“Answering the Call,” Ensign, October 2019
As a missionary in Anaheim, California, I discovered a standard that extends beyond the mission field: “When you go home, do not forget those you have taught. At all times live worthy of their trust. Write them occasionally and encourage them to be faithful” (Missionary Handbook , 37).
When I came home from my mission, I attended Brigham Young University. One evening, I was on campus preparing for a quiz when I was alerted to a call coming from a man I taught on my mission. My heart sank slightly. I was up against a deadline, but after a moment’s hesitation, I answered. The man on the phone was experiencing deep disappointment and needed a listening ear. I couldn’t solve his problem, but I could follow the counsel to “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9).
Later in a New Testament class, I learned that the Apostle Paul wrote letters to his recent converts. To me, his love for them is obvious in these verses:
“But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. …
“For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:17, 20).
What would Paul say to me—someone with a cell phone in hand and a personal laptop never far away? The means and ease I have of communicating with converts are much greater than they were in his day.
Thankfully, several years since this same brother’s baptism, our friendship still runs deep. Last fall, I had a prompting to call him, only to discover that his mother had passed away the previous day. She had been ill, but her passing came sooner than expected. Our friendship was such that he could confide in me at a time of deep, personal grieving and loss.
It isn’t always easy and sometimes I’ve fallen short, but I’m grateful I’ve taken the time over the years to talk with people I taught. In Paul’s words, “We were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). The call to serve as a missionary was one of my first calls to minister, but I’ve learned that many more will come—and I must be willing to answer.