I Just Couldn’t Throw This Family into the Trash
October 1991

“I Just Couldn’t Throw This Family into the Trash,” Ensign, Oct. 1991, 25–26

“I Just Couldn’t Throw This Family into the Trash”

I have always wanted to share the gospel, but just didn’t know whom to share it with or how to go about it. Then I thought of Karryn.

Karryn and I had been friends since high school. She had always been active in her church and I had been active in mine. I remember spending many sleepless overnight visits debating religion with her. Finally, we had just agreed to accept our religious differences.

Twenty-six years had passed since high school and we were still friends—with a solid agreement not to discuss religion. But I felt strongly that it was time for me to broach the subject again.

So one day I said a prayer, took a deep breath, and called my friend. I issued a challenge for her to listen to the gospel message, and she agreed to pray about whether or not to listen to the missionary lessons. I hung up the phone, feeling confused. On one hand, I had obeyed a prompting and felt good about that; but on the other hand, I felt deeply pessimistic.

Karryn was not converted. I was frustrated and often wondered why I had been prompted to talk to her. One day, these thoughts were racing through my mind as I took my walk. Suddenly a voice interrupted my reverie.

“Come over here—I want to ask you something.”

Across the street was Helen. I didn’t know much about her. She was a big woman with a big heart, a mane of red hair, and a California tan. I crossed the street with no clue what she wanted.

“Are you still Mormon?” she queried.

“Yes,” I answered, stunned that she knew anything about my religious affiliation.

“Could you send someone over to my house to teach me about your church? I need something in my life.”

Walking home, I could hardly believe what had happened. The missionaries were sent, Helen was taught the gospel, and I received a reward beyond my belief. Attending the Gospel Essentials class, seeing the Spirit convert others, fellowshipping, talking for long hours about gospel principles, and noticing lives change were all experiences that brought me back to the touchstone of my own conversion. There was renewal in my commitment and enthusiasm.

Helen was baptized and married the same day. She, her new husband, and her handicapped son went into the waters of baptism and arose with all the possibilities and promises of a bright future.

Several months later, Helen was asked to share her story at a missionary fireside. She mentioned that years earlier, missionaries had come to her door and left a copy of the Book of Mormon. Inside its cover was a picture of a family in her neighborhood—us!—along with our testimony. We had prepared this Book of Mormon, along with several others, especially for our neighbors.

Helen, not one to read much, put the book on top of her dresser and didn’t think more about it until she dusted. Being a fastidious housekeeper, she wanted to toss it into the trash, knowing she would never read it. But each time she considered this, she would look at our family’s picture staring up at her. “I just couldn’t throw this family into the trash,” Helen pointed out at the fireside.

Her life had led her down many difficult and challenging paths, but she always felt the answers to her struggles were hidden in the book on her dresser with my family photo pasted neatly in it.

I believe I really was prompted to challenge my friend Karryn to accept the gospel. Whatever the outcome, the Lord had determined to bless me for obedience, and He did so through my new friend Helen.

  • Linda Orvis is the ward communications chairman in the Anaheim First Ward, Anaheim California Stake.