“How Can We Help You?” Liahona, January 2022
While preparing to teach a family home evening lesson, I wanted to give my children some perspective on the daily rigors and challenges of missionary work. As I opened my missionary journal to look for a suitable example, I found a summary of a not-so-uncommon day.
First, my companion and I went to see Maria, who was washing clothes. “Could you come back later this morning?” she asked.
We went to see another investigator, but he was sleeping. When we returned to Maria’s home at 11:30 a.m., she was still washing clothes.
Later, at 3:00 p.m., we had an appointment with another investigator. When we arrived, he was making grease.
“I’m really busy right now,” he told us. “Can you come back later?”
We returned to Maria’s home, but she was now washing dishes. Then we went to visit another investigator named Junior. He was busy cooking.
“How about tomorrow?” he asked us.
I wrote in my journal: “We try to plan really well, do our best to keep our appointments, and make plan B and plan C. We pray for inspiration. There’s got to be a more practical way to help people.”
As I reread those experiences through more mature eyes, I chuckled. The lesson I had intended to teach my children about developing resilience to face disappointment now seemed less important than the lesson I had just been taught.
My exasperated plea of 30 years before seemed funny to me now. The answer to my exasperation was right there in my plea. Thinking of my younger self, I mused, “Elder Jackson, what if you had tried to help people by helping them in their time of need?”
Today, if my companion and I found Maria facing a burden of laundry and dishes, we would say, “How can we help you?”
Today, if the man we had scheduled to visit was busy making grease, we would exclaim, “Can you teach us? We’d love to help you!”
Today, if we found Junior busy preparing food, we would say, “We’re at your service! What would you like us to do?”
As a young missionary, I tended to look at service as something to schedule rather than as something to offer when needed. Today I try to teach people about the love of Jesus Christ by showing them His love.