Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints passed away today. I have one vivid memory of Elder Perry that I want to share here.
The year was 1989. I had entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah in early June. My mission call was to the Cochabamba Bolivia mission. The week before I entered the MTC two missionaries were killed in Bolivia. I entered the MTC not knowing if I would go to Bolivia or not.
During our time in the MTC, newly called mission presidents were being trained also. There were several times where members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to the MTC to speak or to train. As missionaries we would take breaks by walking around the MTC. As we were on a walk one day we were passing by the front door when an elderly gentleman stopped us and asked where we would serve. Four of the missionaries in our district were headed to California and told this man so. Myself and another missionary were headed to Bolivia. We informed the gentleman that we were assigned to Bolivia. With a well known smile he looked at both of us and said "Don't hold your breath". It was then we knew that we would not be going to Bolivia, however the impression was made.
As we walked away we discussed what had happened. We must have been too caught up trying to learn spanish and/or the culture of the people we were going to serve. Our teacher asked us if we knew who we had spoken with. When we answered we did not, he asked us how we did not recognize Elder L. Tom Perry. Again, the moment stuck with us.
I will never forget the smile of Elder Perry. I loved to hear him speak in General Conference. And finally, I will never forget the day I met Elder Perry and had him inform me that I would probably not be serving where I was originally called. He was an Apostle of God, that I know and he will be missed.