Mark Albright is the president of the Washington DC South mission and shares these missionary stories with Meridian Magazine. This letter comes from Tamara Carlson Thornton.
If you want to share a missionary story, send it to President Albright by clicking on the “email author button” by the title of the article. Please note the names of new converts and investigators may be changed to maintain privacy.
Dear President Albright,
My companion Sister McDougal and I were driving to an appointment one afternoon in the mountains outside Montpelier. We were serving under President Allen C. Rozsa in the Boston Massachusetts Mission, which at that time included Vermont. Sister McDougal had been out about one month and was driving our mission car. I was her first companion. The roads were wet, muddy and conditions not ideal, but the scenery was so beautiful it made it appear deceptively safe.
We were heading to an appointment with a wonderful investigator family, but they lived out of town in the hills and woods outside of town. The drive was not easy as there was a significant part of the drive that was a single lane on a dirt road, forcing us to move slowly along. Our assigned area was Montpelier, Vermont, and it was very cold. I loved this beautiful town! I could leave my purse anywhere and come back to get it later and find it untouched. We never locked our car doors, especially at night because our neighbors would hook the battery up to some cables so it wouldn’t freeze and could start easily in the morning.
That is why the following experience was so unexpected. As we were driving slowly up the narrow road cut into the side of the mountain, a voice clearly said to me, “Lock your car doors.” I chuckled to myself as I had just spent several months serving in Boston and loved the safe feeling I had in this scenic Vermont town. Again, this time stronger, the voice repeated, “Lock your doors!” Again I made excuses. But after the third stern warning, I turned to my companion and asked her to lock her car door. Being a great junior companion, she looked at me quizzically but immediately locked her door, no questions asked. I locked mine as well.
It seemed like only a few seconds before there was a loud thud on the top of the car. In seconds we had at least two men on top of our car. There was a face hanging across the driver’s window and another man on the roof of my passenger side. The road was a single lane with the mountain right next to us on one side and forest on the other. In other words, nowhere to go. My companion was from Idaho and fairly used to driving on small country roads, so thank goodness she was driving. She skillfully maneuvered the vehicle all the while we were sliding and slipping. Fortunately she did not stop. Eventually the men slid off the car and we lost sight of them through the woods. Apparently they had easily stepped off the escarpment or cut away in the mountain next to us that was about the same height as our car.
A few minutes later we turned into a clearing and our investigators house came into sight. We pulled into the driveway and stopped. Neither one of us could speak. We just sat there for several minutes. Later we each realized we couldn’t move because we were so frightened; but the real scare was yet to come.
Finally, I thanked her for getting us here safely and asked her if she was okay. She replied that she would be fine and was just a little bit shaken up. Neither one of us was prepared for what we saw next. She got out of the driver’s side of the car and I reached into the back seat to get our books. As she came around to my side of the car she gasped loudly. I was getting out the passenger door and as I shut my door I also could not believe my eyes. There on the door handle of my side of the car was a clear large hand print. We had been so focused on the men on the top of our car that we had not even noticed the man running along next to us trying desperately to get into our car from the side. I shudder to think how different things would have been that day had we not listened and obeyed! What I try to do is be worthy of the Lord’s counsel and then be wise enough to obey.
I know the Lord will protect and guide his Missionaries as he did my companion and me that day.
Thank you for Your service,
Tamara Carlson Thornton