A Newborn Missionary
January 1987

“A Newborn Missionary,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 43–44

A Newborn Missionary

The missionary who changed my life was my newborn son, Richard, who came to this world with joy and then departed all too quickly. He spoke no inspired sermons, but he testified of eternal truths. I learned more from him than from any teacher I had encountered in my twenty-two years.

I was a practicing member of another faith, secure and comfortable with my life. I had no questions about the meaning of life or the possibility of any truth outside my sphere of religious knowledge.

Then Richard was born with several congenital defects and my quiet existence was thrown into turmoil. In the months that followed, Richard was in and out of the hospital many times. Though his problems could be treated and did not threaten his life, they seemed to wear on his little body. Nevertheless, he was a beautiful child. Wisdom and strength seemed to pour from him. His smile and his gentle, peaceful spirit touched me as no other had.

During those months, I experienced a remarkable change. Though I prayed without ceasing, I was overwhelmed with depression and anger. I could not understand why my son had such problems. Religious advisers from my church suggested that perhaps I was being punished for some unconfessed sin or that I was an unworthy mother and deserved no better. But I could not believe that a loving God would punish an innocent child for his mother’s transgressions.

At this time, members of my husband’s family, who belonged to the LDS Church, gave me various Church materials to read. These materials confused me at first, but slowly they began to inspire me, and my heart was lifted up. The pain I had experienced seemed insignificant compared with the joy, hope, and faith now lighting my way.

About three weeks after the missionaries began teaching us, Richard quietly returned to the home he had left only a few short months before. The sadness we felt was tempered by his sweet spirit, which filled our hearts and comforted us in those first lonely days, and by the knowledge that our precious son lived on just a little beyond our sight.

Since then, three beautiful children have been born to us. Each of them seems to possess a little of the same light Richard had. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father, who wisely sent me this child and who, with even greater understanding, called him home again. I rejoice daily in this small missionary who preached without words.