A story told by Bruce C. Hafen in 1979 in his talk Love Is Not Blind: Some Thoughts for College Students on Faith:
I once had an experience that taught me a great lesson about the way a highly developed tolerance for “being realistic” can inhibit the workings of the Spirit in our lives. When I had been on my mission in Germany about a year, I was assigned to work with a brand new missionary named Elder Keeler, who had just arrived fresh from converting—or so he thought—all the stewardesses on the plane from New York to Frankfurt. Within a few days of his arrival, I was called to a meeting in another city and had to leave him to work in our city with another inexperienced missionary whose companion went with me. I returned late that night.
The next morning I asked him how his day had gone. He broke into a big smile and said that he had found a family who would surely join the Church. In our mission, it was rare to see anybody join the Church, let alone a whole family. I asked for more details, but he had forgotten to write down either the name or the address. All he could remember was that the family lived on the top floor of a big apartment house. “Oh, that’s great,” I thought to myself as I contemplated all those flights of stairs. He also explained that he knew so little German that he had exchanged but a few words with the woman who answered the door. But he did think she wanted us to come back—and he wanted to go find her and have me talk to her that very minute. I explained to him that the people who do not slam the door in missionaries’ faces are not all planning to join the Church. But off we went to find her, mostly to humor him. He could not remember the right street either, so we picked a likely spot in our tracting area and began climbing up and down those endless polished staircases.
After a frustrating hour, I decided that I really needed to level with him. “Based on my many months of experience,” I said, “it is simply not worth our time to try any longer to find that woman. I have developed a tolerance for the realities of missionary work, and I simply know more about all this than you do.”
His eyes filled with tears and his lower lip began to tremble. (That elder was no dummy—he recently graduated from Boalt Law School at Berkeley.) I remember it so well—he said to me through those tear-filled eyes, “Elder Hafen, I came on my mission to find the honest in heart. The Spirit told me that that woman is going to join the Church, and you can’t stop me from finding her.”
I decided that I had to teach him a lesson. So I raced him up one staircase after another until he was ready to drop, and so was I. “Elder Keeler,” I asked, “had enough?”
“No,” he said. “We’ve got to find her.”
I began to smolder. I decided to work him until he pled with me to stop—then maybe he would get the message.
Then, at the top of a long flight of stairs, we found the apartment. She came to the door. He thrashed my ribs with his elbow and whispered loudly, “That’s her, elder. That’s the one. Talk to her!”
Not long ago, brothers and sisters, up on Maple Lane a few blocks from here, that woman’s husband sat in our living room. He was here for general conference because he is the bishop of the Mannheim Ward. His two boys are preparing for missions; his wife and daughters are pillars of the Church. That is a lesson I can never forget about the limitations of the skepticism and the tolerance for ambiguity that come with learning and experience. I hope that I will never be so aware of “reality” that I am unresponsive to the whisperings of heaven.