We have District Meetings every Thursday morning, except once a month, when we have a Zone Meeting. In attendance are the District Leader and his companion, the Zone Leader and his companion, one set of Sister Missionaries and two other sets of Elder Missionaries and us.
Last Wednesday, the DL asked me to give the spiritual thought the next day. We did not have our English copy of Preach My Gospel in our apartment, so I went online and went to the October Conference talks and found one about missionaries by President Monson, called See Others As They Become. After reading the talk, there were many parts that were outstanding, but the part that grabbed my attention was where President Monson told the story of N. Eldon Tanner and an outstanding missionary. I read it to our missionaries:
“In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”
The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”
Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”
I then told the missionaries that they were truly blessed to mostly come from homes where the gospel of Jesus Christ had been taught. Their parents had lived the Gospel and that their parents had lived the Word of Wisdom and because of that had been blessed with mostly healthy bodies. They were not raised with the standards of many of the Hungarians, who come from broken homes, from a history of alcoholism and addiction to cigarettes, from a history of being a repressed people, etc.
Then I read the following words from an old LDS pop song, which our son Dan liked when he was on his mission.
The Promise – by After Glow
Before the seas were formed,
Before the fields were warm,
Before our father let us come to earth to dwell,
I knew you well.
I made a promise there that we would meet again.
That I would search for you wherever you might roam.
And bring you home.
But I didn’t realize,
I wouldn’t recognize your shining eyes,
And glowing face,
Your cheerful smile,
And warm embrace.
And so to keep my vow,
And search you out somehow,
I lift my lamp to every wanderer in the night.
To bring you light.
And someday I’ll pass by
We’ll hear my cry a
And we’ll look eye to eye,
And tears will show. Remembrances of long ago.
And so to keep my pledge
I’ll search earths farthest edge.
I’ll raise my voice and pray my message will be heard.
I keep my word.
Friend I am calling you.
Oh, hear me calling you.
I keep my word.
I said I believed this song/poem. We were sent here to Hungary to find those that we promised in the pre-existence to find. We might not recognize them; they might not be like us, but we needed to heed the counsel of our Prophet and See Them As They Might Become. To quote President Monson, “Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation [I added: the temptation to judge them by their looks] , courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”
And this is my testimony, that God loves everyone of His Children. It is our responsibility to allow everyone the chance to hear His Word. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.