President Ballard passed away today. It is always hard to say goodbye to our church leaders that have been a part of our lives for so many years. He has always just been there to preach gospel – especially missionary work. He will be missed.
Waaaay back, circa 1981, I had my one-and-only personal experience with then Elder Ballard, which I have never forgotten. At that time he was serving in the presidency of the First Quorum of Elders. I was serving as a lowly missionary in Vina Del Mar, Chile.
I had been assigned to be Elder Ballard’s companion speaker for a multi-zone conference, which was very cool. Obviously, I prepared well. I knew I was merely the warm-up for the main event, but I wanted to do it right. No pressure!
A few minutes before the meeting began, I needed to go to the men’s room. I approached one of two urinals, and standing next to me was Elder Ballard. A fundamental rule is that when you are at a urinal, you pretend the other person isn’t there. Apparently Elder Ballard didn’t get the memo.
After he finished he said, “Elder, let me tell you something.”
My heart skipped a beat. He went on, “Make sure you step back before you flush the urinal. If you don’t it will spray all over your shoes.”
I mumbled, “Okay, thanks.”
He washed his hands and left the bathroom. I finished up, taking care to step back so as not to get my shoes wet. I went into the chapel and up to the stand where I sat down – next to Elder Ballard. This time he warmly greeted me, shook my hand and said, “Hello again.”
After a minute he leaned over and said quietly, “Your shoes look like you listened to my counsel. Well done.”
That was the extent of my interaction, but I still look back it as the time I was given private counsel by a General Authority, acted on it, and was praised for it.
Thanks, President Ballard for all the other – more important – counsel you’ve given all of us over the many decades. You will be missed.