When I Came Face To Face With Elder Holland

For me…apostles are people that I see on TV every 6 months. I read lots of their talks and sometimes see their pictures come up on the internet. Sometimes I see them portrayed in a negative light by those that oppose the church. Recently, and for the first time in my life…I saw people oppose those apostles with the raise of the right hand.

There are people that accuse these leaders of being complicit perpetuators of a fraud. Some people even call them evil.

Some think they know the thoughts and intents of the apostles hearts. But most people, like myself, have never even met them.

Joseph Smith once said, “… You don’t know me; you never knew my heart,” and I wonder if deep down, many of the apostles get frustrated with their inability to know, serve, and testify to each to us individually. I wonder if it pains them when their heart is about to burst and they can’t articulate their feelings adequately.

elder holland

The only apostle I’ve ever been at arms length from was Jeffrey R. Holland. He rolled up in a modest Toyota vehicle at a ward in the Wasatch mountains and seemed to be in a huge hurry. (He was probably presiding at the upcoming meeting)

We were walking right at each other and then turned to the front door of the church. I recognized him but said nothing. I was a brand new dad and was carrying my daughter in her “carrying case” off to the side of my leg. There was really no one else around. I perceived that he really needed to get going and saw him hustle to the front of the door. I thought he might have just kept on going as one might do when they’re in a hurry. Instead, he got to the door…held it open…stopped us…looked at my newborn daughter and enthusiastically said:

She’s got ‘Holland’ cheeks!!!

I don’t even know how he knew she was a girl. She was bald…with big fat rosy cheeks that bounced while we walked. Elder Holland apparently saw a resemblance.

But Elder Holland saw more than that. He saw an opportunity to open a door, generate a smile, uplift a stranger, and leave an impression on me that I’ll never forget. This…to him was apparently more important than whatever he was in a rush about.

Every time I see those big Holland jowls bouncing up and down as he bears testimony to the world…I can’t help but think about the glimpse I had into his heart as he opened that door for me and my daughter.

“I have no desire but to do all men good.” said Joseph Smith those many years ago. “He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.” D&C 50:26

In that moment with Elder Holland…I could tell he was a good man. Apostle, or no apostle…he was good, and genuine. I have a feeling the rest of them are that way as well. Many others have their own stories to tell and experiences to share about various apostles, but this was mine.

If you want to oppose the church, question the history, or disagree with the doctrine…then that’s fine. That’s why there’s always been the option to vote and vocalize your opposition. But please…please, don’t assume that the men and women that have volunteered their life to the teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ are being deceitful or power hungry as they continue to administer in the Church.

If there’s anything I believe Christ wanted us to remember about prophets and apostles…it was this:

Ye shall know them by their fruits…Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

These are good people. Their fruits are good. Good people don’t spend their lives deceiving people. But regardless of what Elder Holland teaches or believes, the fruit that I received from him was an open door, a smile, and an uplifted spirit. “If we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society.” (JSJ)

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