(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
June 4th, 2009: Elder Harvey Gardner was in my office for a visit and had a desire to see President Packer, so we dialed his office and asked if he was in and could see Brother Gardner. Less than a minute later his secretary called back and said, “Come right now.” So, I took Harvey Gardner over to Brother Packer‘s office.
President Packer was very relaxed and we had a nice visit. He and Harvey have worked together for many years helping the Navajo and other Indians down on the reservations. Harvey has served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, and area authority.
During the course of the conversation, Harvey mentioned something about a trip Brother Packer had in Germany. Brother Packer said, “Let me tell you the story.”
Brother Packer said that years ago, he and his wife were traveling over in Europe and they were in Germany. They were planning to go from West Germany into [Communist] East Germany. When they got to a railroad station, they discovered Sister Packer‘s papers were not fully in order and they were told she would not be allowed in through the checkpoint when they reached the other country; however, they decided to go. They were told that they might be put off the train at 2:00 in the morning because they didn‘t have the proper papers. As the train was beginning to roll, a young missionary, who had evidently taken the Packers to the railroad station, asked Brother Packer if he had any German money. He said that he didn‘t have any. As the train slowly moved, picking up speed, the elder ran alongside and handed 20 marks in German paper money to Brother Packer. He said, “Take these. You might need them.”
After a long ride, they arrived at the checkpoint and were told they couldn‘t go any further. Brother Packer said, “We were surrounded by five rather serious looking German people who were determined we weren‘t going any further. We talked a little bit and they explained that I could go and she couldn‘t. I wouldn‘t leave her of course. So, we talked a while and it looked like we were doomed to sit overnight and figure out some other way. However, about that time I reached in my pocket and found that German money. I brought it out and continued to talk to the head man. Finally, I gave him the money and within a short period of time he changed his mind and said, ‘Oh, I think we had better let you go through.‘ So we got back on the train and went the rest of our way.”
The interesting thing, which we found out later, was that the young missionary who ran alongside of the train as it was moving and gave the apostle the money is now a member of the Quorum of the Twelve by the name of David Bednar. What a fantastic lovely story.
One week later, on June 11th, I called Elder Bednar to see if I could talk to him for a few minutes. His secretary called back and said, “Not just 5 to 10 minutes—you‘ve got to come for a long time. Please come tomorrow, Friday, at 10:30.” So I came to work and then Brother Bednar and I had a big long talk together.
I asked him, first of all, to tell me his side of that great story. He said that the Packers were traveling by air on the way to East Germany. The planes were shut down because of inclement weather. He said they were stranded in the city in Germany where his mission headquarters was. Because the Packers had no place to go, they called the mission home to see if the mission president could send someone to them. The mission president was out of town at a mission seminar, but the two young elders in the office went to the railroad station and got the Packers. They took them back to the mission home. Everyone was hungry. It had been a long time since they had eaten. Elder Bednar said that Sister Packer got into the cupboard and found something to make a good soup and the elders and the Packers sat and had their late lunch together. About 11:00 the elders took them back to the railroad station and got them on the train on their way.
Elder Bednar said he didn‘t hear any more about that. He, of course, knew who Brother Packer was, but he didn‘t think Brother Packer knew who he was because he was just a young elder.
A number of years passed and I had the privilege of calling and setting Elder Bednar apart as the stake president of the Rogers Arkansas Stake. Brother Packer and I went to Missouri to hold a regional conference with the two stakes in Missouri and also President Bednar‘s stake. During the lunch period, Brother Packer told a little bit about this story. However, Brother Bednar, no doubt at that time, told Brother Packer that he was the young elder. To me, this is highly interesting.
The years passed. Brother Packer was now the senior member. Brother Bednar was called to be the junior member of the Twelve. When they were in one of the meetings with the First Presidency and the Twelve, Brother Packer asked if he could tell this story. He told it completely and when he was through, President Hinckley said, “Boyd, did you ever pay him back the money?” The answer was, “No.” Then President Hinckley turned to Elder Bednar and said, “With that amount of money, plus the interest, how much do you think he owes you?”
He said, “Oh, over $200,000.” Then President Hinckley said, “Boyd, pay your debts!”