Contributed by Maria Elena Stancliffe Vancouver British Columbia Stake and Nicole Packer, granddaughter of Elder Boyd K. Packer, Lindon Utah West Stake
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.
“On Sunday, July 12, 2015, it was announced in our Sacrament meeting, that the Utah Valley Children's Choir would perform that very evening in the Surrey British Colombia Stake Center. My heart jumped and I told my husband, George that for some reason we needed to be there. So we went.
The Choir’s concert was beautiful and uplifting. I cried several times during the performance. We sat next to a young woman, one of the Choir's chaperones. When the concert finished, I asked her to tell the singers how much we had enjoyed the Choir's performance. She assured me that she would. As my husband and I stood in the parking lot just before leaving a Senior Missionary, Elder Hunter approached me and introduced himself. He told me that he and his wife were in charge of writing stories for the Canadian lds.org web page, Canada.lds.org. Reminded by Elder Packer's funeral only a couple of days prior, I told Elder Hunter that I had had a very uplifting experience with Elder Packer many years ago I would be willing to share.
‘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.
In 1989, I lived in Montreal, Quebec—a very difficult time in my life. A political refugee from Chile at that time, I was waiting for my papers. I felt extremely depressed, lonely and discouraged. I hadn't seen my family for two years and I missed them greatly. I believed that nobody loved me—that I had been forgotten by everyone. I learned one day that Elder Boyd K. Packer would be the featured speaker on Sunday at a Stake Conference nearby. Two friends and I decided to go.
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.
As he got ready to climb into the car he looked back to where I was standing. Suddenly, he turned, came directly towards me and asked my name. He then asked where I was from. ‘Chile,’ I told him. Then he asked in Spanish, ‘What city?’ I said ‘Viña del Mar.’ He was surprised and said ‘I was just in Chile organizing a Stake! People in Chile were very nice and friendly.’ Then he told me that he had to catch the plane to go back to the States. Before leaving, he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and said ‘Sister, Heavenly Father loves you and I leave you all my blessings.’ Then he left. In that moment, I felt Elder Packer was a messenger sent to me directly from Heavenly Father, to give me the reassurance that He loves me. I was the only person that he had talked to or shook hands with.
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:
“I hadn’t felt like coming to Canada with the choir because of my Grandpa’s death. Sunday, July 12, 2015, I didn't feel very well and had prayed that I wouldn't get sick. During the concert in Surrey, a sweet woman sat next to me. I didn't talk to her; I just remember her being sweet. After the concert, she said she liked it and talked in Spanish to my friend, Courtney King also a chaperone. A few minutes later, still not feeling well I found the Hunters' car, hopped in and waited for Courtney so we could go home. Courtney came to the car window and said, ‘Hey there's a lady that wants to talk to you.’ I had no idea what she would want to talk with me about. I got out of the car and walked over to a group of people Courtney had pointed out. Standing next to Elder Hunter was the lady that sat next to me during the concert! Brother Hunter introduced us and Marie-Elena, with her hands over her heart said, ‘You are the granddaughter of President Packer?’ I smiled and replied, ‘Yes.’
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.”
A faithful servant of God, Elder Packer’s influence, and love blessed others while he lived and continues to be a blessing even after his death. Our Father in Heaven, whose love is Eternal, sends this message of love through his servants whoever or wherever they may be and no less in Canada. He for whom time is meaningless connects us with the opportunity to bless each other even from one generation to the next.