“A Promise Fulfilled,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 65–66
One August many years ago, our stake president joyfully announced that because of our growth in numbers, our Massachusetts ward of 500 members was being split three ways, leaving us with a new ward of 225 members. The following November, the stake president attended our new ward’s conference. In his talk, he admonished us for not doing our part in spreading the gospel. He told us that if we had been active member missionaries, our chapel could possibly be full again by now.
The stake president then issued a challenge: “If you will be faithful, invite your friends, and bear your testimonies, by next ward conference you will be instrumental in bringing a family into the gospel.”
As the stake president bore his testimony, the Spirit bore witness to me that he was speaking the truth, and I made a mental note to follow his advice. But then a more forceful thought came: You must commit yourself. You must write to President Pitcher and tell him that you know he spoke the truth and that you will respond.
That afternoon, I took pen in hand and promised the president that I would be instrumental in bringing a family into the gospel by next ward conference. I felt a strong desire to partake of the joy of missionary work.
I set out to convert the world, only to find that the world was not ready to be converted. At one point, I set my mind on a beautiful family, some very good friends who I knew had a great respect for the Church and what we stand for. They thoroughly enjoyed coming to Church get-togethers and loved their Latter-day Saint friends. I thought they would be perfect for the missionary discussions, but to my surprise they answered with a flat no. Their past experience with organized religion had been so bad that for now they would not even consider listening. My prayers and my search went on.
In early May, I flew out west to see my family. But first I went to a member of the stake presidency to have my temple recommend renewed. He asked me about my missionary activities. I told him I was doing my best, but there was no exciting news on the horizon.
Whenever I travel, I make it a practice to fast and pray for the opportunity to bear my testimony to someone. I had never been disappointed yet. On this trip, however, the most frustrating thing happened. I went from Boston to Salt Lake City, Seattle, Boise, and then back to Boston via Atlanta. In all that time, no one ever sat next to me. No one!
After my return home, I began to search even more intensely. In early July, I had a long, prayerful conversation with Heavenly Father. I told him that time was running out, and I asked him to show me who wanted to learn more about his church because I did not know where to find them.
Two days later at work, an associate came to me and said, “I know you love strawberries. I’m going to a strawberry farm tomorrow. Will you let me pick you some?”
I was delighted by the offer, but my husband and I were leaving town for a few days, and the berries would probably spoil before we returned. Hearing this, my friend offered to get them ready for the freezer. I declined, telling her that I could never pay her back.
“But there is something you can do for me,” she said. “Take me to your church sometime.”
So the following Sunday my friend came to church. The lesson in the Gospel Essentials class was on love and family. She participated in the discussion, explaining that she had always known that this kind of love existed but had never experienced it and didn’t know where to find it.
She readily agreed to listen to the missionary discussions. In fact, we started that afternoon. Never had I seen anyone more ready to accept the truth.
My friend became more and more enthralled as the missionaries presented the principles of the gospel to her. Her baptismal date was set for early September. Then, as often happens, problems started at home. Her husband was against her studying the gospel. But she had made her decision.
“I know the gospel is true,” she said, “and I will follow the Savior.”
Her husband reluctantly consented to come to her baptism. It did not take him long to start studying the gospel himself. By the end of October, he too was baptized.
We were now nine days away from our annual ward conference. I felt humble and joyful that I had been an instrument in the Lord’s hands in helping a family accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.