Transfers are stressful for most missionaries. They leave people they love and go to new areas and new people. Sometimes they go into an area knowing only what the area book says. Most don't like this, some do. Sister Min____ told President that she liked "being whitewashed" because it felt like playing detective. There is also the unknown of a new companion. Most times it's good and sometimes it's not, but it is guaranteed to be a growing experience. This time my heart hurt a little extra as Elder Sore_______ will go back out into the field and Elder White_________ will go home. When I mentioned the condition of my heart, President nicely reminded me that we are here to do the Lord's work and not our own ideas. So I will accept the Lord's will and move forward with plenty of love and room in my heart for everyone called to serve in the Arkansas Bentonville mission.
I sat on the stand and looked out. As far as my eye could see were people that I cherished. Shoulder to shoulder they sat, anxiously awaiting the words of an apostle and president of the seventy. Their experience wasn't just about to begin. It had started days earlier as they sought to prepare both spiritually and physically. They came clean with new haircuts and pressed clothes. An outward indication of an inward desire. They left their areas having put forth great effort and with the promise they would return to complete the week's work. Their extra effort wouldn't be confirmed until Sunday night when thirty areas reported they hit the standard this week. (which is by far the most since we've been here.) And many others were close.
Of the meeting: I can honestly say, I think I now know what drove Mary to sit at the feet of the Savior - oblivious to other concerns. The meeting was mesmerizing for me. What was said? I do not think I can share. It is too sacred. But I testify the Lord is very aware of his missionaries and indeed His work is rolling forth.
What did I learn the was not said? I learned how the Lord can love each of His children. As I looked individually at our missionaries, I felt a great appreciation for the efforts they were putting forth - it didn't seem to matter how large their contribution to the cause. What mattered was that they were sacrificing in behalf of the Savior, and that is sacred. I felt their sincerity, and I was glad. Oh so glad - to be a fellow servant!
Invitations – We invite to birthdays, to dinner, to dances and to play at our homes. For many of us this is second nature. What if we took the Savior’s lead and did as He did and invited and enticed all to come unto Him (Moroni 7:13)?
As families the Lord has often given us the opportunity to extend invitations at a place that the Bible Dictionary says compares in sacredness only to the temple - our home (BD-temple). In the protective walls of our own home we have the opportunity to start sacred conversations about the Savior and His doctrine, which includes faith in Him and His atonement, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.
How does all this begin? By the "prayer of faith” The Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants 93:52, “By the prayer of faith, with one consent, I will uphold him.”
When we as a family, seek and petition the Lord to allow us to bless the lives of those with whom we associate, a synergistic power occurs. Let me explain.
When starting a fire, it is much easier to start it using small tinder than trying to start one big log. When we collectively decide as a family to bless the lives of those with whom we associate, we are symbolically using tinder to start the fire of faith.
An illustrative example might help. Let’s say John invites Joe to come over and then to have dinner. At dinner dad blesses the food - specifically remembering to ask the Lord to bless Joe. A couple of days later, John and Joe are studying after school. They are talking about a big test. Sue comes in and hears the conversation. She comments how the Lord answered her prayer for help on her last test. She then walks out of the room. At school Joe finds out that a teacher he really respects because of how much he cares about everyone is a member of the Latter-day Saint faith. Joe continues to have experiences that expose him to the Spirit of the Lord,which comes as a natural result of testifying of truths and living those truths.
When we are not afraid to casually, matter-of-factly speak of Christ and His doctrine and how we apply that doctrine to our benefit, our ability to bless others increases significantly. Those around us feel the Spirit, “love, joy, peace”(Galatians 5:22-25), and our families petition to be an instrument in His hands to say and do what he would say and do if he personally were ministering on the earth (my mission commission).
While building a fire, there comes a time when bigger logs are added so as to sustain the fire. This fuel is found with the missionaries. How you know the time to offer someone the opportunity to listen to the missionaries is based upon your friend’s level of interest. If they begin to ask several questions, invite them to have the missionary lessons. An easy way to say that is, “Our church has missionaries specifically called to answer questions. Would you like to have the missionaries come and teach you this concept and several others?
Could you answer all of your friend’s questions? Probably. But it seems the plan is two fold. Members help with social conversion while unconsciously modeling the results of applying gospel truths and covenant keeping. Missionaries help with spiritual conversion using doctrine, commitments and promises.
The Lord says that in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall my word be established. As I ponder this scripture it seems that this fits the hastening of His work. The Lord has asked, through His prophet, that members and missionaries stand together to offer their witness.
I testify that this is true. We are the tinder the Lord is counting on to start that fire of faith that will sweep the earth at His coming. I testify of this truth, in His name, the Holy One of Israel, even Jesus Christ, amen.
I headed on my way. The night came on full force as I drove to Fort Smith. About 20 miles from Fort Smith I pulled into a rest area. The car side was deserted. I really needed to get out and walk. I was hurting and I had been siting essentially since I’d left Bentonville at 6 am. And I wouldn’t mind using the restroom either. As I pulled up the words of my childhood, across-the-street-neighbor came into my mind. “Never go into a rest area at night alone. You don’t know who is there.” Immediately following that thought was advice President Eyring gave us when he called us. He said that through our lives we have had experiences that were for the sole purpose of preparing us for this mission. I readjusted my seat and pulled away. 10 minutes later I pulled into a gas station. The first real civilization I’d seen for 40 minutes. I walked into the restroom. There were flowers hanging from the walls. It was warm. It smelled good. And it was clean. I couldn’t help but smile. It was like the Lord was saying to me. Listen and I will lead you to the better parts of the wilderness. I testify He is leading me along.
Thank you, Brother Schrade for your protecting words 30+ years ago!
At the end of the day the Sisters from Muskogee didn’t have a ride back to their area. They had called 12 people and no one could take them. Since I was going right by there, I took them. Three months ago a similar situation had happened, and I had taken Sister Bair____ and Sister Web____ to Muskogee.
As we started to leave interviews, I told the Sisters I was starving, and so we had to get something to eat before we went very far, but then (thanks to the thoughtfulness of the Relief Society bagging up snacks for us to take home) we decided to snack and then to go back to Applebee’s in Muskogee and see if a waiter we had talked to 3 months ago was there. We had had a great conversation then. He had given us his phone number. I had gone back early the next morning hoping Applebee’s would be open and that I could leave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and a note. But it was closed. And the Sisters had tried to call him, but there had been no connection. Looking back on the situation as I write, that morning on the way down to Tulsa, I had briefly thought about this waiter, but not long enough to really remember that while we were driving to Muskogee. I had a copy of the Book of Mormon. We made a rough draft (which was fun to brainstorm with Sister Bair___ and Sister Tol____) and then wrote in the front cover. As we pulled up I sat looking into the window of the restaurant. I could see several waiters talking in the corner. My courage started to fade. Thoughts like, “He’s not ready for this.” Came into mind. At that moment, I did the only thing I knew to do. Pray. I prayed the Lord would send His Spirit. I prayed the Lord would give me courage. I prayed the Lord would use his matchless power. I finished my prayer still hesitant. And then Sister Tol___ took over. With faith and determination she said two words. “Let’s go.” It was what I needed to find my faith. We entered, requested to sit at one of Jor_____ tables, and when he came he recognized us. It wasn’t until the end that we told him we had something for him. We explained that we’d written him a message in the front of this book. His demeaner changed. He sincerely accepted the book. We then explained the crazy circumstances that had brought us together again and that I’d thought of him this morning. I know the Spirit was there. I don’t know what will happen, but I know what I hope will happen. That he and his 2 year-old-son will have the opportunity to be blessed by their Heavenly Father like I am.