“From a Single Seed,” Liahona, May 2002, 35–36
One of the most discouraging parts of my mission was the four months I spent in Tulancingo, México. The work was difficult. Day after day my companion and I spent long hours tracting, and no one was interested.
Finally, we found two men who listened to our message. I was excited because I felt these men would be great assets to Tulancingo’s small branch. But when both decided not to accept baptism, I was devastated.
About this time a 12-year-old girl came to Tulancingo to visit a family in the branch. She became interested in the Church and readily accepted the gospel. A short time later her father gave permission for her to be baptized.
But this baptism did little to lessen the disappointment I felt regarding those two men. I had hoped they would help build up the Church in this area. Because the girl was so young and the only member in her family, I wondered if she would remain active. She soon left Tulancingo after her baptism, and I lost contact with her. In fact, I completely forgot about her.
It has been more than 35 years since my mission, and not long ago I unexpectedly received the following letter:
Dear Brother Cooper,
My name is J. Jovita Pérez Acosta. I was baptized on 1 December 1965 in Tulancingo. I always thought I would very much like to thank you for bringing the gospel into my life.
When you taught me the gospel, I was 12 years old and was spending the summer in Tulancingo. I remember clearly the day I heard the history of Joseph Smith. I felt it was true, and that same night I knelt for the first time and prayed as you had taught me. On that occasion I learned how to talk with my Heavenly Father.
My mother was angry with my father because of my baptism, and they sent me to a Catholic boarding school. There were no members of the Church in all the area. I didn’t even have a Book of Mormon. But I continued to pray, and the seed you planted in my heart began to germinate.
One day while analyzing my religious situation, I felt that Heavenly Father was not pleased with me. I was confused. I told Him I wanted to belong to His Church. I asked that He help me be a good daughter to Him. A little while after this, I felt compelled to write to the [LDS] Church school in México City to ask to be enrolled there. I was accepted. It was then that my testimony began to form.
Seven years later my three younger sisters joined the Church, and they also went to live at the Church school. My mother had us attend her church during the summers; but even so, we read the scriptures, and we began to have family home evening. Ten years after my baptism, my mother and my youngest brother were baptized. A year later my father was baptized. We were the first member family in our town and in all the towns roundabout. The nearest meetinghouse was four hours away. My parents would travel every two weeks to go to Church services there.
During this period I became very ill and went to live for some months with my parents. We had family home evening every week. My mother would invite almost everyone around, and about 30 attended.
One day I called the mission home in México City to ask that missionaries be sent, and this was how the first branch was born in all that region. My father was the branch president, and my mother was the Relief Society president. Now there are many branches in the other towns, and they have been formed into two districts.
My youngest sister converted the man who is now her husband, and they both served missions. He is a bishop in Ciudad Juárez, and they have five children. Two of my nephews and a niece have also served missions. My oldest son returned last year from his mission, and my daughter is currently serving in Washington, D.C. My youngest son leaves next month to serve a mission in México.
In all, my parents have 26 grandchildren who are members of the Church. As you can see, one of the little seeds you planted many years ago has been transformed into a tree, and it is giving fruit and producing seeds for new trees. Isn’t it glorious? When my oldest son left for his mission, I told him that all he had to do was plant with love in the vineyard of the Lord. Perhaps he would never see the tree grow and produce fruit, but the Lord would.
The gospel has given me much happiness, and without it, I don’t know what my life would be. I know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and that His work will move forward, blessing the families of the earth.
Your sister in the faith,
As I read this letter, I was filled with joy. I now realize that perhaps the most important thing I accomplished on my mission was something that had seemed almost insignificant at the time.
Missionaries are rarely aware of all the results of their labors. But if we do all the good we can, without wondering and worrying about the consequences, we will find true joy in sharing the gospel.