"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
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March 1, 2013
A Cell Phone, Just in Time
by Jeff Lindsay

One of my favorite stories from President Monson is the account of receiving an impression to visit a friend at a hospital. The impression led him to quit what he was doing, swimming laps, and immediately go visit the man. The man had left his room in his wheelchair and was alone at the edge of a pool used for physical therapy. President Monson found him and visited briefly. President Monson took him back to his room and gave him a priesthood blessing, then departed. It seemed to be a minor event, but later he would learn that his friend at the edge of the pool was preparing to fall into the pool to commit suicide. The visit came at just the right time to help the man realize, reconsider and move forward with his life.

There are many lessons one can draw in contemplating this story, including the reality of God’s love, the importance of staying in tune and responding quickly to distinct impressions we received through the Spirit, and the great things that can be accomplished through small acts of kindness and service.

As I reflected upon this story at General Conference, I recalled a related event in my own life. It’s a story I think I can share, without giving too many details, given the passage of time. Many years ago, we had an early model cell phone that we used for a while, but it then died. I didn't rely on it much and had taken my time in getting it replaced. After a few weeks, I finally took it in to be repaired and we got it back a couple of weeks later. On the evening of the day that we received it, as the freshly recharged phone was sitting idle on our kitchen countertop still unused and untouched by me, I had an unusual call on our landline (our “normal” phone). It was a woman in distress, a friend of ours and a fairly young mother in a very tough situation, who said, "Tell my family I love them." That was all she wanted to say initially. I was puzzled and asked more about what she meant, and asked if that meant she was suicidal.

She was surprisingly calm and collected, resolved I think, as she said that she was going to make it look like an automobile accident, and gave me enough details about where and how she was going to do this (just a couple of minutes away on the highway) that I realized she was serious and might be moments away from death. I prayed in my heart to know what to do, and the image of our newly repaired cell phone came into my mind. And instantly I knew what I had to do.

I went downstairs and picked up the cell phone from the kitchen counter top as I continued to speak to her on our wireless handset. I dialed 911 on the cell phone and, while muting the other phone, explained that I had a suicidal person on the line and would need their help ASAP to rescue her. Thank God I had a savvy operator on the 911 line who knew what to do. With two phones, one on each side of my face, I began asking the distressed woman some questions and repeating information to the 911 worker. "So you're calling me from a payphone at the station on [such and such] street? And you're planning to do what? . . ." I'd add some information secretly to the 911 worker to further describe the woman, her vehicle, etc. And then I worked as hard as I could to keep her on the line, asking some probing questions and giving some things to think about, relying on my natural verbosity (yay, I can help after all!) and praying fervently in my heart. I needed to keep her there a few more seconds, a few more seconds, . . . and then I heard some of the most wonderful whining words of my life: "Oh, did you send these people?! Aaah!" The police had arrived and they stopped her from carrying out her plans. A very skilled and kind woman officer worked with her and helped her through the problem, and I was able to meet with her a few hours later.

Without giving away any details, let me just say that this woman has done much to make the world a better place. She went on and accomplished some pretty significant things in her life, though there has been plenty of pain and even some other tragedies along the way, and some mistakes. But the world is better for having her in it. What a terrible loss it would have been if she had passed away that night long ago. I'm so grateful to the Lord that our little defective cell phone had come back to us just in time.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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