“Heart Condition,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, 44–45
I had just started a new job and was trying to save money to serve a mission. As time went on, new employees were hired, and I was assigned to train a young woman about my age.
Maria (name has been changed), my new co-worker, was obviously concerned with her appearance. She conformed to the popular trend of wearing short skirts, dark makeup, and bold hairstyles, and she also had developed some bad habits, such as smoking. Despite our differences, Maria and I worked well together. She was pleasant to talk with, and time passed quickly when we were together.
One day at work she asked, “Raquel, do you ever go dancing?” I told her I attended dances at my church. She asked which church it was, and I explained that it is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that its members are often called Mormons. Maria told me she had heard of the Mormons, but she didn’t know any of our beliefs. I was excited to share more about the Church with her, and I offered her a copy of the Book of Mormon, which she was happy to accept.
In time I invited her to attend the branch closest to her home. I was quite surprised when she accepted my invitation. We decided to meet at the train station the following Sunday so we could go to the meetings together.
Sunday arrived, and as my train approached the station where we were to meet, I peered out the window, looking for the Maria I knew from work. To my surprise, I saw instead a young lady whose skirt was modest and whose hair and makeup were all that could be asked of a Latter-day Saint young woman. But it was Maria!
I confess that I had doubted she would be there waiting for me, and I also doubted that the gospel would produce any changes in her life—inside or out.
We greeted each other and walked the 15 minutes to church. We went to Relief Society first, where Maria wanted to answer the questions and participate in everything the teacher asked us to do. She also enjoyed Sunday School and sacrament meeting. I introduced her to the sister missionaries, who invited her to hear the lessons, and Maria readily agreed.
A short time later we lost contact because she didn’t continue with her job. But it wasn’t long before I received an invitation to her baptism. I was disappointed I couldn’t attend, and again we lost contact.
After serving for nine months in the Argentina Mendoza Mission, I read in the local pages of the Liahona that Maria was serving in the Argentina Resistencia Mission. I started jumping for joy and immediately wrote to her.
In her reply she told me about her mission preparation. Her parents had not supported her desire to join the Church. Yet she had attended church and institute classes and had sacrificed much in order to serve a mission.
Many years have now passed, and Maria and I have seen each other again. She is a temple worker in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple and is enjoying the love of her husband and children. She lives the gospel and radiates its light. Today her appearance reflects all that is in her heart, and although she does not know it, she has not only given me a special memory but has taught me a great principle—the gospel is for everyone. As members of the Church, we should not refrain from sharing our testimonies just because, in our judgment, a person’s appearance indicates he or she might reject our message.
Now, whenever I think about Maria, 1 Samuel 16:7 comes to mind: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Heavenly Father knows the hearts of His children, and to Him the heart is what matters.