The pain began mysteriously and almost imperceptibly at first, remembered Elder
Larry Y. Wilson. Within a few months he was lying in bed without so much as the strength to read a book.
Though his wife, Lynda, didn't believe his condition would prove fatal, Elder
Wilson wasn't so sure, and began preparing for the worst.
"Life came to a screeching halt," he said. "I saw many doctors but none could give
a diagnosis. They knew it was an auto-immune disease, but had no idea if it was curable, chronic or
Sister Wilson suggested they start a "Book of Blessings" to record the daily ways
the Lord led and blessed them through this time. "It would have been easy to become negative and just
count the losses. Looking for the daily blessings kept our focus on the Lord," they said.
Unable to function, Elder Wilson continued to lose weight and strength and lay in
bed day after day in constant pain. He was released from his Church assignment as Area Seventy and put
on non-functioning status in his employment as senior vice president of finance for the Kaiser Foundation
Health Plan in the California Bay Area.
He sometimes pondered the irony of his predicament. Here he was, a major leader in
one of the most sophisticated health care systems in the world, with access to the best doctors and
technology known to man, yet there was nothing his industry could do for him. He was totally subject to
the will of the Lord.
After numerous priesthood blessings, and after 18 months of physical debilitation,
his condition began to improve as mysteriously as it had begun. "Ever so slowly, the pain went away and
strength returned," he said.
"I remember the day he offered me a pointer on how to load the dishwasher," Sister
Wilson said. "That's when I called our stake president to ask if there wasn't something Larry could do.
He'd been having the same thought."
"I've been through the furnace of affliction these past few years," Elder Wilson
said. "Tough lessons come out of an experience like this. I'm not sure why this was part of the plan,
but it brought added understanding and compassion to everything. To be alive and functioning is a great
Newly called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy in the April General Conference,
Elder Wilson has special feeling for Nephi's testimony that "God is a God of miracles who works according
to the faith of men."
A recurring theme in Elder Wilson's life is the power of the gospel to transform
lives from the rough and unsculpted to the honed and polished. As a young boy he witnessed the change in
"My mother was a descendant of Brigham Young," he said. "But her ancestral lines
had slipped from the path of the Church, leaving her unbaptized. She responded to the call of the Spirit
however, and was baptized in her mid-20s in Twin Falls, Idaho.
"She was one of those spoken of by Isaiah who repaired the breach and restored the
path in the subsequent generations," Elder Wilson said.
Elder Wilson's father was a man of integrity who had been ordained a deacon but
had little activity in the Church.
"He served in World War II, returned home to meet my mother and marry. She started
going to Church because she was asked to play the organ. He followed her, gradually gaining his testimony
as he listened to the messages.
"I remember as a 5-year-old being in the kitchen filled with smoke from my father's
smoking. He became active and the smoke vanished. It was a symbol of the way our lives change completely
when we accepted the gospel. My parents went on to years of faithful service in the Church, including
calls as a patriarch for my dad, as a Relief Society president for my mom, and as temple workers for
both of them."
As a teenager, Elder Wilson was again in the throes of change when he left his
home in rural Pocatello, Idaho, to enter Harvard University in the Boston area.
"This was challenging," he recalled. "I'd been a good student, a good athlete and
involved in student government. But there's little to prepare you for such a rigorous, competitive
university experience." LDS student ward activities provided a welcome strength.
Unsure about serving a mission, he decided that two years was a small price to pay
to find out for certain if the Church was true. In the Missionary Training Center he prayed with special
intensity and was given a witness of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.
He was called to the Brazil Central Mission where he watched the gospel elevate
lives from poverty to excellence. He returned to school with a desire to improve his ability to
communicate, choosing to major in English.
Nearing graduation, he contacted a friend from high school, Neil L. Andersen,
now of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was studying at BYU. He solicited Elder Andersen's help in lining
up three night's worth of blind dates during the upcoming Christmas break.
Elder Wilson met Lynda Mackey on the second
blind date. They went to Temple Square where, constrained by the approaching fast Sunday and a wild
winter storm, they spent the evening walking the mezzanine corridor of the Hotel Utah and discussing
mutual interests as English majors.
There was an instant meshing of mind and spirit, and Elder Wilson cancelled the
remaining date that weekend.
"This was a revelatory moment," said Sister Wilson, who had joined the Church at
age 11. "When I met Larry it's like the Lord sent a telegram. I told my grandmother that I would marry
him even before he asked me," she said.
They were married the following summer in the Logan temple, then moved to the San
Francisco Bay area where he graduated from Stanford business school and began his career in the Bay Area
where he worked for 35 years.
Amid all the changes in his life, one constant has been his testimony. Born with a
believing heart, his testimony has continued to grow, sometimes mysteriously and almost imperceptibly,
but always steadily.
"I feel that what has happened is unquestionably a miracle. I don't know why the
Lord chooses to heal some and not others. I just know that no doctor had a treatment, yet I was healed
by the Physician who knows all."