe, but he said that on further investigation they found conditions so bad in Europe that it would not be wise to send these two brethren, but to select a younger man.

Elder Harold B. Lee tells the story: “I began quickly to look around the table, speculating as to who would be called. One of the first men I eliminated was Elder Benson, who had the largest family as well as the youngest. I’d not quite made my survey around the table when President Smith announced that they had decided to call Elder Ezra Taft Benson to go to Europe.” (ETB Reminiscences.)

“After outlining the magnitude of the job, President Smith announced that I had been chosen to go and preside over the European Mission and take charge also of the distribution of relief help for our people in those war-torn countries.

It came as a great shock, and I was asked what my wife would say to my leaving her with a young family. I assured the Brethren that I could always count on my wife’s full support in any call from the Church.”

The meeting then ratified unanimously President Smith’s nomination. Now I am to put my affairs in order promptly and go to Washington, D.C., to try and get the necessary permit and transportation to England. (ETB Journal.)

President Smith said: “I am not at all concerned about you. You will be just as safe there as anywhere else in the world if you take care of yourself, and you will be able to accomplish a great work.” (ETB Reminiscences.)

Later in a sweet and impressive talk with my wife, sanctified by tears, Flora expressed loving gratitude and assured me of her wholehearted support. At dinner I told the children, who were surprised, interested, and fully loyal. (ETB Journal.)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1945:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

First notices that the welfare packages being sent to Europe by the Church for the relief of destitute members of the Church are being received in good condition-and are bringing happiness to many people-have been received this week at the Church Offices.

The first words of thanks received have come from Holland. This country was the first to which the packages of bedding, clothing, and foodstuffs were sent. All of the letters express thanks for the needed items, but also contain expressions of faith and thankfulness for the peace that has come.

Some interesting excerpts from the letters are printed herewith: “Utrecht, Holland-Thank you very much for all you have sent to help us. We have received your parcel (and also other members in our town) in good condition, and we are very thankful for all that you have sent-especially for the shoes, the soap, and the clothes for the children. We had shoes no more, but now we can go to our work and to church. Now we need not wash us with sand-soap, but with good American soap. We are also thankful to our Lord for what He has given us by your welfare committee. This year we have the best Christmas of the last six years.”

It is estimated that a total of over 7,000 of these packages of clothing, bedding, and much needed articles have been sent from the Church welfare centers in America to the Latter-day Saint families in Europe. (Church News.)

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1945:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

I was told by the President that I could select my own secretary to go with me. I went through the list of returned missionaries of the past five years from Germany because I wanted someone who could speak German. Based on the records, I selected Frederick W. Babbel.

I did not know Brother Babbel-I’d never heard of him, but on inquiry found that he was in the military at the Presidio in San Francisco, California.

I got him on the telephone and asked him how he would like to go with me as my secretary and companion to Europe, without our wives, on an emergency mission of indefinite duration.

He immediately said, “I would be glad to go with you anywhere, Brother Benson!”

In two weeks we had him cleared for service in the Church. (ETB Reminiscences.)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1945:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

The next year will no doubt be spent in large measure, and possibly in its entirety, abroad. It will mean some sacrifice of material comforts. I will miss my wife and sweet children and the association of the Brethren and the visits to the stakes.

I go, however, with no fear whatsoever, knowing that this is the Lord’s work and that He will sustain me. I am grateful for the opportunity, and deeply grateful my wife, who is always most loyal, feels the same way. God bless them while I am away. (ETB Journal.)

Taken from:  Ezra Taft Benson, A Labor of Love: The 1946 European Mission of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 6.

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