I N T R O D U C T I O N
D O Y O U R E M E M B E R ?
By Ada Davis
President John Davis, and his wife, Sister Ada Davis, witnessed thousands of faithful Dominicans join the restored Church of Jesus Christ while they served full-time for more than four and a half years in the Dominican Republic. What follows are the characteristically enthusiastic words of Sister Davis, edited for this introduction. Her recollections were shared in a brief talk to returned missionaries at a reunion held in St. George, Utah, in April of 2003. We are grateful for these wonderful heartwarming memories. Three years later, on May 20, 2006, Sister Ada Davis passed away after a courageous battle with serious health issues. We miss her, but are eternally grateful for the wonderful written memories that she has preserved for us.
Let’s pretend we’re 4,000 miles away from here, back in the Dominican Republic, and try to remember some special times we spent together.
Do you remember the Rappleyes, who did so much to further the work there? Do you remember Eddie Amparo, who, in his camper truck, helped John deliver tables used for the sacrament and chairs to each functioning branch? Do you remember Brother and Sister Talley, who were a constant help, and how he even put tires on Eddie Amparo’s truck? Do you remember Elder and Sister Wirthin, our Executive Administrators, who toured our mission and worked hard with Elder and Sister Poelman and us? Do you remember Rafael and Pat Mendez, who held so many key church positions there?
Do you remember Piantini, Ozama, and the rest? Do you remember power failures, no water, taxies, strikes, elections, papaya milk shakes, letters, yearbooks, stolen bicycles, traffic, Gamma shots, each companion, each area, each zone conference, the Health Fair, the smoking machine, the earthquakes, the 48-hour fast, the first family baptized by the missionaries, the first death, the first marriage in the church, the Pope’s first visit there right after we arrived, the baptisms performed in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; some by car lights? What about Brother Fredrick David who at 103 years of age wanted to swim back to shore after his baptism in the Caribbean and then lived to be 106 years old and received the Melchizedek Priesthood? Do you remember our first baptismal font and baptismal clothes, how quick Seminary was started, the tropical storms, and how many times you changed into dry clothes in a single day?
Do you remember the Channel 11 TV program “Entre Puntos with Irene Narpier?” The TV camera man was a member of the church and served a mission [Samuel Terrero]. Do you remember the first chapel, the first mission home and first mission office? Do you remember receiving the first broadcast of General Conference? All at once they didn’t seem so far away, but right on Temple Square. And how, when our Dominican Saints heard that the proceedings were going to the Dominican Republic, they were thrilled as they now felt they were for sure a part of the true church.
Do you remember Hurricane “David” and gathering together for safety in the Piantini chapel, our testimony meeting by candle and flashlights, kneeling in prayer and thanking Heavenly Father for the privilege to be there, and to bless the Dominicans, especially our members, investigators, and our families who would be concerned about us? Do you remember how President Millett made contact with us when all the phones were down and there was no such thing as direct dialing? Do you remember the curfews that followed and all our investigator families who were at home and how we couldn’t get to them? Do you remember how President Talley brought in food on his airplane, and his success in getting it into the country without paying the $400.00 duty?
Do you remember how fast the work went? Two years from the very day we arrived in Santo Domingo to serve an 18-month mission, we were holding the first zone conference of a brand new mission that was not even two weeks old, with John as its President. When we first arrived, the Dominican Republic belonged to the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission, and then to the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, where President Barney replaced President Richard L. Millett, and then it became its own mission—all within two years.
Do you remember the visit of President and Sister Kimball when our mission was only one month old? He was the first Prophet to visit there, and it was his last foreign trip. Do you remember when Patriarch Eduardo Balderas came and gave 625 Patriarchal Blessings?
Do you remember the first Saints to go to the temple, and our first big temple excursion? We were able to be with them in the Washington DC Temple and were thrilled with the number who had received their temple blessings. We met excursions for the next two years in the Atlanta Temple and were privileged to be present when the first stake was organized in the Dominican Republic. Elder Robert E. Wells promised the Saints that they would have a temple in their country.
We were so blessed to be able to attend the Open House and Dedication of the temple. Do you remember how our tears flowed freely as we saw the Saints in action and knew what a blessing this would be to them, and to the whole country?
In rereading the dedication of the Dominican Republic by Elder Ballard, and our special personal blessings, it was as if we saw the Lord put a puzzle together right before our eyes as the work progressed. We were grateful to just be there and participate.
In the service of the Lord, one makes eternal friends, and that’s the way we feel toward all of you and everyone in the Dominican Republic. We’ll always love you, and we are grateful for our time together in a special place, and are thrilled with what happened and with what is happening in the Dominican Republic.
Now there are three missions, many stakes, wards, and chapels. Truly this is the work of the Lord and it will go forward. Thanks for going with me as we have retraced our steps in this country. My testimony is strong. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior, and I’m grateful for the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith and for my membership in the church. I’m grateful for my eternal companion who wanted to go on a mission and for our family who thought we were coming home three times before we did. We pray for the Lord’s choicest blessings on all of you, and the church all over the world, and especially the saints in the Dominican Republic.
Sister Ada Davis, 2003