Church Talks


[Talk was presented by Elder John E. Enslen to the Family and Church History Mission in Salt Lake City, Utah,
on August 24, 2009 in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Chapel. He was assigned to speak by the
mission president. The chapel was at full capacity, with almost all present being full-time senior missionaries.]

Perhaps like the majority of you, I was born at an early age. In my recent search for more ancestors, I was blessed with a knowledgeable trainer. We documented that I am a 7th generation Alabamian. But we kept running into this perplexing question: If a husband and wife in Alabama get a divorce, are they still cousins?

I grew up barefooted in Wetumpka, Alabama with warm red clay between my toes, swimming in the river, and I mean a real river, and fighting pine cone battles in the dense woods behind my home.

Throughout my high school academic career, I kept my priorities strictly in line with my father’s constant urgings. Consequently, I lettered in five sports.

Evidently through some clerical error, I received a college degree from Clemson University where I was star struck by a beautiful cheerleader who still holds the only key to my heart. While students at Clemson, we were married in the First Baptist Church of Hartwell, Georgia by my wife’s preacher cousin. After only a few days of marriage, I made this my rule: When the wife commands, do it.

My young wife and I moved from Clemson, South Carolina to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Because she was willing to forsake her own education and get down on her hands and knees 6 days a week to fit shoes on dirty stinky feet, I was eventually able to graduate from law school at the University of Alabama.

Through the years, I supported our growing family by working as a small-town country lawyer.

My wife sums me up this way. Quote: “He likes to hunt, fish, pet his dogs, feed his cows and horses home-grown hay, drive his old pickup, watch college football with uncontrolled aggression, and almost prays for hurricanes so that he can do clean-up work with his chainsaw.” She says I work hard, play hard, love hard, fight hard, and sleep hard. Well, maybe I made up that part about working hard.

I love people and I love life, and I have one obedient minute remaining.

While I was stationed at Ft. Benjamin Harrison during the Viet Nam War, I met, for the very first time in my whole life, a real live Mormon. This fellow officer became my friend, and I became his referral. I had been raised an active Baptist—participating in primary choir, Royal Ambassadors, training union, Vacation Bible School, Bible Sword Drill Contests.

But at age 26, with two small children, and having just hung out a shingle for my new law practice, Sister Enslen and I became the first two people in my hometown to do a crazy thing like embracing “Mormonism.” We not only chose the road less traveled, we cut the road through a dense anti-Mormon thicket located within 15 miles of the headquarters of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Today, Wetumpka has a large and thriving ward. We account it all of God. (See D & C 50:34)

I suppose that next to rearing a family, helping to rear a ward in Alabama and a branch in Cambodia would be the closest thing to describing our life’s work.

I shall forever be grateful to my Savior, who in the words of Alma the Younger, saw fit in His mercy to snatch me out of the world. (Mosiah 27:28-29; Alma 26:17)

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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