When Heber J. Grant returned from a two-week vacation in Pacific Grove, California, in February 1901, the news he heard at first seemed favorable. One of his associates in the Quorum of the Twelve, Francis M. Lyman, had been asked to preside over the Church's European Mission. Elder Grant congratulated himself that "missionary lightning had once more escaped me," "heaved a sigh of relief," and embraced Lyman in mock celebration.
Since Grant's appointment as a General Authority, rumors had often circulated about a forthcoming proselytizing mission. Each time, however, the reports died stillborn. During the 1880s, the Church and its opponents warred relentlessly on theological, political, and even commercial terrain, and Elder Grant's business acumen was repeatedly deemed too important to the Utah scene to allow a foreign assignment.