There are no coincidences in God’s realm. Blessings are purposeful. Often as we look back over our lives we find that what we thought was a single evidence of God’s love is actually one of a continuing stream of the witness of the eternal quality of His love. Sister Maria Elena Stancliffe became part of that stream of love through Elder Boyd K. Packer. This is her story.
‘Did you know that Elder Packer's granddaughter is here with the Choir?’ Elder Hunter asked. ‘Really!? I said. ‘I would love to meet her.’ He said, ‘She’s staying at our house with us. I’ll go get her.’ He came back with Nicole Packer. To my surprise, I realized that Nicole was the same young woman that sat next to me during the entire choir performance. I told her that I had the most beautiful, life-changing experience with her grandfather, Elder Boyd K. Packer years ago.
On Sunday, December 10 1989, the morning of the Stake Conference I prayed to Heavenly Father asking to feel comforted by Elder Packer's talk. I was so discouraged and sad that I wanted to get something to help me feel better. Later that day, while listening to Elder Packer at the Stake Conference, I had the distinct feeling that every word he said was directed right to me. I felt greatly uplifted. At the end of the conference, the presiding leader informed the congregation that Elder Packer was in a hurry to catch a plane and needed to leave immediately after the meeting. He asked the members to refrain from shaking hands, taking photos or talking with Elder Packer so as not to delay him. I ran to the aisle nearest to my seat so I could, at least, see him close up. He smiled at me as he passed by and I could feel his spirit, which uplifted me again. Then I ran to the front door with everyone else to see him for the last time, as he departed.
I told Nicole that that experience was a life-changing moment for me because that day I realized that Heavenly Father loved me. He spoke directly to me through his apostle. That experience has helped me to always remember that my Heavenly Father is always there for me. Since then, this experience has strengthened me during my hardest trials.”
Nicole Packer, Granddaughter of President Boyd K Packer. Here's my side of the story:
As she told me her story, my heart swelled inside me. I felt a witness that my grandpa Packer had paid me a “visit”, something I wondered if I would feel since his passing. My heart filled with peace and the warmth of my Heavenly Father's love and reassurance. When Marie-Elena finished her story I responded, ‘Thank you for telling me that story. I actually needed to hear that. Right before we came on this trip, we attended his funeral. His passing has obviously been hard for us and an adjustment, but hearing your story confirms to me that he's okay on the other side.’ Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew that my grandpa was with me and although certainly busy on the other side, had taken the time to “visit” me, one of 60 grandchildren. With that many grandchildren, another 111 great-grandchildren, 10 children and his wife, I considered my grandpa's “visit” more than a generous gift. And in Canada no less! I know that the spirit world is real. I know that Father is aware in great detail the distress we carry.
He pains when we pain, cries when we cry. I know He knowingly, freely gave us His Son, Jesus Christ that we may experience exquisite joy and peace amidst trial.”