Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Seventy
Sister Cook and I were in Vava’u in the Tongan islands on one occasion. I had just spoken about following the prophet in the general session of stake conference. At the luncheon following the conference, I sat next to a distinguished elderly patriarch. He indicated how grateful he was to hear what the prophet was teaching. He gave me the following account. Vava’u, which is a relatively small island, usually has sufficient rain, but periodically there are severe droughts. The island has long inlets or bays, almost like sounds, which curl into the island below steep hills. When drought conditions left the village without water, there was only one way they could obtain fresh water and stay alive. Over the centuries they had found that fresh water traveled down through rock formations inside the mountains and came up in a few spots in the sea.
The Tongan men would set off in their small boats with a wise elder standing at one end of the boat looking for just the right spot. The strong young men in the boat stood ready with containers to dive deep into the seawater. When they reached the appropriate spot, the wise man would raise both arms to heaven. That was the signal. The strong young men would dive off the boat as deep as they could and fill the containers with fresh springwater. This old patriarch likened this lifesaving tradition to the living waters of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the wise man to God’s prophet here on earth. He noted that the water was pure, fresh, and, in their drought condition, lifesaving. But it was not easy to find. It was not visible to the untrained eye. This patriarch wanted to know everything the prophet was teaching.
A number of years ago I was in Atlanta, Georgia, as an attorney representing a man who was buying a business. After several days of negotiations we reached an agreement and signed the closing documents. That evening one of the sellers invited us to a dinner to celebrate the closing. When I arrived, he offered me an alcoholic drink, which I declined. He then said, "Are you a Saint?" I didn't fully understand what he meant, and he repeated, "Are you a Latter-day Saint?" I responded, "Yes, I am," and he said he had been observing my personal habits during our negotiations and had concluded that I was either LDS or had a stomach problem. We both chuckled. He then informed me that he had only known one member of the Church on a personal basis, David B. Haight. They were both executives in Chicago with a large retail chain following World War II. He told me of the significant influence Elder Haight had been in his life and that he held him in the highest regard. As I flew back home to San Francisco, I thought about what had occurred, especially in two respects: I was surprised at how it felt to be asked if I was a Saint, and I was impressed with the positive influence one outstanding example—Elder Haight—had on this good man.
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