It was a spring evening when an attendant at a gas station in Holladay, a suburb of Salt Lake City, glanced out his window to see what he remembers as a green Chevy Impala pull up to a pump. His first thought was, “He sure needs a new set of shocks.”
The driver filled his car and went into the station to pay his bill. As the young attendant counted out the change, the man began to quiz him. The young man told the driver of the car that he was in his senior year of high school and played ball for his ward team. He didn’t divulge that he barely qualified to play; the requirement was attendance at just one sacrament meeting and one priesthood meeting a month.
The man then asked the attendant what he planned after graduation and what he wanted to do with his life. “I don’t remember what I said in response until he asked if I was a Latter-day Saint. I responded that I was. He then asked if I planned to serve a mission, to which I answered that I didn’t know.” The young man didn’t explain his Word of Wisdom problem or the questioning in his heart. The driver paused and then said, “I encourage you to do so. It will be the greatest thing you could ever do at this point in your life.” He then shook the attendant’s hand and left.
The young man spent the rest of the evening reflecting again and again on what the stranger had said. Twenty years later he described his experience:
“The thing that would not leave me was the memory of his friendliness and the look in his eyes. It was that night I decided to throw away the cigarettes. Two months later I received my patriarchal blessing, which confirmed that I would be called to serve a mission and I would say ‘yes.’ But it wasn’t until the next October while watching general conference that I received a bit of a shock and a testimony that God knew who I was. I don’t remember who was conducting that particular session of conference, but he announced that Thomas S. Monson would be the next speaker. As [he] came to the pulpit I recognized [him] as the man at the Metro station those many months before.” The young man did go on to serve a mission.