“My Nonmember Missionary,” Ensign, July 1989, 53–54
My Nonmember Missionary
As a young mother, I felt strongly that my husband and I should take our son to church. Although we had never discussed religion, we both believed in God. So I prayed, infrequently at first, that God would help me to know which church to attend.
I had attended church as a child. My mother had died when I was six years old, leaving my father with eight children, including a nine-day-old baby. The following years were difficult, but I felt safe and comfortable in church. It was there that I learned to love God and to pray.
When our first child was four years old, we had another son. I still didn’t know which church to join, but my prayers began to be more frequent and sincere.
Eighteen months later, my prayers became fervent. We were living in an apartment building in Davenport, Iowa. I loved to read, but I had read everything in our house. A new family from California had just moved in across the hall from us. I decided to get acquainted with my new neighbor; perhaps she had something good to read.
As soon as our son was off to school, I went visiting. After introductions and some small talk, I told her why I had come. She said they hadn’t had room in their rental truck to move their books, so they had had to leave them behind. However, she did have one book with her. It was the Book of Mormon.
My neighbor asked me if I had ever heard of the Mormons and I said, “Only what I learned in history class about Brigham Young leading pioneers to Utah.” Then she asked me if I liked history, and I replied yes. Then I would like the Book of Mormon, she said, because it was a history of some early Americans. I was excited since I had often wondered about the Indians and where they had come from. She then began to tell me about Joseph Smith and how he had found golden plates and translated them. I was fascinated.
I was quite surprised to discover that my neighbor was not a member of the Church. Missionaries had taught her the gospel in California and she was sure it was true, but she felt unable to live the Word of Wisdom. “Be sure to read the Joseph Smith story first,” she told me. “You may borrow this Book of Mormon, but I want it back when you are finished.”
As I read Joseph Smith’s story, it was as though I were there with him, and I knew it was true. My neighbor checked in on me occasionally and was glad to hear that I believed what I was reading.
When I was about halfway through the book, I had to return it because we were moving. I didn’t want to let the book go, but my neighbor told me that I could call the missionaries and they would be glad to bring me a Book of Mormon of my own.
After we moved, I thought about calling the missionaries, but I kept putting it off. “Well, if this is really God’s true church,” I rationalized, “they will find me.”
One morning, as I was getting our son ready for school, I yelled at him, which was something I just never did. I immediately apologized, but I could see the hurt in his eyes. As he left, I watched him out the window, walking down the sidewalk with his head hanging down. He was usually so happy. I felt terrible, and in tears, I fell to my knees, begging Heavenly Father to forgive me. After praying for quite a while, I again asked God to please let me know in some way if the Book of Mormon was true and if this was his true church.
At ten o’clock that morning, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to see two young men dressed in suits. They told me that they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I invited them in. Before long, they told me that when they prayed that morning asking to be guided to those who were seeking the truth, they had felt inspired to come to this area. At first they thought they must be wrong since this area had been tracted several times, but they both felt inspired to return, so they did.
I was baptized about two weeks later. Eighteen years later, my husband was also baptized; he served in the branch presidency, and we were sealed in the temple.
I am thankful for the Book of Mormon and for missionaries who were in tune with the Spirit enough that they knew where to find the one who was praying for their visit.