Friend to Friend

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“Friend to Friend,” Tambuli, Mar. 1992, 5

Friend to Friend

Elder James M. Paramore

I was sent to France as a missionary in 1949. Missionary work then was much different from missionary work now. There was no Missionary Training Center, so when I arrived in Paris, I had had no language training at all. There wasn’t a set of lessons to teach investigators. Different missionaries used different methods to teach the gospel.

I had been in Paris for just a few weeks when my companion received word that his mother was dying of cancer. Since his scheduled release date was only weeks away, the mission president allowed him to return home early to see his mother. If that had happened today, another elder would have been transferred to my area to be my companion. But in those days I was left to work by myself until transfers for the entire mission were made.

Before he left, my companion and I had scheduled a few lessons. I knew that I would have to take care of those appointments. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know the French language, and there were no prepared discussions. I was nervous and frightened.

I began to read the Book of Mormon and to pray as hard as I could. I would pray, and then I would read, then I would pray again and read some more. This went on for several days.

Finally it was time to go to my first appointment—the Alvarez family. They were a lovely couple whom we had just begun teaching. When I went, I didn’t know what I was going to say. I had a testimony of the gospel and the Restoration, but I did not know French.

But when I went to see this family, the Lord took over. For two hours I taught them. I’m sure that it wasn’t in beautiful French, but I was able to communicate with them how I felt about the gospel. They understood the message and were touched by the Spirit.

That night when I returned to my apartment, I knew that there really was a Father in Heaven and that he had called me on a mission. I knew that Heavenly Father had watched over and helped me—had loosed my tongue—and that he watches over all his missionaries. It was the first spiritual testimony that I had received in my life of the truthfulness of this work. Serving a mission was one of the greatest blessings that ever happened to me.

Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett