The Conversion of the Jacob de Jager Family


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Thomas S. Monson

During the period 1959 to 1962, I had the privilege to preside over the Canadian Mission, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. There Sister Monson and I had the wonderful opportunity of working with 450 of the finest young men and young women in all the world. From that particular experience I should like to relate an experience that came to Sister Monson that had far-reaching significance.

One Sunday she was the only person in a usually very busy mission home. The telephone rang, and the person who was on the other end of the line spoke with a Dutch accent and asked the question, "Is this the headquarters of the Mormon Church?"

Sister Monson assured her that it was as far as Toronto was concerned, and then she said, "May I help you?"

The party on the line said: "Yes. We have come from our native Holland, where we've had an opportunity to learn something about the Mormons. We'd like to know more."

Sister Monson, being a good missionary, said, "We can help you." Then the lovely lady who had called said, "We have chicken pox in our home; and if you could wait until the children are better, we'd love to have the missionaries call." Sister Monson said that she would arrange this, and that terminated the conversation.

Excitedly she told the two missionaries on our staff, "Here is a golden referral," and the missionaries agreed. Then, as some missionaries do, they procrastinated calling upon the family. Days became weeks, and the weeks became several.

Sister Monson would say, "Are you going to call on that Dutch family tonight, elders?"

And they would respond, "Well, we're too busy tonight, but we're going to get around to it."

After a few more days Sister Monson would say, "What about my Dutch family? Are you going to call on them tonight?"

Again the reply, "Well, we're too busy tonight, but we're going to work it into our schedule."

Finally Sister Monson said, "If you aren't able to call on the Dutch family tonight, my husband and I are going to call on the family," and the elders replied, "Well, we'll work it into our schedule tonight."

And thus they called on a lovely family. They taught them the gospel. Each person in the family became a member of the Church. The family was the Jacob de Jager family. Brother de Jager became the president of an elders quorum. His employer, the gigantic Phillips Company, then transferred him to Mexico, where he served the Church with distinction. Later he became the counselor to several mission presidents in Holland; he then became a Regional Representative of the Twelve; he then became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, serving as the executive administrator of the work in Southeast Asia.

I ask the question: Was it an important decision that was made on the part of the missionaries to call on the de Jagers? Was it an important decision for Sister Monson to say, "Tonight is the night or else!" Was it an important decision for the de Jagers to telephone mission headquarters in Toronto, Canada, and say, "Could we have the missionaries come to our home?" I bear testimony that these decisions had eternal consequences, not only for the de Jagers, but for many other people as well, for here is a man who can teach the gospel in English, in Dutch, in German, in Spanish, and in Indonesian, and he now is learning to preach the gospel in Chinese.

Our conversion may not be as dramatic as Brother and Sister de Jager's happened to be, but to each it will be equally as vital and equally as long-lasting and equally as far-reaching. That which we believe is a very important matter. Let us weigh carefully our responsibility to search for truth.

Thomas S. Monson shares the story of the conversion of the Jacob de Jager family: "Decisions Determine Destiny," New Era, Nov. 1979, 4