Ezra Taft Benson, Jul 16, 1946

-- Jul 16, 1946
On a hill near Larsmo, Elder Ezra Taft Benson dedicates Finland for the preaching of the gospel.

-- Late July, 1946
The First Presidency decided to replace Benson. Reading of the change in a newspaper clipping before receiving official notification, he recorded, "Although it is a surprise, if true—and I had expected to continue for at least another four to six months— . . . I'm sure all will work out for the best as the First Presidency may direct." (1)

-- Jul 29, 1946
Joseph Fielding Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve writes to Belle S. Spafford, the Relief Society General President, and her counselors: "While the authorities of the Church have ruled that it is permissible, under certain conditions and with the approval of the priesthood, for sisters to wash and anoint other sisters, yet they feel that it is far better for us to follow the plan the Lord has given us and send for the Elders of the Church to come and administer to the sick and afflicted." This ends the practice of "washings and anointings" for women (usually preparatory to childbirth). A previous Relief Society President wrote of this ordinance, "this beautiful ordinance has always been with the Relief Society, and it is our earnest hope that we may continue to have that privilege, and up to the present time the Presidents of the Church have always allowed it to us.' (2)

-- August 3, 1946
Alma Sonne (Utah banker and assistant to the Twelve) was called to replace Benson on his European relief mission. (1)

-- August 24, 1946
At Mission President Hugh B. Brown's departure Benson wrote "Pres. Brown has done a good work in England and the people love him. However he is tired and has lost much of his earlier enthusiasm and initiative. The mission is not in good condition. The attitude of the people is one of [illegible] and lack of spirit. They seem to be looking for the easy way and think the Church should see that they get to Zion. It will take much hard and patient work to stir them from their lethargy."

Several weeks earlier, Benson noted: "The needs of the [British] mission are tremendous and challenging. In fact the condition generally leaves more to be desired than in any mission yet visited." He was specifically concerned about "the matter of amalgamating branches and selling chapels." (1)

-- Before Aug 24, 1946
In Hamburg, they found 500 Saints assembled for meetings. Many "were thin, weak and hungry, their clothes threadbare and hanging loos[e]ly from their starved bodies." "How I wish I could have had baskets full of things—especially food—to give them," Benson wrote. "If I could have for each of these families the food wasted in the average American home, it would be much more than their total food supply at present." (1)

-- February - October, 1946
Benson travelled from country to country, seeing poor conditions of the people and saints. "My heart grows heavy and my eyes fill with tears as I picture in my mind's eyes these scenes of horror and destruction. ...Truly war is hell in all its fury".

He worked with governments and military leaders to secure permission, reduce redtape, and setup logistics to distribute food and supplies to church members. He often addressed special concerned as they were encountered, and sent regular updates to the first presidency which were often published in the church news. (1)

1 - Gary James Bergera, "Ezra Taft Benson's 1946 Mission to Europe" Journal of Mormon History 34:2 (Spring 2008)
2 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson